Friday, February 16, 2018

Getting It Right

How do you only put a title on a post? When you come back don't you wonder what it was supposed to be about? I remember losing control of the weather, but must I lose my mind as well....

What I'm saying here is that I began this post some time ago, and I had thoughts that went with it. Now I have thoughts that WILL go with it, but I can't be exactly sure what the original spark was.

My mother was a perfectionist. If she did something it was perfect. Be it cleaning a room, making a bed, or even preparing a meal. That is a rather daunting heritage to live up to.

If my grandmother ever was a perfectionist it got knocked out of her by living a 'real' life. I remember her telling of just finishing washing the dining room floor, and company suddenly showed up, and...well, you guessed it. Good bye clean floor.

I don't believe that type of scenario ever played in my mother's theater. I don't think she ever quite understood the life and times of other players either. There was always an unspoken (most of the time unspoken) rift between my mother and grandmother. I can only guess at what the reason may have been, and it causes me sorrow to this day.

I have one sister. She's a perfectionist. We for most of our lives have lived on different planets. She chose not to have children, worked hard, did the things she needed to do, and...

"Well, look at that picture. There's Jackie and her perfect Christmas tree..." our adorable cousin is scrutinizing my Christmas card from my sister. It is a card from the year before, and I've looked at that card several times since receiving it, but I never honestly noticed the foolish tree before. The tree isn't really foolish, it's exactly like adorable cousin said, it's perfect. It's perfectly shaped, perfectly decorated, and just perfect. Sigh

As I said, in my family there are two siblings—my sister and I. My mother at least got half of her perfect children. My sister rode and competed in Western horse shows. She was grand champion one year, she was that good. Then along came me. I rode bareback and a lot like an Indian. I don't say this to impugn Indians in any way, but... I did have a bridle, but the faster my pony and I could fly the better I liked it. They called me 'grasshopper' because Wee Willie (pony) would be flying along and I'd be kicking and kicking sitting on his back. I was a very young child, so Wee Willie probably thought I was a grasshopper and my short legs were probably sticking out to the sides and kicking nothing. Note here that my oldest cousin said I learned to ride before I could walk, and if she wasn't totally right she was pretty close.

That was a summation of our lives. My sister, the self-disciplined achiever. Always on the honor-roll, always perfect. I was so proud of her for doing what I could never do. The only thing she didn't get that she should have had was Homecoming Queen. She was cheated out of that honor, but she was a gracious lady about it even then, not spiteful or vengeful.

If I happened to be on the honor roll, no one was more surprised than I was. If I did something right no one was more surprised than I was. One of my mother's oft repeated barbs at me was, 'You're just like you grandmother.' That would have been a poke except I realized I loved my grandmother, I was not just like her, and it was not a big deal either way.

It might come as a surprise to people to know that I'm a perfectionist as well. However, just as my grandmother's theater had a different movie playing, so have I. I've learned survival techniques that my mother—and sister—never needed. I realized that just getting several children clean and presentable for Sunday worship, making it to church on time (sometimes just by a nose) AND having a pair of shoes and a pair of socks on each set of feet was an accomplishment.

I realized that being a perfectionist is sometimes secondary to being alive, and success isn't always how clean my house is, or perfect my Christmas tree is, or a whole host of other things that I would like to be perfect. I don't know exactly how to measure success. I can't point to my fine house, car, furnishings, or any 'thing' I have. Except, I have a loving God and Jesus is my Savior. Therein lies my comfort and strength. On a number of occasions people have asked me about my amazing family. The first time that happened I was about to answer, 'I don't know, it just happened'. This wee small voice in my head said, 'No, it didn't just happen'. I thought about the years of loving them, teaching and nurturing them. I thought of the years of giving up a monetary income to stay home and bake cookies, bake bread, read stories, and so many other things. Just as having a house is not the same as making a home, giving birth to children isn't the same thing as raising and nurturing a family.

God's plan is always right:
"In the fear of Jehovah is strong confidence; And his children shall have a place of refuge. The fear of Jehovah is a fountain of life, That one may depart from the snares of death."(Proverbs 14:26-27 ASV)
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Naturally

In my Bible reading this morning I was reading in Exodus chapters 14 and 15. These are the chapters where Jehovah shows his ultimate power and strength against Pharaoh and the Egyptian army. Moses and Miriam sing their songs, then Moses leads the Israelites forward, and they continue their journey. They come to Marah, the water is bitter, and the people murmur. Thus begins the rocky relationship between these people and Jehovah God which culminates in their final sentence of wandering in the wilderness for forty years—
"And Jehovah's anger was kindled against Israel, and he made them wander to and fro in the wilderness forty years, until all the generation, that had done evil in the sight of Jehovah, was consumed." (Numbers 32:13 ASV)

There is a lesson here, and I'm not the first to throw it on the table, but I will put it there anyway. Human nature does not really change. We still have the tendency to murmur. These people have just been freed from slavery and are given the responsibility of choosing a better life. Surely the life of bondage wasn't good. 

"And the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigor: and they made their lives bitter with hard service, in mortar and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field, all their service, wherein they made them serve with rigor." (Exodus 1:13-14 ASV)

Their lives were 'bitter' with hard service. Yet how many times after they are freed do they say, we should have stayed in Egypt? There was a responsibility in freedom they weren't prepared for. They had the mindset of slavery and that whole generation (other than Joshua and Caleb) were sentenced to die in the wilderness. We see throughout history the same pattern repeated time after time. 
  •  As someone has suggested we need to pray as if everything depends on God then work as if everything depends on us.
Another lesson here is, the Nature of Jehovah doesn't change either. Some folks say that in the Old Testament God was vengeful and full of wrath, but now He's a God of love. And they point to:

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life." (John 3:16 ASV)

"Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is begotten of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love."
(1 John 4:7-8 ASV)
There are other verses in the New Testament that tell us God is a God of love, and that's what we are led to believe. Old Testament God / angry and wrathful, New Testament God/ God of love.

But take a second look at that Old Testament God:

How many times during the Exodus and right up until they were set to enter the promised land did they murmur, complain, and even want to turn back to Egypt. Yet Jehovah suffers with their foolishness until they go beyond the murmur button and hit the out and out rebellion alarm, and he sends them to wander. He's always been a God of love and mercy. We can know that what Zophar accused Job of is more our problem: 
"...For he is manifold in understanding. Know therefore that God exacteth of thee less than thine iniquity deserveth." (Job 11:6 ASV)

'The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some count slackness; but is longsuffering to you-ward, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."(2 Peter 3:9 ASV)

Jehovah God did not want any to perish under the Old Testament any more than He wants people to perish under the New Testament. 

Do I know better than to murmur and complain? Well, yes I do. Do I find myself doing the old murmuring thing on occasion? Hm, again I'm embarrassed to admit, I do.
  • First, remember, God loves His children. Is something making you unhappy? Tell Him in prayer asking for a solution.
  • Once you've laid it at His throne, leave it there. I believe you can continue to pray over it as long as needful, just don't pick it up and 'worry' over it.
Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye doubleminded. (James 4:8 ASV)

Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Friday, January 26, 2018

Who Will Feed the Cows?

 I read an article about a conference that a man had driven many hours to attend. He was at the conference a short time and had to turn around and drive the many hours back home. When asked why he had driven that many hours to attend for two hours. He was urged to rent a room, then to drive back the next day, but his reply was, "Who will feed the cows?"

Responsibility. That's a big word. Integrity is another big word. They are similar, but not the same.

Being responsible is having the responsibility of caring for something or someone else.That man had the responsibility to care for the cows. Being responsible is having the duty to care for something, having integrity is doing your best to take care of your duty.

I've come across these notes on integrity.
Integrity is:
Choosing courage over comfort,
Right over fun, or fast, or easy,
Choosing to practice values,
Rather than just professing them.

Indeed many scriptures rank amongst works of poetry and beauty. The fourth chapter of Philippians is commendable, yet Philippians 4:8&9 shine a bit brighter. Verse 8 because of its call to excellence, and verse 9 because the Apostle Paul though not boasting of himself gives a picture of himself.  

"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honorable, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. The things which ye both learned and received and heard and saw in me, these things do: and the God of peace shall be with you." (Philippians 4:8-9 ASV)

In comparing what we know of the life of Paul we can understand that although he wasn't perfect, neither did he ever claim to be perfect: 

"Faithful is the saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief:" (1 Timothy 1:15 ASV)
Yet he lived a life that chose integrity, that chose courage over comfort, right over fun or easy. He chose to practice values, and in that way his actions professed his convictions. When he writes: 

"The things which ye both learned and received and heard and saw in me, these things do..." that is the same as saying 'do as I do, not just as I say'. Or as he says in another place,

"Brethren, be ye imitators together of me, and mark them that so walk even as ye have us for an ensample." (Philippians 3:17 ASV)

Oh, how we need righteous people. Not self-righteous people, but people we can look up to and follow, not because they are perfect, but in the ways that they imitate Christ and follow in His steps.Choose Jesus, choose life, choose today. 

Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

If Ye Will Receive It?

Could any one receive better praise than that given unto John the Baptist than that given by Jesus when he said:

"Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not arisen a greater than John the Baptist:" 

But the second part of that verse says: "yet he that is but little in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he."(Matthew 11:11 ASV)

How can that be? How could the least of us believers be greater? 

"For verily I say unto you, that many prophets and righteous men desired to see the things which ye see, and saw them not; and to hear the things which ye hear, and heard them not." (Matthew 13:17 ASV)

"but when the fulness of the time came, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, that he might redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons." 
(Galatians 4:4-5 ASV)

We have a revelation which John the Baptist and those under the Old Testament had not received. And we have the full revelation unto salvation. We have the blessings to be able to look into the mirror of the law of liberty and see what we need to become saved. 

"But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deluding your own selves. For if any one is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a mirror: for he beholdeth himself, and goeth away, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But he that looketh into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and so continueth, being not a hearer that forgetteth but a doer that worketh, this man shall be blessed in his doing."(James 1:22-25 ASV)

We can become a hearer, and then a doer. People before John couldn't see what we see. We as human beings aren't physically, spiritually, or morally better than John. We at this point have a better hope.

Hallelujah! What a Savior!


Friday, January 5, 2018

Your Own Life

I'm not sure where I came across this piece. There are a number of variations on this story, but it is and interesting story and illustration.

The all important ingredient is focus and an attitude of trust in the Lord. The following is one of the best illustrations I know of the importance of keeping a focused and right attitude:
The colorful, nineteenth-century showman and gifted violinist Nicolo Paganini was standing before a packed house, playing through a difficult piece of music. A full orchestra surrounded him with magnificent support. Suddenly one string on his violin snapped and hung gloriously down from his instrument. Beads of perspiration popped out on his forehead. He frowned but continued to play, improvising beautifully.
To the conductor’s surprise, a second string broke. And shortly thereafter, a third. Now there were three limp strings dangling from Paganini’s violin as the master performer completed the difficult composition on the one remaining string. The audience jumped to its feet and in good Italian fashion, filled the hall with shouts and screams, “Bravo! Bravo!” As the applause died down, the violinist asked the people to sit back down. Even though they knew there was no way they could expect an encore, they quietly sank back into their seats.
He held the violin high for everyone to see. He nodded at the conductor to begin the encore and then he turned back to the crowd, and with a twinkle in his eye, he smiled and shouted, “Paganini . . . and one string!” After that he placed the single-stringed Stradivarius beneath his chin and played the final piece on one string as the audience (and the conductor) shook their heads in silent amazement. “Paganini . . . and one string!”

We don't all have the talent of Paganini, or of Paul, or Peter, we do all have our own talents and abilities. For the last three years I have been dabbling at developing a new card game. Quite a few years ago we were friends with an older couple. They enjoyed playing games, but would never play a game of cards. Their explanation was, 'if you knew the history behind card games, you wouldn't play them.' 

I grew up playing Canasta, Go Fish, Concentration, Old Maid, Solitaire...all with a deck of cards and never felt impelled to do anything sinful because of the cards. I have begun researching the history of cards, but haven't—as of yet—come across anything that would connect them with the committing of wickedness per se. I know there are games you can play with cards that are sinful and wicked, but that seems to hinge on the game itself and not necessarily the cards. So, back to my new game. I like to win at a game. I do try to lose gracefully, but winning is what I like.  

So, after losing quite a few rounds at a game of chance, I thought to myself, now this is a game of chance. You shuffle the cards, lay them out, and there is an element of skill here, but at some point if the cards don't fall your way you lose—kinda like the cat gets the game. What if I turned this into a more skillful game? What if I take away the reality of the cat getting the game, and with the right rules and techniques make it mandatory that you win? 

What would the reason be behind this game? 

  • The encouragement to see the game in the big picture. To look at the whole board and analyze what is there. 
  • Think outside of the normal way of business as usual
  • To use resources to get your life in focus
These are only some of the goals. As I was working with my new game, however, I realized sometimes the round is easy. All the cards seem to fall into the right order. Then there are other rounds that get ugly, and yes you can and do win, but they are just plain ugly. 

It was during the laying out of one of these gonna be ugly rounds, that as I'm looking at my board, I thought, you know, life is like this. Some people have lives that go smooth. Yes, they do have some issues, but nothing difficult. Then there are other people, other lives that it is one fight after another for them. It might be sickness, finances, loss of family or friends, but it gets ugly and there isn't any easy way out. Most lives are a mix, and sometimes if we'd pay better attention it would go smoother. 

The next thought I had was 'Sometimes it would be lovely if we could all have those smooth kind of lives, but of course we have to live the life we're give—just like playing the hand, or the round, or the game we are given. We each have to live our own life. We may  wish for an easier road to walk, but like I've told my children, what you've got is what you've got. Sometimes they weren't real happy with that, but truth is truth. Like the saying goes, 

"I don't know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future."

"Now when they beheld the boldness of Peter and John, and had perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.(Acts 4:13 ASV)

Hallelujah! What a Savior! 


Saturday, December 23, 2017

Check Your Heart; A Picture is Worth...

The meme has the caption: "They be like, 'only God can judge me. And I be like, Dude, that should to scare you.' "

"...I am a great King, saith Jehovah of hosts, and my name is terrible among the Gentiles." 
(Malachi 1:14 ASV)

Think about it. What are people saying? 

Another meme: "Some of the nicest people you meet are covered in tattoos, and sometimes the most judgmental people go to church on Sundays."

Judgmental? No word is a part of speech unless used in real life. This definition of 'judgmental' comes from 'vocabulary.com dictionary:

"Oddly enough, people with good judgment are not usually considered judgmental. Judgmental is a negative word to describe someone who often rushes to judgment without reason.

The adjective judgmental describes someone who forms lots of opinions — usually harsh or critical ones — about lots of people. Judgmental types are not open-minded or easygoing."

So, what's 'open-minded'?

"Open-minded people can consider a problem from both sides, without injecting their own opinions or biases, and can often point you in the right direction."
Judgmental sounds bad, open-minded sounds good, right? But what if as an open-minded person you have considered a problem from both sides, without injecting your own opinion etcetera, and come up with an answer that sounds judgmental? 
Let's take for instance,  how many years have we heard that smoking is bad for our health? Overeating on a constant basis is bad for our health? 
Some things can have a basis in reality and not be judgmental. Other things may be opinion, sound like they have a basis in reality, but in reality be pure bunk. What about:  'eat healthy, low fat, moderate red meat and protein, good grains and carbohydrates...' And now? Such a diet is killing Americans--and fast. To add insult to injury, in certain Italian villages there is an overwhelming number of 100 year old residents, that eat high fat, do not exercise, are overweight, and to top it off--many are smokers. Good gravy, what's this world coming to? 
So, this here's the thing (in the words of someone's granny) being nice won't get you to heaven, tattoos or not. Being open-minded won't get you to heaven. Being judgmental won't get you to heaven either...
Following God will get you to heaven: 
"Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no one cometh unto the Father, but by me." 
(John 14:6 ASV)
Jesus leads the way. The New Testament is our guide book as to how to live and carry out Jesus' commands, and thus God's will for our lives today. Jesus says:

"And he said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the great and first commandment." (Matthew 22:37-38 ASV)

Being a nice person gives you glory, not God. We aren't told to tell people what they want to hear. A physician telling a person they have a disease isn't being nice. God wants us to tell people what they need to hear. We all have a sin problem, and we will all be judged at the end. That is God's message.  He is the judge. So many people today believe they can give God their opinion and He better listen up. That isn't so, and like the meme said at the beginning, Dude, that should scare you.


"3) Jehovah is slow to anger, and great in power, and will by no means clear the guilty: Jehovah hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet. 

4) He rebuketh the sea, and maketh it dry, and drieth up all the rivers: Bashan languisheth, and Carmel; and the flower of Lebanon languisheth. 

5) The mountains quake at him, and the hills melt; and the earth is upheaved at his presence, yea, the world, and all that dwell therein. 

6) Who can stand before his indignation? and who can abide in the fierceness of his anger? his wrath is poured out like fire, and the rocks are broken asunder by him. 
7) Jehovah is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that take refuge in him. 
                 (Nahum 1:3-7 ASV)
 Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Merry Christmas

Yes, we survived the Thanksgiving holiday, and here we are in December. The weather has been incredibly nice—except for the last two days when the wind has had a bite to it. It has also been trying to chase us into the next state. I'm right on schedule for getting ready for the next major holiday. I'm three weeks behind. That's not a good state to be in, and it has nothing to do with the wind. I'm still looking for my six million dollars. I'm pretty sure I won't win the lottery, since I don't play the game, but having rambled thus far it is the season to be jolly and much much more.

"Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; learn to do well; seek justice, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. Come now, and let us reason together, saith Jehovah: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land:"  (Isaiah 1:16-19 ASV)

I find looking at this time of the year to be one long holiday of Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving in November for our in-gathering of garden and field produce provided by Jehovah God. Thanksgiving of family and friends as we gather to share and in praise to God for the produce, for our blessings, and a looking forward to God's provisions for us in spiritual realms. December 25th may not be the actual 'birthday' of our Savior, but it is an opportunity to tell the story and rejoice at the miracle of God's redeeming grace and love. It is a good time to repent, to bow in humility and wonder at how an awesome God could care that much for us. It is a time of rejoicing, of giving presents to one another, of joyous greetings, and a merry heart.

"A cheerful heart is a good medicine..." (Proverbs 17:22 ASV)

This is a wish and prayer for family and friends to find not just peace, joy, hope, and salvation, but to find His peace, His joy, His hope, and His salvation for yourselves. God bless and 

Hallelujah! What A Savior!