Thursday, June 30, 2011

Good Assumptions

I identified with Jarius when I read his story this morning in Mark 5.

(Especially after hearing about some excitement Susan experienced in the Big Apple yesterday.)

My imagination can work overtime, and I can't wait until she's back home here on the farm, facing aggressive roosters, snakes, and driving around in the gator like a wild woman.
She is 14. Only two years older than Jarius' daughter.

I want God to protect her life
just as Jarius wanted to protect his daughter from death.

Jarius was a leader in the synagogue.
He came to Jesus and said,
"My little girl is sick and about to die.
Come and lay Your hands on her,
that she may be healed,
and she will live."

And Jesus went with him
as did a multitude of others.

Along the way, there were interruptions.

A woman was healed when she touched
Jesus' robe and He stopped to talk with
her for awhile.
Then someone came and told Jarius
that his daughter had died
and that he shouldn't
bother Jesus anymore.

But Jesus turned to Jarius and said,
"Don't be afraid.
Only believe."

And He continued on to Jarius' house
and healed his little girl.
Jarius was clear in what he wanted.
He was desperate.

Lay hands on my daughter.
So she may be healed.
And live.

I love that Jarius assumed that Jesus
would go with him.

We should assume that Jesus
will go with us.

He may not get there as quickly
as we had hoped.

It may look like other's needs
are more important than ours.

Our world may crumble before
He arrives.

But if we've asked Him to come
we should assume that He will,
no matter how things appear
to the contrary.

We should hold on to His eternal words
spoken to Jarius; spoken to us,
"Don't be afraid. Only believe."
Psalm 138:8~
The Lord will perfect that which concerns me;
Your mercy, O Lord,
endures forever.
Do not forsake the works of Your hands.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Lonely Burdens

Someone just wrote something to me on face book
that has me seriously shook up. In a good way.

It reminds me of how I felt when I was apologizing
to Lindsay for not being a better mentor.

She replied, "I am more interested in your failures
than in your perfections because I want to see how you
get up in the morning after you fail."

I was driving when she said that
and nearly had to pull of the road
because it was one of those defining moments
in my life.

And now I've experienced another defining moment.

A defining moment changes how you look at things.

Earlier, I wrote a blog called 'More on Community.
Michelle, who I quoted in that writing,
shared the following words with me this evening.

She didn't copy them from somewhere.

They came from within her as she thought about
community and our fears of being vulnerable.

She was contemplating also, the verse that says,
"Bear one another's burdens and
fulfill the law of Christ."

She said,

"I'm not afraid of your burdens,

your imperfections, or weaknesses.

I'm afraid I won't be allowed

to bear them with you.

Then I bear them alone too.

Because they are still

on my heart."

I don't know what else to say.

Her thought is complete without
any need to explain it
and I am thankful for its meaning
and the sincere loyalty from her heart.

I am thankful, also, for the freedom to trust her
to help carry my load.

Insignificant Praise?

I was reading the story about Jacob, Leah, and Rachel this morning and noticed in particular, the names that Leah gave her children. Just a quick background to this story: Jacob wanted to marry Rachel so he worked for her for seven years and then the morning after his wedding night, discovered it wasn't Rachel in his bed, but Leah, whom he didn't particularly love.(Must not have been much talking going on that night.)
He found the girl's father and said something like, "What the world?" and the father said, "Well, in this part of the country we get rid of our girls in their birth order, so finish out this week with our firstborn, and then we'll give you Rachel but you'll have to work another seven years to pay for her." Alot of 'cause and effect' deception going on here but that's another story.

So, Leah felt unloved.
But then she got pregnant and hopeful.
When she had her firstborn, she named him "Rueben"
meaning, (drum roll please), "a son."
And she said, "The Lord has seen my affliction.
Now my husband will love me."

But, alas.

Well, she had a second son
and named him, "Simeon" which means 'heard.'
She said, "The Lord has heard that I am still hated
and has given me another son."

Then she had a third son and I can relate with her joy.
She named him "Levi", meaning 'Attached.'
She said, "Now my husband will get attached to me
because I have borne him three sons."

Then she bore a fourth son
and called his name, "Judah",
which means 'Praise.'
She said, "Now I will praise the Lord."

Then she stopped having kids for awhile.

But after awhile she got a bit nervous
when she saw that Rachel,
who was barren, had given her maid to Jacob
(so she could call her maid's children her own)
so Leah gave Jacob her own maid as well.

He must have been a busy man.

Well, she called her maid's first son, "Gad"
which means 'a troop comes.'
I wonder if this is where we get the term
'gad about' such as 'gadding about the countryside
with a gaggle of giggling girls'.
It also smacks of "I've got a whole troop of kids,
na-na-na-na-nah" kind of attitude.

Not sure though.

Then maid's son number two was born
and she called him "Asher" meaning
She said, "I am happy, for the daughters
will call me blessed."

I wonder what they had been calling her.

Then Leah hired Jacob for the night
with her son's mandrakes.
(Read it for yourself.
It's complicated.
Or not.)

Okay I'll tell you.
Rachel gave up Jacob for the night
in exchange for Leah's son's mandrakes
because mandrakes were considered
to be an aphrodisiac and good for fertility.
Or maybe she was just hungry for them.
Who knows?

I tell you what.
I don't know who I feel the most sorry for
in this dysfunctional family.
Poor unloved Leah?
Poor needing-to-share-her-husband Rachel?
Poor exhausted Jacob?
Poor maids with no rights?
Poor kids with names full of meaning?

Well, Leah conceived on that night
without mandrakes
and had a fifth son,
Poor Issy!
"Issy...time to take your bath!"

Or, "Issy,Issy, what a sissy!"
(You know how cruel kids can be.)

His name meant 'Wages'
because she felt God gave him to her
as a wage because she had given her maid to
her husband.

I am not making this up.

Son number six?
"Zebulun"-meaning 'dwelling.'
Leah said, "God has endowed me
with a good endowment;
now my husband will dwell with me
because I've given him six sons."

Wishful thinking.

Then she had a daughter
and called her "Dinah"
which means 'judgment.'
How would you like to have a name
that reminds you that you should have been a boy
and that when you were born,
your mother thought you were some sort
of judgment from God?
Afterall, seven was the perfect number,
and seven sons would surely have won
Jacob's heart.

Perhaps I am reading more into Dinah's name
then there really was.

(If you want to know about Rachel's children
and her maid's children, etc.
you will have to read it for yourself
because this whole mess has
completely worn me out.)

What I want to say is this:
Leah had seven children.

The middle one, Judah,
was named, "Praise."

All of the other names given her children
represented the condition she was in.
But Judah's name
represented a condition she chose.
"Now I will praise the Lord."

And this is what happened with Judah
and his tribe.

His tribe became great.

Jacob, in Gen 49,
spoke the highest blessing over him.
"His brother's will praise him.
He will triumph over his enemies."

Also, Judah "will have a royal authority
and legal authority and will bring forth
the Messiah."

My Bible notes say,
"Out of Judah,
through David, comes the Christ,
who in every action and detail
is a praise to the Father.

The tribe of Judah
(Praise) led the Children of Israel
through the wilderness.

They led in the conquest of Canaan.

And Judah's tribe was the first tribe
to praise David, making him king."

You may feel insignificant and unloved.
The conditions of your life may reinforce
what you believe to be true.

But there is a God
who sees you,
who hears you,
and in the midst of your insignificance,
knows your name.

He loves you.

There is a praise that comes from a place
of sorrow and insignificance
that has nothing to do with happiness.

There is a choosing to praise
even when the conditions are not right
for praising.

There is a surrendering to praise
instead of striving to be loved.

There is a knowing that we are His
and He loves us
no matter how insignificant we feel.

Didn't Jesus say, "Blessed are the poor in spirit-
those who know they are spiritually poor-
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven?"

Didn't He say,"It is the sick I have come to help,
not the healthy?"

The Psalmist, a great-great...
grandson of Judah, said it this way,
"Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God;
For I shall yet praise Him,
the help of my countenance
and my God."

God uses best what happens in the midst of
our insignificance.

Take courage.
Have hope.
And praise Him.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Chaotic Crushing Crowds and Christ~

I find these things interesting from the first three chapters of Mark.

Mark 1:37,38~
The disciples said to Jesus, "Everyone is looking for you."
They spoke this because He had gone off to get alone after spending the previous evening with the "whole city" which had gathered together at the door of Simon and Andrew's home. He healed many while there and cast out demons. And they wanted more of what He had for them.
But Jesus said to the disciples,"Let's go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, because for this purpose I have come forth."

He was bent on fulfilling the purpose of God in His life rather than fulfilling the needs of the people. The needs we will always have with us. I wonder if the people became more interested in His miracles-what He could do for them, then in what He had to say to them.

Mark 2:1b, 2-" was heard that He was in the house. Immediately many gathered together, so that there was no longer room to receive them, not even near the door. And He preached the word to them."

I am quite sure that when it is heard that Jesus is in our "house", the multitudes will come. Mark 7:24b says, "...and He entered a house and wanted no one to know it, but He could not be hidden."

Mark 3:1-5-Jesus healed a man in the synagogue who had a withered hand and the religious leaders were upset that He broke the law about not working on the Sabbath. Jesus looked around at them with anger and was grieved at the hardness of their hearts and healed him anyway.

Two things: I hope He never has to look at me with anger because He is grieved at the hardness of my heart.
And to be angry and grieved at the hardness of hearts is a Christ-like anger.

Mark 3:7-12-A great multitude of people-probably thousands-had followed Jesus, so He got into a little boat and pushed off from the shore because He was in imminent danger of being crushed. People were pressing in just to touch Him because He was healing so many. Unclean spirits were falling down in front of Him, declaring Him to be the Son of God but He told them to stop talking.

To say it was a chaotic scene would be an understatement. They literally had to rescue Jesus or He may have been crushed before His time.(Not that God would have allowed that which He didn't of course.) People were pushing. Blind eyes were seeing. Crutches were flying through the air. People with demons were falling down declaring with shrieks who He was. Jesus was telling the demons to 'Be Quiet!'

It was not a polite little crowd.
No one was saying, "Well, if He doesn't get to me today,
there's always tomorrow."

They needed Him then.
Right now.
They were willing to expose their need.
Their desperation.
Their demon possession.

What would happen if we were so desperate to be free from our sickness and sin that we would do anything to be near Jesus?

Would He ever be in danger of being crushed by us?

I am not talking about just a public setting.
What about at your place at home when you are alone
and you recognize your desperate need for a Savior to set you free
from cancelled sin?
Will you press in?
Will I?

No wonder after that scene along the shore,
Jesus went up to the mountain and
Called To Him
Those He Himself Wanted
And They Came To Him.
(I love those last dozen words.
I take them personally.)

Then He appointed twelve of them
and gave them power and authority
to help Him all with all His work
of preaching, healing, and casting out demons.

And after He called them,
they went into a house
and the multitude came again
and the disciples and Jesus couldn't even eat bread,
the house was so packed and they were so busy.

And thus they began to adjust
to their new normal
in a big hurry.

Hertzler Doings~June 27-July3, 2011

Mon.-Been dragging all day because I didn't sleep last night much. Worked on computer, did two loads of wash, exercised, took a walk, studied, read a book, went to the neighbor's to retrieve our meat from her freezer and another neighbors to get some sweet corn. I am thankful that Sheriff was so very glad to see me this morning and that he did not hurt me or my glasses when he hit my face with his dirty paws. I had to change clothes, wash my face and glasses, and was tasting grit for some time. Yesterday, I didn't give him any attention. I learned my lesson. Susan posted a picture of herself looking up at Lady Liberty. She's been texting Philip and letting him know how she is. He is not happy that she is in New York City and pulled one of the male adults aside and asked him to keep an eye on her. I had done the same a few weeks ago with the same man. We have our reasons for choosing him. She told Philip that they saw a man in a bicycle get hit by a car and the car didn't stop. It made her sad because it made her think of her Uncle Johnny. ///I am thankful for the indigo bunting who thought my cottage would let him in. His lifeless little body so beautifully effervescent blue reminded me of how God cares for the little sparrows when they fall and that He cares for the little things and therefore cares for me. I am thankful for the rain last evening. Our corn was begging for it. I am thankful that the tub water's running and it's only 8:11 PM.

Tues.-Got caught up in the story of Leah today and wrote about it. Then had to scurry to meet DDF at Baine's for lunch and coffee and sweet friendship. Stopped in at school to take care of Michael's paper work and realized it was time to hand over my keys. It was harder than I thought and Marcie and I both had to cry. She showed me a photo slide show of her grandchildren. It was nice to see how they've grown. Got a few groceries. Made bruschetta for supper. Watched an amazing storm come through. Clouds were going quickly in circles around us. High winds and rain and lightning and thunder. It was wonderful. Phil and I laid on the bed and watched it. I said to him, "Some people have their songs but we have our storms."///I am thankful for the little herd of rabbits I saw running before the storm hit us. That made me a bit uneasy because they seemed to want to get out of the way of approaching danger. I am thankful that Phil didn't go to the Farm Bureau meeting after all. I am thankful for Naomi's phone call and that she thought about me all last weekend because she was at the shore with Mabe.

Wed.-Went over to Jeanne's to see her garden and to enjoy a cup of tea in her company on her beautiful front porch. What a dear friend she is. Went out to church for a women's meeting and then out to eat with several very wild friends. Macado's will never be the same. Thank you Lisa, Lindsay, Michelle, and Ann for the gift of serotonins. I needed them. I kept laughing out loud in my car as I drove home and was glad that no one could hear me. Just as I was ready to go to sleep, Phil told me a story about Susan in NYC. Then I had trouble sleeping. ///I am thankful for Phil and the way that he loves me. I am thankful for friends who I can laugh and cry with. I am thankful that Macado's didn't kick us out last night.

Thurs.-Lovely day. Girl Friends started coming around 11 and the last friend left soon after 4. We went down to the river for a lunch of hot dogs, s'more's, watermelon, etc. The children played in the sand and water and conversation and reflection abounded. I want to write down who was here so I won't forget it and I want to do it again before summer's end. Thank you for coming, Dee, Adele, Anna, Archer, Lindsay, Adi, Emma, Diane, Eli, Sam, Laura, Michelle, Erin, Karen, Lori, Ginger, Ryder, Worth, Ilsa, Crystal, Titus, Gideon, and Mattie (Michelle's boxer). I didn't want people to leave. I had to be back at the house for my insurance call and she was so encouraging. I am so close to being able to graduate again.///I am thankful that Phil and Philip were thrilled with hot dogs for supper. I am thankful for the book 'Safely Home' about the persecuted church in C. and how it will change my world view. I am thankful that Michelle is thinking about blogging because I love hearing her talk and reading her words.

Fri.-Another great day even though I didn't sleep much again last night. Went with Lori K. to Lynchburg. We ran some errands in Appomattox and headed West to Olive Garden where she treated me to the all you can eat salad/bread/soup lunch. I-YI-YI! as my dad would say. Our waitress was so sweet. At the next table, a 2 year old little girl was eating happily and suddenly she yelled, "HI!" and held her hands up high and smiled so delightfully. We went to Ollie's, TJMax, Food Land, Sweet Frog, and a few other places, talking non-stop the whole time. Lori had pulled up to a stop sign and waited until the light turned green and soon I had to tell her that there was no light there and we got a bit hysterical over that. Wonderful, wonderful day. Came home and made Phil a cup of the decaf chocolate raspberry coffee I got at TJMax and sweetened it with agave and topped it off with cream and we had our dessert in a mug. Then we went over to O'Brien's in the gator and checked the crops and the blackberries over there. Heard a bear walking around in the thicket. Came home and went to bed.///I am thankful for Sweet Frog caramel, chocolate, cappuccino, vanilla, and peach frozen yogurt. I shouldn't eat for a week. I am thankful for every friend I have and how each one is near and dear to me. I am thankful for my stretch pair of jeans that I happened to wear today.

Sat.-A lazy Saturday. Unheard of. Phil put a different sink vanity in Susan's bathroom and I think she'll be pleased when she gets home. I cleaned the house and did some wash and tidied up after my dogs outside. Puppies get into Everything! Freeman and Alli stopped in to pick up a few things. Today is his 27th birthday! He's never been happier. I read "Safely Home" for the greater part of the day and finished it late at night. I don't see how I'll ever be the same. It is written by Randy Alcorn and it is about the persecuted church in China. ///I am thankful that God is always drawing me in deeper. I am thankful that it is better to honor people than it is to fear them. I am thankful that Phil doesn't mind if I read with the lights on. I am thankful that Susan will have quite the stories to tell. I am thankful that Philip got to fish with his buddies today. I am thankful that Freeman was born. I am thankful, that when he was in kindergarten, Alli was born.

Sun.-I was reminded today that we must contend for our faith, our lifestyle, and for the fullness of God's power. I was reminded also that there is a time to mourn. Mourning over our sins occurs before we can experience revival. We must use the 'heaviness' to ask God to search our hearts and to see if there is any wicked way in us. We must use the 'heaviness' to repent and grieve. There is a Godly heaviness that we must embrace. We must contend for repentance if we are ever going to experience times of refreshing. God is the one who gives us the garment of praise for a spirit of heaviness. He gives beauty for ashes, and the oil of joy for mourning. We cannot pretend to have what only He can give. We must not short-change His work because we are uncomfortable with it. And His work has only begun. For we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. All we like sheep have gone astray.

James 4:8-10 says, "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up."

Blackabye and King in their book, "Fresh Encounter", refer to revival in this way. "...Then God gets the attention of His people. (In one way or another.) They recognize how displeasing they are to the Lord. In deep brokenness and shame they come before the Lord confessing sin and seeking forgiveness, cleansing, and restoration. When God sees that they are returning with their hearts, He sends genuine revival."

And a few pages later, they write, "After the repentance, the joy of worship and praise was great. These are the fruits of revival. This is the experience of "revival" for which we often pray. However, the difficulty of repentance and a refining process must come first. Then the joy comes." And these are the things I was thinking about in church today.

We came home and Phil picked up the book I read yesterday and read it all afternoon. I started another book that Erin lent us, "High Adventure in Tibet," by David V. Plymire. Angel and I went down to the river and I sat with my feet in the rapids and read. I finally came back at Angel's insistence after about an hour. She kept whining and then she laid right down in the river and watched me. The bears have been invading our cornfield and I am sure she smelled them. Later, Phil dug around in some dirt, looking for some artifacts to show Erin. Susan called around 8:45 and asked us to pick her up at church in an hour. It was great to hear about her week.

I am thankful that Susan is home. I am thankful for the deer in our back yard. We sat and ate our breakfast of homegrown sausage and eggs and watched them. Little Princess had found a dead bird and ran towards the 1 year old doe and then stopped. Quickly she turned and came running back towards the house and the doe ran after her. They were obviously playing. I am thankful that the Holy Spirit is The Comforter because there were those I so badly wanted to comfort today at church and I knew only He could do it. I am thankful that grief is the price one pays for loving others. If we didn't love, we wouldn't grieve our loss. Perhaps, the deeper we love, the deeper we grieve, and there are those I deeply love.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Doubting Worshipper

Whenever I come to nearly the end of one of the gospels I get a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach because I am going to have to read about Jesus' final days. And once they put Him on that cross, I have to read to the end because I cannot bear leaving Him hang there until the next days reading.

I finished the book of Matthew yesterday and noticed a few things.

When He revealed Himself to the Mary's after His resurrection, He greeted them with the words, "Rejoice!" And they came running to Him and fell down before Him and held on to His feet and worshiped Him. And then He said, "Don't be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me."

I like how He trusted the women with telling the details because I've got to tell you that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, don't exactly have all their details the same about who said what and who did what right after the resurrection, but I forgave them for that long ago. (If you were standing on one side of the Grand Canyon and I were standing on the other, we would have a similar description but not identical descriptions but it would all still be about the Grand Canyon just as the end of the gospels describe all about the Resurrection in a similar but not identical fashion.) Some would say that Jesus knew that women like to talk, but I'll forgive you for that as well.

This is not a big deal, probably, but I just love that they held on to His feet.

Sometimes, my toddlers would hold on to my feet and I would drag them around while I worked in the kitchen and say, "I wonder where so-and-so is....where could he be?" And they would laugh with delight and hold on even tighter. It worked best if they were in a one piece sleeper because they could slip around better when no skin would be hitting the floor.

I can imagine how hard those women would have held on to His feet, especially since they thought they had lost Him for good. I wouldn't have let go for a long time.

And the other thing I noticed was what happened when He revealed Himself to the disciples on a Galilean mountain. It says, "When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted."

And in that setting of worship and doubt, He gave them what we call "The Great Commission."

"All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."

I love that He made room for the doubting worshippers.
I love that He gave them a holy calling in spite of their doubt.

As a doubting worshipper myself,
I am grateful for His mercy
and His call.

Dear and Holy God.

Which Words?

I was reading the story of the final days of Jesus in the book of Matthew.

After Jesus was taken by a mob from the garden, He was led away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and elders had gathered together. After several unfruitful attempts they finally found some false witnesses who were willing to use Jesus' own words against Him."This man said that he is able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days." Jesus said nothing in reply until the high priest said, "I put you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God!"

Of course, he didn't really want to know the answer to that. He just wanted Jesus to say 'Yes' so he could accuse him of blasphemy. Jesus gave him more than he asked for, much to his self-righteous delight. Jesus said, "It is as you said. And you will also see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven."

At this, the high priest tore his clothes and said, "He has spoken blasphemy! We don't need a second witness. He has witnessed against himself with these blasphemous words! What do you think?!" And they all replied, "He is worthy of death!"

Then they spat on His dear face and beat Him and others struck Him with the palms of their hands and said, "Prophecy to us, Christ! Who is the one who struck you?" He must have been blindfolded. He would have known their names and their voices. He had been in the temple many times. He could have told them who struck Him. He could have told them their latest transgression. He could have told them a lot of things. But He was silent, as a sheep led to the slaughter.

Fast forward some hours and see Him there, on the cross.

Again, it was the religious leaders mocking Him there.

"He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He is the King of Israel, let Him get down from the cross. Then we'll believe in Him."(It reminds me of the temptation Jesus endured in the wilderness. 'Throw yourself down from the temple and people will believe in you when they see the angels catch you' sort of thing.) They went on, "He trusted in God; let God deliver Him now if He will have Him; for He said, 'I am the Son of God.'"

I find it hard not to hate these cruel men-
leaders who were supposed to represent God
representing the devil instead.

Do you know of anyone who is going through their own death right now?

Do you know of anyone hanging there, for the world to see, feeling abandoned, alone, betrayed?

I wonder if we will stand by them in their hour of greatest need.

I wonder if we will watch and pray and grieve with them.

I wonder if they will hear our words of encouragement-

"Thank you for all that you've done."
"Thank you for speaking into my life."
"Thank you for pouring out your all for us."

I hope they will not hear, "He saved others, let him save himself. He trusted in God; let Him deliver him now if He will have him."

I am not comparing anyone to Christ.

I am comparing myself to the self-righteous religious leaders.
And I want you to compare yourself to them as well.

I hope we are more like those angels who ministered to Jesus in the Garden while He struggled with the temptation to escape the drinking of the cup.

I hope we sing, "Remember the joy...remember the joy...remember the joy set before you."
I hope we sing, "It's gonna be worth's gonna be worth's gonna be worth it all."
I hope we say, "You will be rescued from the grave. God will not leave your soul to decay. Remember the new thing. Remember the resurrection. Remember how beautiful the forest becomes after a cleansing fire. Remember that there is light at the end of this twisted tunnel."

And I hope they hear the sweet Voice of Redemption singing over their night by the One who has their name engraved in the palm of His hand. "You are not forgotten. I will never leave you or forsake you. Take Courage, my child, take courage, as you die a thousand deaths and wake up to see the dawn."

What will you say?
How close will you stand?
Who will you represent?

Mercy triumphs over judgment.

Every day I see and hear the mercy, love, and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ represented by those who understand what it means to need forgiveness.

And I am glad.

Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy.

And we are going to need mercy.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

More on 'Community'

I got up with my friend, Michelle, last evening over some Japanese food at the new Asian Restaurant near the theatre on third street. She had been out in Missouri for a Chi Alpha Training Conference and the emphasis of her training was on the theme of 'community.' I asked if I could requote her and she said 'yes.' She was quoting others words to me off the top of her head and I wrote them down on the restaurant menu. I write them here in no particular order.
In real community you are transformed as you give your full devotion to the community.

It is in the context of relationship that your message has meaning.

Transformation comes from doing life together following Jesus.

Present opportunities for Christ to be seen.

When we do not hide our imperfections from each other
it shows that we trust one another.
We talked about how Jesus 'did' community.
One on one.
One on two.
One on three.
One on twelve.
Sometimes, One plus twelve on a multitude.

His community with a small group changed the world.
It changed my life and yours.

What would happen if a leader mentored other leaders and those leaders mentored other people and so on and we had small groups of 'families' that came together for a big family reunion on Sunday morning?

People would know that they are important; that they belong; and that they in turn were to share what they know and how they live with someone else.
They would have a holy place.
A holy belonging.
A holy purpose and calling.

If we each took care of our own families and reached out to just a few others, we'd be in great shape.

I think we don't do this because we think we need to be perfect or at least better than we are. I think we are afraid to let others in; afraid that we'll disappoint them.

But life in community is about sharing strengths and weaknesses. Perhaps I don't have it together in an area but you do. Perhaps you are the answer to my weakness.

I wonder if we're too proud to have real community.
I wonder if we're too scared.
I wonder if we don't trust.
I wonder if we're afraid of the pain that comes from closeness.
We're afraid of being hurt
and we're afraid of causing hurt.
Of course we are going to be hurt
and cause hurt.
Of course we are going to fail.
We're not God.
Of course we are afraid.

It's too bad, really.
We're missing out on so much.
We think we have to have a table spread with the richest of foods
but the fact is,
the crumbs that fall from our table are more than enough
to help someone feel loved and full.
Most people ask for so little. do it afraid. let others see our imperfections. be real and authentic.

I think these three things are needed
if we are ever going to experience
the community that Christ craves for us.

A Song in the Night

I wrote this for a dear friend who was going through a rough time.
A Song in the Night

A Song in the Night
When the presence of evil
Has taken from living
the essence of joy

A Song in the Night
When sorrow on sorrow
And blow upon blow
make one fearful of waking

A Song in the Night
When bending has broken
And breaking has shattered
Beyond being whole

A Song in the Night
When light now is darkness
And darkness is midnight
No hope for the dawn

A song in the Night
A cord of Redemption
A quick breath of vision
A balm for the soul

A Song in the Night
A Song growing stronger
I hear what it's singing
And "All Will Be Well."

Blest Song in the Night
Has kept me from drowning
Has broken my gravestone
And I Will Be Whole

O Blessed Redeemer
I thank You for being
My Song in the Night
My Promise of Joy~

Thursday, June 23, 2011

I Hope

I hope in Heaven
I get to experience the Bible Stories first hand
and not just watch them on a huge 3D

screen in the Biblical Hall of Fame.

I hope I get to walk in the Garden of Eden
and listen for the sound of God's feet
walking towards me in the cool of the day,
seeking me so He can pour out His heart.

I hope I get to float in the ark
while it waits for dry land to appear.
I hope I can make supper with Noah's wife
and feed her chickens and pigs
the leftover scraps.

I hope to experience the thrill of trembling trust
as I walk between piled up waves from one side
of the Red Sea to the other
while my enemies close in behind me.

I hope I get to hide with David in the cave
and sneak out to its entrance and cut off part
of Saul's robe while he sleeps.
I want to feel
the heart pounding adrenalin of doing something
braver than running a sword through the heart
of God's anointed.

I hope I get to be in the belly of the whale
with Jonah for three minutes instead of three days.
I want to experience the eruption from slimy insides
into the brilliant light of day.

I want to be Ruth and know the agony
of a husband's death
and the ecstasy and wild heart beating
that comes from laying down at the feet
of a kind man whom I'm beginning to love
when it's past the hour
of good people's bedtime.

I want to be Mary in the stable.
I want to bring forth the Son of God
and hold His wet warm body in my arms
and weep over Him as I am weeping now.

I want to be Mary Magdalene
and know the despair and torment of demonic
possession and experience the deliverance
of a Savior who doesn't send me away
when He is finished with me.

I want to help take His broken body down
from the cross.
I want to clean the blood of His face
and kiss Him again and again.
They will have to tear Him away from me
for I will not let Him go.

I want to be there in the garden
when I am blinded with tears and sorrow.
I want to not know who He is
until He says my name.

I want to know Him
from Genesis to Revelation.
I want to follow Him
from Heaven to Hell
to Heaven again.

I want to know what He's done
for every person
and experience it first hand

And I will worship Him
and praise Him
forever and ever
because of the names He is called
because of what He has done.

Play Ball

"It's time to step up to the plate."

I've been hearing this phrase somewhere within me
for the past week or two.

"Stepping up to the plate"
means I am part of a team of players.
The players are part of a team
that wants to win.
I do only my part.
I cannot do someone else's part.

"Stepping up to the plate"
may not look the same for everyone.

I may not become an all-star player.
People might not know my name.

But they might know yours.

"Stepping up to the plate"
might mean that I need to stop
hiding in the dugout.

It might mean that it's time
I show that I know how to 'play ball'
even though I'd rather be the keeper
of home plate,
sweeping it off,
helping you to see your final goal,
helping you make it home.

Perhaps I can step up to the plate
and keep home base clean.

I don't know.

But I am willing to know.

My ear is inclined to hear His voice.

I am watching His face
so He can guide me with His eye.

I am evading busyness
so I don't lose the sense of His presence.

I am grieving loss
and embracing His comfort.

I am watching, praying, guarding my heart,
my home, and those in my realm.

I am hiding God's Word in my heart
with fear and trembling,
with tears and repentance,
so I might not sin against Him.

But, I am afraid to pick up that bat.

I am afraid of the eyes watching me.

My love for others is not yet perfected.

The pressure is greater;
the temptations more severe;
the failures more visible,
when that bat's in my hands.

What does He mean by those words-
"Step up to the plate?"

Will He keep His hands around mine
and show me how to swing that bat?

Of that I am sure.
Whether I swing and hit a home run
or swing and strike out,
He will never leave me or forsake me.

And that certainty gives me the courage
to pick up my bat.

It's time to practice my swing.

In the past week or two,
I've been also noticing a verse.
Just as the phrase, "Step up to the plate"
has been echoing in my spirit,
so this verse has been doing the same.

Surely He is a God of clarity and balance.
Surely He will show me the path of obedience.

1 Thess. 4:9-12-" one another...increase more and more...also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands,...that you may walk properly toward
those who are outside, and that you may lack nothing."


I've been thinking about ways to build community and at the same time, preserve the sanctity of our home and guard our time.

I think it is when we think that we are not important to the community that we begin to believe that what we do has little effect on the community. And it is when we don't realize how important we are to people that we can hurt them the most.

The church in Acts shared what they had with each other.
Common faith.
Common food.
Common time of fellowship.

What do I have to share?

I don't have a lot of gas money to run around and be with people.

What is in my hand to share?

I have a farm and property where there are environments
of peace where God dwells and where people can come and
get back to what's important-God, family, friends.

I have the river.
I have my chapel.
I have my road to walk on.
I have my sunrise and sunset.
I have a lawn and a kickball, volleyball, and basketball.
I have trees and shade and birds that sing.
I have firewood and matches and roasting sticks.
I have the wealth of a cheerful, generous husband who likes people too.

I have a listening ear and a non-judgmental heart.
I have simplicity and safety.
I have the peace of God.

Silver and gold have I none.
But such as I have give I thee.

What has God given you?
Where do you find yourself?
How can you build a sense of community
in your environment?

The days are coming when we will need each other
more than we do now.
It is better to build community during happy times
than it is to scramble to unite a community
in a day of crisis.
Eccl. 9:4a-"...for him who is joined to all the living there is hope."

Hosea 11:4a-"...I drew them to Me with cords of human kindness...

Eccl. 4:9,10-"Two are better than one,...for if they fall, one will lift up his companion."

Gal. 6:2-"Bear one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ."

Matt. 18:20-"For where two or three are gathered in My name,
I am there in the midst of them."

Mark 6:36-"...and other little boats were also with Him."

Prov. 13:20a-"He who walks with wise men shall be wise..."
Take what you have and who you are
and stay in fellowship
and build community.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Hertzler Doings~June 20-26, 2011

Mon.-Took Susan to church early to meet her ride for youth camp. Ran a few errands and came home and cleaned up what I could from the pig roast under threatening sky. At noon, my vacation started and I rested until 2. Then Micah and Janelle and I went to the river. Micah and I came back up after we started a fire and we found some hot dogs and marshmallows. We had fun building a little playmobil village and catching crayfish. Janelle and I discussed the writing of books. She said, "We'll get a book out of you yet." Went to bed early after finishing my E.P.Roe book I've been working on. I am thankful that Phil is taking me to the dentist tomorrow. I'll be drugged up due to vertigo and the drug acts like truth serum so only certain people are allowed to take me. ;) I am thankful that the most important thing in the world to do today was a gift from God. All I had to do today was to forget what time it was, sit by the river, play with Micah, and dream with Janelle. I am thankful for Hugh's fresh sweet corn sitting there hot in the kettle, waiting for me to put butter and salt on it.

Tues.-Sleepy day. Phil took me to the dentist. Slept in the chair. We got a Wendy's burger and a Tastee Freeze ice cream on the way home. I don't remember the rest of the day. Slept all day and all night. Thank you God for sweet dentists, sweet treats, and sweet sleep.

Wed.-Erin came around 9 and we literally sewed all day. Had alot of trouble with the zipper in her dress but the end results were great. She is so happy with her 'fun' dress. Hers is green and gold with oriental designs and elephants trumpeting here and there. Alli stopped in later for me to sew in her straps. Her dress is pink eyelet and she is pleased with hers as well. Both girls are wearing their dresses to different weddings this Sat. Erin made some chinese food for lunch. It served as supper as well. She hung out with Phil and I for the eve. while Philip went to youth group. We played some pick one and made popcorn using sesame oil to pop it in and adding garlic salt, popcorn salt, seasoned salt, and curry. Delicious. Phil read to Erin and I from his book about Africa while we ate popcorn. I am thankful for Alli's bubbly happiness. I am thankful for Erin's friendship to our whole family. I am thankful that both of their dresses actually fit them. Next time, we are going for a fast and easy pattern. I am thankful that Judy is quite a seamstress!

Thurs.-Day to myself. Long quiet study time. Did some wash. Exercised. Listened to Medi-share's teaching. Walked to the river. Sewed on Susan's dress. Blogged. Picked and ate blackberries with Phil. A very wonderful day. I am thankful that Michelle learned about 'community' on her Chi Alpha conference and community has been on my mind as well. I am thankful for Sara's nice phone call today. I am thankful for Alli's post on her blog about the chair she reupholstered.

Fri.-Another day to myself. Until 4 anyway. So, I am looking back on the themes of my life in the past year...obedience, humility, simplicity, and now the word is 'community.' I was reading in 1 Thess. 12, 13 where the writer is praying that "our love would abound towards one another SO THAT the Lord may establish our hearts blameless in holiness before God our Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints." Loving each other and being blameless in holiness is what church should look like. This is true community. If we love one another, God can then establish our hearts to be blameless in holiness. People can have the appearance of holiness but they can be self-righteous in their holiness and be void of love. And that profits no one. So holy love between one another is true community. I left around 3:45 and ran out and got groceries and then met Michelle at the Asian Cuisine near the theatre and caught up with her life over chicken teriaki. We saw Nanette with her parents going into the movies so we ran out to swap howdies and I gave her my Aborigines holler across the parking lot to get her attention (Its quite loud when I am excited and outside and have no personal children around to withhold the volume so as not to embarrass them as greatly) and I looked back at Michelle just in time to see the people inside the restaurant giving themselves whiplash. I hope no one had any accidents. I love being older and not caring what people think. Nanette, who just got married a week or so ago, is positively aglow and that's all I'm going to say about that. So Michelle and I spent a lovely evening and I gleaned more from her about community which I wrote about on a separate blog. I picked up Susan around 8 from Mission Trip Boot Camp and got to hear about some of her adventures from camp. She is taller and older looking and quite wise. She grew up in 5 days and I miss my little girl but I know it is right that she grows up as I grow older. ///I am thankful for another day to be at home and sew and catch up on some correspondence, etc. I am thankful that Susan is now registered with LCA online high school and that they will accept music, art, phys ed, home ec. hours and credits, etc. I am thankful that their spanish program is Rosetta stone which we already have.

Sat.-Nice relaxing day at home. Susan did some wash and packed for NY. She and I made a large Asian stir fry for lunch complete with brown rice. Chace and Travis had spent the night here with Philip and made their own breakfast and went fishing for most of the day. Some of their friends came over in the eve. and they made bacon burgers and watched a movie in the house and now they're playing kickball. I took Susan out to town for boot camp. I got a few more groceries and dog food and then went to Chick Filet and bought a chicken sandwich and sat outside and started reading a book on spiritual friendships which is all about....drum roll please...COMMUNITY!!!! Oh, Yes! It's amazing how this has been happening to me. I bet there will be something in the sermon about community tomorrow. Community is happening in our back yard as I write this. Oh-then I left Chick Filet because I was getting second hand smoke downwind from a dear lady and as I was driving towards church I saw Judy and so I called her and we ended up at McD's eating Rolo blizzards which are not listed on my diet but are so good. ///I am thankful for Susan's excitement for tomorrow. I think she will want to go back to NYC. I know that I've wanted to go back ever since I went 30 years ago. I am thankful for Judy and her friendship and willingness to be spontaneous even though she was tired. I am thankful that community starts in the home and reaches out to the neighborhood and into people's hearts and souls. I am thankful that community has nothing to do with being perfect.

Sun.-Many waters of sorrow, fear, sin...cannot quench His love. I know of no better way to describe what church was like for me today. Susan's NYC Missions Team went up front for prayer and then left right afterwards. She posted some happy sounding times on face book as they traveled north. Alli and Freeman came home from a wedding they attended yesterday. I missed them sitting with us at church. Philip hung out with his buddies all weekend. Michael was in Fairfax for a training with Cutco. Phil and I were empty-nesters and came home and ate leftovers. I made popcorn and we watched 'Knight and Day' again. We went down to the river to start a fire and soon Janelle, Micah, and her parents, Carl and Marcia, and her brother, Jason and his wife, Erin, and their three sweet kids, Leah, Isaac, and Corbin came down to spend the evening. We roasted hot dogs and s'mores and had watermelon, raw veggies, and chips to round out our meal. Little Corbin, 11 months old, couldn't decide whether he liked me or not. It was pretty funny. Philip came down later, with his puppy, Isaac. It rained a bit but we were under the trees and didn't feel a thing. Phil drove the kids up in the gator and they loved him for it, hugging him before they left for home. ///I am thankful that Micah is still young enough to want me to kiss his chin when he hurts it. I am thankful that he still wants to sit on my lap and I look at him and wonder how much longer he will snuggle with me, being seven, and so grown up. I am thankful that Micah wanted to show off his gate closing skills and show off his river to his cousins. I am thankful for the envelopment of God's love all around me.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Hertzler Doings-June 13-19, 2011

Mon.-I am thankful that I had the energy and the time to clean up two gator loads full of garbage bags and junk from around the property. I did what I could. Now the rest is up to them. ;) Also cleaned the entryway and bathroom with Susan's help. Swept up my little chapel and washed some linens and took some porch chairs down. Took frozen scrapple and sausage out to Mickey's freezer so we'd have room for ice and ice cream. The count down has begun. I am thankful for the mercy of God. I am thankful that the ripple effect caused by the Rock of Christ splashing into the pool of God's mercy whose waters are replenished every morning, like a large wave, overtakes the ripple effects of sin before it reaches the shore. I can see this in my mind's eye. I am not sure how to describe it.

Tues.-Cut out Susan's dress. Cleaned up some trouble spots in the house. Alli came in the eve. and we worked on her pink eyelet dress. I am thankful that normalcy is out there somewhere, waiting for me. I am thankful that Susan wants to wear a dress and one that we make at that! I am thankful for Michael's cheerful voice when he talks on the phone. I am thankful that Freeman has a gem for a wife.

Wed.-Cleaned up our bedroom and my desk. Worked up the garden and sowed some zinnia seeds with Sheriff's help. The pig got out and stuck his head between my legs while I raked the garden. Phil called, 'Bacon, bacon, bacon!' and Saturday's pork ran after him, hoping for the garbage in the bucket Susan carried. Alli came in the eve. to work on her dress. We've done as much as we can do. Judy will fit it on her on Sat. and take it home to put the finishing touches on it. We had homemade oatmeal waffles, hot off the press, with cookies and cream ice cream melting between them for supper tonight. I am thankful for Phil's love. I am thankful for Susan's steadiness. I am thankful for Alli's cheer. I am thankful for Freeman's strength. I am thankful for Philip's compassion. I am thankful for Michael's zeal. I am thankful for God's forgiveness.

Thurs.-Woke up early and got in some exercise and a walk and some time at my chapel before running to Farmville this morning. We picked up the rolls, bought Miller's popcorn-the best-, stopped in at Woodland and heard Elvis, went to Tractor Supply, Kroger, Roses, and Walmart and got home around 1:15. Finished cleaning my room for now and did several loads of wash. Took a deep nap and woke up with a different mindset. A much better one. Walked a bit with Sheriff but he was feeling lazy so I didn't push it because I felt the same. I am thankful that tomorrow, our pig roast event starts, with the killing of the three little pigs in the morning and the final clean up of the property the rest of the day. I am thankful that what gets done gets done and I hope I have learned to let the rest go. I am thankful that Susan figured out a swimming outfit today after much trial and error. I am thankful for the threatening sky. Maybe we'll get some rain. (Got a wild storm. Phil went up to check on our neighbor, Mickey, in the midst of it since it looked like her house got struck by lightning. I fell asleep before he got back.) The alarm went off at midnight and I was sleeping so deeply that Phil came around the bed to turn it off. There is no reason it should have gone off, so I figured God woke me up to pray for someone who was on my mind.

Fri.-The most relaxing pre-pig roast day in history. Alli came over and helped us clean up tables, coolers, porches, windows, doors, etc. Billy and Becka came over after lunch and helped us do more. They are expecting their first baby in Feb. I think. Nathan, his brother, is coming tonight. He'll pitch his tent outside and we'll find him there in the morning, just like last year. We've known them their entire lives. We girls relaxed and watched a movie in the afternoon-Knight and Day. We brought in the futon mattress and Alli and Susan laid on the floor, Becka took the easy chair, and I laid down on the sofa after popping some homemade fries in the oven to bake. Freeman smoked some of his wild turkey breast and we had fries, coleslaw, turkey, and watermelon for supper. Billy and Becka followed Alli and Freeman home where they will spend the night. Tomorrow is the big day and I am so relaxed about it. ///I am thankful that Dianna's home again. I am thankful for a good night's sleep last night. I am thankful for our cleaned up property.

Sat.-Pig Roast Day! Hot! A good day. Had deeper conversations with more folks than normal. Met a new friend or two. Kickball was king and the river was too. Had a nice rain and the Sandridges helped me collect garbage while it rained. Logan and Bradley came down with Michael around 7. I think my favorite part of the day was showing Sara the river for the first time and also inviting her to come into my cottage. Ernie and Amber were along as well. She loved both. I also took Amanda to the river and ended up telling her that I had written about her in my blog and she said, "That was you?' Someone had told her that I had written about her and she checked it out. I am thankful that people love to come here. I am thankful for this bit of heaven on earth that we get to share. I am thankful for the dream to open our place up more often, perhaps having outdoor movie nights, using the old house outside walls as a screen.
Ice cream, kickball or the river, etc. and a movie at dark. Sunday or Friday eves. I am thankful for that dream.

Sun.-Woke early but went to church late. Great service. Deep practical life-changing teaching about fulfilling our roles as man, woman, and child, just as Christ fulfilled the role God called Him to before the foundations of the world were formed. Sweet fellowship afterwards. Came home and ate leftovers. Freeman and Alli stopped in for a bit. Erin was here and Phil invited Micah to come over and watch Three Stooges. We relaxed and ate popcorn and ice cream all afternoon and shortly after 6, Michael, Logan, and Brads left for Winchester. Phil found some great stones on his walk. Erin's major was history and she has been doing some archaeological digging, which is right down his alley. I am thankful for all of my children and for Alli. I am thankful that Phil is their father. I am thankful for my father's sense of humor, his good judgment, his wisdom, and his desire that I always be happy. Happy Father's Day, Daddy.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Hertzler Doings-June 6-12, 2011

Mon.-Met Makenzie's Mom at CCA after lunch today. Got some groceries. Came home for an hour or two. Went back to CCA. Practiced National Anthem. Went in carloads to the Hillcats game at the Lynchburg Stadium. 25 CCA kids sang the National Anthem. I held the mike and directed at the same time. A rousing cheer rang out when we were finished. Watched the game beside the Loys for awhile. Phil sat between Susan and I and we snuggled with him. Midway we got up and went to Sweet Frog and came home. ///I am thankful for Phil. I am thankful for the phone number in my purse. I am going to check into buying a Sweet Frog Franchise. I am thankful for the great family atmosphere at the game and that the stadium wasn't nearly as big as it looked online. I am thankful for the Hillcats Mascot who messed up Susan's hair, twice.

Tues.-Went to Appomattox to buy baby turkey supplies, Pig Roast supplies, and get my haircut. Ran around Farmville. ///Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. For those three things I am truly thankful.

Wed.-I am thankful for Kelli's and Susan's shrieks of laughter upstream from where I sat in my chair with my feet in the river. I am thankful for these two little girl's catching crayfish with pink plastic shoes in the shade of drooping trees at the river's edge. I am thankful for Lindsay's violin recital and her classy way of doing things in a natural way that makes everyone comfortable. I am thankful for Gil's kind prayers and words and care. I am thankful that God is merciful and God is good.

Thurs.-I am thankful for Sammy Jo's visit this morning. She told her Grandma Judy that 'Annette loves me bunches and to the moon!' She walked into our bedroom and saw the deer's head with upturned feet holding Phil's ties. "Is that a deer?" she asked. "Yes." "It's feet are on the wrong place." We painted together. She said, "I'm going to color a rainbow." I said, "That's a good idea." She said, "Thank you, Annette." Later, we went from painting paper to painting our faces and hands. I said, "I'm going to paint my veins blue." She said, "I'm going to paint my bleins blue too." Before long, she was swatting flies. "He's on the table again." SWAT! "He's a dead bug. I got him." I am thankful for Sammy Jo. I am thankful for Susan's, "What a nice way to wake up in the morning."(hearing Sammy Jo talking outside her door.)

Fri.-I am thankful for Judy's open home and the sewing fun Erin, Alli, Judy, and I experienced today. I am thankful for Alli's lilting laughter. There are few sounds more beautiful than her laugh. I am thankful for Susan's missions banquet and the delicious food and good company. I am thankful for the human video-"Worthy is the Lamb.

Sat.-I am thankful for time and energy to clean up the porches and outside today. I am thankful for Nanette and her wedding to Jim and their beautiful blended family. I am thankful for the time with Susan and Phil as we picked blackberries and watched "Knight and Day." I am thankful for the 4/10 inch of rain we got in that terrible storm.

Sun.-I am thankful for our church and that Jesus came to be with us especially today. I am thankful that stones can be thrown or be used to build monuments and that today, stones were used to build 'The Church' and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I am thankful that He came to save sinners of whom I am the chief. I am thankful for the wake up call 'Watch and Pray' and to hide God's Word in our hearts so that we won't sin against Him. My alarm needed resetting. I am thankful for Tom and Helen's family and the program they gave at Trinity tonight. I am thankful for another soaking rain.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Uncomplicated Simplicity

So, I am stuck on this theme of simplicity.
And just like when I was stuck on the theme of humility,
it seems like everything I read now has to do with simplicity.

Websters definition of simplicity is this:
"Having but one or a few parts or features;
not compounded or complex."

I am slowly working myself through
the book, "Disciplines for the Inner Life"
by Bob and Michael Benson.

Sure enough,
a writing on simplicity
was waiting for me as I turned
a page
a few weeks ago.
I can't seem to go beyond it.
I am stuck here.

Please read it with me.
It's from Albert E. Day's book,
"Discipline and Discovery."

"Seldom or never do we hear anything
about simplicity
as an essential discipline of the spiritual life.

Most of us have only a vague idea of the meaning
of the word.

Perhaps we had better begin with a definition.

Simplicity means "absence of artificial ornamentation,
pretentious styles, or luxury."
It is "artlessness, lack of cunning or duplicity."

Where there is simplicity,
words can be taken at face value.

There are no hidden or double meanings.

One says what one means
and means what one says.

There is no "joker"
concealed in the language to nullify
its obvious intent.

Simplicity does not mean
"easy to understand."

Paul was not always easy to understand.
Nor was Jesus.
Men are still wrestling with their great utterances.
But both Jesus and Paul are characterized by simplicity.

Their intention was not to confuse or deceive
but to clarify and illumine.

Where there is simplicity
there is no artificiality.

One does not try to appear younger,
or wiser, or richer than one is-
or more saintly!

Moffatt's translation of 1 Corinthians 13:4
hits it exactly when it says:
"Love makes no parade,
gives itself no airs."
Just reading this again makes me realize
just how far I have to go.
Perhaps that is why I am not 'released' from this theme.

I was thinking about it several months ago
when the older school girls at school sang,
"Tis a gift to be Simple"
for Recitatio.

We talked about the meaning of the words.
I wanted them to grasp hold of the freedom
and flexibility that comes with humility and
Can you hear their sweet soprano voices singing?

"Tis a gift to be simple, 'tis a gift to be free
Tis a gift to come down where you ought to be.
And when you find yourself in the place just right
T'will be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend
we shan't be ashamed.
To turn, turn, will be our delight
For in turning, turning
we come round right."
Ps. 116:6-"The LORD preserves the simple;
I was brought low, and He saved me."

Ps. 119:130-"The entrance of Your word gives light;
It gives understanding to the simple."

Rom.16:19b-"...but I want you to be wise in what is good,
and simple concerning evil."

11 Cor. 1:12-"...we conducted ourselves in the world
in simplicity and godly sincerity,
not with fleshly wisdom
but by the grace of God,
and more abundantly toward you."

11 Cor. 11:3-"But I fear...that your minds may be corrupted
from the simplicity that is in Christ."
Post script:

After I finished writing the above, I was reminded about a conversation I had with a young woman I mentor. It's a mutually beneficial relationship for she mentors me also. I have never met such a wise young woman.

Anyway, I was telling her that I was sure that I had disappointed her...that I had not come through for her when she needed me most...that I wish I had done more....

It had been on my mind for some time.

But she said something like, "I don't think I ever felt that way. I don't think I was ever disappointed with you. I was more interested in your failings than in your perfections. I wanted to observe how you get up in the morning knowing that you failed the day before."

It makes me cry just reading this again.
Her words created a defining moment.
Time stood still.

We try so hard. I try so hard.
I want to do it right.
I don't want to disappoint anyone.

But the simple truth is this.
I must simply be myself.

I must fail.
I must disappoint.
I must be human.

Because there are those watching.

There are those longing to see how we appropriate
the mercy and grace of God into our failures.

They are not looking for perfection.
They are looking for people who are real.

The hardest thing about simplicity
is that it requires us to have
an unveiled heart,
an unveiled face,
an unveiled life.

And the easiest thing about simplicity
is that it sets us free to have
an unveiled heart,
an unveiled face,
an unveiled life.