Friday, August 01, 2014

A LESSON TAKES A TURN

The lesson, for our adult Sunday School class, was based upon Matthew 20:17-19:

Now Jesus was going up to Jerusalem. On the way, he took the Twelve aside and said to them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!”

I teach this class and I had studied the commentary. I had looked at the notes in the study Bible. I was ready and thought this would be a quick discussion, so I was also prepared for the next section. How long can it take to discuss three verses? Besides, this was the third time Jesus told the disciples about what was ahead of him.

The discussion started out with: Why had Jesus only told his disciples? (He was preparing them. Getting them ready so they would understand and be able to carry on. Jesus wanted them to realize this is what he came for.) Why hadn't he told everyone? (Really strong believers would have tried to stop these things from happening. Those new believers might have been scared off. Afraid of the trouble that was to come.) It was at this point that my mind went absolutely down another way (Not a bunny trail, but a full blown, paved, ten lane interstate). It was at this point that the lesson took a major turn.

I asked the class, "How many of you like to talk about death?" Followed with, "How many of you have talked to your children about your death?"

Those questions were followed by a you-could-have-heard-a-pin-drop silence. Until, I asked, "Isn't that what Jesus was doing? He was preparing his children for his death? Shouldn't we do the same?"

There was no quiet after that! It was close to being one of the best discussions our class has ever had. We talked about how hard this can be. Our children do not want to face the fact that their mommy or daddy will die. We talked about ways we can make it easier for them by making our funeral arrangements and making sure they know what we want.

We laughed about places where they now have "drive-by" viewings. One lady said if that was to happen she wanted a sign that said, "Do you want fries with that?" They all nodded, with compassion for the funeral director, who sent my obituary back three times for revisions. No, I did not revise it! If I have to pay to put my obituary in the paper, it will say what I want! (Yes, I can be stubborn. Just ask Bill.)

We were serious when the question came up, "Do you know what your children want if they were to die?" No parent wants to face the fact that their child might die first.

Often, in the middle of a lesson, an idea will fly right into my heart and I trust it is there for a reason. This idea absolutely changed the way our class looked at these verses.

Jesus was preparing his children. We should prepare our children.

Jesus was also preparing himself. He was acknowledging that the end was near. That he would die. We should prepare ourselves. We should look at our life to make sure we are not leaving important things undone or important words unsaid. We should prepare because we started dying the day we were born.

Jesus knew where he was going. That is the biggie question. Do you know where you are going? Do you think that life has been grand and the casket will be comfy? OR Do you know you can be with Jesus -- eternally?

Jesus prepared his disciples. Jesus prepared himself. Are you allowing Jesus to prepare you?

And if I go and prepare a place for you,

I will come back and take you to be with me

that you also may be where I am.

John 14:3

Friday, July 25, 2014

REASSURANCE

A few months back, I posted this picture on Pinterest, with the tag And God said, "I am here…..."

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This picture continues to be repined and it makes me wonder why it touches so many people. Does it take their breath away like it did mine? As they gaze at this picture, does their world seem to spin a bit slower?

This young woman is alone but does not appear lonely. She is not looking around as if she is expecting someone to join her but instead is enjoying a quiet moment. She is calmly making ripples with her toes, yet her reflection is clear. And the tranquility is complete.

What story could this picture tell? A great writer would take you back in time and have you slowly proceed to this moment. Each page revealing the passion, the struggles, the joys of her journey. And as you closed the book you would be reassured of this young woman's future.

REASSURANCE

Reassurance: something that is said or done to make someone feel less afraid, upset, or doubtful

There are days when I do not feel calm and life for sure is not tranquil! There are days when I would not be sitting on that log with my toes in the water making nice little circles. I would be splashing my feet and saying, "Really God? Again?" Those are the days when I need reassurance. When I need to find a way to feel less afraid. Less upset. Less doubtful. Days when I need reassured about the future.

Those are the days when I need to hear God say, "Mary, I am here…..."

God is here. He is all around us and His word is waiting to calm us. To sustain us. To take away our fear. His word is waiting to fill us. To give us faith.

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. Romans 10:17

Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. Psalm 42:5

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Psalm 34:4

The Lord replied, "My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest." Exodus 33:14

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen me with power through his Spirit in my inner being, so that Christ may dwell in my heart through faith. And I pray that being rooted and established in love, I may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge - that I may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all I ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within me, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen Ephesians 3:14-21 (made personal)

GOD'S REASSURANCE

God is here. He is all around us and His word is waiting to calm and sustain us. Seek the Lord so He can deliver you from your fears. Allow His Spirit to fill you with hope and faith.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

Friday, July 18, 2014

MY YARD

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Welcome to my yard.

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Some flowers are new, with lush leaves, and so full of color.

This reminds me of the beginning of life.

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Some flowers are a single bloom.

This flower reminds me of alone time. Times when we are reading a good book, walking on a beach or having a quiet cup of coffee as the sun comes up.

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I transplanted a few of these red gladiolus and they have multiplied!

These flowers remind me of times when we are surrounded by family or friends.

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I like to make garden stones and they add points of interest in the flower bed.

These make me think of the things in our lives that add interest and a splash of color.

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I call this a brain and you never know where an angel will be.

Some things that add interest can be a bit strange, unusual.  In this case, the outside of the rock hides the beauty within.

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Still reading? Hang in there.

Only a few more pictures and I am trying to figure out where this is headed.

This rose has an aroma that hangs in there too. It used to be close to the house and, when the sun hits the siding where this rose used to grow, the sweet smell makes me breathe deep.

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Some plants are a joy to behold and some are a joy to eat.

This reminds me that we need to feed our soul with the beauty of God's world and our stomachs with those zucchini before they get too big and take over the yard.

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This sweet corn was growing tall. Tall until we had some strong wind.

This reminds me that there are times in life when everything is going great and then, WHAM, along comes a wind that knocks us flat.

As you can see, some stalks stayed flat and some stood back up.

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The rain came. The wind followed. The roses all lost their petals.

This reminds me that pruning brings new growth.

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The final picture. These blooms are dying. The end of life.

At first that sounds morbid. Then I realized that the end of this life means a new life.

That is the end of the walk around my yard and it does seem to represent my life. At one time, I was new and fresh. Sometimes I am alone and sometimes I join others in celebrations and worship. I add splashes of color to my world and I never know when an angel may appear. I pray my inside is much more beautiful than my outside. At times, I have been knocked down and pruned. So far, I have always gotten up and grown from the experience. I also know that I have more life behind me than in front of me.

My favorite scripture is Psalm 139. Those verses assure me that God is with me when I walk. God is with me no matter where I am.

You have searched me, LORD, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, LORD, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Psalm 139:1-6

Now go for a walk in your yard. And talk to God while you look around. He loves to hear your voice!

Thursday, July 03, 2014

CELEBRATE AND RELAX

Please enjoy the next week or so.  I will not be posting again until July 18.

CELEBRATE – Remember your freedoms and cherish them.  They are dear and so easily taken away.

RELAX – Going to a class reunion and then to see an old friend. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

TOO PRETTY TO CUT

My hubby loves rhubarb pie so I was the every loving wife and made him one. I cut the rhubarb. I cleaned it. I chopped it. I added the ingredients. I put it into the crust. Okay. It was a Pillsbury crust. I put the pie in the oven. I waited. I took the pie out.

THE PIE WAS BEAUTIFUL!!!

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The edges were a golden brown and just enough juice had seeped out to make it shine. The top crust was perfect. And the smell!! The whole house had a sweet aroma with just a hint of cinnamon and nutmeg.

The pie was way too beautiful to cut! But I had made the pie to eat. What to do?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

There was a Samaritan woman at the well when Jesus came by and he said to her, "Will you give me a drink?"

The woman was more than a bit shocked. Why did this man even speak to her? Samaritans and Jews did not work and play well together.

Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that ask you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water."

Wow. Living water just for the asking!!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

There that pie sat. All I had to do was cut it and we would be rewarded.

Yes, we cut the pie and it was as delicious as it looked.

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There is only one piece left. Should I allow Bill to have the last piece?

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The Samaritan woman made a comment and Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."

Living water just for the asking!! Eternal life!!!

Scriptures from various verses in John 4:4-14

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If we had only looked at the pie, we would have missed out.

If we do not ask for the living water, we will miss out.

Do you want to look at what Jesus has to offer or do you want to receive what Jesus has to offer?

Friday, June 20, 2014

VACATION TIME

Our daughter, two (maybe three) grandsons and I are headed to Missouri in July. I am so excited because we are going to visit a fantastic friend and her family.

I had the best time this morning. Noah and Timmy and I planned the trip. We looked at the atlas and Timmy found the states we would be going through. We answered questions: Do you want to go on interstates or back roads? When will we eat lunch? (Well, they are growing boys.) Of course, that question was followed with, what snacks can we take? Which was followed with, what about supper? Grandma, you know we like to take a blanket and pillow don't you? Where are we staying? (We looked it up and they gave it their stamp of approval.)

We also set some rules: Since we have established a time frame and where we will lunch, you will not keep saying you are hungry or ask when we will stop. Trash will be put in the trash sack. If you feel sick, grab the throw-up bowl. (Hey, this is not my first trip with kids.) No game boys/video games/iPads used when we are not on interstates. (They admitted when they are playing games they forget to check out the countryside.)

Timmy and Noah are very excited. Part of that comes from helping make decisions. Part comes from knowing exactly where we are going and what to expect.

Vacations are fun and, although sometimes getting in the car and just heading out is okay, planning is a major part of the vacation. Planning is: Checking to see which road is the best to take where. Using your imagination to picture what you might see. Looking forward to the challenge of finding that out of the way place from Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. Knowing your room is waiting.

Noah, Timmy and I spent time this morning making plans. I spent time this afternoon organizing those plans. We will pack. We will prepare. This got me to thinking.

Do I spend this much time preparing for the most important journey of my life?  Do I know where I am going and what to expect?

WHICH ROAD SHOULD I TAKE? I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you. Psalm 32:8

WHAT MIGHT I SEE? He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters. Psalm 23: part of verse 2

WHAT SHALL I EAT? On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. Revelation 22:2

WILL MY ROOM BE READY? In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. John 14:2

Do I spend this much time preparing for my journey with God?

Do you?

Friday, June 06, 2014

HELLO MY NAME IS

Don't ya hate it when a song gets in your brain and takes up residence? It just repeats and repeats. Around and around. You hear it when you wake up in the middle of the night. You hear it when the room gets quiet.

You even hear it when the radio is playing another song. Don't ya hate it when a song gets in your brain and takes up residence?

I have one stuck in there and it can just stay because that song has caused me to add something to my bucket list. I want to go see Matthew West!

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us,

that we should be called children of God!

1 John 3:1

When I first heard the song, Hello My Name Is, I stopped in my tracks.

Hello, my name is regret -- Oh, how that fits my life. It fits all of our lives.

Hello, my name is defeat -- Yes, listened to that one too.

Voices, lies -- Why do I - we - listen to the voices of others and allow them to define us?  Why do I - we - listen to the lies?

I have believed them for the very last time -- Declaration of freedom!

No longer defined by all the wreckage behind -- Permission to let go!

Then my body stayed planted firmly on earth, but my Spirit soared. I am sure it circled the moon before it came back --

Hello, my name is child of the one true King! -- Yes! That is what I want to be called.

Saved! Changed! Free! -- Amen!

Oh, goodness! My fingers are having trouble staying on the keys. They want to get that CD, crank up the volume so I can sing along.

Hello, my name is child of the one true King

WANT TO JOIN ME?