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. . .

 

Music Fundamentals and Parenting

Sometime in the last six months I have used the feature on my computer to play music during my prayer time.  Instrumental music of course, so words are not distracting.  I have a classical guitar recording but I have never ripped it to my computer drive, but I have both Dino and Greg Howlett piano arrangements in my music spot.

Howlett is a master of arpeggio  while Dino is a master at chords.  Both make marvelous arrangements.  Both use scales effectively for music expression and their dynamics express the lyrics of the arrangements so well. 

In their youth, both men must have had music teachers that drilled the fundamentals of music.  The ability to use the fundamentals of scales, arpeggio, and chords in all key signatures is a mark of professional sound. How do they do it? Practice.

How does a Believing Christian walk according to the fundamentals of God’s Word?  Practice. 

We must practice, practice, practice.  We never mature to a place where we automatically do the right thing. The forces of ease and worldly pleasure will always surround us.  My challenge to parents is to warn the children of pitfalls and praise them when they successfully make their way through a maze of temptations. Children have a natural heart of foolishness as Proverbs 22:15 tells the parent. Every parent is faced with the responsibility of using the means of correction to drive out that foolishness.  It is a fundamental of parenting.

The expectation of God is our own self-governing practice. Learn it yourself, then teach it to the children. Practice, practice, practice!

Let the Children Come (book review)

The full title of the book is Let the Children Come:  The Life of George Muller. It is a relatively new book published in December of 2020.  Its print length is 367 pages.  The publisher is Crown Publishers, Reedsport, OR, 97467. The author is Tom Fay.  The price is free if you already have a Kindle Unlimited membership. If you do not participate in Kindle Unlimited, it is $4.99.

Although the title looks like a biography, the book is fictionalized and modernized into today’s setting instead of 1800’s England.  This book is considered a novel; however, the characters are not created.  The central characters are George Mueller, his wife, Mary, and daughter, Lydia.  Supporting characters are also real people.  The setting is what is fictionalized.  The author’s preface tells the reader why the book is presented this way so it is essential to read the preface or the reader will be sadly confused.  It is not until the epilogue that the writer tells the reader what is fact and what is fiction.

I usually give a book thirty pages and if after that I just put it down if I have not gained interest.  In this case, I am such a tightwad that I was not going to pay five dollars for a book left unfinished.  I was well past half of the book before I settled in some enjoyment. I find deep disappointment that I do not have the full, real story behind this remarkable person of George Muller. Had I not selected this book so soon after having read the Elizabeth Elliot story, which was superbly written, I would not have been as disappointed. It was difficult not to compare. 

I don’t think I’ll be a fan of Tom Fay’s writing.  I enjoy history and think there is so much to learn from those who contributed so much to the Christian faith, that I won’t be trying this route to history again. Now, this is just my opinion and you may feel entirely different.  I put out these book reviews so that you will have access to different views.  My prediction for this book having lasting value is dim.  I came in contact with the book through Amazon book recommendations, so they did their job!  Their promotion was a bit overrated, in my opinion. If you want an honest, well researched biography of the orphanage builder who operated his ministry solely by faith, Tom Fay’s book is not the answer.

Turn to the Light

A theme has stuck in my head, fallen to my heart, and perhaps leaked  out of my fingers on the keyboard this week.  It is LIGHT.  In the events that have evolved since November 3, 2020, Americans have experienced the sharp contrast between light and darkness.  While those who are deceptive love darkness because their deeds are evil (John 3:19) the bearers of the light of righteous living turn to the light.  In fact, they are natural light carriers. There is no doubt that if both sides of the news were covered honestly without readers and listeners having to search for truth, the contrast between light and darkness would be unmistakable.

The propaganda machines have, in some instances, been turned onto high speed. Those who choose to stay in the darkness of deceit offer up methods of blinding eyes.  But this is not new.  It is as old, probably, as the Garden of Eden.  If I were going to do a thorough study on the topic, it would take me so many pages, I would develop a book.  My goal here is to inspire the reader to search for a way out of darkness into light.

  I have a philodendron in my office.  That plant has a history now of eleven years, but I won’t bore you with that.  This morning when I poured the remains of my bottle of water on it, I also gave it a quarter turn on its stand.  If I did not turn “Phyllis” every two or three days, she would lean sideways to the light from the window and be all lopsided.  I want her to full, well-shaped, and glamourous so I give her a twist every third day or so.  The same is true of my “Sophie” the spider plant in another room.  She is outside in the summer and gets balanced light, but in the winter, I must do the balancing for her.  And yes, I also have “Gertrude” and “Gracie” which are geraniums I am wintering over, and a few other plants that so far, are nameless.

Some plants thrive in low light but most plants like sunlight, water, and no weed competition.  It is important to plant our annuals and perennials where they will thrive.  But humans, well, they must take themselves where they will thrive.  Wise and loving parents will guide their children to make the better choices between light and darkness.  Once the child grows into young adulthood, parents can hope that the child will make independent choices to do what is right.

To get into the nitty gritty of these past six months or more let’s look at choices.  A majority of those in destructive riots are young adults.  The family has failed them.  Otherwise, they would not be setting fires, looting, breaking windows, and throwing frozen water bottle at law enforcement officers.  Protesting is acceptable if the protest is controlled and can be controlled by law enforcement. It has been my observance that the more peaceful protesters are older.  They consist of people above age thirty and some into their sixties.  They don’t set fires, loot, or carry weapons with the intent of killing. All they want to do is make their voice heard.

In the most recent protest that has drawn national attention, that protest was infiltrated with the wrong crowd.  That’s a problem.  Acts to deceive even the innocent is borne of the darkest of hearts.  It is not new.  I have read and heard the stories of such infiltration into the opposition by the enemy as far back as World War II.(Just for fun, recall to memory “Hogan’s Heroes.”)  It probably goes back further. 

Eternal vigilance is the only solution for those who use a cloak of darkness to conceal their evil intentions.  That vigilance starts in the home.  It starts in the highchair when we fold little hands together in prayer and thank Jesus for food to eat.  It starts when mothers sing “Jesus Love Me” to an infant during a diaper change.  It continues when we quote Bible verses from the book of Proverbs as we lay the bricks of good character. 

If I neglect to turn my plant every two days or so, I will have a leggy, unbalanced plant. 
Parents teach the precepts of God’s Word.  Nurture with light, love, and character-building control.  Follow the child with prayer every day.

Only when parents stay together and rear children with decent character will America change. It takes Light.
Jesus is the Light of the world.  Lean into Him.

Disagree, sure, just don’t be Disagreeable!

I write, with irregularity, someing I call, My Two-Cent’s Worth. At least that’s what I titled it in my document file. Generally it stems from something on my heart or mind from my personal Bible reading that morning. Sometimes it comes from a song I’ve heard that day, or from something on the news. I have sometimes dabbled with the notion of starting a second WordPress site with just “My Two Cents,” but then I would be more pinned to writing more on a schedule. After years of teaching and staying on a scheduled bell that signals the end of a class, I detest schedules and lesson plans. What I felt this morning, however, is so burdensome to me that I am sharing it both on social media and on this site.

It is only by experiencing the Shepherd’s Presence that we can have the self control to not spew off or blindly follow what someone has told us without studying it further, and deeper, that we can disagree with good nature, even good humor, and not go away with the bitter taste of having said too much. Measuring words is just as important as measuring ingredients for a souffle. Although borrowed from some unknown person, my dad promoted the saying: “If you can’t say something good about a person, don’t say it at all.” Disagreements should be over policy and not personality. He said that too.


At any rate, here is what spilled out of my heart this morning:

Disagree without being disagreeable is a trait that should be sought after with all diligence. It is possible to be kind, yet make a point of standing firm on your convictions. Wrath brings division that sometimes takes years to correct. It can injure a spirit, sometimes beyond repair. In this time of uncertainty, it is all too easy to let go of a quiet spirit of civility and lean too far into anger and discontent. By all means, stand for what is Biblical but at the same time, maintain your civility. I see too many believing Christians about to tarnish the good name of Jesus out of what they would claim is “righteous indignation.” At the same time, neither should we lean too far the other direction and freeze over with malice. Strike for balance. Stand firm, stand righteously. Let the Words of God you have memorized from the toddler days of “Be ye kind. . .” seep into your daily living. Our business should be about the furtherance of the Kingdom of God, not self preservation. I say this out of kindness and a heavy heart.

Backward, Forward, Upward, Inward

There is a children’s song that works out the tendency to wiggle along with a happy message.  The motions are done from a chair and the lyrics are : “I’m inright, outright, upright, downright, happy all the time, (repeat) Since Jesus Christ came in, and saved my soul from sin, I’m inright, outright, upright, downright, happy all the time. Imagine the movements, bending in, out, standing up, sitting down, clapping hands, then do it double time, and finally triple time, then slow, slow, slow.  I like the simplicity of children’s music.  It is putting doctrine in a mini-sized box, but it is all there.

The tendency at the end of a year is to look back, do the year in review, but that dwells too much in the past.  While we do well to learn from ourmistakes, and build for the future, using the backward look usually doesn’t do anyone very much good.  Of course, looking forward with an abundance of goal-setting can also be so unrealistic that three weeks into the new resolutions, disappointment sets in.

A possible cure for the mistakes of dwelling on bad memories, or setting unrealistic goals, is taking the upward look but wait—the upward look will also fail without first taking an inward look. The twenty-dollar word for that is introspection.

Recently a grandson volunteered to finish vacuuming for me and I told him he could do a “lick and a promise.”  His quizzacle look told me he didn’t know what that means.  So, I said, just vacuum down the middle.  Next time we will get into the corners. “Oh.”  All too often we just give ourselves a “lick and a promise.”  The inward look is more than quickly reading a little devotional and five verses of scripture and praying for two minutes. Spend some more time to give deep, introspective thinking. Ask the Lord where you are going wrong.  Getting that answer causes the upward look to God for guidance and a look that brings longing to spend even more time with God.

I’ve heard it said many times that there is no future for those who drag the past along behind them. Put the past away, set new, realistic goals, and expect God to give you daily guidance.
Happy 2021!

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.