Merry Listing!

The lingering benefits of attending church cannot be overrated.

This morning I was refreshed and renewed in my church service. It is possible to have internal movement and stirring of my spirit in church. After all, that’s one of the reasons I attend church. The music was excellent from the choir, and robust from the congregation. We spoke encouraging words to one another and most of all; the real meaning of Christmas seeped through all the elements of worship.

On my seven-mile drive home, the message remained an inspiration. This afternoon it is still stirring around in my soul. You see, Pastor Felber approached a subject I’d already been thinking about so he deepened it further. In my circuit of devotional presentations during the week, I have been presenting devotionals on the people of Christmas. This morning, I am left thinking about the places of Christmas, and things of Christmas.

So, I challenge you to make three lists. List one could be the people of Christmas which would include Joseph, Mary, Elisabeth, Anna, and so forth. List two could be places of Christmas such as Nazareth, Bethlehem, the stable, the sheepfolds outside of Bethlehem, and so forth. The third list could be a list of things such as, the Star, the Manger, the decree, the dreams, and so forth. Just by making the list will put your mind in focus.

We all have Christmas lists for food, gifts, programs, and other assorted activities. Why not make a list that will hold us in focus on the real meaning of Christmas worship?

As for me, I plan to use my lists this week in the devotional challenges by playing a game of person, place or thing; a spinoff of the old game we play in the car (my favorite car game is “bird, beast, or fish”) The story I am telling this week is one from a category on this site: favorite stories. “What the Heart Knows” is about a donkey. You can search for it, read it, and perhaps use it yourself.

Merry Listing!

A Mouse Problem

For the past two months my computer mouse has had a behavior problem. It double clicks when all I want is one click. The double click takes me to places that sometimes puzzle me. This past Saturday the mouse began to drag and drop into adventurous places to the point where I thought I might just lose what little of my mind was left!

My son-in-love is an IT man for Hewlett-Packard and was aware of my miserable mouse problem. He was diligently searching for a price effective new mouse so he was not ignoring my problem. Saturday it was the proverbial straw the broke the camel’s back. I called. Gary searched his resources of discarded, unwanted, free stuff and found a mouse for me to use temporarily. Ah, relief. This is a wireless mouse and it behaves.

This morning when I was sitting in church it occurred to me that a congregation must have misbehaving members that act a whole lot like my old mouse. They go places they should not go. The open documents they were not directed to open. Sometimes they just flat out don’t work at all. Unlike me, who slammed the mouse down and called for help, my loving, longsuffering pastor faithfully preaches from the Word of God in hopes that some of those wandering hearts might be captured and rescued from sinful circumstances.

What a rowdy bunch of sheep a pastor has to shepherd. Sheep tend to wander off into unsafe places. Now, I can get another mouse and just lay the old one to rest in the trash. Pastors can’t do that. This leads me to think that I do not pray for my pastor nearly as effectively as I should. I must do better. My pastor is concerned about every single one of us and deserves our ardent prayer support.

Who knew that an unruly computer component held a spiritual lesson? No me, until I stood in the Good Shepherd’s Presence and allowed myself to think this issue through in spiritual terms. That’s why I named this site, The Shepherd’s Presence.

John 10:27 “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”

A Christmas Reunion

One of the story sites I like to use is http://www.inspire21.com Not all of the stories are serious and one has to sift through them; sometimes I find something and sometimes not. I found a story today that I once had in my file but I must have given it away. Here it is for your enjoyment and use.

By Pastor Rob Reid
The brand new pastor and his wife, newly assigned to their first ministry to reopen a church in suburban Brooklyn, arrived in early October excited about their opportunities. When they saw their church, it was very run down and needed much work. They set a goal to have everything done in time to have their first service on Christmas Eve.
They worked hard, repairing pews, plastering walls, painting, etc., and on December 18th they were ahead of schedule and just about finished. On December 19th a terrible tempest – a driving rainstorm – hit the area and lasted for two days. On the 21st, the pastor went over to the church. His heart sank when he saw that the roof had leaked, causing a large area of plaster about 20 feet by 8 feet to fall off the front wall of the sanctuary just behind the pulpit, beginning about head high.
The pastor cleaned up the mess on the floor, and not knowing what else to do but postpone the Christmas Eve service, headed home. On the way he noticed that a local business was having a flea market type sale for charity so he stopped in. One of the items was a beautiful, handmade, ivory colored, crocheted tablecloth with exquisite work, fine colors and a Cross embroidered right in the center. It was just the right size to cover up the hole in the front wall. He bought it and headed back to the church.
By this time it had started to snow. An older woman running from the opposite direction was trying to catch the bus. She missed it. The pastor invited her to wait in the warm church for the next bus 45 minutes later. She sat in a pew and paid no attention to the pastor while he got a ladder, hangers, etc., to put up the tablecloth as a wall tapestry. The pastor could hardly believe how beautiful it looked and it covered up the entire problem area.
Then he noticed the woman walking down the center aisle. Her face was like a sheet. “Pastor,” she asked, “where did you get that tablecloth?”
The pastor explained. The woman asked him to check the lower right corner to see if the initials, EBG were crocheted into it there. They were. These were the initials of the woman, and she had made this tablecloth 35 years before, in Austria.
The woman could hardly believe it as the pastor told how he had just gotten the Tablecloth. The woman explained that before the war she and her husband were well-to-do people in Austria. When the Nazis came, she was forced to leave. Her husband was going to follow her the next week. She was captured, sent to prison and never saw her husband or her home again. The pastor wanted to give her the tablecloth; but she made the pastor keep it for the church. The pastor insisted on driving her home, which was the least he could do. She lived on the other side of Staten Island and was only in Brooklyn for the day for a housecleaning job.
What a wonderful service they had on Christmas Eve. The church was almost full. The music and the spirit were great. At the end of the service, the pastor and his wife greeted everyone at the door and many said that they would return.
One older man, whom the pastor recognized from the neighborhood, continued to sit in one of the pews and stare, and the pastor wondered why he wasn’t leaving. The man asked him where he got the tablecloth on the front wall because it was identical to one that his wife had made years ago when they lived in Austria before the war and how could there be two tablecloths so much alike? He told the pastor how the Nazis came, how he forced his wife to flee for her safety, and he was supposed to follow her, but he was arrested and put in a prison. He never saw his wife or his home again all the 35 years in between.
The pastor asked him if he would allow him to take him for a little ride. They drove to Staten Island and to the same house where the pastor had taken the woman three days earlier. He helped the man climb the three flights of stairs to the woman’s apartment, knocked on the door and he saw the greatest Christmas reunion he could ever imagine.

June 15, 1215

theshepherdspresence:

Perhaps I am holding myself in grand esteem, but this afternoon upon thinking about that first Thanksgiving in 1621 I went back to 2012 and read some old weblogs. There is a series of seven blogs that concentrate on English history. I am amazed that I didn’t just call is quits that first year I wrote and published these blogs. I seldom received a “like” on them and very few comments. Undaunted by the nonapplause of men, I just forged forward. Today I am reblogging the first of those seven blogs. June 15, 1215, marks the beginning of American freedom. It is the birthdate of the Magna Carta.

Originally posted on The Shepherd's Presence:

Today I read a facebook post from World Atlas regarding the history of the Magna Carta.  It was on June 15, 1215, that Barons in England posed the document on England’s King John that he could no longer live above the law.  Regretfully, Pope Innocent III told him he would not have to abide by it.  That’s how powerful the Pope was in those times.  (Admit it, the Pope is still very powerful.)

The oppression of the Church and the King of England led to persecutions beyond belief.  It was really what we would consider an awful time for Believing Christians.  If you want to read some hair-raising stuff, just study the lives of those who fled from England during that time.  But, I digress.  My freedom, which I sometimes take so glibly, was purchased at the price of those who fled England.  Men who made their way to North…

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Observing Hank Hamster

theshepherdspresence:

Hank has now been replaced by Honey Hamster, but he is certainly not forgotten. Because I have been thinking about the many life-lessons he taught me, I am repeating my first weblog about him today. There are about eight blogs about his short life. If you like this one, just type in “Hank” on the search bar and find more. He gave me so much joy!

Originally posted on The Shepherd's Presence:

After hamster sitting Jack Hamster for my grandson, I decided to get one of my own.  Meet Hank!

I suppose this will be the first of many posts about Hank. He is just a baby and he has absolutely no compunction about letting me know that I am not his mommy.  It will take me at least two weeks to convince him that I mean him no harm.  Catching him to clean his habitat without throwing him back into fear may be a challenge.

I did not want him to sleep in his exercise wheel, as Jack is determined to do, so I bought him a cute little hamster house made of vines of some sort.  At first he would have nothing to do with it.  Gently I directed him to this little haven of safety and now, he thinks it is a wonderful hiding place to doze away the…

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Others May, You Cannot

Others May, You Cannot

If God has called you to be really like Jesus He will draw you into a life of crucifixion and humility and put upon you such demands of obedience that you will not be able to follow other people, or measure yourself by other Christians, and in many ways He will seem to let other people do things which He will not let you do.

Other Christians and ministers who seem very religious and useful, may push themselves, pull wires, and work schemes to carry out their plans but you cannot do it; and if you attempt it, you will meet with such failure and rebuke, from the Lord as to make you sorely penitent.

Others may boast of themselves, of their work, or their success, of their writings, but the Holy Spirit will not allow you to do any such thing, and if you begin it, He will lead you into some deep mortification that will make you despise yourself and all your good works.

Others may be allowed to succeed in making money, or may have a legacy left to them, but it is likely God will keep you poor, because He wants you to have something far better than gold, namely, a helpless dependence on Him, that He may have the privilege of supplying your needs, day by day out of an unseen treasury.

The Lord may let others be honored and put forward, and keep you hidden in obscurity, because He wants you to produce some fragrant choice fruit for His coming glory, which can only be produced in the shade. He may let others be great, but keep you small. He may let others do a work for Him, and get the credit of it, but He will make you work and toil on without knowing how much you are doing; and then to make your work still more precious, He will let others get credit for the work which you have done, and thus make your reward ten times greater when Jesus comes.

The Holy Spirit will put a strict watch over you, with a jealous love, and will rebuke you for little words and feelings, or for wasting your time, which other Christians never seem distressed over. So make up your mind that God is an infinite, sovereign, and has a right to do as He pleases with His own. He may not explain to you a thousand things which puzzle your reason in His dealings with you, but if you absolutely sell yourself to be His love slave, He will wrap you up in a jealous love and bestow upon you many blessings which come only to those who are in the inner circle.

Settle it forever, then, that you are to deal directly with the Holy Spirit, and that He is to have the privilege of tying your tongue, or chaining your hand, or closing your eyes, in ways that He does not seem to use with others. Now when you are so possessed with the living God that you are, in your secret heart, pleased and delighted over this peculiar, personal, private, jealous guardianship and management of the Holy Spirit over your life, you will have found the vestibule of Heaven.
G. D. Watson, first published this in Living Words and later published as a tract by Good News Publishers. The tract is now out of print but I found information at this site: http://articles.ochristian.com/preacher168-1.shtml
and also stumbled on an audio rendering on You Tube. Just type in “Others May, You Cannot” on the search bar.

Watching out for Others

Saturday a crew of family members descended on my yard with rakes and leaf blowers to take care of leaves and gutters. My work ethic told me I just had to get out there and help, and I had already accomplished more than half of my front yard by myself. While I am able, I am also slow and take breaks. These young grandboys seem to have so much stamina!

While the boys manned rakes and a leaf blower, their dad climbed on top of my roof to clean out the gutters. He left the 4-year old with us on the ground. She flitted about the yard “helping” and stopping to play in leaf piles. For being so young, she can keep on task and carried her share of tub loads of leaves to the curb. (On Monday, the city leaf vacuum will come and pick them up.)

I worked with the boys. All of a sudden I heard a booming voice from on top of the roof. “Kholton! your sister is too close to the street!” Well, there was a large row of leaves between her and the street, but her dad was being watchful even from afar. After that, I kept a closer eye on her myself.

In the scheme of life, there are times when God assigns us that task of watching out for someone else. We need to be sensitive to those assignments. It could be to take a meal to a neighbor who is a new mother. Could it be washing a car for someone? The assignment may include watching out for the spiritual welfare of someone in your community group? Is there someone at church who seems to look a bit discouraged?

Don’t get so wrapped up in yourself, your job, that you neglect the watchfulness for the behalf of others. Another blogger reminded me recently of the verse in Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 which in part says: “Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow. . .”

Of course, I know that the Lord is watching us; sometimes, however, God wants us to watch with Him, and be his “boots on the ground.”

Granny, Afghans, and the Gift of Giving

Here’s just a personal glimpse of memories of my mother. It isn’t necessarily inspirational as my aim. It is just sharing a piece of my mom and me. I am putting together some family treasures into the hope chest that once was hers and now is mine. I couldn’t resist writing a little slip of memory to include within the folds of the afghan that has a very special memory to me. Mom’s loving and willing gift of giving is a lingering gift to me.

My mother loved to crochet. She learned to crochet early, in the third grade she once told me. She had a lingering illness that kept her in bed one winter and it was her grandmother, Grandmother Shatzka, that kept her busy by teaching her how to crochet.

I watched her as a child crochet baby sweaters and bonnets and caps for the neighbor’s new babies and for family babies. She also did other practical things like pot holders by using odds and ends of crochet thread. The pot holder was no beauty, but it sure was practical.

For many years, she crocheted a lacy border for our family pillowcases. She crocheted edgings on dresser scarves that she had already embroidered. It wasn’t until I was in college that I remember coming home and she was crocheting an afghan. At first she made an afghan for daddy, then one for herself, and then me. Eventually, the prized afghans became family gifts for children, and as my children grew and married, they received an afghan as a wedding present. Perhaps every great grandchild received a baby afghan from my mother’s now crippling hands that were struck with arthritis.

This afghan she kept for herself and it is lovely. Well, it was lovely until the nursing home laundry lady got hold of it. It is now smaller than the original and several of the centers of the flowers are missing. I just can’t part with it, however and here it is in the “treasure chest.”

One winter mom took on a big project: she was hired to make a crotched table cloth. Daddy said of it that the project kept her alive. She had been sick most of that winter, but she had a job to do! I never got to see the finished project as she sold it. After that, she crocheted doilies for people for pay and gave them to all of us “girls” for Christmas as well. I treasure those handmade works of love and I hope that you will too. I know we can go into specialty shops and find machine crocheted doilies, even curtain toppers, but none will ever match the beauty of the ones my mom made with hands of love.

I will never forget the day that Alzheimer’s snatched that part of Mom’s memory. She had something started, it was lying on the couch, and she asked me, “What’s this?” When I told her, she picked it up, examined it, and said, “I didn’t do this, I don’t even know what it is.” I didn’t want her to see me cry. I changed the subject. Tears fill my eyes even just writing this. Every Christmas when I put up my tree, under it lies the simple but beautiful tree skirt she made for me. I will never exchange it for anything else.

Wonderland Creek (a book review)

Wonderland Creek is written by Lynn Austin and copyrighted in 2011. It is published in both paper and ink, and electronic readers by Bethany House Publishers. It is 358 pages long.

Austin writes historical fiction very capably. I am no stranger to her books. This book has a setting in Kentucky in 1936 and wonderfully covers the period of time when former President F.D. Roosevelt was doing whatever could be done to recover from the Great Depression. One of the job creations made in the government programs was hiring people to deliver books to the backwoods people in the mountains. The people were very poor because the closing of factories also closed the coal mines. The “librarians” used pack horses and mules to load up books and take them to families. Where no one could read well, the person delivering the books would stay and read to them. Before reading this book, I had no idea such a program ever existed.

Austin fashions a plot around two feuding families and a Negro woman who claims to be 100 years old. Add to that a city girl from outside Chicago who delivers boxes of discarded books to the library at Alcorn, Kentucky. The librarian, whom she expected to be female, turns out to be male. Then add to the story a bit of mystery and what you get is an outstanding work of fiction based on a real place in 1936.

My only complaint in the book is that is starts painstakingly slow. Yet, at the slow pace, I did see why Austin took so much time to build the main character. While there is a main plot, it is so interwoven with the subplots that the book moves deftly along to the conclusion which has a surprise element.

Do I recommend this book? Indeed I do. Young adults and old can find enjoyable companionship with this young lady who tells the story in first person.

Slide, Christian, Slide!

Baseball has an overlooked play if the spectator is one who merely accompanies a friend to the local park softball game. The slide. When my son was in high school he decided to try his skills at baseball. I remember the alarm bells sounding in my head the day he came home and said, “Coach taught us how to slide today.” Well, there is a right way, a wrong way, and all slides look dangerous to me. They are dangerous. Due to many injuries at homeplate, the professional rules changed this year. The catcher now must position himself in front of the plate. Catchers are prime positions for runners doing their best to beat the ball in order to score.

Some slides are head first, some feet first, and others on sides; they all involve risk. Then, there are the fielders who slide. They dive, roll, and even do sitting slides in order to capture a fly ball. They leave the spectators bug-eyed when the glove comes up with the ball snuggly held. Were the windows open, the neighbors might wonder if I have an attacker! Well, I never can watch a game quietly.

Risk. It is more than a board game. It is more than the thrill of watching a practiced, expert in a baseball game. What will I risk for the cause of Christ? It costs—saying something or being silent in conversation when it turns to the Bible. Speaking up in a cubeville office may risk a reprimand from the boss. Some students have been suspended from school because they dared to silently bow the head in a prayer of thanks before eating in the cafeteria. We risk ridicule for standing on a corner with a political sign supporting the candidate of our choice particularly if the candidate is a bold pro-life, freedom of speech, freedom of religion believer.

Without hesitation the player my decide: slide, or not, and be pronounced out, or let the ball safely drop and let the runner take a double? The professional players do what it takes, or be sent to the showers, or home. The Believing Christian should do no less than to speak for the name of Christ.

“Thou therefore, endure hardness as a good soldier. . .” II Timothy 2:3 expresses the attitude held by those who are willing to take the risk of carrying the gospel to a workplace, school, recreation center, and neighborhood. Slide, Christian, Slide!

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