Milking Time

I grew up on a small dairy farm.  I should be well over one hundred years old for the memories I have as a child.  We didn’t have electricity until I was 9 ½ years old and no indoor plumbing until after I went to college.  We did have indoor running water, and a water heater, but not an indoor bathroom.  See.  I should be 100 or more years old!

The first small appliance my parents bought was a toaster.  It was a pop-up toaster so we didn’t have burned toast very often.  We never had “store bought” bread so we had to learn how to slice the bread just the right width or it would not work in the toaster!  That aside, when we had electricity put in the house, Daddy also had a line run to the barn.  The first major appliance my parents purchased was a refrigerator and the second—an electric milking machine for the barn.

I loved that machine.  It also reduced my work load in the barn.  I didn’t have any brothers, so, yes, I worked barn chores just like the other boys in my neighborhood.  My job was to milk my own assigned cow.  Now with this wonderful four “hands” milking machine all I had to do was go behind the machine and strip out what the machine left behind. The stripping gave us a gallon or more milk each milking even after giving some of it to the barn cats.  Every drop counts when milk selling is your livelihood.

This morning I found myself doing that in my morning Bible reading.  After the repetitious reading of Numbers 7, I found a gem.  It was like stripping out the last of what the cow had to offer.  Verse 89, the last verse in the chapter tells that after all twelve family representatives of the Hebrews offered similar offerings on the now dedicated altar in the Tabernacle, Moses went into the special room set aside for the mercy seat, and “. . .heard the voice of one speaking to him from the Mercy Seat. . .”  When we linger where God speaks to us, we will hear God’s voice giving us direction and encouragement.

Strip out the gems from God’s Word.  Don’t rush.  Linger.  Let it soak in. It is often those last squirts of milk that add up over time.

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Mind Doodling

In truth, the biggest section of this blog site is just that: mind doodling.  As an only child, I have had many conversations with myself and have all my life.  There have been times when friends have told me, “Karyl, you think too much!”

The Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown recently inducted Chipper Jones into their prestigious domain.  It is an honor few achieve.  Jones is my all-time favorite baseball player, yes, even after Bobby Richardson.  Richardson never made it into the Hall of Fame, but like Jones, played his entire career with one team.  Loyalty speaks loudly to me.  Richardson was a Christian who took a decidedly strong stand for Jesus among players who lived the worldly life.  I am happy to support that achievement above athletic skill although he had that as an outstanding second baseman.  Jones has the skill and the ability to keep a team upbeat as well. Jones retired after the 2012 season and was inducted to the HOF on the first ballot with a whopping 97%.  He is well-liked and respected. If you a long-time reader, you know I truly enjoy baseball.

One more “doodle” today is about dandelions.  There is no transition to move from athleticism to weeds!  A Facebook friend posted a picture of a dandelion bloom she spotted yesterday on a trail.  It reminded me that my friend, Margaret, pointed out that a weed is simply a plant out of place.  If we could contain them in a neat row or flower bed, they would be appreciated.  The rabble rousers who stir up division in our country are just dandelions.  Their protests often become full of riot that calls for police control.  Instead of anger at those protestors, I feel sorry for them.  They are lost souls in need of Christ.  Pray for them and if you live in an area where they abound, do all you can to win those souls to Christ.  Knowing the Lord will help them put their energy into something more productive.

There may be a time when I start a separate blog site called, “The Daily Doodle” but I don’t take the time to write everyday except what I scratch out in my personal journal.

Getting to NO: How to Break a Stubborn Habit (book review)

This book, Getting to No:  How to Break a Stubborn Habit, has very few new copies available at my favorite source, Amazon.com.  There are several used copies available and although my book is on my e-reader, it is no longer available in the Kindle store.  I guess I have a collectible!  It was first published in 2007 by David C. Cook.  It is authored by the former, long-time pastor of Moody Church, Erwin Lutzer. It has 172 pages and includes a leader’s guide for study or book discussion groups.

January is the month famous for resolutions so don’t be surprised that I chose this title as the first one to read in 2018.  In the past I have managed to change ways through new resolve so once again, I am aiming to break a very stubborn habit that has plagued me since my mid-thirties.

The book is very helpful and easy to read.  Lutzer does not fail to write again as in other books, in a very conversational way.  This book outline lends to smooth reading and digestion.  The twelve chapters fall into a logical order from chapter one on the source of temptation right on through to chapter 12 which helps the addicted person who feels trapped even though they thought they were through with the battle at last.

In my opinion, chapter five was the most helpful and probably has more highlights and notes than any other chapter.  It is titled, “The Freedom of Living at the Cross.”  It explains so carefully the source of our problems and the remedy.  Whether one is addicted to something easily identifiable or something less obnoxious (like your cell phone, social media, or syrupy romance reading) we need to understand that if we can get to the place where we can say, “I love Jesus more than________” we will not achieve getting to the “NO” place and Satan comes out victorious.

My only complaint is the frequent use of the version of the Bible called the Message.  Since I am a KJV user, the Message, in my opinion, messes with original intent a bit too much.  It did not stop me from reading on to completion. Lutzer also uses the NKJV, and the KJV also.

My advice is to scrounge used bookstores for this book or bite the bullet and pay the 3.99 shipping for a 99-cent book on Amazon; this book will prove helpful whether is it you with the addictive behavior or you are counseling someone who is doing battle with drugs or other harmful addictions.  Get it.  Read it.  Keep it.

 

Dabblings

Most of the time, I like to write on topics that are of basic spiritual value.  I hope to insert some values into this weblog, but at the same time do a little provocative topic throwing.  So, stay with me while I dangle some topics around that have me thinking “outside the box.”

The Deferred Action for Children, or DACA is so much on the news I just must inject my viewpoint here. Since family is a strong point throughout Scripture, I see that parenting is a serious responsibility.  God gave specific instructions on how the parents are to relate to the children in Deuteronomy 6 in particular.  So—since the consequences of poor choices on the parent’s part fall on their children, let’s put the blame on the parents.  Parents who did not come to our country legally and brought their children with them, well, seems to me the accountability of legal status falls on the children too.  We owe those children nothing.  They owe us! The fact that our government thinks it needs to do something for them points to the fact that over the years, the American government has come to firmly believe that parental rights are nothing.  The government thinks that the children belong to government.  I just don’t believe that.

Staying with a political dabble, the news this weekend was blown up by our President’s poor choice of words.  Frankly, I am not shocked.  I don’t approve, but I am not surprised.  I need to step back and focus on my own words and tone while the words fly out of my mouth!  Those pointing fingers probably need to do the same.  It is time for all of us to consider the words of David written in Psalm 19:14: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer.”

Then there is the anticipation of the International Olympics on the horizon.  For some reason I enjoy the winter Olympics more than the summer games.  Maybe it is because it is cold anyway and watching the competition is a good thing to do in February every four years.  One thing bothersome to me this time is the fact that transgender competitors will be allowed to compete in their preferred gender. That just doesn’t seem fair to me.  A female in a male body just tips the competition.  But, I’ll watch anyhow.  It will be a small fraction of competitions involved, but still. . . .

Music is a touchy subject, but here I go—my music preference is classical guitar.  But, I listen to a wide variety of music and don’t take a steady diet in any genre.  Well, I don’t care for rock at all.  It is just noise. Rap, well, I just don’t understand it.  With the release of the soundtrack last week to the exploding movie, The Greatest Showman leaves nothing but questions in my mind.  When the rhythm outweighs the lyrics, I just turn it off.  I tried, in fairness, to listen to the soundtrack since it is such a rave.  Remember the WWJD trend a few years back?  I just don’t have a feeling that Jesus would approve.  What Would Jesus Do?  It is still a good way to make a decision.  That is, if a person knows Jesus well enough to use that discernment.

One more topic to dabble with and I am done.  I stood at my back door a couple of days ago watching it snow and saw a branch lying under the electric wire that connects my electric service to my house.  Wow, all the electricity that I use on lights, washer, dryer, computer, heat—all of it comes through that wire and it is in jeopardy of a falling limb from a very old, large tree in my back yard.  And so it is with the power source in our spiritual lives.  We just take it for granted that the power source is always there and how very often we jeopardize its utilization by neglecting God’s Word and our daily communication with Jesus.

Life is fragile; handle it carefully.  Maintain your walk with the Good Shepherd.  Our world desperately needs to know Him. Furthermore, Jesus wants them to know Him too.

 

 

Putting Away Christmas

I thought about this past post while I was out in my very cold storage barn getting boxes for storing away Christmas decorations and thought it should be good for another read.  It still is very true.  And it is short.  Short is always good for bloggers, in my opinion.

via Remnants of Christmas

Humility

On Christmas Day I didn’t really want to read according to plan.  I wanted to read something on Christmas, so instead, I turned once again to Philippians 2.  That piece of Scripture never fails to inspire me. How fitting it was to read one more time about the humbling of God in the person of Jesus. That baby, in the words of Charles Wesley, the second verse of “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” voice “veiled in the flesh the Godhead He. Hail the incarnate Deity. . .” tell the singers of the Baby King Jesus.

The God who spoke this world into being took on the form of a servant and made Himself of no reputation.  He became common—as common as a newborn baby.  Jesus never shrugged off that humility.  Babies need constant care.  God, in the person of His Son took on such humble humanity.

The omniscient God learned the alphabet as a child.  The Creator of the universe learned to build furnishings or houses with his earthly father as a humble carpenter.  Oh, there are glimpses of His deity from time to time when He shocked the rabbis in the temple when he was only twelve and then mildly reminded his parents that they should not be shocked that he would be “about his Father’s business” not as a carpenter apprentice, but as the all-knowing Teacher. He who made the wind and sea could also calm them with just three words. “Peace, be still.”

He tried to let the disciples know that He was God but they just did not understand.  He was more like an idolic superman.  Only until after His resurrection did Peter and John fully understand and never got over the fact that they had witnessed the Transfiguration, and had touched God in the person of Jesus.  Why?  They didn’t understand because Jesus was humble.  He never bragged about feeding five thousand, or walking on water. It was just the way Jesus was.  Humble.

In that humble position Jesus became our Great High Priest described in Hebrews 4:15, who could be “touched with the feelings of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”  The environment in which Jesus lived was anything but sterile.  He had a human body that tired and hungered but didn’t get grumpy like we do.  He was without sin.

He called himself by the title of Shepherd.  Shepherds are not spectacular people.  They are common and approachable.  And that is how we should be.  Common, approachable, but Christ-like.  We won’t walk with some supernatural glow about us, but if we walk according to the example of Jesus, people will see a difference and inside themselves, want that same difference too.  As we walk into 2018, let’s be sheep that follow closely to the Good Shepherd. He was common, approachable, humble, and made all the difference in the world.

 

Second Chance Christmas (book review)

Second Chance Christmas is a novella of fewer than 100 pages in length, by Ruth Logan Herne.  Zondervan, 2016 Copyright.  I found the book from a Facebook page called “Christian Book Finds” and it was a mere 99 cents.  I did not hesitate to download it to my e reader because that particular day, I was looking for a Christmas book that also might be a short weekend read.  It more than filled the bill!
Second Chance is a town in South Dakota and the year of this little historical romance is 1890.  Seldom does a book hook me on the first page, but this one did. As I ventured into the plot I found something that I often look for but do not find—the absence of a villain.  The antagonist in this book is inner conflict on the parts of both leading characters.  The plot holds interest and a bit of merry suspense as well. The fact is, the book made me curious about book three in this series entitled, Second Chance Love, which I also recommend.  It, however, does not have a Christmas theme.

Since there are still a few days before Christmas, go to Amazon.com if you have a Kindle or e reader with the Kindle app, and download it now, and according to my Kindle’s guide, it will take you about 1 hour and 42 minutes to read.  It took me about three hours.  I read slowly. Here is a hint:  when you type in the title on the Amazon search bar, include Ruth Logan Herne.  Herne is a prolific writer with many pages to scroll through.  You will want to come back another time to look at more of her heartwarming books.

And, by the way, Merry Christmas!

A Yellowed Newspaper Clipping

One of my daughters asked me for a punch recipe this morning.  It did not seem to be in my computer file, so I searched for it in an old photo album I had turned into a cookbook of sorts.  You know, it is back when the photo albums came with those magnetic pages.  Along with recipes, I put other sundry items I didn’t want to lose.  I did find the recipe, but I also found this and decided to share it here.  It is a very yellowed newspaper clipping that quotes Charles Hadden Spurgeon.
“There was but one crack in the lantern, and the wind has found it out and blown out the candle.  How great a mischief one unguarded  point of character may cause us.  One spark blew up the magazine and shook the whole country for miles around.  One leak sank the vessel and drown all on board.  One wound may kill the body; one sin destroy the soul.”
Seemed to me that I should not let that yellowed newsprint clipping go silent.  I have no idea which book or sermon that may have come from, but I do know it was from the pen of C.H. Spurgeon, known fondly by many as the “prince of preachers.”

While I wait. . .

Yesterday I had the experience, once again, of having an eye exam and injections into each eye of a clotting agent to abate the bleeders in my eyes that distort my vision.  Yes, I always arrive with a certain amount of apprehension which I usually try to hide from the doctor because I really do trust him.

First, we go through the eye exam with the chart that every eye doctor uses.  I did get to skip dilation yesterday which is always a nice thing to skip.  They test the eye pressure for glaucoma, and they take an eye scan that gives my doctor a picture of both eyes and where the guilty bleeders are located and what they are doing.

Last, the room where the injections will take place.  I’ve been doing this since 2010 so it is now quite routine for me.  The assistant floods each eye with numbing solution and leaves.

Then comes the quiet, dreaded wait.  The numbing drops take a little time to work.  I am now all alone.  Just the time I need to be calm, a little tinge of fear creeps in.  Chase away the doubts and fears with Scripture, I tell myself.

And God’s Word goes to work.  Yesterday I made a list in my mind of the attributes of God and additional verses from Psalms about God is my Rock, my Refuge, my Fortress, just a name a few.  But the wait seemed longer than usual yesterday.

Waiting is just one part of our lives.  We wait for the mail hoping for money!  We wait in line at the checkout.  We wait for the auto repair, and on and on it goes.  Fill those waiting times with conversation with God or at least speak to the person ahead of you or behind you.  If you don’t feel comfortable talking to a stranger, at least pray for them.

Finally, the wait is over.  The doctor appears, gives me a report of the results of the eye scan, asks a few related questions or gives a word of encouragement then rises from his chair.  Here it comes—and so quickly it is over.  No offense to any readers who are dentists, but in truth, I’d rather have the injections directly into my eye than go to the dentist!

While you wait, don’t let your mind float along in neutral.  Reach out to the Lord.  With Nehemiah I say, “. . .neither be ye sorry, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”  (Nehemiah 8:10) I’d like to say that in my silent waiting I sing.  I’m still working on that one!  Not.There.Yet.

Have both a Mary and Martha Christmas

This was first put on this site in 2012 and if I, the writer, needed to read it again, maybe you need it too.  Have a second look, or for new followers, maybe a first look.  For the men who follow this site, the message of these two women can certainly apply to many manly lives as well.

These two sisters are often portrayed as complete opposites.  Martha is described as the busy one, while Mary is the contemplative one.  I always have and always will defend Martha.  Martha had leadership skills while Mary was more of a follower.  We need both personalities within ourselves if we are to worship God, particularly at Christmas.

My son-in-law, Gary, is often heard saying, “It’s all about balance.”  Gary is a combination personality.  We have too few of his kind.  He is part Martha with a balance of leadership skills and part Mary with slower, thinking skills.  When it comes to worship, we must balance the worship with the work.

Clearly, Jesus told Martha that Mary had chosen the most important part.  She was listening.  Martha was busy putting on a meal for 13 additional guests.  Some preachers conjure up the notion that she was preparing too large of a meal but let me tell you, making bologna sandwiches for 13 extra men would be monumental to me!

I find two accounts of Mary and Martha with similarities.  One is in Luke 10 and the other is in John 12.  In both cases, Martha serves and Mary worships.  In John 12 we find the beautiful story of Mary’s gift of spikenard.  Each lady serves sacrificially.  Martha gave time and energy and fulfilled physical needs.  Mary gave time in worship.  They were both right.  They were both wrong.  Each of them needed to serve with balance.  Let’s conjecture here that for the time and the place—they were right for doing what they did.

When it comes to Christmas it is far too easy to get caught up in the festivities.  Decorations have to be perfect; the food has to be plentiful and pretty at the same time.  Gifts need to be wrapped with perfect bows.  On and on the Martha marches to the beat of expectations.  Mary, on the other hand, is reading Advent devotionals, and taking time to write a personal note in a Christmas greeting card.  Mary is thinking about the reason for the season.

So, I say, let’s have a Mary AND Martha Christmas.  It’s all about balance.

I am certainly open to discussion!