Thursday, July 31, 2008
(The Book of Common Prayer)
As a daily listener of New Beginning with Greg Laurie, I was heart broken to hear of the sudden loss of his son Christopher...please be in prayer for this family.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
assisting me in "wealth management".
I've always gratefully acknowledged that, just by being born in this country, I am abundantly wealthy in comparison with most of the world's population.
Still, I chuckled to myself at his words.
My financial status as a retired teacher/part-time library clerk hardly merits the term "wealth".
But I sought his counsel, so we talked about my goals for the future and my desires for how my estate will be distributed at my death.
He's never met my granddaughter, but after 90 minutes of my unbiased reporting, he is now fully informed of her brilliant mind, thus better qualified to guide me towards one of my goals - establishing a trust fund for her college education.
To my delight, two-year-old Leigha has spent the last two weekends with me.
My entire dwelling and schedule have been converted into "Toddlerville".
These visits have stirred in me a renewed appreciation for mothers of young children and
a relaxed standard of expectations for their personal appearance and hygiene.
When do they ever find time to shower???
I like to rise early and sit in my rocker with a mug of coffee and my Bible.
Most days, Oswald Chambers (deceased, yet still speaking through "My Utmost for His Highest")
or Bob Gass (alive and author of "The Word for You Today") guide me in devotional thoughts, followed by some time reading through the Word.
It's precious, long stretches of uninterrupted time - a gift of this season of my life - and a luxury that most mothers do not have.
I've grown dependent on this time. I crave it.
So each morning, as Leigha slumbered on, I'd tiptoe to my quiet little corner for my daily "fix" before our busy day began.
And each morning, no matter how early I rose or how quietly I moved about, my quiet time was soon interrupted by the padding of little feet seeking me out.
With tousled hair and fists rubbing sleep from her eyes, she'd yawn, "Hold you, Moco".
Setting my Bible aside, I'd pull this precious bundle onto my lap to snuggle and breathe in the
sweet, sweaty smell of her.
Moments later, her second request followed, "Juice, Moco".
Her sippy cup of juice is like my morning mug of coffee, so I recognized the urgency of her request and immediately filled her cup, then we'd head back to the rocker.
A prolonged chug followed by the sound of the suction-seal being broken as she pulled the sippy cup from her lips, and her third comment of the day, "Read Bible, Moco".
I'd pick up my Bible and read - just a few verses that she doesn't even understand - and then her body kicked into high gear and she was off and running, with me following close behind.
On the third morning, just before she found me in my rocker, I was reading in Isaiah, and stumbled over this sweet promise of God:
"My Spirit, who is on you, and my words that I have put in your mouth will not depart from your mouth, or from the mouths of your children, or from the mouths of their descendants from this time on and forever," says the Lord. Isaiah 59:21
As I reflect on the desires of my heart and what I truly want to leave behind,
I can think of no greater inheritance than the Word of God planted in Leigha's heart.
That's what I call true "wealth management".
Monday, July 28, 2008
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
We celebrated J's birthday, which was Saturday, at Justin's restaurant. They have good food, and a huge game room. It was a delightful day. I am thankful for my two boys. God has surely blessed my life...
that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the
infinite possibilities that are born of faith. May you use those gifts
that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content knowing you are a child of God. Let this presence
settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance,
praise and love. It is there for each and every one. -St. Theresa
Thursday, July 24, 2008
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.
Thank you Jennifer for reminding me of this tremendously valuable song...
Each season is glorious. The glory of summer is different from the glory of fall. And the splendor of winter is different from spring.
God takes us through different seasons in our lives: seasons of rejoicing, mourning, saying hello and goodbye, building up and tearing down. The glory of the season of rejoicing is laughter, refreshment, and revitalization. The gift of the season of mourning can be profound intimacy with the Lord.
Whatever our current season, it will not last. We can no more remain in one season of life than one kind of weather can last throughout the year. Life brings seasons of both mourning and dancing, times of embracing and times to refrain from embracing.
The key, of course, is to remember that God is at work within us in each season. We are not always aware of what God is doing; often each season brings about change and growth. God begins the good work, sustains it, and will bring it to completion.
Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ --Phil. 1:6
Below are pictures of Cody and Jesse Ray on their bike trek through the Creeper Trail in Damascus Virginia this past Monday.
Monday, July 21, 2008
-John 20:28 -29
Late in 1992 my father lay in the hospital, dying of cancer. One day as my wife and I drove to the hospital to visit him, I was extremely emotional. My father's illness had affected me deeply.
Entering his ward and seeing him lying there with all the tubes protruding from his body, I began to sob uncontrollably. My wife, mother, and sister tried to comfort me, to no avail. I left the room and sat alone for a while, praying to God to give me peace. I had not prayed in quite a while, but all of a sudden I felt absolute calm come over me. I stopped crying and went back to my father's room. I thanked him for everything he had done for the family and me, and I told him I loved him. I left my father not knowing this was the last time I would see him alive. As I walked out, I started crying again. Was that tranquil moment in between just a coincidence? No. God gave me peace to make that last moment with my father joyous.
This was to be the start of my journey with God. In March, 1993, I gave my life to God, and through faith my life has changed forever.
Shaun McHardy (South Africa)
Friday, July 18, 2008
HARSH words had cascaded from my mouth with the force of rushing water. Ouch! I immediately wanted to take back the hurtful remark. However, just like rushing water, the words could not be stopped nor their force negated. I had scolded my small daughter. It wasn't that the words weren't true - or even justified. They were just more harsh than the situation required. However, like raging water, the words moved on - unable to be called back.
Our words reflect what is in our hearts. As Jesus said, "Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks." Therefore, when my heart is brimming with an emotion, that feeling will leak or perhaps even spout out of my mouth. If I have unresolved sin or guilt in my heart, at some point my mouth will reveal it.
I used to pray to say the right things or not to say the wrong things. That prayer, however, did not seem to be answered. Negative words still cascaded from my mouth. Now I realize that the problem goes deeper than my words. I need to ask Christ to move in my heart to correct my wrong attitudes. If my heart is filled with love, that opens the way for kind and appropriate words to flow from my mouth.
Leigh W. Young
Thursday, July 17, 2008
In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith . . . may be found to result in praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.
I would just like to share that Mark is on vacation this week...I am enjoying being "just the four of us" for now, and will return on Monday. Until then, know that I'm thinking of each of you, and thanking my God for being so gracious to me...
Saturday, July 12, 2008
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 know it completely, O LORD.
You hem me in—behind and before;
you have laid your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,"
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand.
When I awake,
I am still with you.
If only you would slay the wicked, O God!
Away from me, you bloodthirsty men!
They speak of you with evil intent;
your adversaries misuse your name.
Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD,
and abhor those who rise up against you?
I have nothing but hatred for them;
I count them my enemies.
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
He played in a blue grass band, "Southern Grass". The equipment vehicle was an old hurst. Golly, I hated that thing, but you know what, my sisters and I rode in the back of it anyway...can you imagine the looks we got???
I remember taking hiking trips and camping out. It's been at least 10 years since I've gone with him...the last one I remember, our hike to Gregory Bald
it was a long hike, but boy was it ever worth it. He sings in church with Mark and my b.i.l Jeff. It's heavenly music. I'm so proud of him. He loves to garden...has countless rows of potatoes, and they are the best. I can't imagine my life without him...though I know he won't be here forever...I'll always have the good memories and I can always say I'm proud of my raisin'...I love you daddy.
What Makes a Dad
God took the strength of a mountain,
The majesty of a tree,
The warmth of a summer sun,
The calm of a quiet sea,
The generous soul of nature,
The comforting arm of night,
The wisdom of the ages,
The power of the eagle's flight,
The joy of a morning in spring,
The faith of a mustard seed,
The patience of eternity,
The depth of a family need,
Then God combined these qualities,
When there was nothing more to add,
He knew His masterpiece was complete,
And so, He called it ... Dad
-2 Corinthians 4:7
My life in Christ has helped me to accept the nature of the clay jar that I am. I have weaknesses. I have strengths. For some people who know me, my strengths outweigh my weaknesses. For others, my weaknesses outweigh my good traits. But we all live somewhere between what we have been and what God is reshaping us to be.
This is an image of God's kingdom. We live in an "already-but-not-yet" time. God's salvation in Christ has already come, but it is not yet enjoyed by all people and all creation. Jesus gave us a glimpse of God's future glory, but its full realization remains future. We live between the already of what God has done and the not-yet of what God will do. The work God has begun in us is not complete.
Yet God's glory is seen clearly in our sinful, broken, imperfect humanity. "We have this treasure in clay jars." We can focus on the clay jar, or we can focus on the treasure. We can condemn each other for being a cracked, chipped, misshapen, leaky, brittle, traditional, or contemporary jar. But if we focus on the treasure, we have hope - hope for me, for you, for enemies as well as friends, for the world - because the treasure is God's extraordinary power at work in us.
(Mike Ripski-- Tennessee)
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
I have a choice.
Yesterdays message inbox from my kind friend in Texas...
I can focus my mind on the day's headlines:
They are hard to miss - they're in bold print in the paper and shouted by TV anchors.
They pop up on my computer screen first thing every morning.
But they stir up such anxious feelings that I choose to turn away from them after a brief update.
Instead I focus on my personal headlines:
- How many more Medicare quarters must I earn to be eligible when I reach 65?
- What should I wear to the outdoor wedding next month?
- I wonder how the kids at church camp are bearing up working in this heat.
- How will my daughter and her husband make mortgage payments on the fixer-upper
they just bought if he loses his job?
- What if Illinois cuts my teacher retirement pension?
- What do I say to my friend who is hurting?
- I need to schedule a dental appointment.
- Do I have time to run to WalMart before work?
It's obvious, of course, that my world view is so small.
The thoughts and concerns that rerun through my mind and my heart all day and
disturb my sleep at night are all about me and mine.
I choose to turn from the anxiety created by world news, yet at times I'm in danger of drowning
in the anxious thoughts I collect in my own little kiddie pool of a mind.
I've been reading the words of Isaiah, the Israeli news anchor back in 700 B.C.
In the middle of all his anxiety-producing pronouncements, there's this:
"You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You and hopes confidently in You. So trust in the Lord - commit yourself to Him, lean on Him, hope confidently in Him - forever; for the Lord God is an everlasting rock - the Rock of ages." Isaiah 26:3-4 Amplified
Creator God, help us to recognize you in those around us, and teach us to serve one another through your grace. Amen.
I'll be posting on The Primitive Gathering blog later today...
Monday, July 7, 2008
And just as it was for Jesus, baptism (no matter how old we are) is the beginning of our ministries. The Prayer Book tells us what that ministry is. The mission of the church, the mission of the Body of Christ, is to "restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ." That is our ministry. It is a ministry we can fulfill only as a community, as the Body of Christ in this time and this place.
Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?" But Jesus answered him, "Let it be so now; for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." Then he consented. And when Jesus was baptized, he went up immediately from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and alighting on him; and lo, a voice from heaven, saying, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased."
I'm thinking back...last August as my Uncle John, (a retired minister), baptized Cody in the river...My heart is overjoyed...still at the significance of that day.
Lord, help us to remember that no matter what happens, you are always ready to be our guide as we pray, "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one." Amen. (Janet George - England)
Sunday, July 6, 2008
Each day of a recent camping trip, our family was awakened by a chorus of birds. The first few mornings, I complained about the racket and suppressed the urge to scream, "Be quiet!" But then my wife reminded me of Psalm 150. This passage commands us to praise the Lord with all of our being through music, dance, and voice. The concluding verse of the Book of Psalms is this command: "Let everything that has breath praise the Lord." Could it be that these early-rising birds, nature's musicians, are simply praising God? Perhaps their shrill voices are saying, "Good morning, Lord. Wake up, creation, and praise the Creator!" Can I say that I awake each morning praising and worshiping my creator? Do I start the day thanking God for my family, health, and daily necessities? I can only imagine what our world would be like if we all were to begin each day with praise, worship, and thanksgiving as we reflect on the goodness and love of God, our creator and savior.
Saturday, July 5, 2008
We had a cookout with family...I ate too much, and why do I do that? Then we were off to the City park bidding on a space to view the fireworks display while listening to "Diamond Rio" play in a distance. It was much fun, and we even had rain...much as we need it, I didn't complain, and the crowd didn't seem to mind either.
Thursday, July 3, 2008
Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.
- ~The first fold of our flag is a symbol of life.
- ~The second fold is a symbol of our belief in the eternal life.
- ~The third fold is made in honor and remembrance of the veteran departing our ranks who gave a portion of life for the defense of our country to attain a peace throughout the world.
- ~The fourth fold represents our weaker nature, for as American citizens trusting in God, it is to Him we turn in times of peace as well as in times of war for His divine guidance.
- ~The fifth fold is a tribute to our country, for in the words of Stephen Decatur, “Our country, in dealing with other countries, may she always be right; but it is still our country, right or wrong.”
- ~The sixth fold is for where our hearts lie. It is with our heart that we pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
- ~The seventh fold is a tribute to our Armed Forces, for it is through the Armed Forces that we protect our country and our flag against all her enemies, whether they be found within or without the boundaries of our republic.
- ~The eighth fold is a tribute to the one who entered in to the valley of the shadow of death, that we might see the light of day, and to honor mother, for whom it flies on mother’s day.
- ~The ninth fold is a tribute to womanhood; for it has been through their faith, love, loyalty and devotion that the character of the men and women who have made this country great have been molded.
- ~The tenth fold is a tribute to father, for he, too, has given his sons and daughters for the defense of our country since they were first born.
- ~The eleventh fold, in the eyes of a Hebrew citizen, represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon, and glorifies, in their eyes, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
- ~The twelfth fold, in the eyes of a Christian citizen, represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies God the Father, the Son, and Holy Ghost.
- When the flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost, reminding us of our national motto, “In God we Trust.”