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We have begun a new study on this book in Small Group
If you want to hear the true depths of silence, toss out the question Who is the Holy Spirit? Deep - dark silence~ slowly followed by stuttering unsure answers. We associate the Holy Spirit with Pentecost---and no disrespect to my Pentecostal friends but the very attempt to discuss the HS can make us squirm more than a huge can of worms. We have been accused of not receiving the Holy Spirit if we don't ~ ~ ~ ~ Fill in the blank. If you have not experienced someone being "Slain in the Spirit" or talking in tongues, you probably do not realize it can send most of us main line Protestants running for the door. We are out of our comfort zone and into that which we do not understand. There is SO MUCH more to the Holy Spirit than tongues that I would dare to say that is only a small part of the truly broad subject of the Holy Spirit.
We all listed Who the HS was to us for part of our discussion. My very favorite Holy Spirit descriptor is Interpreter. For you see, my prayers can fall pitifully short when I am trying to communicate with The Father. I know what I want to tell Him, but it gets lost sometimes in my gobbly gook of "religious speak". It is a huge comfort that the HS knows my thoughts, knows what I am trying to say and interprets for me to The Father. I have spoken before of the times in life I could not get beyond, "OH GOD". Knowing my thoughts and words were being interpreted without speaking another word is such a blessing. He knows my thoughts and feelings even better than I know myself. When I am at a loss, He stands before the Father and speaks for me. I thank God for His wonderful gift of The Advocate. My feet of clay are woefully stuck in the mire of the mud of the fallen human world. Absolutely at a loss for how to communicate, I fail to pray or cut my prayers woefully short. God has better things to do than to listen to me. BUT the Holy Spirit knows my longings and my yearnings and He goes to the Father for me and places me before The Throne. No need for flowery prose like prayers, no embarrassment because I lack the power of some who pray so beautifully, only the sure assurance--He has sent my Interpreter Who is taking my feeble attempts and beautifully lifting them as incense before the Throne of the God of the Universe.
My brother has taken up my mother's passion for tracing our family tree. Momma successfully traced hers back to pre-Mayflower days. It helps to have an entire society formed to help keep track of the ancestors of one of the pilgrims. Pilgrim Doty came over as an indentured servant. This was not unusual as few could afford the passage to come to the New World. By agreeing to work for a rich land owner for a period of time, he paid your fare to cross the great ocean divide between worlds. Once your period of service was over you were on your own and able to seek fame and fortune in the New World.
My brother is researching our paternal ancestors. He told me one day, we seem to have come from merchant class ancestors. No rich kings, brilliant philosophers, no hidden claim to fame in the group. (If you subscribe to one of the on-line ancestry businesses, they will give you~for a small fee~a reason to claim fame) When you sit down and really start tracing back your lineage, it may end up being quite different. He seemed a little disappointed when he told me this news. I happen to think this seems reasonable and really something to be quite proud of. Among the masses, being from the merchant class puts you squarely in the middle class. I am perfectly happy and satisfied with middle class--these people were hard workers and able to succeed in the business world. That seems to be something to be proud of.
With all this talk of our family lineage, I began to wonder what my ancestors would think of what I have done with my life. My brothers and I have all graduated from college and one brother went to law school~that is certainly more education than most of our fore bearers had. My father went to business school and my mother graduated from high school~back when it was 11 grades. She was a self taught insurance professional and ended up as a commercial underwriter which is quite a feat. She seemed to be very proud of all three of us and what we had accomplished. Did she approve of all our choices--heavens NO! She did seem to be proud-especially around others of how we turned out and where we were in the world, even though our families had morphed from the way we were raised.
This has me thinking over the early church and how it looked in those early years. Our local church history expert has been teaching Sunday School for us recently. It is amazing to hear him speak of the early church fathers and the struggle over what was truth when it came to Christianity. Getting where we are today with our theology was a real struggle and for the truth to prevail has taken God's intervention and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It is an amazing story. When we look at the early church, as described in Acts, we seem to have strayed far away from the original church. One sure fact is Jesus is still the reason for Christianity. We have our differences, but Jesus being the reason for our hope is still the basic claim of all Christianity. We have morphed into more denominations than I can count, but the central theme of Jesus being the propitiation for our sins has remained constant. What would the church fathers think of how we look today? I think they might wonder how we came to look like we do. BUT, would they recognize what we claim as truth today as being the same truth they subscribed to all those hundreds of years ago---With God's help--I think they would. I am thankful for all those who went before me and paved the way for me to continue down the path. All in God's grand plan--for His good purpose and glory.
20Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise.
21Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.
I heard on the news yesterday there is a naturally occurring pumice rock raft in the ocean headed toward Australia. Read about it HERE
This floating island of rock was created by a volcano explosion deep in the ocean off Tonga Island. Fifty Eight square miles of floating pumice rocks of various sizes are making the slow journey--hopefully toward the Great Barrier reef. Scientist have their fingers crossed (Do scientist cross their fingers--after all they only believe in science) that the raft will eventually meet up with the reef and help to restore the organisms destroyed there by man and climate change. The organisms needed are hitching a ride in the porous rock. The meeting of the two could be the saving of the slow death of the reef as the new organisms regenerate one of the ecological wonders of the world.
SO God has allowed this huge explosion which created a floating island of floating rock, which has become transport for the organisms needed to save one of His Wonders. WHY-would we be surprised that God could do this? Once again he has stepped in and created a miracle of redemption. God has used nature to get us out of a mess. What a NOVEL IDEA!
It is sadly our fate to live within a bubble, unless we purposefully break through the barriers holding us in.
We live in neighborhoods filled with the same economic groups, we attend churches with people from basically similar backgrounds, our social world is filled with those like us, and the work place is the epitome of our peer group. OH, we certainly have differences, but quite by default, we gravitate toward those who are like us. We know little about others who do not look like us, are not similarly educated, do not attend the same schools, are not the same martial status, and on and on.
I have a very sweet dear friend who told me her struggle with racial prejudice. Agreeing with her, there is certainly still prejudice based upon race in this world, I shared with her the prejudice I felt because of my martial status. We all have reason to feel prejudice at times, be it economic, education, race, social , or any number of avenues. We do not live in a cookie cutter world, but yet we seem to hang out with cookies who mostly look like us--without even thinking. Our need for acceptance creates a fear of rejection when we step out of the bounds of that which is known.
How do we pop that bubble? How do we expand our vision of those beyond our small sphere of comfort? Volunteering has helped me to step out of the bubble. In the school system, especially the public school system, we meet children from every walk of life. Guess what--children are children and they are, for the most part, a delight. You learn they are really more similarities than differences at a young age. They want to be loved and accepted and do not realize the differences the world teaches as we mature.
Working with single moms and foster parents has reminded me that almost all moms want the same things for their children. I was a single mom for a brief period of time--it is NOT easy-in fact it can be quite over-whelming. That does not take away the need for community. We can all sit together and talk about our children, the rewards and struggles of raising a family.
SO--I am encouraging you to step out of your bubble. There are many other venues beyond these two to seek those who are not your mirror image. Seek out those who are not "just like you". Learn from them and share your wisdom. Be brave and step out of the bubble, jump the fence, tear down the barrier, and expand your horizons. There is so much to gain and NOTHING to lose!
17As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.
No matter how careful I am, invariably I have mistakes in my writing. The problem begins when I type without stopping as thoughts are placed on the page. Of course, there are errors, since it is a loosely pulled together stream of thought. I write, I read, I rewrite, I reread, and before I hit the publish button, I read a final time. Almost every time I find mistakes, spelling, verb tense, and run on sentences (I have to be the queen of the run on sentence!)
WAIT A MINUTE--WHAT A GREAT IDEA~FOR ALL THOSE WHO HAVE ALWAYS WANTED TO WEAR THAT CROWN--JUST COME UP WITH SOMETHING YOU ARE BEST AT DOING AND CROWN YOURSELF THE QUEEN. WE WILL HAVE STREETS FILLED WITH QUEENS~OH BUT THEN BEING QUEEN MIGHT NOT BE SO SPECIAL.
I digress )~: At any rate, trying to get an error free blog posted is a constant struggle. The only time I have felt confident in writing without error was when I had a human editor reading behind me. Part of the problem is my mind sees what the words should be and not what they actually are at times. Last week I had a post which should have had the word trial, but I typed trail. You surely can see how easily we can skip over this mistake. The brain knows what the word should be and changes it as we read~especially transpositions. As I can tell you though from personal experience, there is a great deal of difference in a trail
and a trial
What I need is a real human, full time proof reader. Surely two heads would be better than one. Anyone looking for a part time job which pays 25% of everything I make (that would be 25% of 0). It would be wonderful if someone would volunteer to help a girl out! I HATE looking illiterate!
Well now--perhaps we should expand this thought to our words. How many times have I tossed out some off the cuff remark that I wish I could take back? More times than I care to remember. I have gotten much better at measuring my words, especially when I am angry, but certainly there is always room for improvement. To understand how we flippantly throw words around, think of the last time someone threw a verbal bomb at you that left you reeling. I have sometimes wondered, "Did they really just say that?" We carelessly toss around words without edit or thought that can wound as deeply as any physical assault. Wouldn't it be great if we all could have an "Edit" app that measured the impact the words we are about to fling into the atmosphere and stop those which may do harm? Thinking before speaking, may be a great way to begin the verbal edit. Bottom line is we all serve as our own editor when it comes to our tongue. There is no one, but us to measure and correct. Speak softly and with great thought might become my new motto.
I spent many a day climbing trees as a child. For some reason, heights have never bothered me. The world takes on a completely different view from the top of a tree. You know you are high enough when the top of the tree begins to bend with your weight.
As a Girl Scout, we made trips to our local fire towers to hear the ranger make a presentations about fire safety and his job. Then as a teen with transportation, my friends and I discovered all the local fire towers. In an effort to keep us from climbing the tower, they would raise or chain off the lowest group of steps. Not to be deterred, we would climb the frame of the tower until we could slip onto the upper stairs. NOW THAT WAS A VIEW! At night, as you stood way above the tree tops---you felt as if you could touch the stars. It was a long time ago, so there were not as many lights, but you could still see the occasional twinkle of a yard light, but the stars flooded the heavens with brilliant light.
The book The Shack did a masterful job of describing how the earth looks while floating above the tree tops. When ground level, we only see the briers and brambles and tangled vines among the trees. We have limited range of vision and only when above the garden do you see the beauty of the maze of paths and the intricacy of the garden.
So it is with life, we have very limited vision of life. We can only see ourselves and what is before us and what was behind us. We cannot see beyond the nearest obstruction, and we certainly cannot see tomorrow or even a minute from now. We cannot see the beauty of where Jesus has taken us, until later. It will all make sense then, we will see the grand plan and how it all fits together. For now, we have to trust and have faith---there is so much beyond us in His grand plan.
20Now may the God of peace,
who through the blood of the eternal covenant
brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus,
that great Shepherd of the sheep,
21equip you with everything good for doing his will,
and may he work in us what is pleasing to him,
through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever
School has begun and I am neck deep into planning the school year's activities. As you can tell, I am still an old school planner with my trusty yellow pad and paper calendar over shadowing the computer. Exactly as you love the feel of a "real" book, so I also like to write things down on my yellow pads. There is method to my madness, I commit things to memory when I write them on a piece of paper.
We are launching a new trial reading program this year for our kindergarten students. This will take many volunteers, and that has meant a lot of time texting, messaging, and face to face asking to get the needed numbers. Add to that the need to coordinate this with the central office supervisor, principal, teachers and volunteers and you have a communication quagmire. And you can't forget the other list of school requests to help them manage their year. With two schools and two lists, it can require quite a bit of time to get it all sorted out and the ball rolling.
The new ministry for Single Mom's also requires times and attention. Training is planned, board meetings to attend, and asking others to participate is all on the list. We have an open house to plan for our supporters, and weekly activities for the mothers. It is a busy time of the year. I have repeatedly asked God over the last two years to plant me where He wants to use me. He heard me--loud and clear and now my lap is full. All this is very worthy and needed. There is more need right in front of our eyes than you can imagine. It is enough to keep you busy 24/7. AH, but the need to go back to The Well and replenish is also a daily need. Without time with Him, I will be no good to the others. I will become over scheduled, stretched thin, and no good to anyone. Balance is the key. I spend about an hour a day exercising. This seems to be a good number to maintain a healthy life style, but also allow plenty of time for other things. So it is with Quiet Time with Him, I need about an hour a day, to replenish the well spring of my soul. If I go-go-go, and fall in the bed at night feverishly trying to lift a prayer before falling into a deep exhausted sleep, I have short changed myself. I have not recharged my batteries, sought the wisdom of The Word, talked with The One who gives me the strength to accomplish His will.
I have vivid memories of twirling and spinning in circles when I was a child. For some strange reason, I loved spinning around until I could barely stand when I ceased the spinning. I would stumble around trying to stay upright and laugh until I doubled over. It was such great fun, I would jump up and do it all over again.
My balance was impaired by the act of turning round and round. My equilibrium was shot! The ability to stay upright went flying away as I flew around in circles. As an adult, I do not even turn my head too fast. My mature inner ear does not need much of a trigger to set the world spinning and become totally disoriented.
Have you ever walked into a pitch black room or had a room to go pitch black when the lights suddenly went out? How about going deeply down into a cave and they turn the lights out to show you how dark it is? You can't see the hand in front of your face. You totally loose the ability to estimate distance and even the sound of a voice is not enough of a clue to make a good guess. The blackness seems to close in around you and become part of the air you breath. The rock wall could be inches from your face or several feet way, but you have no way of knowing. The blackness is disorienting.
If you have ever, dived deep into the dark waters of the ocean, you understand when you can no longer see the surface of the water and the bottom is not visible, you can easily become confused as to up and down. The same thing holds true when you have a large wave roll you over and you are spinning around. Unless you can feel the bottom of the ocean floor, you can become confused as to what is up and where is down. I have had this to happen and it is very disorienting and scary. Loosing your orientation as to which way is the right way to the surface is terrifying.
When you are hiking in the wilderness, you follow narrow, often rutted out trails. At times, the trails are poorly marked and because of animal trails, which look a great deal like the hiking tail, it is easy to become disoriented and even lost. More than one time on our hiking trips, we have had to retrace footsteps and look for the trail we have lost. As the trails narrow, become covered with rock, or even washed out they require a sharp eye to stay on the path. Staying on the path is essential to not becoming lost. At times, we have to look ahead of us for some distance to catch a glimpse of the trail and the way we should be going. Our path through life can sometimes become disoriented with whirlwinds of emotion, black days of grief and despair, deep waters of struggle, and lost paths when our vision is obscured by the world. When the path seems lost, it is important to keep our eyes peeled for signs of the true path. Though it may be hidden among the perils and snares and dizzy days of life, the path is always there and our faithful guide is right by our side. We are never lost when we turn to Him and He will light the way, calm the waters, and steady our feet as we continue along the path. He will point the way.
Thus says theLord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you to profit, who leads you in the way you should go.
Recently, a dear friend asked would I be interested in speaking at a seminar for new believers. My initial reaction was, "Why would she be asking me when so many at the same table were more spiritually mature in my eyes?" As she talked over the experience she was looking for, it was women who had careers and also were Followers of Christ. She then dropped the BIG bomb, she and the other speaker who would be sharing the podium have longer Christian legacies from Giants of the Faith than a road map of a cross country interstate. I'm talking GREAT families of Faith.
I come from a background of Average Joe, Church on Sunday's, Mid Line Methodists. There was not much discussion of faith in the household I grew up in~we were too busy trying to survive. It was more of a attend services, Sunday night youth group, and once a year church camp. Kum Ba Yah was the style of worship songs we weakly sang. We certainly read a few Bible verses (during church) and said a SHORT-but sweet prayer at the beginning and end of every get together, but there was NO fervent Hard Out running after Jesus.
It is quite intimidating to think of standing shoulder to shoulder with those who have long lines of great faith. They have heard more great teaching, read and memorized more scripture, and lifted more prayers than I have even tried to begin. The Word was frequently discussed in their homes and their parents made certain they were taught the Truths. WHOA--I would be over my head. It would be reminiscent of the local high school football team playing the World Champion Pro team~NO CONTEST!
I began my journey to know God in a more intimate way as an adult. As I thought this over, it dawned on me most of my knowledge of Who He is has come in the last three decades. I am a Johnny Come Lately in the spiritual world. One of the great truths I have learned is Biblical knowledge, spiritual service, nor checking off any of the boxes makes you a great person of faith. A close and intimate relationship with Him is the mark of a great person of faith. The only one who can measure the deepness of a relationship is the two who are in the relationship~God and me. As I continued to think this over, it dawned on me, these are new believers--new seekers of truth--and they are looking for How do I do this? What better way to teach them than for one who came to seek Him in mid life to tell their story? If we look at those around us whose families have long spiritual roots, we can become intimated thinking we will never be able to match their stories. We talked about St. Augustine in Sunday School this morning, one of the early truth teachers in Christianity, he was raised by an agnostic father and Christian mother. He waded through plenty of philosophy before discovering truth as written by Paul and taught by Ambrose. The truth of the matter is we all have someone who will listen to our words. Each of us has someone who will be swayed by our influence. Even Augustine, one of the great Fathers of the Faith was influenced by teachings of others. God used others in His life to teach Him great truths. Why it stands to reason, He can even use YOU and me!
" I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours.10 All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them.11 I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of[b] your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. "
I bind unto myself the name, The strong name of the Trinity, By invocation of the same, The Three in One and One in Three. By whom all nature hath creation, Eternal Father, Spirit, Word: Praise to the Lord of my salvation, Salvation is of Christ the Lord."
We visited the Mississippi River headwaters during our trip.
This mighty river which dissects our great country almost right down the middle starts from a very non-assuming lake here in Michigan. Lake Itasca overflows into a narrow stream which eventually forms this great river.
Who could believe as we stand on the log over the headwaters of the Mississippi, it is difficult to imagine it eventually will become this~
and eventually~ Water from parts or all of 31 states drains into the Mississippi River, and creates a drainage basin over 1,245,000 square miles in size. Before reaching the Gulf, the Mississippi meets up with its distributary, the Atchafalaya River. The very idea a small trickle of water over rounded river stones could eventually pour tons of water into the Gulf of Mexico is preposterous. You must remember what eventually meanders south and empties into the Gulf is not the overflow from this small lake. As the information states, countless rivers, streams, and tributaries flow toward the river to make up this great body of water. Songs and books have been written over the ages, battles have been fought, and great cities have sprung from the life provided by these waters. What starts as an quiet trickle grows into a mighty force with time, and joining of forces. As we gazed upon this marvelous wonder, I was reminded of the story our hostess told us one night over dinner. There was a missionary, Peter Huang, who kept being nudged by God to go to Mongolia from Korea. He really did not want to go and kept going back to God asking to be released from God's urgings. Eventually he was obedient (we all know you can end up somewhere like a whale's belly if you refuse God). His step of obedience lead to a great river of living water. God knew these people were hungry and ready to know the truth when he sent Huang. He found four people who accepted God's grace. From these four people eventually came over 100,000 people, whose acceptance of Christ as their Savior can be traced back to Huang's obedience. One man's small step of obedience lead to this mighty nation of God's people. It all starts with the first conversion, the first trickle, and eventually with the joining of forces and multiplication of the masses continuing to spread The Message. What starts with a small trickle can become a mighty river of living water, and it all begins with the water pouring over the rocks to feed the first stream. What a Mighty God we serve!
19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.
And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Here I am on a "Relaxation Trip" with The Hikers in MN. If you believe for a minute these girls know how to relax, you are grossly mistaken. We did have one day of extreme relaxation. It rained all day AND was cold. So cold we even built a fire. There is a heat advisory in LA and we are all in long sleeves and jackets with a fire going.
Life can be a grand adventure, if you only realize most of life is an adventure. We left this AM for a trip to the "Head Waters" of the Mississippi River. We had a plan to hike while in the Itasca State Park. It started raining just as we pulled up to the trail head and that ended that great idea. As we head back toward home base, Susan has a great idea to stop and try to buy local blueberries. The lady who was working at the counter of the little country store, was full of information and good news. She told her where we could go to pick "Wild Blueberries".
You have to LOVE directions from ANY local. It went something like this~
"Go down this paved road turn right at the corner onto the dirt road. Go towards the Stop Sign, then veer out to the woods on another dirt road for a ways. Don't worry about the signs that say No cars!~EVERYBODY does it."
We headed down a one lane muddy road with warning signs about not driving on the road every few feet wondering where in the world the wild blueberry bushes were. We are all semi-city girls and had no idea these bushes were only a few inches from the ground and the size of the blueberries would be equivalent to small pea gravel.
It only took four of us a little over an hour to pick approximately one pint total. We laughed and giggled the entire trip as we traipsed through the woods. From the moment we veered off slightly into the woods, to the search for the illusive tiny wild blueberries, to trying to turn the full size sedan around on the narrow dirt track, it was an adventure of the highest order.
The one point of information Susan FORGOT to share with us about the berry picking was the warning from the sweet old lady, "WATCH FOR BEARS!" Now we have been roaming all over the woods and not paying ANY attention to the possibility of any wildlife. Thankfully we were laughing so loud, it would have frightened any unsuspecting bear up the nearest tree.
NOW for the really good news the local lady shared, she was the "Pie Lady". She had pies we could purchase with homemade pastry with the illusive tiny wild blueberries. We all agreed we would probably charge about $80 per pie if we had to go out and pick enough of those wild berries to fill a pie crust. Bless her heart, when Susan asked what she owed her, she said, "Was ten dollars a pie too much?" Faint and fall out. We have homemade pie and ice cream for dessert tonight. What started out as a day to hike--ended up being a great adventure. As the day went south, we were open to the day becoming a completely new adventure. We didn't moan over the need to change plans, we made the most of the new adventure and all agreed it had turned into a great day! God has a great plan for us, but we need to be flexible. While we think we know the best path to take, he may have a completely different route planned. Our ability to accept change and embrace the new path can lead to an even greater adventure. This scripture captures the message perfectly~