One More Reason to Memorize Scripture

Almost every week on Thursday morning you will find me at a local nursing home.  At one time, my mother resided there and after she died, I just kept visiting there as they provided me a platform to hold an hour of time each week with the residents.  I use that time to sing, provide a Bible devotional, and time just to chat with the ones who attend.

Since 2009 I have been able to interact with numerous residents.  They teach me, and I refresh their memories of when they were young, active Sunday school teachers, choir members, in quartets, ushers, and nursery workers.  Many who attend have known Christ as their personal Savior for fifty years or more and some are just babes in Christ.

Some of them nod off not because they are bored, but because that happens when we age and sometimes take medications that make us drowsy.  Yet, anytime we sing the classic songs such as “The Old Rugged Cross,” “In the Garden” or the peppy “I’ll Fly Away” they all become alert and join in with their now raspy voices that have lowered from idleness.

Another thing that they remember is the Word of God.  An example from this morning inspired me to write this.  I have a new resident in the group that always brings her worn and well-read Bible.   She is a roommate with a resident who is also a member of my church.  They are good for each other.  I got them going this morning by starting a verse and challenging to finish it.  Oh, they didn’t want to stop, and I didn’t want them to stop!  Now, like me, they could not always give the reference, but they did know the book from which it came.  Marjorie comes from a family of ten children and she said they all memorized a lot of verses as children and then she taught Sunday School and lots of memory verses.

The minds of these folks are in memory care.  They may forget things even now in the distant pass, but what remains?  The Word of God’s blessed Word.  All day I have had my mind on verses that remind me how God uses His Word in our lives through memorization of Scripture. Of Margorie I think of “. . .from a child thou hast know the Scriptures which are able to make thee wise unto salvation” (II Timothy 3:15) and of Juanita, “Heaven and earth shall pass away but my Word shall never pass away” (Mark 13:31) and of myself, Hebrews 4:12 “. . .for the Word of God is quick and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword. .  and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

When the mind ages, I am totally convinced that it still retains the power of wisdom and consolation found in those verses we have tucked away in our hearts.  If you have not memorized Scripture, start today.  It will be the bulwark and shield you will need when the rest of things pass away.  My good Shepherd will walk with me even when my mind is not holding much else.  God has promised

Advertisements

Redeeming the Time

The semiannual time change is now affecting thousands of people and dogs all over our country in places where Daylight Savings Time is in place.  There are a few corners in our country that never change their clocks.  Smart people.
On Saturday night I usually change only my alarm clock, and the cuckoo clock.  The rest of my electronics take care of themselves.  My microwave does not change itself and it occurred to me this morning that I look at that clock more often than I think I do.  My biological clock still functions as it pleases waking up early now, and gets hungry about every four or five hours regardless of when I eat.  I try to take medications at the half hour to wean myself to the time change.

The Bible expresses time more by events than days or weeks, but as one reads it, we do recognize that God’s calendar is certainly not ours.  The changing seasons mark God’s faithfulness since the days of the Universal Flood.

One admonition strikes me:  Ephesians 5:16 reads, “Redeeming the time because the days are evil.”   Satan is busy spreading his evil devices in every place possible.  Believers must value the time we are dispensed and use it wisely spreading the good news of the gospel message.  We cannot boast ourselves of tomorrow (Proverbs 27:1) and put off using the time given us today to do the right thing.  Do it now.

 

I Didn’t See That. . .

About eight years ago, I did a major overhaul of my computer.  My son-in-law’s father had everything except the monitor for about a week.  It came back with a new “drive box” (that’s what I call it) that houses all the gadgets and gizmos of the computer world.  They even brought me a new keyboard because my old keyboard, they said, was old and worn out.  Of course, all of this was at cost and I didn’t pay anything for labor.  That was nice.   My daughter married into an IT family. New stuff is always nice. It does, however, come with the complications of learned new things.

Eight years later and a software upgrade to Windows 10 later, I made a discovery this week.  The keyboard has gadgets on it I have never used!  Because I am visually impaired, I use sound for as many things as possible.  There, up on the top edge of the keyboard lay three slender silver keys that at slightest touch mute or adjust the sound!  All this time those keys have lain unused—but no longer.  If I may personify, they were saying, “Oh, how I long to be touched,”

Now, when the phone rings, I am no longer  locating the volume with the mouse and adjusting or muting the sound.  I pull out my keyboard drawer and with a simple touch, the sound is gone.

Just this morning I saw something in Isaiah that I’d never noticed before.  Verses that I have never used in conversation, nor have not used to encourage or edify another believer, will lie dormant no longer.    Somehow, I put that verse in Isaiah and my unused keys together.  Maybe someday soon I will share the verse in Isaiah 18 as a nugget from scripture here on this weblog site.

It is my purpose to use things to the fullest whether it is my computer keyboard, or my Bible.  Don’t just use what you know and let verses lie languishing.  Endeavor to use the whole counsel of the Word of God. That will happen only when one reads the Bible over and over and over again.  Read it all.  To personify again, your Bible may be sighing, “I wish they would read. . .it has so much of offer.”

Song story of “Let the Lower Lights be Burning.”

I came across this song this morning while taking requests from the group at the nursing home I visit each Thursday morning.  I was just paging through my personal copy of “Great Hymns of the Faith” and came upon it.  The older generation grew up on these inspiring, convicting songs.  It made me wonder about the background of why it was written.  Here it si:

http://www.tanbible.com/tol_sng/sng_letthelowerlightsbeburning.htm

The second verse is what struck me as I was singing it.  The night of sin’s darkness requires us to make sure our lights are burning.  The darkness of sin is so dense and so few even seem to know they are in darkness!  Let those words settle into our souls.

Do No Work (book review)

Do No Work: Beat Burnout, Find Inner Peace, and Strengthen Your Faith By Studying the Most Overlooked of the Ten Commandments, by Andrew Gilmore is published by Sequoyah Trails Press Copyright 2014. It is a short work but filled with a wealth of information that folks, like myself, have been searching for many years.

Here in one place is a thorough examination of the fourth commandment: “Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy.”  That is the short version.  The commandment goes on regarding work and rest. Gilmore explores and expounds Exodus 20:8-11 with passion, yet remains profound.  Among the points Gilmore sprinkles in a bit of humor to break he intensity.  The tone of the book is persuasive without being edgy.  The language he uses is easy to understand and is not presented in theological terms that only a seminary student can understand. In one word, the description would be practical.

The motivation to read this book came a few weeks ago when my seasoned auditorium class teacher boldly proclaimed that we really were only held to nine commandments and that the fourth commandment was obsolete.  Had he looked directly at me he would have seen shock.  I’m not sure I heard another word he said that day.  The command to rest is so important.  God rested after Creation, after all.  This book holds so much more than that one thesis.  It describes what rest is and leads the reader to remember the eternal rest that lies before us. It described labor for what it is.  The book lays out in plain view the myths that so many Christians hold on to regarding the fourth commandment.

You will find this little jewel of a book on Amazon.com and if you use an e reader, it is easy and reasonably priced to download. I found it available also on http://andrewgilmore.net and it is likely in bookstores as well. It won’t take you long to read, but, I predict, you will think about the contents of this book for a good long time.  It is a “keeper.”

Martin Van Buren 1782-1862 (book review)

Martin Van Buren is written by Jim Hargrove under the consultation of Charles Abele, Ph.D.  The book is found in the Juvenile section of my public library with the other Encyclopedia of Presidents books.
The book is 100 pages in length and written in fifth or sixth grade level.    It is published by Children’s Press, Chicago, IL with a 1987 copyright.

This is book number 20 in my pursuit to read a biography of every American President. I chose to read a compact book on Van Buren because I wanted to find in a children’s version a fair rendering of his accomplishments.  I was surprised to find several negative inclusions in his life’s story even in this edition.  Frankly, I came into reading this book with a negative attitude about him from other biographies I had already read.  Fillmore, who served five presidents later had disagreed with Van Buren on many occasions.  They were both from New York state and lived lives that collided in politics.  Most of the time, authors of children’s books are unbiased.

Hargrove gives the basic details of any biography:  place of birth, parentage, early education and what principles drove the person who is the subject.   It was not far into the book that Hargrove mentions that Van Buren was not a strong public speakers and always felt insecure in public speaking because he knew that his command of the English language needed help.  Van Buren, like many politicians, went into the practice of law.  It was not long before his longings leaned into the realm of public office.  He started by running for a Senate seat which he won.

In the Senate, he perfected an art in politics that is still used today:  patronizing.  While not ever done in the public eye, he mastered the art of back-room, dark-of-night haggling that eventually developed into the heart of the Democrat party.  Throughout his entire public career, later as governor of New York state and into the cabinet as Secretary of State, he was famous for his ability to be a “fence sitter.”

Van Buren served as Vice President under Andrew Jackson who was a larger-then-life figure that forced Van Buren to live in that tall shadow.  The closing line of the book tells so much about the compromising status of this eighth president:  “He had discovered at last, that there were no more fences to sit upon.”

Near the end of his life, Van Buren changed his stance on slavery and did all he could to support the Republican candidate,  Abraham Lincoln.  He blamed President Buchanan of letting the country slip into a Civil War. That surprised me since Buchanan was a Democrat.  Van Buren had worked so very diligently at forming the Democrat party but in the end, his personal principles did not allow him to be loyal at all cost.  I give him credit for that.

As children’s books go, I think this book will be on library shelves for many years to come.  It is fairly written and a good book from which junior aged students can find valuable research wit out having to wade through so many details.  The book is not laden with campaign details. It does, however, cover facts the brought on the depression by the Panic of 1837.  It would be good for students to understand the cause of that first major depression in our country’s history.  If you want a short, yet informational read on our eighth president, look in the children’s section of your public library.

Next in line according to interest is Grover Cleveland.  He held two four-year terms, however, the terms were not consecutive.  I am about to find out why.

 

 

 

Deborah, Barak, Sisera, and Jael

I meet weekly with a group for a half-hour devotional at my local Active Adult Center (Senior Center to most) and I usually include an inspirational story.  Today, however, I used the story straight from the pages of Judges 4 and 5.  Here it is:

Now, here’s the story.  (from a story teller’s point of view)          King Jabin is oppressing the Hebrews during a time when they should be completing the job that Joshua started.  You see, instead of conquering the land God had promised them, and doing so decisively, they wander off in heart and intermarry with the enemy!  The enemy worshiped idols of rocks, ancestors, statues, and other stuff.  The idol worshiping spouses demanded equal worship and soon the Hebrews were cold hearted in their love for the Lord who promised them this land.           In order to draw them back to the task at hand, God made them uncomfortable.  The theme of Judges, after all, is “they did that which was right in their own eyes” and did not have a sensitive spirit toward God.  Now, it wasn’t just short periods of chilled hearts, it sometimes lasted 40 years or more before they finally said, “God, please get us out of this mess!”

Seeing a time of repentance on hand, Deborah, the fourth  judge had a heart for God  She called for Barak (verse 6) and told him in no uncertain terms that he needed to get himself collected and fearless to face a battle with Sisera!  Barak, said, “If YOU go with me, Deborah, I’ll go, but that’s the only way I’m facing those iron chariots.”  I can see his manly jaw set firm.  He probably thought with that statement this sweet, well-loved lady would not pack up and go with him.  He was wrong.

He calls together 10,000 foot soldiers and away they go to face 900 iron chariots pulled by horses that would trample them.  Deborah assured him that God was going to take down Sisera, and King Jabin.  She also added that Barak would not get any glory.  The glory, she prophesized, would instead go to a woman.  At that point, he probably thought Deborah was being a bit “uppity” because he probably thought she was referring to herself.  He was wrong.

The battle ensues and God does fight for them.  The Bible clearly says in verse 15 that “the Lord routed Sisera’s army. . .”  Remember, I dubbed Sisera as a coward?  When Sisera saw his army falling like flies, he jumped out of his chariot and runs away!  The battle was fairly close to the town where Heber and Jael live.  He runs there for sanctuary.  Ah, but recall, Heber is a double agent!  Heber is not home that day.  Jael, however, welcomes him into her tent.  Sisera foolishly trusts her.  She tells him to rest, take a nap, and provides him with a blanket.  Nice lady.  He asks for a drink and instead of water, she gives him milk.  How hospitable!  That warm milk, and a blanket, and supposed safety put him into a sound sleep.

Jael tip toes around near the door and is scheming.  What to do, what to do.  Seeing a tent stake, and a big ol’ hammer she has a plan.  She has Israel’s enemy and why should she wait to do away with him?  Softly, ever so softly, she places that long, sharp tent stake over his sleeping temple.  If she was squeamish about it, we will never know, but in one mighty blow of the hammer the stake goes through his head, and nails it to the floor of the tent. Now what?  Sisera is lying in a pool of blood in her tent.  She leaves the mess, and who does she see!  She sees Barak who is looking for Sisera, tracking him down.  “Over here,” she calls, “I have something to show you!”  Did she ever!  The Bible tells it like this:  “Come, I will show you the man whom ye seek.”  There is a connotation of satisfaction here.  Finality.  I wish I could be a “fly on the wall” here and make up stuff, but I won’t.

The simple truth is that God often uses means we would never be able to anticipate.  When Deborah foretold that a woman would get credit, she just knew that from God.  She didn’t know how God would do it.  So it is with us.  We face complex problems.  God has promised to solve our problems and give us joy.  Let Him do it.

 

Reoccurring Kittens

We all dream, right?  Sometimes dreams make sense and are something lingering in our subconscious mind, so I am told. Sometimes dreams turn into frightening scenes that awaken us in a drenching sweat.  Most of the time, our dreams are just plain silly.

Last night I dreamed that our family had a cat that had a litter of kittens. Now, that is not unusual.  In fact, our family did have a cat that we thought was too young to produce kittens but alas, she got herself in the family way.  She had a litter of four adorable black and white kitties.   When the time came that the kitties could be fine without the mother, I made a sign on a piece of cardboard and put it by the mailbox at the end of the driveway.  One by one the kitties found forever homes until the last one.  He lingered for about two weeks and I gave up and tossed the sign away.

The day I tossed the sign away, someone came to the door and asked about the free kittens.  Their family had just lost their cat and she needed to soothe the children.  When she saw the little guy, she fell in love with him immediately and we were done.

Not in my dream.

In my dream, I would give the last kitten away, and the mother would automatically produce another eight-week-old kitten! I don’t know how.  It was a dream folks!  In my dream, I gave away more than 20 kittens.  I woke up, sat up, rubbed my eyes, found a drink of water, and hoped to go back to sleep peacefully, but the dream resumed right where it left off!

Finally, in my dream, one of the family members said:  “Let’s give Sammie away”.  (Sammie, indeed was our cat’s name and indeed she was in my dream.) And there, folks, lies the lesson.  I can’t resist relating this sort of thing to a spiritual lesson to learn, can I?

So it is with a particular sin that plagues us.  We say, “I’m going to stop. . .” but before we know it, there it is—and we are doing it again.  So, we must give away the source.  Let’s say, potato chips are a weakness and you are trying to lose weight.  Don’t buy potato chips!

Back to the cat and the dream.  So, when another person comes to my door asking about free kittens, I tell them that I don’t have any more to give away but I have a loving mother cat, would they want her?  And as dreams go, of course, someone took the mother cat as she was also a good mouser.  Dream done.

Why did I dream about the reoccurring kittens?  I have no idea whatsoever.  Why did I write about the reoccurring kittens?  I thought it was too amusing not to share and in the course of things, perhaps it will be an illustration for someone teaching a lesson or preaching a sermon.

Glad to help!  You are welcome.  😊

 

 

Write It When I’m Gone (book review)

Write It When I’m Gone:  Remarkable Off-the-record Conversations with Gerald R. Ford by Thomas M. DeFrank.  The edition I listened to was read by Scott Brick, a very good reader.  The book was unabridged and produced by Books On Tape on seven discs. I borrowed it from my local public library. The copyright year is 2007, one year after Ford’s death. DeFrank kept his promise.

My natural curiosity was sparked by the recent commissioning of the U.S.S. Gerald R. Ford, the newest carrier in America’s fleet.  Ford died in 2006, however, he knew about the decision to name the carrier after him just shortly before his death.  The construction of the carrier has a story all its own.  Here is a link about the commissioning: http://www.ussgeraldrfordcommissioning.org/

Since I lived through the Nixon Watergate happenings, I do remember the pain and disarray of our nation during that time of upheaval.  Once Ford was elevated to the office of President, things began to calm although his pardon of Nixon before there was even any further investigation has raised a firestorm in many a political conversation.

DeFrank began his relationship with Ford in 1974 when Newsweek assigned him to follow then Vice President Ford, until 1991 long after Ford’s Presidency, to write about Ford’s activity in the political world after having left political office after he lost his bid for elected office as President to Carter.  Ford, initially, said something off-the-record and told DeFrank that he was never to say a word of the conversation until after he was gone, meaning Ford’s death.  After 1991 DeFrank continued his relationship with Ford in casual conversations and after 2006 finally “wrote it down” for readers like me to learn about the true character of Ford.  In the book, DeFrank paints Ford much the way that Ford often signed autographs, “Ford, not a Lincoln.”  Ford saw himself always as just a common man.

Included in the book are also stories about Betty Ford and her struggles and how Ford helped her through the additions she faced and helped her fund and build the Betty Ford Center that still helps people past their addictions. Once Mrs. Ford was dried out, President Ford also gave up all alcoholic beverages in order to support her.

The account becomes so personal in this book, that upon Ford’s death near the end of the book, I found myself emotionally moved to tears.  My respect for the President who helped a crippled nation get back on its feet has my admiration.

Regretfully, in just ten years, the book is no longer in print, but it is available through used books, on audio, audible, and e book versions at Amazon.com.  Our nation should not forget the man who brought healing to our nation after the wounds of Watergate.  I hope you might pick up a copy at your local library, or download the book to your e reader. Our 38th President deserves much more credit than he is given in history books.

Mr. Tipster’s Long Sleep

The life of a hamster is rather short-lived.  A hamster owner should know from the very start that the relationship will be short so lavish all the love you can on your hammie while you can.

On August 8th Mr. Tipster, my third hamster, was lively, ate from my hand and we had a delightful time.  Nothing seemed any different than any other day.  When I was up in the night, however, I didn’t hear him running on his wheel.  When I checked on him he was sleeping in his usual spot.  On August 9, he was still sleeping and his food was undisturbed. He wasn’t curled up in a little ball but lying on his tummy.  His breathing was shallow.  I knew the end was near–sometime during that day I expected.  I stroked his back and he lifted his head and chortled to me then lay his head back down.

I laid him to rest yesterday in a spot close to Honey Hamster.

All three of my hamsters have had different personalities and I have learned things just simply by observing them.  Mr. Tipster lived for two years and eight months.  He was amazingly predictable.  Had he been a person, we would call him self-disciplined and steady.  If I changed the cage around, he did his best to get it back to his way.  He didn’t care for change so I accommodated him.  He was healthy and active, but didn’t get into mischief.  Hank was always getting into predicaments and loved to explore.  Honey was handsome and he seemed to know it!  He also had a finicky stomach and required a special diet.  He visited the vet’s office with me on too many occasions and finally a cancerous growth on his hind leg caused a painful death.  I gave him pain medication for three or four weeks before he could just couldn’t go any longer.  He tried though, boy he tried! Mr. Tipster, in his steady fashion, just went to sleep.

I am not in any hurry to try this again.  It becomes increasingly difficult to add to my hamster burial ground.  Maybe I’ll go back to raising African Violets.  My friend, Margaret, had so many varieties of violets that caring for my own plants again would make her seem closer and make Heaven sweeter.

Margaret reminded me often that one of the Beatitudes is “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God [in everything].”  Her love for science and God’s creation instills in me still the desire to learn from funny, furry, hamsters and gardening.  At least my friendship with Margaret can resume in Heaven someday.  My hamsters just sleep on in their quiet little burial ground undisturbed by summer heat and winter’s chill. Sleep on, little hammies, sleep on.