When a new business comes to town it advertises, “Coming Soon” in the newspapers and with gigantic signs in the bulding windows.
Last week I heard, then saw, a flock of geese flying overhead.
A friend posted a picture of crocus blooming near a sidewalk.
The sun is getting warmer and warmer as it spreads its beams through winter windows.
Spring is coming. Our winter has been long and cold, but spring is coming.
The faithfulness of God is shown in the change of seasons. It is a promise that comes along with the appearing of the rainbow in Genesis 8. In verse 22 the Bible reads this wonderful promise: “While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.”
I just wanted to give you some hope today after snow and ice this past weekend!
The unusually high piles of snow and dirt around my city and in my yard set me to thinking.
Our winter here in central Indiana has been snowed under—really. The perimeters of parking lots have hills of snow and many of them are looking very dingy. The snow begins to melt down, and then it snows on top of the hills. For a few days, it looks white again. Then it turns to what my friend Margaret, a high school science teacher, called “snirt.”
Of course, some of the reason is that accumulated dirt on the parking lot is scooped up along with the snow. Part of it is simple car exhaust. However, the mounds of drifted snow in my back yard also turn to snirt. A shovel has not touched it; and the possibility of exhaust is remote.
At the heart of every snowflake is a particle of dirt. Ice crystals form around the particle of dirt making a lovely snowflake. At the heart, it is dirt.
Within the most handsome or beautiful person lies a heart of sin. Dress up the person, add glamour, but at the center of that person is self interest. The most significant changes take place when the individual person takes on a new person when he comes to Christ for saving grace.
How wonderful it would be if that person now always emerged as a lovely, pure person one hundred percent of the time. In frustration Paul felt the spiritual battle that rages within every Christian. (Expressed in Romans 7) The battle between self-interest and God-interest is an on-going conflict… As you grow in Christ, your self interest gradually diminishes, but it seems it tends to lie dormant. Until Christ calls me home to Glory or comes for me in the air, I shall always have this inner battle. Today I am thankful for the verse in I John 4:4 “. . . greater is he [Jesus] that is in you than he [Satan] that is in the world” and temptations do not come our way but that our ever watchful God will make a way of escape. (I Corinthians 10:13)
The testimony of Scott Hamilton. Stirring enough for me to want to share it with those who stop by and read this blog site. The video is ten minutes, and well worth the time to listen.
Originally posted on Beyond the Pale:
I don’t like dance—I know, I know, I’m a cultural Philistine, but I’m unrepentant about it. The day my eldest chose to quit ballet in favor of horse riding I rejoiced knowing that I had escaped years of agonizing recitals. But I have two girls and my amnesty is jeopardized every time the youngest does a pirouette through the house. I’m sweating again.
I may be culturally deficient, but I’m not altogether ignorant. I do know who Scott Hamilton is. And yes, I know that he’s not a dancer. He’s a skater. But my animus against flowing forms means that the disciplines get lumped together. And I used ‘lumped’ purposefully, unrepentant Philistine that I am.
But as I was saying, I know who Scott Hamilton is, and on the occasions I have seen him on TV I have found him quite likeable. He seems like the kind of guy I would like to know. He comes across as friendly, funny, and somewhat self-depreciating—which is refreshing in such an accomplished athlete. What I didn’t know is that the man has a courageous faith that is inspiring. Scott Hamilton has lived a life of triumph in the midst of tragedy, and his victorious spirit is due to his faith in Jesus.
In recognition of Babe Ruth’s birthday, I am reposting this from last June. In many eyes he was the best, and no doubt, he was talented. My hero, however, is still Bobby Richardson.
Originally posted on The Shepherd's Presence:
Impact Player: Leaving a lasting legacy on and off the Field, is an autobiography by Bobby Richardson. Tyndale Publishers, 2012. 283 pages and a photo section.
The first book, The Bobby Richardson Story, 1965, Revell, was also a first-hand account of this New York Yankee second baseman. It is much smaller, and now found only as second-hand books by sellers on places such as eBay and Amazon.com.
Bobby Richardson, along with Al Worthington, was known for his clean living and excellent major league playing ability. The two did not mix easily in the late 1950’s and into the 1970’s. With thanks to players like Richardson and Worthington, we now have clean-living options for professional sports. After his retirement from baseball, Richardson tells of the efforts he put into Baseball Chapel, Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Those contributions are part of the book.
The posting today is by a guest who submitted this to me. It was both a blessing and also a challenge. Welcome, Alyson, as a guest contributor.
“Out with the old and in with the new.” I have heard that saying many times during my life, but it’s up to me to agree to believe. When I was at the young age of five, I remember sitting in my first grade classroom. One of my classmates wanted me to color with him. So, we pushed our desks together and the adventure began. We searched and searched through the book for just the right picture. As the pages turned, I noticed my classmate had not finished coloring most of the pictures and had definitely not stayed inside the lines. Since the pictures weren’t finished, I suggested we add some coloring touchups by redrawing the lines and coloring the area surrounding the picture. The pictures looked wonderful when we finished.
So that brings me to the question, why at age five did we decide to fix the unfinished pictures? Why not just move to the uncolored pages where we could have used our imagination by choosing our own colors, tracing the picture before we colored in the lines.
Some people might say we were OCD. Others may say just color the new pictures because the unpolished pictures really do not matter anyway. Remember it’s a coloring book for five year olds. Well to us, the coloring book was a Mona Lisa. I remember being very proud of our accomplishments and a huge smile on my classmate’s face. We did it!
Sometimes I wonder, how God feels about “Out with the old and in with the new?” What if He moved to a new person every time something went wrong? What if He viewed the flaws in people as unfixable? What if He just viewed us as invisible? What if we were just a page ripped from the coloring book and thrown in the garbage can?
We should be very thankful He views us all as His special design, created unto good works. Ephesians 2:10 verifies that! “For we are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”
The only thing that can disspell the discouragement I feel about the state of our America is to cry out to God–first inspecting my own life, then praying on the behalf of others I know to do the same. Rosenberg is spot on in the 500 word blog. Please read it not just out of curiosity, but with a heart set to cry out for Awakening spiritually in our beloved America.
Originally posted on Joel C. Rosenberg's Blog:
(Washington, D.C.) — In 2012, President Obama concluded the State of the Union address by saying, “The state of our Union will always be strong.”
In 2013, the President told Congress and the nation, “We can say with renewed confidence that the state of our union is stronger.”
Will he say it again tonight? More importantly, is it true?
This is a serious subject today. Modern missionaries disagree over this very subject. Meet Robert Woodberry, who found a surprising result while he prepared his graduate dissertation.
During my days of teaching children in the children’s church ministry it was frustrating that most of the missionary stories were from the 1800’s. I knew from missionary friends that amazing things were happening in the Orient, in Africa, in South America, but no one was telling the stories. Then a few more modern stories began to trickle in but not many. This week a former student of mine tagged me in regard to the post I am reviewing here. The long dissertation was written by Robert Woodberry, a graduate student at University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill about the effect of conversionalism missionaries on culture. The dissertation studies spanned from 2001 to the dissertation presentation in 2013. The study reached back into the mid 1800’s but made observations into modern history as well.
Here are some of the facts regarding the study published in the most recent edition of Christianity Today. My brief thoughts here are taken largely from the review written on the dissertation. The link is also supplied.
Review: from Christianity Today, “The Surprising Discovery About those Colonialist, Proselytizing Missionaries” by Andrea Palpant Dilly, January-February 2014 http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2014/january-february/world-missionaries-made.html?order=&start=1 contains exception evidence that missionary as a conversionalism factor has made whole nations turn out for the better, but that was not their particular goal. This is an amazing article, long, and studious reading, but well worth the time, in my opinion.
Christianity Today is considered by many “fundamentalists” as wishy-washy and not worth reading. That fact is certainly not so in this instance. The writer who reviewed the dissertation had a great respect for the original dissertation and a passion to see missions in the light of making a difference, not only in a social gospel sense, but understanding that social changes begin from within a person from a conversion experience.
I loved the quote on page 8, next to last paragraph. You’ll have to read it yourself to find it!
At first the article seemed a bit boring and statistical; it took until page 3 to capture me. Why did I keep reading? I read on because a student of mine from my high school teaching years thought of me upon her reading it and tagged me. If she thought I’d find it interesting, I felt obligated to read it in entirety. All I can say, is, “Mandy, you know me pretty well!” For all the years that my mind and heart refused to believe that the conversion gospel and social gospel had to mix, I find out I was wrong. Applause belongs to those who start orphanages, hospitals, and aid the poor and give out the gospel faithfully in tandem. Worship centers come along with the steady work of giving aid and both helps are necessary to make a culture thrive. As Woodberry found, where God is absent, the culture is dismal.
It has been such a puzzle to me that the area we know as Turkey in modern times was once the bed of evangelism to the Apostle Paul. Turkey is the land of what we know as the readers of his beloved books of Philippians, Colossians, Galatians, Ephesians, I and II Timothy and more. Paul assisted the forming of over 100 churches in that area alone. Why did the land turn to Islam? Just this week I figured some of the reason at least: The Ottoman Empire killed most of the Christians during that bloody world conquest. It snuffed out the light of God’s Word that would still be shinning. So it is in countries where Christians are denied their personal freedoms that cultures sink. Immorality thrives. God forbid that it happens in my beloved America.
Here is a blog after my own heart!
Originally posted on Especially Made:
“Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:14-15).
The children’s ministries at our church are having all the children memorize the book of Philippians. Last week’s verse was above. “Now that’s a good one for my kids to hide in their hearts,” I thought. Complaints in my house run the whole spectrum. “I hate spinach. School is boring. We never get to do anything fun.”
But it soon became apparent that many of the gripes were coming from my own heart. “I’m tired of being disrespected. I wish homeschooling is easier. My children never listen to me.” And the verse that I thought was just perfect for my grumbling children was the very one that needed to pierce my heart this week.
Moving into a different house always has unexpected features and annoyances. The secret behind the wallpaper was far from an annoyance; Gary found destruction.
Finally his little girl is able to have a pink room. Job one, was to remove the peach colored wallpaper and border in the room, Stripping wallpaper is a job for the hardy. Some of the advertised strippable paper sticks tightly regardless of how it is advertised. The former family had also meticulously wallpapered inside a window casing that had a small window seat. Windows tend to leak cold air, which when mixed with slightly humid warm air, becomes a breeding place for mold. Who knew?
Upon removal of the window framed with wallpaper the family found mold. Not just a little mold. Disheartened, they found an abundance of mold. The mold had spread under the wallpaper, eaten the glue, and a large hole in the wallboard! The repair became a big job. Now, the job is not impossible but it takes unexpected and time-sapping work.
The beautiful turned ugly under the surface. Sin that lurks under beautiful smiles and perfect church attendance becomes damaging indeed. There is no simple repair. There are times when an individual must bravely take a scalpel and scrape and cut away the layers of temptation that led to the damage. Yes, confessed sin is promised forgiveness. Mercy is available. Still, the repair is often a long process. Repentance that involves a complete change in inner attitudes must follow the confession or the surface will never be as lovely as it once appeared. Although the sin may be neatly, even beautifully hidden from others, God knows it is there. Psalm 90:8 expresses it this way: “Thou hast set our iniquities before Thee; our secret sins in the light of Thy countenance.” The plea of our hearts should be, “Who can understand his errors? Cleanse Thou me from secret faults.” (Psalm 19:12)
“He that covereth his sins shall not prosper, but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” (Proverbs 28:13 bold emphasis is mine). Confession brings mercy; forsaking the sin must become a habit.
Yes, the damage was extensive. Patching, sanding, and sealing the window leak will allow the surface to restoration. Yes, a spiritual life restored is a once more an effective and beautiful thing. Beautifully changed within and without.
How much better if the sin had been avoided in the first place. Check yourself. Is anything hidden behind the wallpaper?
Some years ago while my husband and I were driving along the conversation which had been light, turned to something serious when he made the comment: “How much is enough?”
Enough means, well, what does it mean? When I have the cup full to the spilling point, it is enough. When the water pressure allows the water to flow generously without peeling paint, the pressure is enough. When it comes to eating, some people do not know when enough is, well, enough. Eating more than a person needs is called gluttony. The dieter’s secret knows when enough is, well, sufficient.
When I sifted my way through these comments, Bob was really getting at the subject of money. His observation was that some people work long hours for more money than they actually need. His question regarding enough was limited to a quantity in the individual mind. Money management is a tricky business.
Genesis 31-33 is an account of both Jacob and Esau in their adult years. They split ways after Isaac granted the birthright to Jacob. Esau was born first and even though he had given the birthright away foolishly earlier, now he felt cheated. Rebecca feared for Jacob’s life and sent him north to Haran to live with her brother. Esau left Hebron and made his own way south to Edom. He also acquired considerable wealth according to chapter 36:7. Approximately 25 years later, the brothers meet. Both are prosperous men. Jacob feels as if he needs to appease his brother by giving him a generous gift, and Esau responds with the reply, “I have enough.” (33:9). Jacob urged him further and declares that God had dealt graciously with him; please accept the gift, and Esau once again declares, “I have enough.” When Jacob urged him one more time, Esau took it.
Those words haunted me because I remembered so well the conversation with my husband. I distinctly remember saying that Paul told Timothy that with food and raiment to be content. (I Timothy 6:8) and that led to the question of contentment. I’m not sure we ever finished the conversation. However, I am happy to report that I am content. I have enough. Like Esau, if someone begs me to take something, I would also smile and say, “Thank you.”
Enough. In the presence of Jesus, my Shepherd, I have more than enough, my cup runneth over.