One-Eyed

I met with my eye specialist this morning for my quarterly visit. My right eye has lost a great deal of vision and I asked if it were necessary to get the injection in it since my vision is so dim in it.  My doctor replied: “Every bit of vision counts.  If you were to lose the vision in your left eye, you would be surprise how much you really do see with the right eye.  Yes, we need to maintain the right eye also.”  My doctor is beyond a regular ophthalmologist, he is a retina specialist and a research doctor.  I do not doubt his word for even one second!

Neither do I doubt God’s Word.  Since my short conversation with Dr. Maturi, I have been thinking about the verse in the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus is talking about treasure here on earth and treasure in Heaven. After that Jesus talks about serving two masters, which we all know is very difficult.  Tucked in between those thoughts is a short verse that states about singleness of eye.  Matthew 6:22 says, “if thy eye be single, the whole body shall be full of light” and then goes on in verse 23 about an evil eye, and if the eye be evil, the body will be full of darkness.  So, I am thinking “Do I have one of each?”  Perhaps, in a spiritual sense I do, as well as having one healthier eye than the other.  If I were to lose my singleness of purpose in service to Jesus who has at great cost purchased my redemption, and turned away from that purpose, I would have left only a marginal vision of purpose.

I don’t want anything to happen to my “good” eye for certain, and neither do I want to lose my singleness of purpose in keeping Jesus first.  I don’t even want to get close to the edge where sin lurks and wants to lure me into ruining my life.

On the flip side, if I were to lose the vision in my left eye, and had to depend on only my right eye, I would keep just as good care of what I had remaining.  Even with my two eyes, I have singleness of purpose.  In the words of an old catechism, the purpose of my life is “to know Christ, and to make Christ known.”

 

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The Bottom of the Ninth Inning

When I was about ten years old, I became a big baseball fan.  My parents listened to all the Milwaukee Braves games on the radio and three or four times a summer we would make the three-hour drive to Milwaukee to attend a Brave’s game.

Although sometimes quietly, but consistently, I have followed the Braves after they left Milwaukee and moved to Atlanta.  It’s been about 65 years of Braves baseball for me.  I do follow other team progress, but I am loyal to the Braves.

My Braves loyalty has never wavered.  I listen to most of the Braves games because radio doesn’t let you miss a single pitch. Today’s game was as exciting as a game can get.  They went into the bottom of the ninth inning down 4-9.  With two outs, they had managed to advance to 7-9.  The opposing pitcher managed to allow the Braves to load the bases.  Two outs, bases loaded, two strikes, and Dansby Swanson slugged a double!  Win!  Win! Win! Who cares about the third out now.  The score is now 10-9 in one of the most exciting wins I’ve heard in a long time.

To think, I almost missed the ninth inning because I was so discouraged I was getting my shoes on to go outside, then stopped and thought, “No, I need to finish out this game win or lose.” They won.  They won because they wanted the victory so bad they could taste it.

Satan all too often has me putting on my shoes and leaving when things look grim.  I walk out without praying one more time, without claiming a victory that is pending!  When Sennacherib’s army surrounded Jerusalem in 2 Kings 19, Isaiah bolstered the King’s stamina and together they sought the Lord for victory over the Assyrian army.  The next morning, 185,000 soldiers lay dead; they died in their sleep.

When you, and I, are surrounded by what looks like an insurmountable loss should we go outside and pull weeds?  To use a baseball term, that is an error defined as defensive indifference. Taste the victory!  Trust God for the victory!

The account of Sennacherib’s Assyrian assault is so important it is recorded in 2 Kings, 17-19; 2 Chronicles 32; and Isaiah 36-37.  God’s Word is not a dull book, and baseball, in my opinion, is not a dull game.

An Emotional Morning

Four years ago I felt up to traveling the long distance to Pensacola, Florida to see my oldest grandson graduate from high school. He graduated as part of the Pensacola Christian Academy Homeschool group.  This morning he graduated with a four-year degree in criminal justice from Pensacola Christian College.  Am I proud and happy?  You bettcha!

Today I attended the graduation by means of live streaming from the PCC website and had a much better view of him that I would have had in that large Crowne Center auditorium.  What I’ll miss is eating some cake and sharing in the laughter and relief of an up-close and personal attendance.  Lord willing, I WILL attend his coming wedding on June 2.  The trip isn’t quite as far as Florida.  I passed that milestone of my own college graduation in 1966 and marriage in 1969. While my life is on the landing runway, Kevin’s is taking first flight.  It is the cycle of life.

Dr. Dennis McBride delivered a simple charge to the graduates from 2 Thessalonians 2:12 “Walk Worthy.  The three-point outline was developed from Psalm 69:13, learn to walk on your knees; Psalm 35:13, learn to walk in humility; and Psalm 41:12, learn to walk in the imitation of Christ.  If those 997 graduates at PCC listened and heed those three simple things I believe there is hope for America. Other Christian colleges are turning out principled gradates too.

Congratulations to Kevin.  Soon you will also graduate from the police academy.  As you put on that uniform and badge, wear it humbly, wear it with grace that becomes a Christian, and I’ll be praying for your safety as you protect our streets.

Footprints of a Pilgrim (book review)

Footprints of a Pilgrim:  The Life and Loves of Ruth Bell Graham, is what I would call a coffee table book because of its larger size and abundance of photographs.  It is considered a biography although the author credit goes to Ruth Bell Graham.  It is largely the work of her children, mostly daughter Gigi Tchividjian.  It is 192 pages in length.  The publication date is July, 2007 which is about one month after Bell’s death.  Thomas Nelson is the publisher.

The book travels from Bell’s birth in China to missionary parents.  Her father was a medical missionary.  It was interesting to hear of her maturing while a missionary child in Asia in the 1930’s.  She attended a missionary school in North Korea then came to the United States for post-secondary education.  She met her husband, the now famous Billy Graham while in Wheaton College.  The book then follows the winding pathway that most marriages take in the early years.  Bell struggles early in the marriage just as many new brides struggle.  Her transparency in the book is certainly appreciated by this reader.

This volume contains much of the author’s poetry.  It was the poetry that attracted me to the book.  The poetry shows her heart far better than other things written about her.  It shows a depth of character seen by no other avenue.  She kept a journal most of her life in which most of the poetry took birth.

Whether you approve of Ruth Bell Graham or not, this book will cement your real feelings about her by the time you finish reading it.  In years to come, however, I predict that it will go out of print and will be found only in used bookstores or on the shelves of Goodwill stores or at garage sales.  Ruth Bell Graham’s identity is tightly connected to her husband although she certainly deserves a place of her own.  She truly was a woman of uncommon strength.

I read the Kindle edition of the book so I didn’t get a very clear look at the pictures.  I recommend the hardcover copy if you are looking for a pictorial view or particularly for the poetry.

 

Fake Cats, Fake News, Fake Faith

The nursing home where I visit weekly has a fake cat.  A woman had the cat sitting on the table in front of her while I stopped to visit with her for a few minutes.  Now this is quite a cat.  Obviously, it is battery operated and sensitive to touch.  It purrs with a very realistic sound, it meows, swishes its tail, and moves its head.  I walked away from the table thinking the best thing about that cat was no litter box to clean!

The term, fake news, has become popular in the last few months.  It is usually easy to recognize but not always.  Occasionally I do a double take, pause, and then seek out the facts.  Most of the time, fake news is explosive commentary and not news at all.  I resist headlines that say someone dropped a bombshell.  It is a mere fire cracker in a headline to drive curiosity. When you read the story on line, the advertisers all grab your e mail and fill your in box full of junk ads.

Apostacy is fake faith. It is a form of fake news.  Beware of churches that use an ounce of truth in a ton of heresy.  The pulpits reek of flowery fluff that tickles the ears of the hearers.  The hearers leave feeling good about themselves.  The message is salve for a guilty conscience. Fake faith is a subtle turning from the truth. The followers eagerly turn to soft standards and fail to blush at the prevalent sins that surround us.   Paul warned Timothy in 1 Timothy 1:19-20 of what happened to Hymenaeus and Alexander when they turned from the faith and found themselves in shipwreck.  Ruined lives; perhaps ruined churches.

So, beware of the false things around you.  Fake cats, I suppose can bring comfort to a confused mind.  Fake news put out deliberately can destroy a career and a political stance.  Fake faith is the worst of the three.  It causes ruined lives.  Lives that could have been fruitful and productive for the sake of Christ become fruitless. The results are lives diluted by the love of the world and love of themselves. Such living brings only loss.

If you find yourself falling for fake faith, turn to Jesus for a faith-adjustment and run back to the ways mapped out for you in the Word of God.

Talking Books

I am so excited!  I received my player today for the forthcoming talking book selections.  For several years I have checked out audio books at my local public library.  I particularly liked to have them in my car when I took trips.  Music is fine, of course, but a steady diet of music is mind numbing after a while.  Books keep my brain working. A little over a year ago I realized I should not be driving and should stop before I seriously injured someone.  Trips are now just memories.

My mother introduced me to a book club when I was in the third grade and I have been reading ever since.  If I didn’t have a book to read, I read the encyclopedia or dictionary.  At my own personal experience, I can tell you that tests are not an accurate measure for what a person knows.  It is just a small sampling.

The best book to read, of course, is God’s book to us, the Holy Bible. As the old-time preacher said, “I knows ‘dis book from civer to civer, and I even knows the civer, it say Holy Bible.”  I follow my paper and ink Bible at each day’s start by listening to audio Bible and following along in the print edition.  I’ve been doing this since my vision now finds it a little challenging to even read giant print.

If you know someone who is vision impaired, let them know about this free service.  Well, it isn’t “free” because it is tax paid through the Library of Congress, but still, it is at no cost for those of us who are “hard-of-seeing.” There are thousands of books available as well as magazines.

If you are a young parent or a parent with young children, introduce them to enjoyable reading.  I started with the Bobbsey Twin books and read them all.  Bless my mother’s heart for spending her hard-earned money on books for me!  My second-grade granddaughter has read every “Mr. Putter” book our library has on the shelf and the Cowgirl Kate books too.  She has started reading chapter books as well.  Guess who started her on this reading thing.  Well, yes, that would be me.

Readers, if you are wondering how I manage on the computer—Microsoft has a built-in magnifier and I would not be able to use the computer without it.  Good for them! (And me!)

A Birthday Doodle

My mother was born at home on April 16, 1919.  Her birthday sends an avalanche of birthday memories for some reason.  My father was also born at home, October 22, 1915.  It was common in the early 20th century to have home births. A doctor did attend my mother’s birth, but I am uncertain about my father.  City girl and County boy are two different things.  Adept to change, my mother became a Country girl.

May brings a rash of birthdays in my family along with graduation.  This year is a first college graduation.   I am so proud of the fact that my three children all graduated from Christian schools, and Christian colleges.  Kevin is now the first grandchild to graduate from a Christian college.  Kevin is also getting married to a fine Christian girl who is a teacher in a Christian school.  I’d love to see this heritage continue, but I suppose it is just a dream.  With ten grandchildren, I don’t suppose they will all graduate from Christian college, but I would hope so anyhow.  Perhaps the real test of parenting skills is not in the children, but in the grandchildren.  The unknown that factors in, regretfully, is the spouse your child chooses.  What we see and hope for is not what we always get.

My own birthday is coming up in a couple of weeks and I turn three quarter of a century mark on life’s calendar.  I stay fairly active and feel both physically and spiritually fit.  That matters.  Currently, my children don’t fuss with me about what I am eating and where I ride my bike or my social status around town.  That’s a good thing.  The time will come when my daughter who lives very close by will step in increasingly.  I know that.  In fact, I depend on her doing just that. When the time comes.  I’m not there yet.

I have enjoyed life.  I am not a world traveler and really am quite satisfied to stay around close to the house.  My traveling is done in books.  I have traveled world-wide through history, biography, and even fiction. Even now as my eyes are giving out on me, I listen to more audio books and recently filled out the paperwork for Talking Books.  I have no desire to sit in a car for endless miles to see something when the mind’s eye can take me there in the pages of a book!

Someone pointed out a few years back that our life is summed up in the dash on a grave marker separating the date of one’s birth to the date of one’s death. James 4:14 tells me that my life is but a vapor that appears for a little while then vanishes away.  I can plan.  You can plan.  However, Jesus, my Good Shepherd, knows the terrain of my life.  His rod, and His staff, they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4) Now, I must stop. My eyes are moist and my nose is dripping.  Funny how that happens when we stop to reminisce birthdays.

 

 

‘Twas a Sheep, not a Lamb

Starting in February, I decided to teach devotional thoughts from the two books of Peter.  After I read one of the gospels, I like to read either I and II Peter or the books of I, II, III John, and Jude.  It seems more relative to me that way.  You might want to try that too.  In the introductory lesson I asked the group what they already knew about the person of Peter.  To my dismay, they didn’t know much.

I have been on an adventure since that first class to integrate the life of Peter with what he wrote in his letters to the churches he probably founded.  Needless to say, it has been a challenge, but it just makes me dig deeper.  It is good to do but I would not have dug so much these past weeks without taking on the personal challenge before me.

Along the way, a friend of mine posted this poem on Facebook and I shared it with my group this morning.  It walks hand in hand with Luke 15, John 21, and I Peter 5.  The poem is written by Minnie Lee Bovender.

‘Twas a sheep, not a lamb, that strayed away

In the parable Jesus told,

A grown-up sheep that had gone astray

From the ninety and nine in the fold.

 

Out in the meadow, out in the cold,

‘Twas a sheep the Good Shepherd sought.

Back to the flock, and into the fold,

‘Twas a sheep the Good Shepherd brought.

 

Why, for the sheep, should we earnestly long,

And so earnestly hope and pray?

Because there is danger, if they go wrong,

They will lead the young lambs astray.

 

For the lambs follow the sheep, you know,

Wherever the sheep may stray;

If the sheep go wrong, it will not be long

‘Til the lambs are as wrong as they.

 

So, with the sheep we earnestly plead

For sake of the lambs today,

If the lambs are lost, what a terrible cost

Some sheep may have to pay.

 

If I knew how to make those stanzas single spaced, I would.  It frustrates me that this particular pages does this.  It is single spaced on my document.  When I paste, this is what I get.  If anyone cares to give advice, I’ll correct this in the future.

 

 

The Humble Potato, a mind doodle

It seems as if children no longer think of a French Fry as a potato.  Children hungrily, almost greedily, eat them alongside a burger.  The same potato, peeled and boiled is not a delight.  They may look into the bowl of boiled potatoes with question.  What is this?  They seem too lazy to mash them with a fork, and put on some butter, salt and pepper and enjoy the simply boiled potato alongside of a slice of meatloaf.

The staple on our family table at the noon meal (which was called dinner) was the simple boiled potato along with a piece of meat and another boiled vegetable.  Mashed potatoes were a luxury.  We didn’t have electricity so mashed potatoes required a strong arm and a hand masher.  That was reserved for Sunday noon meals and special occasions.  At our evening meal, (which we called supper) the left-over noon boiled potatoes took on a new look:  they were “warmed over” by slicing and put in a cast iron skillet with some bacon grease and “fried.”  On occasion when we had a picnic, my mother would make potato salad and it’s a wonder I survived the possibility of food poisoning since we didn’t have any refrigeration except for what we stowed away in a bucket that was lowered into the well.

Now and then we would remember early enough to plan for a baked potato.  Yum.  I loved that.  First, I didn’t have to peel the potato!  It was smothered with butter, salt, and pepper.  It was a treat.

Think of the variety that cookery has added to make the humble potato a “star” of the meal. No wonder my grandchildren would question my culinary ability if I were to place a bowl of plain boiled potatoes on the dinner table.

So it is with churches today.  For some reason, congregations tend to want a Sunday morning service all dolled up.  They want music that moves the feet instead of stirring the heart. We want colorful preaching with many illustrative stories attached.  In short, congregations want to be entertained.  What a shame.

When you attend church on Sunday, are you eagerly searching for some sort of emotional fix, like a fancy dressed up loaded baked potato, or are you looking for some solid food from God’s Word presented by a God-adoring preacher who has spent hours not in preparation of an entertaining delivery, but at the feet of Jesus in praise—in other words, the humble boiled potato?  I’ll take my Sunday services plain just like my humble potato minus the trimmings.

For readers new to this weblog site, I grew up on a farm in central, rural Wisconsin. I was born in 1943 and our family finally gained electric service in 1952.  I am, indeed, a humble potato girl.

 

 

Critical Thinking Skills and Social Media

To develop discernment, it is important for parents to question their children for reasons they behaved a particular way.  In addition, parents should not set out to “trap” the child into a confession but it is rather to give gentle but firm advice for future action.  Very few children are going to learn discernment all by themselves. All family member should sharpen each other’s skills in developing discernment.

I say all of that because of the hullabaloo over Facebook and their responsibility in allowing personal information to be accessed.  I am not excusing Facebook if indeed they broke the terms of agreement we all approved when we joined.  I am saying this because so many of our current population lack discernment.  I researched the word, discern, in dictionary.com and found the following definition:  to distinguish mentally; recognize as distinct or different; discriminate.  In other words, a person must actually think something through to decide if it is good or bad.  Conscience cannot be our guide if we do not train the conscience to distinguish good from evil.  If a person is not careful in what he posts on Facebook, then he must also accept responsibility.  Facebook does have rules on which a person must abide, or Facebook will ban that person for a set amount of days.  I think that is fair and a good practice.

Facebook is not alone.  Most companies that use computer technology use methods of gathering information.  Some of it helps us as well as them.  We operate with ease if we let cookies collect and those cookies also collect information for their use.  Computers collect a history of where we have been.  I thought everyone knew that, but I guess not.  In general, our population is all finger pointing about the information we gather, and share, and laugh about, and complain about, and the gatherers come to conclusions that we might like certain products as a result.  That also happens to be political research that comes to conclusions about how they might influence our thinking in vote gathering.

When King Solomon took the throne after his father, King David died, we find in I Kings 3:9-11 that Solomon begs God for discernment.  Because he asked for wisdom in the form of discernment, God rewarded him with wisdom in addition to things Solomon did not ask—riches, and a long life.

I am not one to make snap decisions.  With wide eyes my children would ask me, “What are you going to do Mom?” and my reply was usually, “I’m going to lose sleep thinking this one over.” I wanted what was best for all concerned:  the child, me, and sometimes the family pet.

I don’t want to offend any readers, but I do want you to think.  Think critically of the results of your action before you speak and before you read, and most certainly what you post on Facebook! Don’t blame Facebook for your own foolish, irresponsible actions.  Think things through before you hastily share information.  Think critically before you select something to read because that site is going to remember you and it is likely the site will approach you with advertising.  It is unfair to blame Facebook for our own irresponsibility.

Discernment is an old fashioned character trait that needs to be restored in our families and thus, our churches, and it will spill into our nation.  It starts in the family whether it be a single parent family, or a family of many member.  Discern:  it’s a good word.