Joseph, a Man of Principles

This past Sunday my pastor wrapped up a series he has presented from the life of Joseph. These have been stirring sermons. They have dealt with the nitty-gritty of life. This last message was no different.

I noticed an outline I jotted down sometime in the past at the end of chapter 50 of Genesis. The notation gives credit to an identity of “From the Pit to the Palace” but no credit as to a name of the presenter.

1. React positively in a negative situation.
2. Do your best in every circumstance. “Bloom where you are planted.”
3. View every life circumstance as training for the future.
4. Try to be a blessing to everyone around you.
5. Understand that faith will stand trials.

That is useful, positive teaching. Here is the outline from my pastor’s message. I was listening; I was not merely perusing old notes.

Genesis 49:33 and Genesis 50:19-21 is the Bible passage and he coupled New Testament teachings with each point. The theme was forgiveness because it is at this point, after the death of Jacob that Joseph’s siblings now felt that Joseph may take revenge for their wrong, evil doings, against Joseph. He said this: 1) I will not play God. (verse 19) It was not Joseph’s place to take vengeance. 2) Joseph saw God in everything. His brothers meant to harm him and it was evil. No doubt about that, but God turned it to good. Humanly speaking, this was not easy for Joseph to do. 3) I will nourish you. He repaid evil for good and 4) I will speak kindly to you. It was the closing remarks that brought tears to my eyes. Pastor Felber said: “God does not forget; He is God; He cannot forget. God chooses to not remember.” It is a choice. We do not need to be bosom buddies with those who wronged us and even meant to hurt us—purposely injure our spirits but, we can choose to not remember. Joseph set the example; Jesus chooses not to remember our sins when we seek His forgiveness.

I have been hurt and moved on because there is no future for those who drag the past behind them. Bitterness is like drinking poison and hoping the person who hurt you dies. I know that. It was so freeing to me to hear those words, “. . . choose to not remember.”

While there are those in America who are deliberately snatching religious freedom from us, I feel sorry for them. Their intentions are selfish and, yes, evil. They do not truly understand freedom. While we need to fight for our freedom, more than that, we need to pray for those who despitefully use us. I see so much anger and wonder how that can prove anything. A steadfast attitude of holding to faith in God is a good starting point.

“Let’s Roll” — Todd Beamer

theshepherdspresence:

This story has the same impact on me today as it did when I first read it and later wrote this review. Today or tomorrow is a good time to refresh our minds, yea, our souls, of the price these few brave men paid to put this plane down before it destroyed even more lives than theirs. It is a “repeat” but I feel, a necessary repeat.

Originally posted on The Shepherd's Presence:

I wrote this shortly after I read the book, and have been holding it in my document file and really didn’t know why.  Maybe for this weblog.

Let’s Roll:  Ordinary People, Extraordinary Courage

by Lisa Beamer with Ken Abrahams

Tyndale Publishers, 2002, 2006 (with epilogue)

          Lisa Beamer portrays herself and her husband as ordinary people.  I beg to disagree.  Both Todd and Lisa grew up in strong Christian families that taught their children virtue, character, and a dependence on God. Both Todd and Lisa attended Wheaton College and graduated with liberal arts degrees.  That gave them something to draw on when they needed courage and strength.

While Todd Beamer is certainly the lead character in this biography, Lisa is an integral part. They shared a marriage made of such a close relationship that I am tempted to call them “soul mates” which does not happen often.  It was a…

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The One-Room Schoolhouse

This morning at the Senior Center, our singtime included schoolhouse songs from the past. That would be my past, in fact. We sang, “Clementine” and “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad” Alas, those songs are not in my edition of the “Golden Book of Favorite Songs.” When I came back home, I reached for my tattered book from which we sang in my Chain O’ Lakes schoolhouse which I attended from 1948 to 1954. Once in a fit of nostalgia, I bought my 1923 edition on ebay.

The schoolhouse did not have indoor plumbing, but it did have electricity. In the spring and fall the building was cooled by open windows and throughout the winter it was warmed by a large, pot-bellied stove that consumed wood. The parents donated wood, split wood, and the man across the road started the fire on those frosty mornings. Trips to the outhouse in the winter were fast, to say the least.

Eight grades were taught by one teacher. Looking back, I can attest to the fact that my elementary education was superb. Someday I will write a tribute to Mrs. Jenks who served as my teacher for grades 1, 2, 3 and 6. She stopped when she had a baby, thus the gap in grades 4 and 5.

Back to the contents of that song book I see that we had a section of patriotism that included the “American Creed” and the “Gettysburg Address.” We all stood and said the pledge to the American Flag every morning. We sang a patriotic song every morning because Mrs. Jenks played the piano beautifully! When music class time came, we sang a mixture of songs: “Old Black Joe,” “My Old Kentucky Home,” and “Reuben and Rachel.” I also remember singing “Abide With Me,” and “Holy, Holy, Holy.” At Christmas we sang “Silent Night” and other songs right along with “Up on the Housetop.”

No one questioned our music selections. Parents approved our recitations of the Twenty-third Psalm, and the American Creed. Parents knew that we needed balance in our lives and those one-room schoolhouses produced the Greatest Generation and those of us who followed in their footsteps.

I say all of that to encourage a round of applause to parents who choose the one-room schoolhouse for their children when they choose to educate their children at home. Last week I supervised a one-room school as my grandsons attended classes in a room set aside in their home for school. Yes, computers are in that classroom, and their teachers teach via live streaming classes from a Christian school in Florida. They love history, science, and arithmetic. Each morning they pledge the American flag, and the first class they attend is Bible class. I was on hand in the absence of my daughter, a teacher in her own right with an erned degree. All I had to do was supervise because the boys listened to the teachers and did their work without complaint.

For those families who appreciate the character of the older generation and want the values of God and Country in curriculum as well as in family living, this kind of one-room schoolhouse is still available. I have life-long values implanted in my life from my own one-room schoolhouse, and see the same values being ingrained in my grandchildren. A generation gap exists but only in technology. Our values are as solid as the Word of God.

Absorbent

I rained last night. Let me rephrase that. Last night it thundered powerfully, lightning lit up the sky, and wind blew furiously. Get the picture? Now add this: my car windows were open.

Car seats are comfy because they are padded with absorbent foam and mine also have fabric covers. Even the visors were wet this morning. In order to avoid a wet-looking posterior, I lined the driver’s seat with two thick bath towels and the passenger seat with another. The driver’s seat back rest is also draped in another thick towel. I now regret being nice to my car yesterday in the near ninety degree temperature by letting the windows down.

Since I like to learn from my mistakes, (the least one can do) while I was patting dry the seat and lining it with absorbent, thick towels, my mind turned to the word, absorbent. Just prior to tackling the job of a wet car, I had read Psalms 30-35. So, I was working and thinking about what I had just read. We all need to be like those nice thick, absorbent towels and soak in the Word of God. I don’t know about you, dear readers, but I know about me. The Word of God is my lifeline. Unless I absorb, yea, consume the Word of God, it will not be a ready source for application when I need it.

Now, I also noticed that even the inside of my windshield had beads of water on it. It is NOT absorbent. Of the two, I’d rather be like the car seat, though soaked. That is much better than being hard, cold, and rejecting.

I learned. I applied. I have shared. The rest is up to you.

Forty-Six Years

Upon writing the date on yesterday’s journal entry, a memory appeared. It was 46 years ago to the day that I accepted a marriage proposal. For several months, even into a year or more we celebrated on the 27th of each month.

That was memorable. An even more memorable event is that it is now 46 years past my initial diagnosis with ovarian cancer. Ordinarily I do not dwell on the cancer word or its blotch on my life. The two events just coincide. A routine appendectomy turned into a routine exploratory that turned into the sober revelation of ovarian cancer. Those were ten days that changed my life.

In God’s mercy, the cancer was smaller than my little finger nail in size, yet the cancer research doctor recommended that the ovary be removed, but spared me one ovary. I married months later, bore three children, and kept up my routine check ups. Then, there it was again. This time it was growing rapidly. Again, in God’s grace and mercy, it did not attach to anything except the one remaining ovary.

The year was 1979, a time when cancer-stricken individuals were not automatically cast into chemotherapy. I escaped losing my hair and the side effects of chemo. Remarkably I have also escaped any further incidence of cancer.

Do I think of it? Occasionally. Do I dwell on it? No. Psalm 90, in many ways is a reflection of how God leads. Moses requests of the Lord in this beautiful Psalm in verse 12: “So teach us to number our days that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” Every day is a day measured out to me. I need to use it wisely. In verse 14, Moses longingly says, “O satisfy us early with Thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.” There is no need to be depressed and every reason to rejoice! Finally, verse 16 is a precious promise to me: “Let Thy works appear unto thy servants, and Thy glory unto their children.” God allowed me to parent three children of whom I am happy to say are balanced Christians, and in addition, ten lively, wonderful, inspiring grandchildren.

All that and much more in these past 46 years.

Love in Work Boots and Our Police Officers

I just can’t get past the rioting and looting going on in Ferguson, Missouri. I also refuse to be judge and jury as the mainstream news carriers are doing in their reporting. Such civil unrest, in my opinion, is uncalled for.

Every life is important to God. Every life. The color of the skin does not matter. What does matter is the hatred that would cause a person to rob and push around a store clerk, then disregard the ones attempting to keep that person safe by not allowing him to walk down the middle of the street. I am going to call it sin. Sin is the transgression of the law. I John says it clearly: “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law, for sin is the transgression of the law.” Police officers have the charge of maintaining safety and peace. Romans 13:3 clearly defines those who keep us safe as “rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou not be afraid of the power? Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same.”

I ask this: Where are the clergy in Ferguson? Either the news is not reporting it, or the clergy are inside their pristine offices rather than out on the streets ministering healing love to the distraught. The clergy and followers of faith need to put on their work boots and with prayerful hearts spread some love. Spread that love like a six-year old spreads peanut butter. Generously, and without regard for social class.

While some laws seem senseless and burdensome, (I don’t care for the mandatory seat belt laws) but the laws are meant to protect us personally and when a police officer separates you for your own safety, just obey whether you understand it or not. It is as easy as saying, “Yes, Sir” and showing respect.

Today, put your shoes on with peace and love in your heart, and work at every opportunity to bring forth good. If you decided to transgress the law, then that police officer may seem a terror. If you desire to do good, the police officer will praise you. It is just that simple. So, as the saying seems to trend currently, “Do the next right thing.” Let your Light shine because that Light sheds Love.

P.S. I have a grandson who is entering college this fall in the area of law enforcement. My heart yearns for his safety as he may have to face the sin of transgressors who not only disregard street safety, but the very lives that surround them.

What in the World is Going On?

My street is usually just a normal flow of traffic. It is a city street in a small city. Early in the morning and in early evening it is common to see people walking, running, jogging, dog-walking, and biking. For a short stretch, there are no sidewalks and everyone uses the street safely. Running parallel to my street, however, is a State Road.

So this morning I found my quiet street unusually noisy. Semi-trucks are navigating this narrow street turning left and holding up unusually heavy traffic. “What in the world. . .” I think when I hear the noise of screeching brakes and roaring engines of trucks! Standing at my window I can’t quit watching and I am not alone. Foot traffic has also slowed and diverted its route. I suppose that there has been an accident on the State Road and the trucks, vans, cars, and service vehicles are being rerouted.

This is for about a half hour. What will it be like when Christ returns in the sky to snatch the living and dead Christians away? “In a moment. . .” the Apostle Paul states in I Corinthians 15:52. One amazing moment! The rerouted traffic on my corner is nothing compared to what that moment in time will be like. Everything will change in one single moment.

Now you have something on which to think. I would help you with an outline, but you can do it on your own. A crown of righteousness awaits those who love Christ’s appearing. II Timothy 4:8 declares: “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day, and not me only, but to all them also that love His appearing.”

As the morning light awakens our senses, or nightfall signals quiet slumber, keep in mind that the moment may be soon With John at the end of writing down the revelations given him, I repeat: “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” Revelation 22:20

Remember the Sabbath

This is the fourth commandment The first four commandments deal with our relationship to God while the remaining commandments deal with interpersonal relationships on earth.

This commandment is in two parts: remember the Sabbath; keep it holy. Both parts of the commandment are imperatives. They have an understood subject: you. In a grammarian’s book, it would read (you) remember the Sabbath; (you) keep it holy. Both imperatives seem difficult for the general population to follow.

There have been times when I have been guilty of apologetically saying, “I won’t be participating because the event falls on a Sunday.” When I turned down attending a political event that started at noon on a Sunday the event planner haughtily replied that if these political rallies were not held the future of Sunday worship is in jeopardy. The event planner tried to back me into a corner. It didn’t work. A political event is not nearly as important as setting aside time to spend in quiet reflection on my Savior and in support of brothers and sisters in Christ. How could I ever justify attending a rowdy event and say that I was keeping a day set apart for worship holy?

In my long working career, there were times when I had to take my turn at Sunday work, but I usually was able to trade or maneuver hours so that I did not have to miss both morning and evening services, sometimes even worked in choir practice. What about other days for reflection? That is possible too. Some jobs require work on all seven days of the week; for instance, hospitals are open every day of the week. So, when I worked at a hospital during my college years, I made it a personal goal to take additional time in Bible study another time during the week. When we do that, it makes the time set apart a holy time.

It is a mystery to me that when I take time for God, the rest of the day takes care of itself. Everything gets done that has to be done by day’s end. God blesses the remembering, and the keeping that time set aside holy.

In a culture where “me” is all important, it becomes even more necessary to practice the Fourth Commandment. In addition to that one day of quiet, reflective rest, let’s remember to also keep a portion of every day to practice some holy time with our Savior. He longs for our conversations as He speaks through His Word and we respond with pleasure to be in His company.

Wet Pants

I read this story a few years ago and passed it on in an e mail. Since this is the first week of school in our school district, I searched for an inspiring story to pass along to my teacher friends from years past and my current teacher acquaintances. This seemed a good fit.

Wet Pants

Come with me to a third grade classroom…

There is a nine-year-old kid sitting at his desk and all of a sudden, there is a puddle between his feet and the front of his pants are wet. He thinks his heart is going to stop because he cannot possibly imagine how this has happened. It’s never happened before, and he knows that when the boys find out he will never hear the end of it. When the girls find out, they’ll never speak to him again as long as he lives.

The boy believes his heart is going to stop; he puts his head down and prays this prayer, “Dear God, this is an emergency! I need help now! Five minutes from now I’m dead meat.”

He looks up from his prayer and here comes the teacher with a look in her eyes that says he has been discovered.

As the teacher is walking toward him, a classmate named Susie is carrying a goldfish bowl that is filled with water. Susie trips in front of the teacher and inexplicably dumps the bowl of water in the boy’s lap.

The boy pretends to be angry, but all the while is saying to himself, “Thank you, thank you, Lord!”

Now all of a sudden, instead of being the object of ridicule, the boy is the
object of sympathy.

The teacher rushes him downstairs and gives him gym shorts to put on while his pants dry out. All the other children are on their hands and knees cleaning up around his desk. The sympathy is wonderful.

But as life would have it, the ridicule that should have been his has been
transferred to someone else – Susie.

She tries to help, but they tell her to get out. You’ve done enough, you
klutz!”
Finally, at the end of the day, as they are waiting for the bus, the boy walks over to Susie and whispers, “You did that on purpose, didn’t you?” Susie whispers back, “I wet my pants once too.”

May we all see the opportunities that are always around us to do good.

Author Unknown

The Obituary

Not wanting to be bothered with such writing, the Northeast Argus editor assigned me the job of writing obituaries and weddings. It did give me a break from proofreading and taking counter classified advertising. Since I find people so interesting, I really didn’t mind the assignment. As a person reads through I Kings, II Kings, I Chronicles, and II Chronicles he has to notice that at each death of a monarch, there is a short obituary.

Usually it reads something as this: “And David slept with his fathers. . .” or whichever king. Recently I took notice of King Hezekiah’s obituary. It reads, “And the rest of the acts of Hezekiah, and all his might, and how he made a pool, and a conduit, and brought water into the city, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah. And Hezekiah slept with his fathers and his son, Mannesseh reigned in his stead.”

He is remembered for many things, but his pool and conduit is mentioned several times in Scripture. It is mentioned here in II Kings 20, II Chronicles 19, Isaiah 22:9, and again in Isaiah 36. That conduit brought life-saving water hidden underground from sight of any enemy that might surround the city. Psalm 46:4 speaks of that water when it says, “There is a river that makes glad the city of God.”

Hezekiah is remembered for many things, but his obituary remembers the phenomenal underground tunnel. That 1,750 foot long waterway was no easy feat in 750 BC.

Will you be remembered for your walk with Jesus? Your upstanding integrity? Your willingness to help others? Let’s hope we won’t be remembered for being grumpy, dishonest, and a mean short temper.

Next time you are tempted to do less that your best, or even something “shady” think about how you will be remembered. Stop. Think. Do the next good memorable thing. You may not be a king, but if you are a child of God, live so that you will be remembered fondly.

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