Friday, May 15, 2015

HATS? GLOVES? COATS?

I just love to read and I picked up a book that is absolutely hilarious. As I turn page after page, I am sure my laugh will go from a chuckle to a full out belly laugh. Are you wondering what book has caught my attention? What author could cause such glee?

Page seven caused a visual image that made me smile: Formally, a man introduces another man to his wife. "Mr. Brown, may I present you to my wife?" I had to smile because my hubby has presented me with many things -- unending tomatoes to be canned, letters to send, work clothes to be washed and, of course, a few flowers and some nice shiny things to wear on my fingers -- but he has never presented me with a man. If he wants to present me with a man, Matthew Macconaughey would be perfectly acceptable.

Opening this book to page 464 brought a whole new revelation. Oh my! I am supposed to wear a hat with street clothes in the daytime but not with an evening dress. Plus, my hands are to be properly concealed in gloves when I go to church, when I am on the street in a city, in a restaurant, in a theater and when I go to lunch, a formal dinner or a dance. Thankfully, I can remove said gloves to partake of my meal but, heaven forbid, those gloves must stay on when I shake hands.

Standing in front of Bill's closet, I turn to page 483. Goodness! Bill is going to have to go shopping. Nowhere, among the jeans, slacks, shirts and sport coats, could I find a Tail Coat, a Single-breasted Tuxedo, a Double-breasted Tuxedo or even a Cutaway with Striped Trousers. I quickly concluded that the Frock Coat, Black Sack Coat with Striped trousers, Business Suits, Country Clothes, White Dinner Coat, White Mess Jacket and Sack Suit must be at the cleaners.

Have you figured it out?

Etiquette, by Emily Post, 79th printing, 1953.

I can hardly wait to get to chapter 53: In Official Washington. That will be the belly laugh chapter - me getting invited to the White House.

I do think people today need to pay more attention to manners. We need to hear thank you, please and you are welcome. BUT this book is 635 pages long. There is no way anyone could follow all these etiquette rules and regulations.

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Sometimes we read the Bible much like people read Emily Post. We see it as a list of do's and don'ts. We realize there is no way we can do everything that is written. We worry about what we should and should not do. Being a Christian - is it really that complicated?

"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."        Matthew 22:36-40

Start with the greatest commandment and the rest will be far less complicated.

Friday, May 08, 2015

THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED --- AND ALL THE OTHER ONES TOO

I love going down a road when there are no other cars to be seen.  Not one car ahead or behind for as far as the eye can see.  It does not seem scary or lonely.  It just feels neat.

Those are the rare times.  Most roads are full of people going to work or soccer or off to see a movie.  Roads allow people to --- "Watch out you idiot!"

"My gosh, are you blind?  That is a stop sign you blew through.  It is a good thing I am paying attention."

Now, where was I?  Oh, yes.  Roads allow people to travel and see the Grand Canyon and the mighty Mississippi and grandma.  Roads wind around a -- "For goodness sakes."  

"Have you forgotten where the gas pedal is?  Drive or get off the road. Some people!  Calm down, Mary, there will be a passing zone soon."

You would think the world is full of people with one goal:  To make my life difficult.  They run stop signs.  They turn in front of me.  They slow me down.  And road construction!  Of course I want smooth roads to drive on, but road construction seems to attract the "I will wait till the last minute to get over" driver.  And the "I will turn down this side road my GPS says will miss the construction" driver who soon finds out the calm voice has sent them down a lane to someone's house.

Yet, even with all the bad drivers, I love to -- "Put down the phone!!"  

"THINK!  Your life.  My life.  The lives of your children.  All way more important than a text message."

My goodness.  All these crazy drivers! Will I even make it to the store for a loaf of bread?

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Does it ever feel like the universe has one goal?  A single goal of making your journey through life one road hazard after another?  One distraction after another.  A road block here and a stop sign there.  And someone slowing you down when you want to fly.  People making it hard for you to stay on the right road.  People making you think that loaf of bread isn't that important after all.

Well, listen up.  Hang in there!  It is important for you to be alert and complete your journey.  To stay the course.  To finish the race.  To cross the finish line.

And all you have to do is listen to the voice of the greatest GPS ever.  The voice of the Shepherd.

The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.

I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. John 10:2-4, 14-15 NIV

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Psalms 23:1-3 KJV

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Do you know the voice of the Shepherd? The calm, sweet voice of the One guiding you on your life's journey?  Trust the Shepherd to be your GPS.  He will not lead down the wrong lane.

Friday, May 01, 2015

REAL? OR NOT REAL?

Chalk art fascinates me and I do not understand how something can be drawn on a flat surface and appear real. Lifelike.

This little guy is so cute.

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Chalk art is whimsical and a crack in a wall becomes the home of a rabbit.

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Then some are ----

Admit it. The bears look real!

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These deer appear to be escaping under the sidewalk into a winter wonderland.

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Looking at these make you believe there is a cute green character lifting up the sidewalk and that a rabbit lives in the roots of a tree.

If you were walking by the bears, you would, most likely, do a double take and wouldn't you love to walk into that peaceful winter scene with the deer.

Sometimes it is hard to tell what is real and what is not.

REAL? OR NOT REAL?

Life is like that. Many times something or someone seems real. Honest. Until, we realize we are being deceived.

For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect. Matthew 24:24

The Bible warns us to be on our guard because that ole Satan is a sneaky, evil being. He is false. He will lie.

He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down out of heaven to the earth in the presence of men. And he deceives those who dwell on the earth because of the signs which it was given him to perform in the presence of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who had the wound of the sword and has come to life. Revelation 13:13-14

No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 2 Corinthians 11:14

The beast - Satan - wants us to turn from God to him. He will try to convince us he is great by performing "great signs" and promising wonders he cannot give. Satan will even present himself to you in a disguise. He might just show up at your door looking like an angel. You see, Satan is a liar. His words are not real!!! Satan is a liar. He can fake how you see him.

God has not left us on our own to fight those that try to deceive - those that just plain lie to us.

Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. Ephesians 6:11

The words and actions of Satan are not real. THE WORDS AND ACTIONS OF GOD ARE! The scriptures are full of assurances as they tell us of God's character. They tell us God does NOT change. They tell us God does NOT lie.

He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a human being, that he should change his mind. 1 Samuel 15:29

To declare that the Lord is upright. He is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in Him. Psalm 92:15

For I am the Lord, I do not change. Malachi 3:6

In the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time. Titus 1:2

One last scripture, from The Message, by Eugene Peterson, Hebrews 6:13-18:

When God made his promise to Abraham, he backed it to the hilt, putting his own reputation on the line. He said, "I promise that I'll bless you with everything I have - bless and bless and bless!" Abraham stuck it out and got everything that had been promised to him. When people make promises, they guarantee them by appeal to some authority above them so that if there is any question that they'll make good on the promise, the authority will back them up. When God wanted to guarantee his promises, he gave his word, a rock-solid guarantee - God can't break his word. And because his word cannot change, the promise is likewise unchangeable.

We who have run for our very lives to God have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go. It's an unbreakable spiritual lifeline, reaching past all appearances right to the very presence of God where Jesus, running on ahead of us, has taken up his permanent post as high priest for us, in the order of Melchizedek.

I do not know about you, but I WANT THE REAL DEAL. I WANT WHAT IS REAL, TRUE AND UNCHANGABLE!

O God, Dress me in your armor so I will not believe lies nor be deceived by false prophets. Allow my grip on your promised hope to be strong so I will never let go, always trusting in Your unchanging truth. Amen

Friday, April 17, 2015

DADS AND DAUGHTERS

I have ridden with both my hubby and our daughter and realized they are two peas in a pod. Although Bill likes to listen to country music and Terri leans more toward Pink, they seem to have the same reaction when a song comes on they do not like. They switch channels or turn it off.  Sorta annoying. Okay, more than sorta.  It is annoying. That on/off just makes no sense because the next song, which they will now miss, might just be their all-time favorite.

BUT, sometimes I wish I could do that in life.

  • Coming down with the flu?  -- Just turn it off.
  • Bad news?  -- Change to another channel.
  • Nope, do not want that in my day!  -- Will try another station.
  • The day is hectic. -- Find a channel with quiet, soothing tunes.
  • Wonderful day. -- Stay right there. Do not change channels.
  • Kids behave. -- Program that station to be on permanently.

Life is not that way though.  We cannot just turn off the things we don't like. Or capture the days that are perfect and rerun them tomorrow.

Life is life! There will be trials but there is great news about these trials!

We will make it through!!

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4

Okay - no one considers trials pure joy, but maybe we should. When do we learn the most? When everything is going great? OR When life just plain throws us a major curve ball? Every difficulty we pass through, is a learning, a growing experience. We mature. We move from a child's simple faith to a mature complete faith.

Trials do not last!!

In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 1 Peter 1:6-7

What a comfort to hear "for a little while." Yes, a little while might consist of years but, compared to eternal life, a few years here is a snap of the fingers.

There is a reward for making it through our trials.

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne. Revelation 3:21

Our trials may seem impossible to get through BUT with God all things are possible. Did you get the "ALL" things part. Not just the little mishaps. Not just the middle size headaches. Not just the major, life changing trials. We can make it through ALL of our trials if we call upon God to be there with us.

And when we get through them -- oh my: PEACE! A peace that only come from God.

And it just gets better! WE WILL HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE WITH THE FATHER!!

AMEN!

Saturday, April 04, 2015

BOYS, FAITH AND CHURCH

Two grandsons were here and they agreed to be interviewed.  Please excuse the occasional "thumping noise" which I think is caused by fidgety kids.  I tried to remove the annoying sound but ended up with worse audio.  Someday this 68 year old woman will master this 2016 video/audio editor program.  Also, be assured that I did not prompt nor suggest any answers.

 
BOYS, FAITH AND CHURCH
Video - part 1
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Part 2
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 Know what I learned?

 Noah and Timothy learn from their parents, their pastor and those around them.  It was great to hear them talk about hearing the testimonies and prayers of others during their call to worship.  It hurt when they said teachers speak against the Christian faith.

 They want fun activities, but they mainly want to hear the Word of God.  They do not want to hear, from the pulpit, politics or negative talk about others.  They thirst for the scriptures applied to their lives.

 Noah and Timothy had no trouble with church being two hours long, but said they get tired standing during all the singing and think you can sit and sing too.

 LEARNING FROM PARENTS

Tell it to your children, and let your children tell it to their children, and their children to the next generation.  Joel 13

HEARING THE WORD

And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe.  1 Thessalonians 2:13

Friday, March 13, 2015

COMFORTABLE SILENCE

Going down the road, not speaking -- comfortable silence

Watching TV, not speaking - comfortable silence

Sitting on the deck, sipping wine, not speaking - comfortable silence

We have been married almost fifty years, so have we run out of things to talk about?  Heavens no!  Or at least I haven't.  It is not a lack of topics; it is just that - comfortable silence.

COMFORTABLE SILENCE

Do you have such a relationship with God?  Can you sit and just enjoy the presence of God, not speaking - comfortable silence.

Can you read a verse in the Bible, close the Bible and just be still - comfortable silence.

The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him. Habakkuk 2:20

a time to be silent and a time to speak, Ecclesiastes 3:7 second part

COMFORTABLE SILENCE

When we are experiencing comfortable silence, I can feel Bill's love.  I can feel his presence.  It is as if we begin to breathe at the same rhythm. Our hearts beat as one.  Comfortable silence.

When we are comfortably silent with God, we can feel His presence.  It is as if our breathing matches the rhythm of nature.  It is as if our heart beats as one with eternity.

It is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. Lamentations 3:26

The most important part of a comfortable silence with God is that we are prepared to listen.

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life. Psalm 143:8

COMFORTABLE SILENCE

So, do you ever enjoy a comfortable silence with those you love? With God?

Friday, February 27, 2015

WHAT WOULD THAT BE LIKE?

I read a book Still Close To Heaven, by Kathleen Kane. It was a historical romance with the description: Jackson Tate was a ghost. Since he wasn't good enough for heaven, and wasn't bad enough for, well… "the other place," his spirit was trapped in a run-down saloon in the Washington Territory.

Although I do not believe that a ghost hangs around and is given another chance to make it into heaven, the book was a quick, "don't have to think" read. I have often tried to find words to describe being separated from God, but couldn't. Then, in this quick, "don't have to think" book the words appeared. At this point in the story, Rachel could see Jackson and (Are you ready to be surprised?) she had fallen in love with him. She asked, "What's it like? Being a … ghost?"

Jackson says there is no rest like preachers are always going on about. He said there was no peace or serenity. He admitted he had messed up nearly everything he ever did. Then he continued.

"I made my own Hell, Rachel. Built it fine and strong, all by myself. Stone by stone. Brick by brick. It's nothingness, Rachel. It's day after day of nothing followed by long nights where the only thing to do is sit in the dark and curse yourself for wasting everything you were given. It's watching others do the same things you did and being unable to warn them. To tell them that they still have time to change."

"It's listening to the wind and not feeling it. It's standing in the rain and not getting wet. It's hunger that can't be fed and thirst that won't be quenched."

"It's touching and not feeling. It's talking and not being heard. It's being more tired than you ever thought possible and yet being unable to sleep."

"It's an eternity of loneliness. I watch every sunrise. Each sunset. It's a marvel, Rachel. A miracle. Two miracles every day. And I never noticed until it was too late. There are so many things I notice now. When it's too late for any of them."

These were said with shaking of the head, shame, and a strained whisper that rose straight from his soul.

For a quick read, these words struck me hard. They were not easy to read and even harder to imagine.

WHAT WOULD THAT BE LIKE?

They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power. 2 Thessalonians 1:9

We are not so different than Jackson Tate. We build our own hell and we do it brick by brick, stone by stone. And sometimes we have to sit back and watch those we love make the same mistakes we made. We are unable to make them hear.

Jackson Tate was describing what it was like to be separated from the humans he could see. If that is hell, what would it be like to be separated from God?

shut out from the presence of the Lord

What hell would it be to talk to God and God not hear you? To be shut out and suffer an eternity of loneliness? To be in nothingness day after day followed by long nights of cursing yourself?

from the majesty of his power

What hell would it be to watch the wonders of heaven and know it was too late to receive them? To see the majesty of God's power and know that for eternity, you were not allowed to join in that majesty?

YOU DO NOT HAVE TO FIND OUT WHAT BEING SHUT OUT FROM GOD WOULD BE LIKE! 

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

But what does it say? "The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart," that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, "Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame." For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile -- the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." Romans 10:8-13