Happy Fourth of July!

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Fireworks? Ice cream? A parade? (In my case, a flight home from visiting our daughter and son-in-law.) Whatever you do to celebrate this day, I hope you’ll find yourself counting your blessings and praising the One who blesses!

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Food for Thought

 

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TRUST

  • When you worry, you’re acting like an atheist.    Rick W.
  • Worry gives a small thing a big shadow.    Richard K.

GETTING ALONG

  • Our judgmental reproaches do not save souls.    Matt W.
  • Sandpaper does its job by coming in contact with rough things.    Matt W.

SELF-IMAGE

  • Don’t let self-condemnation take you down. Jim H.
  • Pride deceives me into thinking I am better than others. Jim H.
  • God didn’t describe the outer appearance of the women of the Bible. Liz H.

PRIORITIES

  • You can tell what’s most important to someone by what they brag about. Rick W.
  • Righteousness is placing value on the same things that God does. Dudley H.

OBEDIENCE

  • Would your life be better if you prayed as much as you text? Rick W.
  • You’ve got enough time to obey God. Dudley H.
  • How do we become old happy Christians? By loving the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and strength.” Doug W.

Once in a while my quote collection simply begs to be made public. So, today I’ve shared some of my favorites with you. I sure hope you’ll share a few of your favorites with me!

 

 

Heavenly (by Beth Smith)

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Lots of things are described as “heavenly.” Some years ago Chock full o’Nuts was advertised as the heavenly coffee. There’s Angel Soft bathroom tissue, and there’s even a candy called Heavenly Hash. (Although I happen to think all varieties of chocolate are pretty heavenly.) Today I want you to tell you about Biblical truths regarding the heavens.

Genesis 1:1 illustrates the first truth. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”  That’s pretty clear. God made the heavens.

Psalm 89:11 declares, “The heavens are yours, O Lord, and yours also the earth; you founded the world and all that is in it.” So we have no doubt about the owner and founder of the universe.

Then here is Psalm 19:1-4 (NLT), “The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known. They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard. Yet their message has gone throughout the earth, and their words to all the world.” The heavens do not say, “Isn’t nature wonderful?” Instead, they declare, “How glorious is our God!” What God has created should lead us to believe in the Creator.

We have a place in heaven. “For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven” (2 Corinthians 5:1). Jesus said that he has prepared a place for us. Believe me, it isn’t a little cabin tucked into a remote corner of eternity. Jesus said his Father’s house has many mansions, and that’s where we will have our eternal home.

We have someone in heaven pleading our case for us, interceding for us. “Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself…Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of highest honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us” (Romans 8:33-34). Isn’t that so very comforting? We know how weak and unclear our prayers can be, but we know that Jesus explains us to the Father and speaks on our behalf.

Heaven is where we should heap up our treasures. They include the first and best of everything we have: our time, our talents, and our money. “Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal” (Matthew 6:20). When we give much to the Lord, we are investing in eternity.

God made the heavens. They belong to him and declare his glory. We have the assurance of our Father that a home is waiting for us there, and we can store up treasure ahead of our arrival.  Now, isn’t that heavenly?

 

I Don’t Know! (and Pie!)

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Warning: Bragging grandmother ahead.

Nick’s verbal skills are exploding, but sometimes he’s still a little hard to understand. A couple of weeks ago, he said “Mon hee hee!” over and over. Steve and I remained baffled. Eventually he gave up and said “Pie!” (Which means crustless pumpkin pie, which is now a staple in this Nana’s fridge.) Later in the afternoon, we gave him what our family affectionately calls a “Monkey Cookie,” (recipe below) which he happily took, saying “Mon hee hee!”

Okay. We got it.

Just a make-you-smile story? Maybe, but here’s what I pull from it. Hallelujah!! God always understands what we’re saying! He may not give us what we’re asking for, but he likes that we ask, and he ALWAYS understands. He just knows better. ‘Wish I never forgot that during the more disappointing moments of life.

Second Story:

There is a phrase, though, that Nick articulates with perfect clarity. Hands up by his chin, in an adorable semi-soprano voice, he says, “I don’t know!” Because it’s so cute, we look for ways to get him to say it again. (Sorry, bragging. I warned you.)

Second takeaway: Why are we adults so slow to say “I don’t know.” Why do we have to argue the gray areas of life? In matters of theology, should we expect to know very much about the way God chooses to work? And as to more worldly subjects, do we always have to take a hard stand and dig in our heels? Might we benefit from realizing the limits of our own intelligence and information, acknowledging the tiny chance that those on the other side of our proverbial fence could have a few valid points?

One of our family rules, framed in print for emphasis, was “Don’t argue when it doesn’t matter.” Perhaps another way to phrase that could be, “Be willing to say ‘I don’t know!’”

So today I’m asking myself, and you as my readers, to remember your own intellectual weakness and revel in the omniscience of our Lord. Not a bad combination! Have a great week, and feel free to share your responses!

 

Monkey Cookies

  • ½ c. raisins                                                               1 cup oatmeal
  • ½ c. chopped dates                                                  ½ cup flour
  • 1 medium – size ripe banana (mashed)              1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
  • ¼ c. water
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

 

Combine raisins, dates, bananas, peanut butter, water, egg, and vanilla in mixing bowl. Beat until blended. Add oatmeal, flour, and baking soda. Mix to blend thoroughly. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto greased baking sheet, flatten slightly. Bake @ 350° for about 10 min. until browned on underside. Store in airtight container. Makes about 40 cookies.

 

Get Real

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The April 1 devotional from Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling[1] includes this eye opening statement:

“But I challenge you to relinquish the fantasy of an uncluttered world.”

That tough for me. Is it for you?

  • I want my desk to be uncluttered. (And it often is, for about 30 minutes on Monday afternoon, after I’ve cleared the stacks from the weekend but not yet acknowledged the new ones awaiting for the coming week.)
  • I want my calendar to be uncluttered—balanced perfectly between work, rest and play, time alone and time with other people. Planning ahead helps, but…
  • I want my home to be uncluttered, except now I have grandchildren, who have put a whole new positive spin on having stuff strewn all over the place.

So, I’ll have to agree with Sarah that an uncluttered world is a fleeting fantasy. We can’t have it. Or if we have it, we can’t keep it. And if we try, we’ll probably lose a great deal of flexibility and joy.

What’s a body to do? If you’ve read this blog before, you already know my answer. Trust the Lord! Our “keep life tidy” leanings stem from a penchant to control. Once we let God be the one in control (the pilot, not the co-pilot, as my husband is quick to remind me) then a messy life can be an adventure.

Speaking of which, my grandson is on the way over to make my house messier, so I’m keeping this one short. Let me know, if you would be so kind, where in your life you have learned to relinquish the fantasy of the uncluttered and enjoy the adventure!

“In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:6).

[1] Young, Sarah. Jesus Calling. [S.I.]: Thomas Nelson, 2004.

 

Founders’ Day

IMG_0507It was Founders’ Day Weekend in Dripping Springs, Texas. Think barbeque (a LOT of barbeque), a big midway sporting rides I can’t imagine strapping myself into, and vendors selling all sorts of items from farmhouse tables and hand-carved knives to kettle corn and batter fried Oreos.

On Friday night we went to a parade that would surely rival any other in small town America. Picture this:

  • a marching band, heavy on the brass section.
  • a chiropractor driving a pickup truck lined with fake skeletons (I kid you not!).
  • simple floats filled with kids of all ages throwing candy and koozies into a crowd of waving watchers with plastic loot bags at the ready.
  • hundreds (thousands?) of people cheering as their neighbors paraded past.

On Saturday we toured the competing barbeque booths, willingly tasting their creations, often for free. I ate more meat than I usually eat in weeks! Tony helped judge the best brisket of the festival. Steve tried smoked rabbit (but don’t tell Elizabeth). That was all great fun, but then came Sunday.

The web advertised, “Join the community as all the churches of Dripping Springs come together to worship our Heavenly Father.” I’ve got to admit, I wondered how that was going to work. But, boy did it ever work! Here’s how:

  • We met outside, sitting on folding chairs, in bleachers or standing to the side.
  • We sang old hymns and new, the words printed on simple pages handed out by volunteers.
  • We prayed, mostly in English, with a bit of Spanish thrown in.
  • We listened to Scripture in a variety of versions.
  • We gave an offering for the poor, collected in plastic buckets.
  • We took communion, served by some in robes and some in shorts and plaid shirts.

And it was awesome. Nobody talked about differences. We just talked about Jesus, and worshiped him and wished we could go on all day. Turns out, no surprise really, that all Christians have a great deal in common, and we celebrated that.

Now, look at that first photo again. Here’s a zoomed in version. Seeing that shirt was one of my favorite parts of the whole festival. It was true on Sunday, and it’s still true today.

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The photo’s a little blurry, but the says words say “The CHURCH has left the BUILDING.”

We are the church. We have left the building. Let’s all go be the hands and feet of Jesus together today!