Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Joyful or Joyless?

The joy God gives is so different from the temporary happiness one finds apart from Him.  Doesn't it seem there aren't too many joyful people? Even among Christians.  I'm sure most would say they are filled with joy, but their face and words lack joy.   Stress, busyness and greed consume their lives. 

There are times of despair for a Christian, but they should be only temporary.  In Christ we find joy that is "inexpressible and filled with glory" (I Peter 1:8)  Our joy will not be complete until we see Him face to face, but until then the Comforter He has given (the Holy Spirit) provides ever-present joy and reassurance that we belong to the King.

In reading through the Trials of Theology I came across this quote by C.S. Lewis: 

Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not to strong, but too weak.  We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea.  We are far too easily pleased(Source: The Weight of Glory, p. 16)

We are too easily satisfied with the scraps the world offers.  Our Savior offers infinite joy that will be complete when we see Him face to face.   Pursue Him.

Today I'm linking up with:

Book Review: The Trials of Theology

A caution light is not what one might expect to see as they begin to journey down the path of theological study.  Yet there are many dangers and stumbling blocks lurking for those who immerse themselves into a study of God and His relation to the world.  Pride, theology as an idol and heresy, just to name a few.

The Trials of Theology contains words of advice and warning by theologians of the past, such as Spurgeon, Luther and Augustine, and  theologians in our present age:   D.A. Carson, Carl Trueman, John Woodhouse and others.  Andrew Cameron and Brian Rosner compiled this book using selections based on those who helped them study "theology well."  The two themes of the book is protecting our affectionate attachment to Christ and continuing our participation in a loving community of others.  (pg. 10)  Our affectionate attachment to Christ seems most difficult to maintain when embarking on a study of theology.  It's too easy to forget why we are studying in the first place and some are prompted by motives that are not entirely God-centered.

Here is a sample of what is shared in the book: 
  • Use prayer as a tool to understand difficult passages.  (Spurgeon.  Pg. 41)
  • Those who challenge what you believe can make you a better theologian. (Luther.  Pg. 29)
  • The more you learn about God and His ways, the more you realize how little you truly know. (Luther. Pg. 29)
  • Don't be inconsistent;  live what you teach, preach or write.  (Spurgeon.  Pg. 37)
  • Do not allow what is holy to become common.  (Warfield. Pg. 59)
  • Do not "turn black into white, but call truth, truth, and heresy, heresy."  (Bonhoeffer. Pg. 73)
  • Do not pursue acceptance by anyone, but God.  "Until you conquer the fear of being an outsider, an outsider you will remain."  (C.S. Lewis Pg. 87)
  • Knowing God should be linked with loving God:  "we seek the kind of knowledge here that changes our affections."  (Warfield. Pg. 100)
  • Christian ethics must be based on the fact that our human nature is "wonderfully made and terribly fallen." (Hollinger.  Pg. 183) 
As I read through this book I was reminded of II Timothy 2:15 The ESV reads:  "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved,* a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth."  The footnote reads:  "That is, one approved after being tested"  May we be able to stand before God without approved, not with a counterfeit faith.  John Woodhouse notes that "the distortion and perversion of the Word of God, the teaching of error as though it were truth, is what the human mind tends to do naturally."  (pg. 106)

This book also brought the parable of the talent's to mind.  What we learn about God in our study should be shared with others through teaching, preaching, or writing.   If God has blessed us with the time and ability to learn more about His ways (our talent), then we should not bury it in the ground, but invest it in others.  (Matthew 25:15)  Involvement in a local church body makes this investment possible.

The book is only 191 pages long and the short chapters make for excellent readability.  Some of the idioms and wording found in the first section are a bit more challenging, since language has changed over the last several hundred years.   My attention was captured and I would have certainly enjoyed a lengthier book.  After reading this I am interested in reading Cameron and Rosner's previous work, The Consolations of Theology.  I would recommend this book to anyone pursuing a formal or informal study of theology. 

Disclaimer: "Christian Focus Publishers provided a complimentary copy of this book to me.  I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own.   I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255:“Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Sunflowers In the Evening

The flowers appear on the earth; The time of singing has come, And the voice of the turtledove Is heard in our land. Song of Songs 2:12

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Two Sorrows

Saturday evening I attended my first Teens for Christ rally and thoroughly enjoyed it.   The theme was on abstinence and this message was presented using God-honoring and creative methods.  I was especially pleased to see a clear presentation of the Gospel given.

One of the verses that we read aloud was II Corinthians 7:10:
For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.
  • Godly sorrow causes a change of lifestyle; a departure from pet sins.
  • Godly sorrow causes us to turn our eyes from self to God.
  • Godly sorrow brings us to our knees as we recognize our own unholiness.
  • Godly sorrow brings the sinner closer to God.
  • Godly sorrow is a requirement for salvation.  It is a step toward repentance. No one can be saved if the Holy Spirit has not convicted them and caused them to be sorry for their sins against God. 
 I discovered A.W. Pink wrote some excellent words on this topic:
This “godly sorrow” is produced by Divine power. It is essentially a supernatural grace. No man is born with godly sorrow in his heart as he is born with a tongue in his head. No, it is a seed of God’s own setting, a flower of His planting. It is a heavenly offspring. “God maketh my heart soft” said holy Job (23:16), for none but He can make the heart tender under a sight and sense of sin. Nature can easily make one weep over worldly crosses and losses, but only Divine grace can move us to mourn over sin. That godly sorrow to repentance is produced by the immediate operations of the Lord is clear from the order in “Surely after that I was turned, I repented; and after that I was instructed, I smote upon my thigh” (Jer. 31:19): note well it is not “after I turned,” but “after I was turned.” That is the language of one who has just been renewed, quickened afresh by the Word, and who now sees light in God’s light.
  • Worldly sorrow is selfish.
  • Worldly sorrow leads to disappointment at being caught, not to true repentance.
  • Worldly sorrow is superficial.
  • Worldly sorrow is found in those who have no hope.  
Some additional thoughts on worldly sorrow by A.W. Pink:
The sorrow of the world is the grief and mortification of disappointed worldlings, of those who know not God but whose trust is in themselves or in some arm of flesh. They have relied for prosperity from the world, and the world has sadly failed them. They have sought satisfaction from its broken cisterns, only to have their hopes dashed. The bitter springs from which their ambitions have proceeded are pride and carnal self-respect, and their motives and occasions for indulging the same are as manifold as the deceitful lusts of the flesh. But frustrated plans and defeated expectations sour and enrage, and nature’s greenness is turned into the drought of unrepentant grief. So far from leading the soul to God, it fills with wrath and enmity against Him. Its miserable subjects seek consolation from the world, endeavouring to drive away serious reflections by drowning themselves in its pleasures. 
My prayer is that godly sorrow will be found in my heart when I am confronted by God's Word, the Holy Spirit or the man of God regarding a sinful behavior in my life.  

Monday, August 22, 2011

Monday Facts

Fact:  I am currently able to eat the equivalent of three grown men, okay, maybe only two.

Fact:  I am not training for a marathon or a century (bike ride), just going for a walk here and there.

Fact:  I no longer eat frozen yogurt, just regular ol' fattening ice cream.

Fact:  Certain female acquaintances seem rather jealous of my diet.

Fact:  Nutella is great on banana bread with slices of banana on top.

Fact:  The bigger Abby gets, the louder she screams.

Fact:  Car rides are much more enjoyable when you have someone to talk to.

Fact:  Car rides are much more enjoyable when that someone is a coherent adult, not a screaming baby.

Fact:  I do not enjoy testing the "Low Fuel" light out to determine how much gas is really in our truck.

Fact:  Sometimes gas stations in Kansas are more than 30 miles apart.

Fact:  We coasted into a gas station yesterday.

Fact:  Baby girls know how to flirt when they are only nine months old.

Fact:  Mommy and Daddy are very scared.

Fact:  Daddy is already plotting ways to scare young men away in the future.

Fact:  People are not trustworthy.

Fact:  God is. 

Today I'm linking up with Larri at Seams Inspired:

Is He Your Inheritance?

A few days ago I received the latest issue of HeartCry Magazine, a publication by HeartCry Missionary Society, directed by Paul Washer and many other godly mission-minded individuals.  I made it a point to read most of the magazine on our way to church yesterday morning.  There was a beautiful anonymous letter written from one missionary wife to another.  It was about the very human struggles of sacrificing family memories and modern conveniences for the sake of the Gospel. It was called "The Inheritance."

Here is a portion of it:
Today, while reading "Candles In the Dark" by Amy Carmichael, I came across an excerpt of a letter to a dear friend in which she quoted Deuteronomy 18:2: "The Lord is their inheritance as He hath said unto them."  Amy then followed by writing the following:  "I thought then as I think now of the lovely inheritance you might have had.  but He is your Inheritance instead of that lovely earthly joy.  Throughout all eternity that word will be opening up its treasures." 
At that point I could not remember exactly what the contest was for this verse,  so I looked up Deuteronomy 18:1-2.  God in giving instruction to the Israelites before they enter the Promised Land, lays down what should be the inheritance rights for the Levites, those God-chosen servants who were to devote their lives to worshipful service in the temple.  My heart sank as I read:  "The priests, who are Levites - indeed the whole tribe of Levi - are to have no allotment of inheritance with Israel.  They shall live on the offerings made to the LORD by fire, for that is their inheritance.  They shall have no inheritance among their brothers; the LORD is their inheritance, as He promised them." 
Tears burned my eyes as the Lord spoke these words directly and deeply to my heart.  I thought of the other eleven tribes who received - as their right - a share in the goodness of the land.  I then thought of my family, in their homes, enjoying the blessings, those "lovely earthly joys" God had freely given them.  And I heard my Lord Most Dear whisper in my heart, "But that is not to be your place.  Your inheritance is different."  As I was soaking this in, tears again burned my eyes,  and I whispered back to Him,  "This is a hard word."  My desires to have a daughter grow up aground her grandparents and family and an eventual life of pleasant familiarity in American crumbled around me.  Then, I again heard God whisper, "This is not your inheritance.  Your inheritance is Me."  How true this is for my life.  I even live on the offerings made to the Lord by my brothers and sisters who have received a very different inheritance.  As I closed my Bible my eyes again went to Amy Carmichael's letter:   "You will never regret your choice.  It is wonderful to be free to pour out all, every drop of one's life; and that is what you have done and are doing.  No, you will never regret it; never."  (HeartCry Magazine, July-September 2011, pg. 12-13)
These are beautiful words that made me realize how little I've sacrificed for the sake of the Gospel.  I think it's an inconvenience to get up early to pray for others.  I think it's an inconvenience to drive 30 minutes to attend a church service.  It sometimes seems like a sacrifice to give our tithe to Him.  But are these truly sacrifices?  No! I'm afraid I could be compared to the wealthy tossing in their meager gift to the Lord, when this godly missionary has given her all, just like the widow woman.  (Luke 21:1-4)

Am I willing to make Him my inheritance?  Is He my all?  Am I guilty of hoarding earthly possessions, education, or money for my security? 

"Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses."  Luke 12:15

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Project 64: Cadet Blue

After waiting until the last minute to take a photograph, I remembered I had a derby hat still in a box in the garage.  I dug it out and took a photo.  I decided to include some outtakes of Abby and the hat, just because I think she's adorable. 

Visit Project 64 to view more Cadet Blue entries!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

"As His Custom Was"

Photo Courtesy of Microsoft Office Clipart
I'm currently reading The Trials of Theology, a compilation of lectures and sermons from great men of faith of the past and present.  This selection by Benjamin Warfield reminds Christians of the necessity to meet with a local body of believers to worship our Savior. 
"Surely, if ever there was one who might justly plead that the common worship of the community had nothing to offer him it was the Lord Jesus Christ.  But every Sabbath found him seated in his place among the worshiping people, and there was no act of stated worship which he felt himself entitled to discard.  Even in his most exalted moods, and after his most elevating experiences, he quietly took his place with the rest of God's people, sharing with them in the common worship of the community.  Returning from that great baptismal scene, when the heavens themselves were rent to bear him witness that he was well pleasing to God; from the searching trials of the wilderness, and from that first great tour in Galilee, prosecuted, as we are expressly told, 'in the power of the Spirit'; he came back as the record tells, 'to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and' - so proceeds the amazing narrative - 'he entered, as his custom was, into the synagogue, on the Sabbath day' [Luke 4:14-16 ASV]. 'As his custom was!' Jesus Christ made it his habitual practice to be found in his place on the Sabbath day at the stated place of worship to which he belonged."  (pg. 62)
While I'm not advocating you remain in a church that does not teach the Gospel,  we will never find that  perfect church body to become a part of.  Our pastors will always be lacking a little in one area or another.  Perhaps he's a better teacher than a preacher.  And you may not get along with every member.  There may be hypocrites and heretics amongst the flock.  But these aren't excuses to avoid meeting regularly with other believers to worship and learn from God's Word.  Make weekly worship your custom and follow our Lord's example. 

Are You a Christian Femivore?

Photo courtesy of Microsoft Office Clipart
Some days I wish my vocabulary was a bit more expansive.  Wouldn't it be nice to have a USB cord you could plug into a brain port and update your vocabulary and memory?  According to this site, "An average high school student has a vocabulary of 10,000 words and an average college graduate is said to know aproximately 20,000 words. Each are said to use aproximately 10% of those words on a weekly basis."
While too many words are dying off and the younger generations (including myself) have no idea what they mean, new words are continually invented.  "Femivore" is an example of a new word.  Do you choose to stay at home to raise and educate your children?  Do you enjoy raising animals to be consumed for food?  Do you grow a garden and preserve your produce for the winter months? Assuming you're a believer, then perhaps you could be labeled a Christian "fermivore."  Seems like it's a secular twist on the Proverbs 31 woman.

"The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life. She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands. She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar. She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens. She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard. She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong. She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night. She puts her hands to the distaff, and her hands hold the spindle. She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy."  Proverbs 31:11-20
I'm afraid I'm not a femivore as my husband is the gardener and the hunter in our family.  I harvest my meat at the the local grocery store.  And I have been known to kill both cactus plants and bamboo.  Once the produce is ripe I can handle them from there.  Okay, well, he does the canning too.  I'm blessed with a talented husband. 

Does anyone else feel a bit inadequate when reading the job description of the Proverbs 31 wife?  When did this lady sleep?  Did she have a nanny for her children?  I struggle to get myself fed, dressed and presentable when caring for a baby.  

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Great Verse. Bad Location.

We have visited numerous churches over the last two months and I believe we have located a church home. (More on that in the future) During the course of these visits I noticed a verse hung up in one of the church nurseries, a room I seem to frequent.  It was:  "We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed."  I Corinthians 15:51b  Well, that's a great verse, but not on a nursery wall.  I took note of it, but thought it was probably an anomaly.  That was until I began seeing this verse on other nursery walls too.  What is up with this?  Who began pulling this verse out of context and putting it on nursery walls?  I would like for this trend to stop.

Of course the word "sleep" in this context is referring to death.  So is my baby going to die if I leave her in this nursery?  And "changed" is not referring to putting on a new diaper either, in case that's what you assume also.  I love this verse.  It's an encouragement to so many who have lost converted relatives to the temporary physical separation called "death."  This mortal body will eventually disintegrate and we will be resurrected and our souls enveloped in brand-new immortal bodies at the Second Coming  (I'm a post-tribber, in case you're wondering).  The subsequent verses remind us that death will be conquered and sin defeated.  Wonderful words to encourage our patient continuance in the faith.

Where have you seen verses pulled out of context?  It's a bad habit.  I'll be advocating for a replacement verse next time I see I Corinthians 15:51 on a nursery wall.  What about:
"Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God."  Mark 10:14b

Monday, August 15, 2011

Second Camping Trip

Thanks to an unusually hot summer we've not been able to take Abby tent camping.  I suppose she would have probably handled the heat better than Jeff and I;  she's quite the outdoors-baby.  Over the weekend we took Abby on her second camping trip to visit Lake Wilson.  The weather was pleasant.  Fishing was excellent for Jeff.  I enjoyed my s'mores.  It was a lovely trip and reminded us why we love camping so much.

Here are just a few pictures from our one-night stay.  I suspect we will be returning in the very near future.

Fun with effects.

I believe I captured some of the dreaded zebra mussels. 

Monday Facts

After perusing a few of my favorite blogs I've decided to perform a test run of Monday Facts.  Thank you, Petra, for your post. 

Fact:  Washing clothing, dishes, and bodies after a camping trip is not as fun as the actual trip itself. 

Fact:  Acquiring patience is not enjoyable.

Fact:  When carrying a 20 pound baby I can launch myself backwards very quickly when startled by a fast-moving baby snake. 

Fact:  Julius Caesar had his facial hairs plucked out individually each day.  (Learned this from my husband's shaving cream bottle this evening.  No, I wasn't using it, just read it while in the shower.)

Fact:  Our new GPS cannot locate the church we attend.  Good thing we already know how to find it.

Fact:  Dried water droplets on a camera lens can mar lovely photos.  

Fact:   It's amazing how quickly a baby can locate contraband while camping. 

Fact:  It's amazing how quickly said baby can place contraband in mouth. 

Fact:  God amazes me each day with the beauty found in His creation. 

Today I'm linking up with Seams Inspired!

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Floor Is Her Buffet?

Abby has a very bad habit and I would suppose many other babies her age share in this same bad habit:  she enjoys eating food (and nonfood) off our floor.  Now that she's feeding herself somewhat eventually some of the food on her tray is flung off and ends up on the floor.  Most of the big pieces are picked up right away, but without fail there will be a stub of a green bean of a nibble of macaroni noodle that ends up under the cabinet ledge where I don't see it.  When she's allowed to explore and comes crawling back into the kitchen a few hours later, she locates the food she disposed of earlier.  (Maybe this is similar to dogs returning to the food they buried).  I'll be busy cooking or washing dishes and will notice she's chewing on something.  I'll quickly swipe my finger in her mouth to discover it's leftovers from the previous meal.  Ewww.  The sad thing is that I have lots of snacks and a pantry full of good food I would give her, but she chooses to eat off of the floor. 

I wonder if God sometimes looks at our behavior with disgust.  He's provided us with the spiritual nourishment we need and yet we choose to dig in the garbage can of self-help books, romance novels, TV talk shows, sexually explicit movies, God-bashing music, and prosperity-Gospel preachers to feed our soul.  How this must sadden His heart.  I've been guilty also.  I have the Bread of Life.  How dare I consider eating the husks the world has to offer?  All my hunger pangs will vanish when I feast on the spiritual food.  Yet I choose to wander away from the Father's house to pick through the leftovers on the floor. 

Note to self:
  • It takes effort to make God's Word a priority in my life.  It goes against my sinful nature.  I must make it a priority by refusing to sit down and enjoy my music/TV show/morning walk/current book until I've consumed some of His Word. 
  • Nothing but the Bread of Life will satisfy my hungry soul.  I must daily return to feast on the gourmet buffet God has provided.    I must not let it sit undevoured.
  • If it's a temptation, avoid it.  Stay away from the places that offer the empty husks of the world.  If I know a TV show will enthrall me for the next hour and I haven't taken time to feast on God's Word that day, I should keep the TV off.  I must avoid the "junk food."
  • Don't settle for milk, if steak and potatoes are an option.  I must use the tools God has provided to grow in my faith:  a concordance, online study helps, a spiritual mentor, a God-fearing husband.
"Jesus then said to them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven.  For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." They said to him, "Sir, give us this bread always.' Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst." John 6:32-35
Where have you been feasting today?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Book Review: George Washington Carver

Resourceful. Determined. Quirky.  Egocentric. Christian.  These words could be used to described the life of the famous "Peanut Man,"  George Washington Carver.  John Perry writes an excellent book on the the life of George Washington Carver in yet another of the Christian Encounter series. 

If anyone appeared to be destined for failure, it would be George Washington Carver.  Orphaned at a young age, Carver was also sickly and on top of that a slave.  But God had His hand on the young black man.  This book provides an excellent overview of his life.  This book focuses primarily on his adult years spent at the Tuskegee Institute.  The chapters are short and 152 pages make this an easy read.

It's been at least twenty years since I read anything on George Washington Carver.  I remembered the general story, but there were some fascinating tidbits I learned from reading this book:
  • George always kept a boy's voice, probably due to childhood illnesses 
  • He loved to be the center of attention and often fished for compliments
  • He threatened to resign from his position at the Tuskegee Institute numerous times
  • He never earned a doctorate, but was bestowed an honorary one by Simpson College
  • His Sunday evening Bible study grew to more than 100 in attendance
It was fascinating to read the details about the tense relationship between Booker T. Washington, the refined administrator,  and George Washington Carver, the rumpled absent-minded professor.  Carver's agricultural bulletins provided invaluable information to farmers regarding crops and livestock.  Perry notes that none of his hundreds of experiments proved to be a commercial success.  How sad.  Unfortunately he failed to use accepted scientific standards to substantiate his discoveries and didn't properly document most of his findings.  

The author explains how Carver's gentle spirit endeared him to his students.  He was a mentor and father-figure to most.  His hands-on method of teaching helped his students retain the lessons he taught.  He also used his time in the classroom to expound on the connection between God and creation:
"To me nature in its varied forms are the little windows through which God permits me to commune with him, and to see much of his glory, by simply lifting the curtain, and looking in." (pg. 61)
I am amazed to read the accounts of Carver facing racial injustice and slights with a resolute calmness.  His behavior reminds me of how our Savior responded when He was maligned.   In this day and age when rights are the rage, Carver's behavior is refreshing.  At the same time, the book is an excellent reminder of how unjustly our fellow citizens were treated not so long ago (and continue to be treated poorly in some areas to this day).

Carver never married so his legacy was comprised of his students, his biography, and the exhibits of his discoveries and artwork in his museum.   In the epilogue, Perry notes:  "Of all the experiments and programs and peanut products George Washington Carver left behind, his greatest gift is a legacy of hope:  a timeless message to black and white, rich and poor, farmer and factory owner, through word and deed, that God made us all and has given us everything we need to find our sunlit place in the Creator's world."  (pg.154)

I highly recommend this easy read to those who want an overview of the man, George Washington Carver, from a Christian perspective. 

Disclaimer: Thomas Nelson Publications provided a complimentary copy of this book to me.  I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own.   I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255:“Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

August Storm Approaches

And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly: and he was seen upon the wings of the wind. And he made darkness pavilions round about him, dark waters, and thick clouds of the skies. Through the brightness before him were coals of fire kindled. The LORD thundered from heaven, and the most High uttered his voice. And he sent out arrows, and scattered them; lightning, and discomfited them. And the channels of the sea appeared, the foundations of the world were discovered, at the rebuking of the LORD, at the blast of the breath of his nostrils. He sent from above, he took me; he drew me out of many waters.  II Samuel 22:11-17

I apologize for the noise in these photos.  Someday I will get a lens upgrade and learn how to use all my manual settings.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Proejct 64: Forest Green

Initially I thought this might be a pinecone bud, but I'm not sure that's correct.  I see in searching for a similar photo that evergreen buds come up.   Regardless, they seem to be a pretty good match for the forest green color.

For additional forest green entries, visit Project 64:

Uncounted Blessings

On Sundays I try to listen to preaching on the radio, my MP3 player and perhaps on the internet to make up for missing most of the sermons I attend in person.  I usually get to hear a portion, but Abby can be a bit distracting (and needy) on Sunday mornings.  But that will end eventually, right?

Yesterday we had quite a long drive so we listened to a sermon regarding God's blessings.   As is true with most of what I hear, it's not new information, but rather facts that I've failed to properly apply.

I was reminded that:
  • I take God's provision for granted.  I presume He will continue to provide for us so our family won't go hungry or homeless.  I am healthy today so I assume I will be healthy tomorrow.  I have my eyesight and hearing today so I expect to posses these senses tomorrow.    I have freedom to worship God freely today so I expect to enjoy this freedom next year also. 
  • At times I find myself assuming I deserve the good things God has given me.  Of course I deserve nothing, but eternal condemnation, but God has bestowed His grace upon me.  I should rejoice in this fact so much more than I do.  I should avoid following the poor example of the nine healed lepers who did not take the time to bow their knee before the Great Physician and thank Him for the miracle He had performed.
  • I forget what God has accomplished in the past.  There have been many great miraculous works God has accomplished in our lives.  But the memories of them begin to fade into the distant past after a few short days or months.  Soon I begin to focus on my impending needs and fret over how God will find a way to work all things together for good.  In DeuterGod reminded the Israelites of His provision from Abraham to their upcoming conquest of the Promised Land and adds: 

    "then take care lest you forget the LORD, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery." Deut. 6:12  How true this is in a spiritual sense.  We forget we were once in bondage under the reign of the Pharaoh of this world.  We forget the destructive path we were once on and the emptiness that filled our souls.  We neglect to give daily thanks for our spiritual deliverance.  Our personal story of the miracle of grace becomes an uncounted blessing.  How sad.
    Spurgeon said: "We who are still living will take care that the praises of God shall not fail among the sons of men. Our afflictions and depressions of spirit shall not cause us to suspend our praises; neither shall old age, and increasing infirmities damp the celestial fires, nay, nor shall even death itself cause us to cease from the delightful occupation. The spiritually dead cannot praise God, but the life within us constrains us to do so. The ungodly may abide in silence, but we will lift up our voices to the praise of Jehovah. Even though for a time he may work no miracle, and we may see no peculiar interposition of his power, yet on the strength of what he has done in ages past we will continue to laud his name "until the day break, and the shadows flee away, "when he shall once more shine forth as the sun to gladden the faces of his children." 

    May none of God's daily blessings go uncounted!

    I'm linking up with:

Sunday, August 7, 2011

An Antidote for Discouragement

Feeling a bit downcast?  Misunderstood?  Have you been taken advantage of? 

Then, friend, ponder this:
"For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds." Hebrews 12:3
The word endured (hypomenō) means to stand strong and bravely endure ill treatments.  God in the flesh patiently endured the unbelief, mockery, and physical abuse heaped upon him by depraved man.  Matthew Henry says: "though he could easily have both confuted and confounded them, and sometimes gave them a specimen of his power, yet he endured their evil manners with great patience."

Contradiction (antilogia) is also defined as opposition or rebellion.  How did dare they deny the Savior? Ignore His commands?  Fall asleep during prayer?  But haven't we been guilty of this and so much more?

  • When we feel all alone in our desire to stand for truth,  remember the painful loneliness Jesus experienced when separated from God thanks to our sins. 
  • When we feel overly used thanks to the needy people we minister to, remember Jesus had thousands following Him merely to see another food miracle.
  • When family members scoff at your God-centered goals, remember Jesus had siblings who did not believe He was the Son of God.
  • When those we mentor do not appreciate the hours of time we have invested into their lives and then fall by the wayside, remember that every one of the disciples forsook Jesus for a time. 
  • When our physical pain becomes more than we can bear, think of the pain Jesus received as His body was shredded and ripped apart.  
  • When unbelievers "test" you with difficult questions, remember the many tricky questions the hypocritical religious leaders asked of Jesus.
  • When falsely accused of wrongdoing, think of the falsehoods spoken against the only perfect Man, our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Our Savior does not ask us to experience a trial that exceeds the pain He endured.  Christian, do not be discouraged.  Jesus Christ is our Hope.  

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Neither Poverty, Nor Riches?

I've been reading quite a bit regarding contentment.  Last night I was reading through Proverbs 30.  What a fascinating request made by Agur.
". . . give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, "Who is the LORD?" or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God. Proverbs 30:8-9
He wanted to be protected from both poverty and riches.   Why?  Those who are truly poor and destitute often complain.  Their hearts become bitter as it seems God has not provided for them.  Cursing may be on their lips because of their situation. They may be tempted to cheat or steal to provide for their families.
Look at the Israelites.  They thought they did not have enough to eat with their daily provision of manna.  In their discontentment they murmured against God and He sent them the desire of their heart: protein in the form of quail.   According to Numbers 11:31 God sent so much quail that it was about 3 feet deep on the ground.  God definitely proved to them He could more than meet their request.  And the end result wasn't pretty:
While the meat was yet between their teeth, before it was consumed, the anger of the LORD was kindled against the people, and the LORD struck down the people with a very great plague. Number 11:33
Learn from this sad outcome.  In recounting the story of how they coveted wicked things, tempted God, worshiped idols, committed immoral acts, and complained, I Corinthians 10 reminds us twice that this story was "written down for our instruction" and "these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did."  Be content with the little God has provided. 

Agur's request is for his appointed portion from God.  It's a request similar to what is found in the Lord's prayer:  "Give us this day our daily bread."  Give me the provision you want me to have, nothing less, nothing more.  I will be content with this. 

What is the minimum for contentment? When we are blessed with food and clothing.  "And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content."  I Timothy 6:8  I struggle with this verse as I want it to say "shelter" also, but it doesn't.  "Health" would be nice also, but it doesn't promise that either.  God chooses to bless us with more than we deserve.  If we wander for a time without a house, God's provision of a heavenly home will more than make up for this inconvenience.   Poor health on earth will be forgotten once we receive a perfect body in heaven.

I Timothy 6:9 continues on to address the wealthy:  "But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction." So many of the wealthy see no need for God.  As Agur states, they often deny there is a God and ask "Who is the LORD?Most refuse to believe it's God who has blessed them with their storehouses of wealth. Their money can only provide temporary distraction from the emptiness in their soul.   Someday they will stand before their Maker stripped of everything. They may not have "needed" Him on earth, but they will regret it forever.   

My personal prayer is that money never become an idol in my heart.  I want to be content with my daily appointed portion from God.  I want to covet spiritual blessings over the transient wealth of the world.

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Phil. 4:19

Friday, August 5, 2011

After the Rain

"When he uttereth his voice, there is a multitude of waters in the heavens; and he causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth: he maketh lightnings with rain, and bringeth forth the wind out of his treasures." Jeremiah 51:16

Last night we were blessed a torrential downpour.  This morning Abby and I went for a walk and then a drive.  Here are a few of the resulting photos.  Our drive was cut short due to crying in the back seat. 

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