Who is on the Lord’s Side?

Moses, although he had flaws, as we all do, is an outstanding Old Testament example of leadership. If I were writing this for mother’s day, I would be asking for applause for Jochabed. She is one mother of courage who implanted values into her very small child; those values lasted Moses a lifetime.

Today, however, lies heavily on my heart the now hundreds of Christian martyrs who have refused to deny Christ. The swords, fires, and hatchets do not cause them to flinch in the face of denying their faith in Christ. They are on the Lord’s side. Recently we marked a date one hundred years ago when Armenian Christians were methodically slain by the Turks of the Ottoman Empire. The slaughter is senseless now as much as it was one hundred years ago. Evil is so burned into the Islamic heart that the conscience is dead.

Moses spent forty days on Mt. Sinai. God beckoned Moses to spend that special time with him and during that time he received the directions for the assembly and handling of the Tabernacle. Exodus 20-32 may seem dry and boring to those who do not understand the whole story that unfolds in the Bible’s entirety. Every detail and assembly of the Tabernacle holds significance in the worship that would hold God’s people to follow His heart and ways. During the time, the very finger of God etched into a piece of stone what we hold sacred still: the Ten Commandments.

When Moses heard the noise of the camp, he recognized the noise as one of wickedness rather than worship. Aaron, his own brother, allowed the wilderness followers to fashion a golden calf to worship. After dealing with the disobedience, I see Moses stand before that unruly, insensitive crowd and call out “Who is on the Lord’s side?”

With unspeakable wickedness that surrounds us, who among us is willing to stand up to the CINO’s among us and make that declaration? America is full of religiousity but has far too many Christians in Name Only. When the issues of Biblical stand come before them, they cave. They build a gold calf of economics.

Will you raise your hand and say, “Me! I am on the Lord’s side!”

An Oil change, Flashing lights, and Choices

Do you have one of those coffee K-Cup machines? They can be quite wonderful if you want your coffee fresh every cup. I guess. My frugal ways think that the fresh cup of coffee every time is not worth the price. That aside, I do have one of the simple machines that makes one cup at a time. If you have read my weblog for very long you know—I like things simple.

Maybe simple people, like me, are lazy in mind. We don’t like to be confused by having to make multiple decisions when one or two steps are all that is needed to get the job done. Anyhow, today I drove to my favorite garage to get an oil change in my car. I was in luck. The lot was full of cars, but they took in my simple oil change job on the spot. While I waited, I took a seat in the waiting area and pulled out my e reader to pass the time. Usually they have a Mr. Coffee type pot of old coffee but oh, they have updated the coffee service to a super duper big daddy single cup coffee maker. I thought, to myself, “I know how to do this.” and stepped up to the big daddy coffee maker. Expertly I found a K-cup and inserted it. The water tank must self fill because it looked ready to go. I pulled the handle down to start the brew when all of a sudden three lights came on! Not one—no—three!

My faithful readers also know I have a vision problem when it comes to small print. I had no idea which light I needed to tap. Hmmm. I stood thinking, “Do I do enny-meeny?” See? So many decisions for such a simple grandma! Well, if the lights meant the brew, the middle would be a good choice. On the other hand, the lights might mean the fullness of the cup; of course, my frugal self does not want to waste anything! I thought perhaps I should choose before the lady at the desk might question me soon. I hit the far right light. It gave me a full cup, and it tasted fine. Whew!

On the way home I was still wondering what those lights meant. I know one thing for sure, I don’t have that much trouble making a spiritual decision because the Word of God is so embedded in my heart, the right choice just pops into selection. Sure, I am tempted from time to time, but if I listen carefully to my inner voice from God, I make the right choice. When the Psalmist wrote, “Thy Word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against Thee,” that’s what he was talking about.

As a side note: My oil change today came to $5.18 because I am a regular customer. That’s what they said. Now, that was a big bonus! Better than the cup of coffee that my simple mind perplexed over, that’s for sure.

After Easter

Six decades have come and gone on the calendar of my life. Yet, this morning I experienced a first Easter that truly moved my heart in a powerful way. Frankly, I went to church expecting good music and warm fellowship with other believers. I came away different than when I came and that’s how it should be on any given Sunday. Sometimes that does happen, but seldom on Easter. We go expecting more of the same as the year before and the years before that.

One of the songs that left words vibrating in my heart harbored the phrase, “they came to crucify a man, but they sacrificed a Lamb.” A simple, but profound truth. The song happened to be the title song of the program, “Behold the Lamb.” Even more moving to my heart were the words from the song, “Without His Cross” were the words: “without His tears, there is no comfort.”

Those words led me to reflect on the tears of Jesus over Jerusalem, and then also the tears in the Garden of Gethsemane. During the thirty-three years that Jesus walked this earth He undoubtedly shed tears no one saw. That would not be unlike my own tears, that sometimes spill unto the countertop as I cook, or into the dishwater as I wash dishes and all the time praying for someone dear. It also reminds me that Jesus knows how I feel when my heart is broken to the point of tears because He shed tears too. He is my comfort in those times when otherwise my heart would just break in grief.

The Holy Spirit brought to my heart the wonderful challenge of Philippians 3:10 “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His suffering; being made conformable unto His death.” My memory floated back to my college days and hearing that verse set to song for a lovely teacher on campus. Mrs. Kettering could sing those words like no other. That chorus is embedded in my heart.

The crowning touch came in the final minutes, maybe no more than eight minutes, when my pastor gave closing remarks. He quoted Philippians 1:21 “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” The day may come in our own United States where the refusal to deny Christ may bring death. Standing for Biblical truth sometimes costs a Christian his business. Certainly denying Christ is a temptation in our world of regulations and restrictions on free speech if it comes from a serious Christian.

Upon leaving church this morning, I made it plain to my crucified and then risen Savior that I am on His side. I will not deny Him. He did not deny me. I am His; He is mine.

Credits: the music for “Behold the Lamb” is published by Lorenz Publishing Company, 2010, The program is a compilation made by Mike and Christina Gradwell but is not published. It was compiled by a hometown girl who grew up at Victory Baptist Church, Whiteland, IN. Families like hers are what make serious Christianity thrive. If you wish for more information on the script and music compilations, please comment below. I will get back to you on it.

Pleasant Words

Proverbs 16:24 expresses the value of speaking pleasant words: “Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul and health to the bones.” There it is; this is a simple truth. It is not difficult to understand, yet it seems as if all around me I hear arguing, hassling, bitterness.

My dad, who did not finish 8th grade, knew the value of speaking the truth in simple love. Whenever I would mention bickering among the girls in our Chain O’ Lakes country school yard he would remind me that if I could not say anything nice not to say anything at all. That is advice still worthwhile.

This week I posted a remark on Facebook that was supportive to the link that had been posted in regard to education. Almost immediately a caustic comment followed in a reply to my comment. It was so sarcastic that it even lost relevancy to the original intent of the post. In the replier’s sarcasm he left a door open for a smart, quick reply. Puzzled, he made one more comment: “That was sarcasm, you do know that?” Of course I did know that but my quick, yet kind reply tossed ice on his fire.

Oh that we might pray regularly the prayer 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.” In this world of selfish, thoughtless words, it is our responsibility as Jesus’ followers to speak pleasantly, yet speak the truth. When we do that, our lives will match. It is really difficult for folks to dispute us when our words and actions are in harmony. We will bring sweetness to the souls and health to the bones of not only ourselves, but also to the lives of those around us.

Made to Crave: Satisfying your Deepest Desires with God, not Food

By Lysa Terkeurst, Zondervan, 2010. 225 pages, Available on Amazon new, used, or Kindle editions.

Lysa Terkeurst is president of Proverbs 31 ministries and no stranger to book titles. While many of her books deal with subjects for younger women, I had not picked up any of the titles although I had several recommend Unglued to me. Out of curiosity I picked up Made to Crave and Terkeurst’s writing style was easy to read but also profound. She is transparent and oh so authentic!

The book has 19 chapters with titles such as “Friends Don’t Let Friends Eat without Thinking,” “I’m not defined by the Numbers,” “But Exercise Makes Me Want to Cry,” and “Why Diet’s don’t Work.” My favorite chapter in the book is “The Very Next Choice we Make.” Since this book is something I needed to meet my constant struggle with weight loss, I read the first twelve chapters rapidly. Then one thing after another seemed to stop me from coming back to that bookmarked place. Well, confession is, I had lots to think about in those first 12 chapters and felt a bit overwhelmed to go on! Slowly, I moved on but once I got to chapter 17 the last three chapters were a breeze.

My advice is: do not skip any of the chapters and read them in order or the book will not be the help you need. Terkeurst sometimes labors a point to death and I did skim here and there thinking, “Oh, I get it, let’s move on.” The book is written with reflective questions at the end of each chapter, and frankly, I skipped most of those too because they are written in for group study purposes.

Yes! I highly recommend this book. It has depth in the three most needy areas of anyone struggling with weight loss: physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. My only negative comment would be the use of so many different versions of the Bible. She does not always identify the version and my natural propensity is to know the Scripture content based on translation. Since she often uses the English Standard Version, and New King James, and the King James, I made it through and by the end of the book, it just did not bother me at all.

I have the Kindle version and found myself highlighting as I read so that I can go back and read my notes when (not if, when) I get tripped up or stalled. This is a book you will want to read, and reread, and never loan or give away to anyone else.

Little Green Bugs with Red Eyes

After a week of eventful stomach and intestinal virus “bugs” in the house, my daughter described the germs as “little green bugs with red eyes” jumping on the beds, flying into hair, splashing in the shower, and laughing with wicked peals.

While they were under siege with three out of four children coming down with this one at a time, I was laid up with the repiartory disorder commonly called the flu. I don’t know if my bugs were green, but one thing for certain, they were having a heyday at my house.

Debby and I both used the same method of attack: Lysol®, hand sanitizer, and fresh air. I hope they are gone. I don’t wish their party on anyone.

Now, if only we would look at sin the same way. Visualize that temptation to sin as little green bugs with bulging red eyes accompanied with shrill, taunting laughter. All too often sin is disguised as a pet; it is something to be coddled and caressed! The well-used illustration of identifying sin the same as a shirt still is a good illustration. If it is doubtful, it is dirty.

The Apostle Paul described it this way: “All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me but I will not be brought under the power of any.” (I Corinthians 6:12) Those things that are not expedient sometimes have a power of their own. Addictive things that drive a wedge of sin between me and my relationship with God are like those little green bugs with red eyes! Whether it be music, anger, appetite, or immodest dress—you identify it for yourself—it is sin and should be purged out.

Proverbs 14:34 tells us that “righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people. Beware of those little green bugs with red eyes!

Options

Customer service is a special commodity in 2015. With the electronic age closing all around us, our customer service is limited to selecting the correct number on an automated answering system. Last week I found a new high number selection on an automated dialing system. It went all the way to nine. Usually nine is reserved for those of us who now have written three possible choices for our problems and now must eliminate further by selecting “9” to repeat the menu options.

The sinker in all of the automation is that once we have entered a 15 digit number and reached another service line, they ask us to repeat the number, all 15 of them, and when an actual living person comes on the line, they ask for the number again! Why? I just gave it to you twice, I think. Since I now do not want this knowledgeable person to go away, I kindly give that long number once again.

A few days ago I stopped, pumped my own gas, and forgot to wash my windshield. I wondered as I drove away (not wanting to back up and annoy the person behind me in line) if any station in town is a “full-service” station? I would pay more for my gas if only someone would pump it for me, and wash my windshield. In fact, I might splurge and tell them to fill up the tank!

Wouldn’t it be a pleasure to exchange an item in a department store if we did not have to play a game of twenty questions in order to do so—and then be rejected because the exchange day expired yesterday.

It is times like this that I am thankful I am just passing through this world; my home is in Heaven where everything is perfect. When I do as Jeremiah 33:3 commands, no option list appears. Imagine this: “If you are calling for financial assistance, press 1; if you are calling about illness, press 2; if you are calling in emergency, hang up and call 911. Simply call. “Call unto me and I will answer three and shew thee great and mighty things which thou knowest not.”

Bean Soup

It is winter. Soup is wonderful in the winter so I started soaking my great northern beans last night in preparation of my homemade bean soup. When I set it to cooking this morning my mouth began to water thinking about how tasty it would be. It was with relief that I saw on the plastic bag full of beans that there is absolutely no sodium in great northern beans. I did not add any either.

Those beans also sent me on a trip down memory lane. One of the products my dad planted on our family farm each year was great northern beans. Dad was the only person who paid much attention to the beans until they were harvested. I’d see those heavy 100# bags of beans in the grain bins and groan.

I was a child, it seems, a hundred years ago, living on a small farm in a tightly-knit community. My mom traded eggs from our chickens and those dry bean. She took them to the back of the store for the storekeeper to tally and then picked items like coffee, sugar, peanut butter, and flour. When she approached the lady at the big cash register, the amount of money for the eggs and beans paid for the groceries and usually Mom had some cash to stash away for a time when the hens were not laying as well. Honest, that was in the 1950’s, not in Little House on the Prairie.

Those beans were the unwelcome sight to me as after supper the dishes were washed and out in the dining room dad had already a big heap of dry beans for us to sort. We didn’t sit and watch television. Nope. I sat there at the table with my parents and grandfather and sorted out the small sticks, pod pieces and, even a stone sometimes, and broken beans. Mom weighed them and put the good beans into a separate pile for selling. We also ate our own product on a regular basis during the winter.

That memory is a precious one to me now. Since those days I have found Christ as my personal Savior and studied His Word. Esau sold his birthright—a big deal—for a bowl of bean soup. Esau thought he might die of hunger anyhow, so he gave up his coveted position of the oldest in the family for a bowl of soup. What is it that we all too hastily give up for a fleeting pleasure rather than wait for God’s best gifts?

I’ll be eating bean soup once a day now for about five days and thinking about foolish Esau. I’ll also think of the times I passed up a golden opportunity for something far less. My own mess of pottage.

Steps

My posts have been slow coming, but not because I have forgotten this place. God keeps speaking, I keep listening, but I do not always keep writing!

After seen days of unuttered grief, Job sits alone. Hearing of his great loss, Bildad, Eliphaz, and Zophar agree to mourn with Job. He is barely recognizable when they approach him Consolation seems to evade them and for seven days and nights they sit speechless with the suffering Job. I have found myself in that place of having nothing to say but to only be present when there is a great loss in a friend’s life. Presence matters.

Finally, after seven long days and nights, Job speaks. One at a time these loyal men try to find something to say that might help. Their words are feeble. By chapter 14 of Job, I find that Job now speaks in defense and some understanding and it is difficult to tell at this point if Job is responding to the friends, or is talking to God. You and I do the same thing. We walk around talking to ourselves and then launch into discussion with God. We say things such as “Why?” and “I don’t understand,” or “Please. . .”

In verse 5, Job acknowledges that it is God who created him and after that is when I cannot discern if he is talking to Zophar or to God. Verse 16 reveals a wonderful truth: someone is numbering his steps. Is it his friends who are watching him? If so, then he must guard those steps. Job knew that. Do we know that? Our example counts just as much as Job’s example counted.

Job did not have the Psalms at his disposal because he lived perhaps hundreds of years before David was born. We have the benefit of being able to turn to Psalm 37 and see in verse 23 that the “steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord.” God’s eye was upon Job, His eye was on David, and His eye is upon me.

It’s been nearly a year since I took a misstep and my tooth went right through my lip. In the aftermath I thought of those words about our steps. Job’s words made me think of them again this morning. The children’s song reminds us “Oh be careful little feet where you go. . .”

I hope you find joy walking with the Lord. Yesterday I heard someone on the radio say, “If only we would just live in God’s presence instead of always trying to impress Him.” Just walk with the Good Shepherd and be calm in His presence. Job so walked and sat in the presence of God that it is difficult to discern whether he was talking with Zophar, or with God. Oh that my communication with God were that sweet!

Feathers for Worms

“But we can’t afford it. You must think that money grows on trees!” Mr. Isaac Barnswallow was speaking.

“But we just must keep up with the other Barnswallows,” answered Rebekah; Mrs. Isaac Barnswallow, that is.

“All of the other Barnswallows are lining their nests with down,” and wit that she pulled her handkerchief out from under her wing and started to cry.

“All right, all right,” said her husband, “I will see what I can do, but feathers are very expensive this year.”

Mr. Barnswallow was smart when it came to business matters so he made a plan. He was also very industrious. “The early bird gets the worm” was his motto. So the next morning by the time the other birds came to the barnyard to dig for breakfast worms, he had already collected a supply and had opened a little restaurant under an oak tree in the corner of the barnyard.

On the outside was an attractive sign, “Swallow at Barnswallows.” Mr. Barnswallow stood in the door and called to the passing birds, “Worms for feathers; get your breakfast here. Why take the time to dig for your breakfast. My worms are guaranteed to be slick and boneless.”

“How much are your worms?” asked Speedy Skylark as he paused in front of the door. Speedy’s real name was Joseph, but since he was so fast and quick on the wing, his school mates had named him Speedy. However, Speedy was anything but quick around the house; in fact he was lazy—so lazy that he hated to dig for morning worms.

“Two for a feather,” answered Mr. Barnswallow. “How many will you have?”

“I’ll take four please,” answered Speedy. Turning he plucked two feathers, one from each wing, and handed them to Mr. Barnswallow. He gobbled down his four worms and hurried away to school.

“Two feathers don’t matter,” he said to himself. “It is so much easier to trade feathers for worms than to dig for them. I’m so glad Mr. Barn swallow has opened a restaurant.”

Of course Speedy did not eat there every morning. Sometimes he dug his own breakfast. But there were quite a few mornings when he roosted late or felt lazy. At such times he would rush over to Mr. Barnswallow’s and exchange two or three more feathers for worms. However, after a month or so, he did not have many feathers left. Still Speedy did not think it mattered very much—at least that is what he thought until yesterday.

Yesterday was the day of the big Wing Meet, with birds from all over Skyland County gathered from the race. The Wington School was in first place with 256 points up to the very last race which was the 100 yard flash. Speedy had been selected to represent the Wington School in this particular race because he had won it the year before. It was generally agreed that no bird was more swift and quick on the wing that Speedy.

“Ready,” said the referee, “on your limb, Go!”

Speedy darted forward with all his might, expecting to be in front all the way. To his amazement, three other birds were ahead from the start. Half way to the goal, two others passed him. That left only Pete Buzzard behind. Pete was considered graceful on the wing, but the slowest bird in all of Skyland County. Just short of the finish line, Pete soared past Speedy, leaving him seventh and last in the race and throwing the Wington School from first place to third in total points.

“What was the matter?” said Bald Eagle, the coach to Speedy after the Meet. Speedy could only hang his head. Deep in his heart he knew what was the matter.

That night he could not sleep for worrying. then there came to him what he thought was a wonderful idea. The next morning he was up bright and early and out digging worms, even before Mr. Barnswallow arrived. When Mr. Barnswallow did appear, Speedy rushed up to him.

“Look, Mr. Barnswallow,” he said. “I have a box full of worms. How many feathers will you trade me for these? Please, Sir, I want my feathers back.”

“Trade you feathers for worms?” said Mr. Barnswallow. “Why you silly little bird. My business is to trade worms for feathers, not feathers for worms.” With that he turned and walked away chuckling. Speedy was alone and broken hearted.

Speedy trudged home with the box full of worms and told his mother the whole story. “I am so sorry, Mother What shall I do? Will my feathers grow out again? Will I ever be able to fly fast again?”

“I do not know,” Mrs. Skylark answered slowly. “We can only wait and see. You must remember that God has given us some things which He expects us to guard and keep at all times. If we fail to do that, and allow them to get away from us, we can never buy the back again at any price.”

Poor Speedy! Mr. Barn swallow was right. What a silly little bird to trade his beautiful, wonderful feathers that God had given him, for worms!

_______________________________
**NOTE:
Story first published as “The Skylark” by G. H. Charnley, published by Allenson and Co., London, England and used by permission in Birdlife in Wington, by J. Calvin Reid, published by Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, MI in 1948. Now out of print.
After a search on Amazon.com I found old copies available but at collector’s rate. (range from 25.00 to 86.00) It may be that someone could put it back into print and if so, that needs to be checked first before passing this story on to someone else.

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