Getting back to where you were. . .

A program on my computer just about wiped everything I am familiar with off of my computer.  Or maybe is scrambled it at the very least.  It is a bit frustrating.  To make matters worse, what I expected to find on my WordPress site is not the same.  It may be partly my fault for not reading the informative blog WP issues almost every Monday without fail.

Am I the only one who gets stuck in a rut?  Truth is, I feel comfortable in my rut.  In all my life, I have not liked surprises that tend to “broadside” me.  Good friend usually give me a gentle warning when a change is in the works.  It takes a bit of time, sometimes short, and sometimes lengthy, to mentally meet the challenge of change.  Once I get used to a new method, guess what, I just make a new rut!

Expectations, in my opinion, need to be realistic.  I am not an optimist, nor a pessimist.  Somewhere in between lies realism.  Most people who face life realistically also can roll with the punches, so to speak. We quietly adjust while we inwardly cope with a surprise.  So, I may have found my way back on WP, maybe.  I’ll see when it goes into the “publish” stage.  I do not fault WP at all.  It was the click of the mouse, and an over-easy egg turned into a scrambled one.  Perhaps I needed the challenge today. And I am reminded that the Bible warns me, “Boast not thyself of tomorrow, because you don’t know what the day will bring forth.” (Proverbs 27:1)

Well, here goes. . .

 

The Barnyard Gate

If you have been reading this blogsite for a time, or you know me personally, you know that I grew up on an old-fashioned farm in Central Wisconsin.  The students in my high school English classes loved to try to “rabbit-trail” me into telling them stories about my youth.  I would often start with “Back when I was a little girl, about a hundred years ago. . .” and they would sit back contented to know they had just managed a story out of me.  What they didn’t know is that my stories usually had a moral involved and that I seldom used those stories to simply entertain.

I’ve been thinking a good deal about gates.  Our small dairy farm had a barnyard that gathered our milk cows and two horses into one place for exercise and water.  Daddy said he let the cows out in the winter to “blow the stink of their tails.”  The water tank was outside the barnyard because it was a very old-fashioned farm.  Our pump was powered at first by a hand-pulled Briggs and Stratton engine, similar to a lawn mower engine is today.  Frequently my job was to let down the rails to let the cows go to the tank, then see that they all retuned to the barnyard.  It wasn’t difficult for them or me.  Cows are pretty good creatures of habit. The most challenging thing for me was lifting the gate down and back up.  It was a rail gate that slipped into place and each rail was heavy for my skinny 80 lb. build. 

“Enter into His gates with Thanksgiving . . .” is an imperative sentence; it is a command with an understood subject of you. “ (You) enter. . . .”  It is not a suggestion. Now, my father’s docile cows went in and out the gate without objection. I never watered the horses because they had to be led in and out. They had a mind of their own. If I didn’t push the rails back far enough, the cows would just step over them. 

Lovingly, God leaves the gate open for us to easily enter with our list of thank yous.   Our Eternal Father is eager for us to enter!  Don’t be afraid as some animals are, don’t be docile and obligingly either, and don’t be strong-headed with your own way of doing things.  Enter into God’s gate to the throne room with excitement and gratitude.

Since I am an only child, and a female it didn’t make any difference when it came to barn chores.  Except in the winter when the cows were not in pasture, it was also my job to get the cows into the barnyard.  Around milking time, the cows would gather around the pasture gate and if I didn’t get going, they would becoen me with demanding calls to come and get them!  God doesn’t do that either.  God patiently waits, leaving the choice to us.  As He sees us approaching, He swings the gate widly open and welcomes us in for conversation.

Our God, our Eternal Father, is such a good parent.  You can approach Him with confidence.  Please do.

Socks, Socks, and More Socks

For me, life is one big object lesson.  My father-in-law could make an object lesson out of anything.  He would challenge children to bring him something, anything, to see if he could make a spiritual application of it. My friend, Margaret, saw God in everything.  She was a science teacher and often tied creation into just daily conversation. Those two examples have inspired me many times to see God’s hand in everyday things.  One of the categories I use most on this blog site is “Everyday Thinking.” 

Last night I dreamed about socks.  In my dream I was doing laundry like usual, except that when I put a load from the washer into the dryer, the dryer turned everything into socks.  I put in a load of towels, and when the dryer stopped, all I had was a load of dry socks.  Regardless of what I put into the dryer, the result was the same—more socks.  The socks were different sizes and different colors, but they were all socks. Baskets of socks!  The dream would not stop. I just kept repeating the dream with MORE socks than ever.

Now, suppose that those socks represent people.  Baby socks represent the nursery at church. Some churches like couples to keep the nursery, some nurseries like to have a grandmother just to rock fussy babies. Children’s socks represent those who can teach, help teach, ride a church bus or van, run games for Vacation Bible School, or AWANA.  The socks get bigger and represent teens. What a group they are!  Do you have high energy and a quick wit? Do you have compassion for the misfit?  That would be the sock that doesn’t seem to have a match.  You get the idea, don’t you?  I have now turned my overwhelming baskets of socks into an object lesson and I didn’t waste any sleep. Best of all, we all probably had a chuckle.
Best part of the dream:  I did not have to pair any of those socks!

The Apostle Paul and Kenosha

I was reading along in my Bible this morning, taking notice of the events of the first trip Barnabas and Paul took to spread the good news of Jesus and the resurrection to those who had not heard.  Back in 40 AD or so, there was only slow news spread.  Most news like this of Jesus spread by word-of-mouth only.  The translators of the English Bible  made it a challenge to keep track of what happened where.  So, I stopped and looked back to determine the location of Paul’s stoning.   I was correct but wanted to make sure.  It was Lystra.  What startled me, however, is who  stoned him.  The people of Lystra loved Barnabas and Paul.  They didn’t stone him. 

Acts 14:19 reveals the perpetrators. It tells me that it was particular people from Antioch and Iconium who stoned Paul.(approximately 25-30 miles away)  Why?  Because they likely were paid rioters sent to a city not their own to do the dirty deed.  The hatred for Christianity was so deep that certain ringleaders were able to pass the hatred on to others who went into rage, left their own cities to find Barnabas and Paul, and kill them. (We are not told whether Barnabas escaped, beaten, or what, scripture is silent on it.)

Now, for the title of this piece. Paul and Kenosha.  I followed the story in the news of the terrible rioting that took place in Kenosha, Wisconsin.  I am from Wisconsin and know of the city of Kenosha.  My mother was born there. Unless something terrible happened to the citizens of Kenosha, I knew they would not burn down innocent business people over something that had not even been proven!  It happened so fast too.  It was as if minutemen were at the standby to do such destruction.  They had the tools they needed to start the rioting in an instant! 

Someone has funded these rioters.  They are now professionals! Someone is stoking the fires of hatred within them so that they apparently need only a “go ahead” to bring on what they think is retaliation.  But, this tactic is not new. 

It is at least as old as 40 AD.  Hatred is not new.  Lucifer chose hate spurred by other passions to attempt a coup in Heaven.  God took care of that.  Satan carries an enormous grudge and is still at the root of power overthrows.  John 8:44-47 tells us in detail about the person of Satan. We do well to heed the words of Jesus. The evil that surrounds us in this world, this terra cotta on which we roam, is from Satan, Lucifer, the devil—whatever you want to call him. He is the father of lies and his lies are saturated with hate.

So how do we overcome this evil?  Paul has an answer.(Paul survived the stoning and he and Barnabas left Lystra the next day.)  Romans 12:21 simply says, “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” The good cannot be of our own doing, but it lies beneath the breastplate God tells us to wear.  It is the righteousness of Jesus. I’ll be writing more at length about the pieces of Christian armor soon. 

Again, “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Google or God?

I started my morning off singing a prayer.  “I Need Thee Every Hour” is a prayer set to music.  The melody is so simple and yet to powerful.  Here’s my opinion, for whatever it is worth:  we must understand that we need God’s help every hour.  We need God in the simple and in the complex; in the dull, and in the exhilarating; in the sweet and in the sour. Walking in an independent, self-sufficient way is not walking in God’s Way. 

Okay, now I’m going to share an annoyance.  These days conversation runs interference with that phone in your pocket.  If I look at the sky and predict rain, inevitably if someone is with me and has smart phone, they are looking up a weather forecast.  “ I was just making conversation.” If you do that to people, may I recommend that you stop it? NOW. What happened to simple, pleasant conversation? 

Yesterday I was curious about how to propagate a plant to save it for the house over winter.  I wanted to dash inside the house and look it up on “google,” but I didn’t.  I decided to use my already stored knowledge of propagation and if it works, fine. If it doesn’t, oh well. 

My observation is that starting mostly with millennials and generation’s more recent, they depend on searching the internet for answers.  They get knowledge, but not with experience. My first response in wondering about propagating a vinca was, “I wish Margaret were here, she would know.”  She had experience.

We will never thrive in our Christian walk unless we put our faith to the test daily entrusting our steps to follow the guidelines in the Bible.  While it is available electronically, I think the printed, paper and ink, is more valuable.  Verses are underlined and cross referenced and color coded.  I love to take an old, worn Bible of mine off the shelf and leaf through it recalling times God used certain portions of His Word in my personal life.  All three of my children could pick up a copy of my well-worn study Bible and read it for biography of me.  Dates, personal notes of decisions lie in those pages. I don’t google, I go to God. He is the source of all the wisdom I need. When it comes to plant propagation, it will be on the internet but for complex life questions, go to God, not Google.  James 1:5 says, “If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God. . .”

A Lamentation

Someone in a prayer group this morning pointed out this verse:  Lamentations 2:19 “Arise, Cry Out in the night:  In the beginning of the watches pour out thine heart like water before the face of the Lord:  lift up thy hands toward Him for the life of thy young children that faint for hunger in the top of every street.”  Jeremiah is known as the weeping prophet and in some minds, weeping is a display of weakness.  I see it as a display of brokenness. 

Brokenness is a signal that the heart is aching in grief or perhaps remorse.  There is a time to come before the Lord God of our lives and weep over the sins not only of personal nature, but many times over the sins of others.  It has entered my mind that we need those who will stand along the streets of our cities that are burning and do as this verse describes:  lift up our hands, weep, cry out, pour out our hearts. Call me crazy.

The stakes are high:  children.  Jeremiah saw the lives of children in Judah as fainting in want for physical food.  I see children fainting in want for spiritual guidance.   I see an entire nation fainting for want of security, but they want security in something that is temporary.  Money spends, clothing wears thin, shoes wear out. Spiritual nourishment is everlasting. Jesus gave the woman at the well water that sprang up into a well of everlasting life! 

Until believing Christians pour out their hearts like water and cry out for a change in the spiritual life of our nation, it may not come.  I may be wrong.  Revival might be right around the corner and if so, halleluiah!  If not, keep crying out. Souls are in the balance.

A Grumble

I am here to grumble but it is grumbling that should profit.  Romans 12 is a wonderful portion of the Bible for common sense interpersonal relationships.  The first few verses deal with our personal relationship with our Creator God.  The rest of the portion deals with how we should treat others. Then it tells us not to recompense evil for evil.  I think I have quoted that verse hundreds of times in the rearing of three children. 

“He/she hit me first. . .” does not fly according to that verse which is, by the way, Romans 12:17.  Whether it is physical strikes or abusive language, we do not do evil for evil.  My husband once told me that because I did not grow up with a sibling I did not understand.  My reply:  “Well, Romans 12:17  does not have the word unless in it to use as an exemption.”  Argument done.

So, over the weekend I skip most things political.  We all need to take a break in blow-by-blow politics.  Today I find that far before Justice Ginsburg is laid in the ground, she is being replaced and words with slings and arrows are flying.  I am wondering what to call myself other than a Believer in Jesus and the Bible.  Conservative pundits are already wrangling over her position.  I have conservative values, but I do not want to be counted in a group of people who act so uncivil!

I think Emily Post, and Miss Manners would be rolling in their graves if they could hear it all.  What ever happened to manners?  Civil people do not speak disrespectfully of the dead even if you did not like them very much. If people who claim to be conservative, in whom we might agree most of time, do not act civil, how in the world can we blame protesters to act civil? Many of them have not been brought up to respect anyone. 

It is far past time, way overdue, to take a check on our personal civility!  Just because someone votes conservative does not mean he/she is a Christian.  I know that.  But I do expect them to be civil and use good manners. It is not difficult to say, “Yes, Sir,”  “Thank you,” “Please,” and I beg your pardon.”

Think about the feelings of others.  It is the Biblical, Christian way.

The Believer and Mobs

I wonder what would happen if armed citizens came out to fight back the protesters. Is our country so regressing that we need Old West tactics? The Rand Paul incident is so unacceptable. Truly, this is the truth of Jeremiah 17:9 that tells “the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, who can know it.” The unregenerate heart is moved by deceit to swallow lies and react in desperately wicked ways.

The weapons of our warfare, however, are not carnal. My initial question was attention getting, yes, but not the correct answer. Paul, was mobbed, beaten, and dragged out of town left for dead. Jesus was mobbed and hung on a cross to die.

Our weapons are to pray, to respond with common sense, to answer these questions when it comes up in the workplace, or gym, or neighborhood or yes, at church. The passage in 2 Corinthians 10 calls on us to bring not only our thoughts into captivity, but the thoughts of others. We must be armed with the Word of God to bring hearts into regeneration.

It looks impossible, but with God, remember, all things are possible. When former President Obama described Midwesterners as “clinging to our Bibles and our guns” he meant it with smirk and smear but those of us, like me, took it as a compliment. Keep clinging and be ready to give every man that asks you a reason of the hope that lies within you. (1 Peter 3:15) Ready? Then march forth boldly armed with spiritual power to overcome wickedness that is being openly shown by the mobs in our streets and the slick, deceiving words of politicians.

Little, Medium, Large

So much of the conversation swirling around is about face masks (pro and con) or political “gottha” comments, or maybe complaining about not being able to use cash at the check-out.  What isn’t being talked about enough is the horrible violence in several of our country’s cities.  I wonder if the rioters even know what they are protesting anymore.

How does destroying cities to the hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages going to promote their cause?  All it does for me is convince me that these thugs need to be in jail and sentenced in the very least, to anger management courses.

Here’s some friendly advice:  pay attention to the substance of the reporting.  Dig into the issues at hand.  There is always more than meets the eye and in general, there are two sides to the story.  News outlets today seem to focus on getting people emotionally pumped about an issue instead of just reasonable distribution of facts.  Regardless of how reasonable and truthful you may think a source is, dig a little deeper. Think things through critically.

Now, here’s some spiritual advice:  upsetting things will either drive you to distraction and keep your focus off of spiritual thoughts, or you can allow the distracting things to drive you to answers from God’s Word, the Holy Bible.  Here’s a promise with a condition that I found this week and I am going to break it down for you—“You that love the Lord, hate evil, and preserve the souls of the saints. . .”  (the breakdown:  if you say, Yes, I love the Lord, then, ask yourself two things:  do I hate evil.  I mean really hate it when not only someone else does wrong, do I hate it when I do wrong?  And, if you love the Lord, what are you doing to preserve the souls of others who love the Lord?  Does your life show forth Christ in such a way as to encourage other people to feel secure?  Now, here the rest: “God delivers them [the ones who love the Lord] out of the hands of the wicked.” (I am not certain if the antecedent for ‘them’ is you or the saints but I do feel that based on this verse that if we are doing out part, God will deliver us out of the hands of the wickedness that seems to be churning around us. The verse is Psalm 97:10.

This is a complicated world, but it is not my final home.  I’m just passing through. Jesus purchased my redemption. I took Him by faith as my Savior. No tears in Heaven, no death in Heaven, no corruption in Heaven. Ahhh.

 

The Little Sheep

 

‘Twas A Sheep Not A Lamb

        by Minnie Lee Bovender

‘Twas a sheep, not a lamb, that strayed away
In the parable Jesus told,
A grown-up sheep that had gone astray
From the ninety and nine in the fold.

Out in the meadows, out in the cold,
‘Twas a sheep the Good Shepherd sought.
Back to the flock, and into the fold,
‘Twas a sheep the Good Shepherd brought.

Why, for the sheep, should we earnestly long
And so earnestly hope and pray?
Because there is danger, if they go wrong,
They will lead the young lambs astray.

For the lambs follow the sheep, you know,
Wherever the sheep may stray;
If the sheep go wrong, it will not be long
‘Til the lambs are as wrong as they.

So, with the sheep we earnestly plead
For the sake of the lambs today,
If the lambs are lost, what a terrible cost
Some sheep may have to pay.

—Minnie Lee Bovender

The advance of a generation called Millennial tend to be defined as fragile, selfish, and self-centered.  It is my hope that the news outlets tend to focus on the negative rather than the positive.  I do see stories of young adults and even children who are do-gooders as Mike Rowe calls them on his show, .”Returning the Favor.”   He features people of all ages who help each other, in fact, go out of their way to help others.  My church has a group of really good teens whose parents have led them in a good and straight path.  I find them willing to reach out to others.  It is not enough to share food or shelter.  We must be providing spiritual, uplifts. Let’s not only be leading people to living water, let’s make sure we are teaching our lambs to follow our example.

My apologies for not sharing a cite of the poem. I found it within internet content that did not cite a reference.  I felt the poem valuable enough to share. I always give credit to authors/sources when I can.

 

It’s More than the Music (book review)

It’s More than the Music: Lessons on Friends, Faith, and What Matters Most is beautifully written by Bill Gaither.  This autobiography was published in 2008 by Faith Words, is 320 pages that includes 16 pages of photographs.

Bill Gaither, now 84 years old as I write this, is still singing, writing, and working, although at a somewhat slower pace.  However, he still starts new ventures.  We sold this book in the bookstore in which I worked but never bought a copy of my own. I waited far to long to read it. Because Gaither is an English teacher, the book is predictably planned and follows an outline. I like that. The reader never gets lost in a tangled outline.

Scattered throughout the book are several stories how songs came to be. The book is probably worth owning just for those song stories alone. Gaither also tells of how the Homecoming series he has recorded came to be and it is a wonderful beginning of something close to many Christian hearts today.  If you like the vocalist, Mark Lowry, there are some good stories of their friendship as well.  A wealth of information is sprinkled into the pages of other great vocalists in Southern Gospel music that the reader will not only enjoy but be blest by reading.

Other music comes, and goes, but it seems Southern Gospel lives on and it is due largely because of the contribution of Bill Gaither.  I predict this book will be around for many years and perhaps become a classic. If you want to understand it better, I highly recommend this book. If you are visually impaired as I am, it is also available for loan if you are a library member of Talking Books.

The most recored and used song that Gaither wrote is “He Touched Me.”  It has been written in multiple languages so is sung around the world. You probably know it.  Now is a good time to sing it or look it up on You Tube. I am curious if any of my followers have sung it sometime in their lives. It may have been sung in the car, shower, choir, or solo, but I know most of you know it and have been blessed by the words.