“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom: teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual song, singing with grace in your hearts to the LORD.” That verse is found in Colossians 3:16.
About the first of this month I decided to add a song to my quiet time with God. I’d found a tattered songbook that was full of children’s songs and choruses used in the classrooms at Pensacola Christian Academy. It was a castaway that I’d grabbed. It is difficult for me to see music discarded regardless of how shabby the cover looks!
The songs have had a penetrating influence on me. I just started at page one of the book and have sung one song per day. Some of them I’d not sung in a very long time and some of them I’ve had to sight read to bring back the melody I once knew.
This morning I rose early because a lingering infection came back to the surface and would not let me sleep. So, I read my Bible and did the routine quiet time things, then took out my songbook, now marked with a paperclip to save my place, and there is was, the song I needed most for my day. It is evening and the song is still turning in my heart. The song, composed and published in 1958, arranged by John W. Peterson, comes originally from a Singspiration© songbook is “He is Able.”
The lyrics are as follows: He is able, He is able, I know He is able, I know my Lord is able to carry me through. He is able, He is able, I know He is able, I know my Lord is able to carry me through. He healed the brokenhearted, and set the captive free, He made the lame to walk again, and He caused the blind to see! He is able, He is able, I know He is able, I know my Lord is able to carry me through.
Now, I know some of you are singing it too. You might want to add a song to your quiet time too. It surely has blessed my heart to sing unto the Lord. When a person sings alone, even though she may hear the harmony in the head, the spirit of worship just draws one closer to the God who has just spoken through His Word. Try it!
If you are wondering, I am back on antibiotic and hope the infection is conquered on this round. I am remembering that “He is Able.”
So much of my life was shaped by having been reared on a small farm in central Wisconsin.
Of the three hamsters with which I have had acquaintance, Tipster is the most athletic. He loves running on the hamster wheel so much that on one or two occasions, I have taken it away from him and told him to go to bed. In the morning it is not unusual for the wheel to be in a different place in the habitat. Recently I found Tipster sleeping beside the wheel instead of in his nest.
His nest is also unique. He can move bedding into a heap so high that I have suspected that he may be planning an escape by giving himself some height from which to jump to the top and out to freedom. Until this morning, I had never seen him mastering this architecture. Tipster scoops the bedding out from under himself by suspending the back of his body in the air! My other two hamsters were happy to line a ceramic cup or inside one of those twine houses made for hamsters.
Mister Tipster has provided visual entertainment, but he is still reluctant to allow himself to be picked up. I have to coax him into a large soda cup to scoop him out of the habitat into a temporary dwelling so I can clean his dwelling. Trust is slowly coming, however.
Someone smarter than I has calculated that an average hamster runs 17 miles on the hamster wheel per night. Since Tipster is so aggressive, I think I can safely add five miles to his total running distance. Oh that I would be that athletic! I do well to walk a mile! Whether we walk, run, dig, or clean house, exercise does profit some. The Apostle Paul writes to Timothy: “For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and that which is to come.” (I Timothy 4:8)
To Tipster I say, “Run Tipster, run so you can keep in good physical condition.” To myself I say, “Walk in physical steps to stay in condition, and read God’s Word to stay in spiritual condition. Both are important.
Joshua records the highs, lows, questions, and aftermath of battle in chapters 6-8. Jericho had been an amazing battle. The victory was unexplainable and some scholars still scratch their heads as to how it all went down—literally! Jericho was a strong, thickly walled city. God won the victory during a parade. Outstanding!
Then came a little city named Ai. It did not look difficult to take at all. A mighty defeat devastated the soldiers that day. Three things separated them from victory: a little silver, a wonderfully made garment, and a wedge of gold. Achan was overcome with the desire for things he had never owned and gathered them to himself even though Joshua had commanded his soldiers not to take of the things they found in Jericho. His lust for things caused a blotch on the next place of battle.
The sin was revealed, Achan was dealt a terrible consequence, and once again Joshua approached Ai with a new battle plan. This time Joshua sent ten times the number of warriors with an ambush plan, and Ai was left a smoldering heap of rubble. What happened next is noteworthy. Joshua gathered the people together, built an altar just as Moses had commanded, and they worshipped. They returned to God the glory due His name. Time was taken after the adrenalin slowed to listen to the law read before they moved on.
All of us fight different battles. Some battles are with a strong-willed child, a drug addiction, gluttony, and on and on. When we win a battle, do we stop and worship or do we do a happy dance and fail to give God His due worship?
After the battle, slow your heart and let the Words of God settle deeply into your being. Give God the glory due His majestic name.
The author is well-known to Christian readers, a prolific wordsmith, Max Lucado. It was first published in hard cover in 2007 but is now available in paperback, Kindle®, and audio. It also has an accompanying workbook for personal or small study groups. The book length varies according to the format used. My Kindle format was 135 pages. As I write (November 9, 2015) the Kindle version is a mere 99 cents.
Lucado refers to choosing our vocation or ministry as the “sweet spot” on a baseball bat. It is that place where we will be the most productive. Thus, the sweet spot takes us out of the hum drum of common living to living in the best we can be for God and thus, others. I found it a worthy read even though I am now retired. For twenty years I did live in my sweet sport not only doing what I do best but loving what I did. That is the ultimate sweet spot.
Several times throughout the book Lucado refers to the S.T.O.R.Y. which is a map for finding one’s way. The acronym refers to strengths, topic, optimal conditions, relationships, and “Yes.” He develops each point thoroughly. Illustrations abound throughout the book. Some of the illustrations are personal, while some are from history, and all are entertaining. This book is not boring nonfiction.
In my personal taste, I felt the one weakness in the book was the wide variety of versions and paraphrases the author uses. I’d rather he stuck with just one version for reference. I do give him credit for using Scripture support to his points, however. One needs to use caution when reading the supporting scripture that it is not diluted by modern scripture interpretation.
Because Lucado is well-known, this book will continue to be read and it will help the readers who are searching for their quest in life. Instead of psychology, Lucado gives Biblical direction. Personally, I still believe God will lead us as we daily surrender to His plan and lay ourselves open to direction from the Word of God and circumstances that cross our paths. The Cure for the Common Life may help; it surely won’t hurt.
Flat Stanley, by Jeff Brown (1926-2003) is recommended for children ages 6-10. It was first published in 1964. Brown wrote the book after he told it first to his own children as a bedtime story. It is nicely illustrated and 44 pages in length.
There are now many adventures of Flat Stanley and several in the format of “I Can Read” that are recently published and available in the juvenile sections of your public library. Why this book escaped my attention when my children were young I do not know. I borrowed the book from my library to read to my granddaughter this week. Since she is five and a half years old, I read it by myself first so I could tell it to her. That also gave me the option of excluding a few slang words I usually don’t use.
Stanley is a little boy who has the misfortune of having a bulletin board fall on top of him while he was sleeping and for many days existed as a boy just a half inch thick. He can now slide under doors, fly as a kite, and travel by mail. That is just a few of his experiences.
These whimsical books will endure for years and years to come because the tales are amusing while including the lives of real children. Stanley’s brother, Arthur is not flat, yet they adventure together. Don’t let this book escape the attention of your children or grandchildren. Look for it in your library, or buy the original story on Amazon.com. Should a copy appear in a garage sale, snatch it up with a wide smile!
It is nearly a weekly visit that my granddaughter and I take to the public library. It is part of our weekly time together. We borrow some picture books, and a movie. Perhaps this blog has some grandparents who could do the same thing. When we read together it is also a time of casual conversation when we can talk about the need to be kind and courteous. It may well be the way to teach life values that Jesus would have teach even using the means of a library book. There is no need to lecture because the stories teach the children in a calm setting seasoned with a loving parent or grandparent, or auntie, uncle, or family friend.
Today the Municipal elections are taking place across my state. Already the news media is predicting a low turnout. As media goes, they may be wrong, they may be correct. Media outlets are rather like weathermen, aren’t they? At any rate, I will go and cast my ballot because I rather like our current sheriff and I want to keep him. My council man is entirely another matter. He is rather useless. I contact him by phone, via e mail and the results are always—no reply.
Notice, the etc in the heading today. I am thinking but not deeply today. My body is struggling with a physical ailment and antibiotics are working but ever so slowly. Why is that? For so many things we reach for a pill bottle. Ailments of community, ailments of church, ailments of the mind and emotions—we all want a quick fix. That’s what the disciples wanted when they tried to cast out demons and were ineffective. Jesus casually told them in simple terms: “This kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.” Both Matthew and Mark cite this incident in Mathew 17:21 and Mark 9:29. Speed isn’t always the answer. Wait. Prepare.
A quirk of aging seems to me that my typing skills are diminishing. My brain and my fingers no longer connect as they used to connect. Letters are often reversed and added or left out. It is exasperating since I once typed 60 or more wpm with accuracy. I sit and watch my daughter play the piano with ease and think, I used to be able to do that. My eyes don’t even read the music anymore and anything I play is by memory alone. I miss it. What has replaced those skills? Taking the slow route, calmness, no fast-paced goal setting. It’s okay.
So, while there is no continuity to this piece, it does bring peace of mind to this writer. After all the years of frantic hurry, now I peacefully wait. At least most of the time. I really do want to feel better a little faster! Leaves are falling, have fallen, and the weather is perfect for raking. I’ll get to it, really, I will, sometime.
The grandsons will come to my rescue and they will clean the gutters. Hear my deep sigh? I’ve noticed that more too: I sigh more than I used to. Oh well.
P.S. Grammar check had a conniption fit over my writing today. Fragments, oh how grammar check knocks down readability because of fragments. Today, I just don’t care! Readability today is fifth grade. At least everyone should understand it.
Long enough is so different to each individual circumstance and person. Some children can sit in a time out and it will have its desire effect. It will be different from child to child and from offense to offense. Some children sit quietly and wait for the “bing” of the timer and the release words, “You can get up now.” Some children will ask once every minute if their time is up, and strict parents will say, “If you ask that one more time, I will reset the timer.”
God told Moses in Deuteronomy 1:6, “Ye have dwelt long enough in this mount. . .” and their forty years of wandering punishment were expired. It wasn’t forty minutes, forty days, forty months, but forty years! When the time was done, God allowed Moses to prepare them for what lay ahead. Thirty-four chapters later, Moses was removed, and Joshua fearlessly led them across the Jordan River.
What is it that you are longing to end? Is it an illness? Is it the last payment on the house? Is it the remodeling project that has taken twice as long as you anticipated? Is it the care of an aging loved one that is wearing you down and you wonder when it will stop? Acute things are much easier to bear than a chronic problem.
Once when I was under the pressure of changing something, a sweet friend sent me a thinking-of-you card that showed a cat hanging tremulously at the end of a rope with a knot at the end. The message read, “Hang in there, this too will come to pass.” It did. I have never forgotten the kind, encouraging words or the friend who sent them.
Hills, valleys, curves, and straight roads—it will all come to a place when God says, “You have dwelt long enough on this mountain. . .”
With staff in hand, walk beside your Shepherd’s presence. He knows the best time to change direction.
by George W. Bush
I chose the audio version of this book. It has 7 discs and is a total listening time of seven and one half hours. The book is read by the author. Published in 2014 by Random House.
The first and last parts of the book held the most interest for me because they detail the years of former President George H.W. Bush family and education while the end holds delightful stories of the life of him after his political offices ended in 1992. The middle of the book details, in far too much detail the political muck of campaigns.
Things that impressed me most were the details of how much of an influence the matriarch of the family has and probably still has on the family. The character qualities she carved into the fiber of her children’s lives are impressive and something I found worthy of attention. Along with Dorothy Bush’s influence, was the positive influence of Prescott Bush who served politically and set an example for the family.
Wealth played a factor in the Bush lives. Wealth was earned and not handed down by Prescott. George H.W. Bush worked tirelessly to provide for his family in the oil industry and is an innovator in some products that are used still today in off shore oil rigs. He and Barbara lived modestly and frugally in their younger years and reaped the benefits later. For instance, they started out in apartment living that shared the bathroom with other renters. The first house they purchased was a mere 950 square feet.
Bush started out as the leader in the Republican party for his county in a highly Democratic area of Texas. Inserting my personal opinion at this point is that municipal politics is important. That is where many politicians get their start. He also lost early elections.
Some people do not know that the Bush family lost a child in death to leukemia when she was a mere three years old. Like his father, George W. Bush became a pilot also and served military time. It seems that the other boys did not do any military service. Bush is portrayed as a strong family man which I believe is also to his merit. The fact that they started in a strong closely knit community also added to the charm of the book with interesting school and neighborhood stories.
Will this book survive over the years? Perhaps. George H.W. has chosen not to write his own memoir. Often reporters give notice to his socks which are brightly colored and often in patriotic colors; this book leaves the reader with a human interest in the life of Bush, 41. There may be pages your will skim past that are laden with campaign details and endless names but the story smatterings are worth skimming now and then. His eight years as a Vice President under Ronald Reagan and his own four years as President do leave behind many contributions worth noting. It is remarkable that he was able to accomplish in his career because during his years as VP and President, he served alongside a Congress that was opposed to most of his ideals.
Had I given Mister Tipster a middle name, I know now it would be Houdini. Every day I see him stretch his little hamster body as long as possible in an attempt to get his paws to the top of the habitat in an effort to explore. He sits on his chewable log and uses it to possibly reach the top. Tonight he got to the top. However, it was the wrong top! I’d put him in another container while I cleaned his habitat. It is about two inches shorter than the usual place.
While I was putting fresh bedding in his now clean cage I looked up to see him perched on top of the container. Instead of gasping which may have caused him to jump, I casually reached over and picked him up and put him in his freshly cleaned place of safety. Plan foiled. Next time I’ll put the lid on the old file box container that has worked so well for Hank and Honey. Lesson learned.
All of that openness is alluring to Mister Tipster. That wide unexplored expanse looks so exciting, but it is a dangerous place for a curious rodent. Electrical cords to chew, things to eat that will give a tummy ache if not worse, and hiding places that could smoother. John told us in his epistle: “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” I love my little hamster buddy and I don’t want him out where danger is lurking. I also don’t want to chase him down to capture him from possible harm!
Fortunately I saw him in time. Perched on the lip of the container he was afraid to take the leap and I gently picked him up and put him in his safe place. Oh how many times God has spared me from heartache by blocking my way to danger. I prefer being in the safety of God’s hands. Mister Tipster is so much like Hank; I have a feeling that he and I are going to have many more adventures. Probably, it will be more adventures than I want!
Since I am a human, I understand the need to love and trust my Heavenly Father. Mister Tipster will never understand my good intentions for his safety. That’s okay. I love him anyhow. For some reason, I wonder if God doesn’t feel that way about me from time to time. He loves me anyway.