Isaiah 6:8

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

August Farewell Hodge Podge

Okay, here we go...read Joyce's questions, answer on your own blog like I did, , then hop back over here at your convenience, by clicking right here....and then add your link to the party.
1.  Are there any men or women in blue on your family tree? Frank is a reerve Deputy for Randolph County.  I have a cousin who was a city police officer....but no more that I know of.

2. Are you someone who suffers from the Sunday night blues? What helps you get over it?  Sometimes Sunday night blues do get a hold of me, especially if I had a busy weekend with no down time.. Usually I begin to dwell on something good that is going to happen during the week ahead, or read my Bible, or a book I need to read, I write....or....and don't laugh.  I watch Guys Grocery Games....I know...not too profound.  But he makes me laugh.
3. I read the color blue is an appetite suppressant since there are very few naturally blue foods out there. How do you feel about blue cheese? Love it or blech? If you're a fan, what's something you like that's made with blue cheese?  I do no like blue cheese at all.  I don't like the smell or the taste.  It is nasty and if it were the only cheese around....I would never eat cheese.
4. We can't head in to the Labor Day weekend without a related question, can we? Complete this thought: work best when I have some music soothing my soul and putting me in the zone. 

5. 'Everything yields to diligence .' Antiphanes Your thoughts? (on this particular quote or on diligence in general). 
I believe that diligence is the constant...pressing forward....and yes...it is almost like a snowball effect....you begin....are diligent....and the world gets out of your way.  That is the best I have before drinking a cup of coffee.
6.
The National Park Service turned 100 years old on August 25th. Have you been to many of America's National Parks? If so share with us a favorite or two. Which National Park would you most like to visit before the next birthday rolls around?   I love all the ones I have been to, because I love historical places.  I would love to go back to Yellowstone and actually stay at the Yellowstone Lodge....and spend more than just a day.
 
I will be back in the Smokey Mountains again this year.  I love Cades Cove....of all the ones The Grand Canyon was probably my favorite of all. 

7.  Bid farewell to August in seven words or less.  School begins, fall's near, summer's gone!
8.  Can you believe that stores are already putting out their Christmas stuff?  I love Hobby Lobby....but they are decked out to the hilt! How do you feel about this????  Can each holiday not have it's moment in the sun????

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Coloring The World Of Hodge Podge

Here we go...Wednesday Hodge Podge this week. Hop over to Joyce's blog to get the questions then read my responses.  If you want to participate then on your own blog answer the questions and link up with Joyce.  Be sure to send some bloggy love to the others. 

1. It's National Waffle Day (August 24th)...what decision are you currently 'waffling over'? (or share one you've recently 'waffled over')  To retire.....or not to retire....that is my question. 

2. It's the middle of August, but I'm already seeing lots of autumn-related posts. Do you think we rush the seasons? If so, does that bother you? I saw (here) an end of summer bucket list that included-
make s'mores, read a new (or favorite) book in the park, eat something delicious and bad for you at a state fair, be a tourist for the day, have a pot luck picnic, book a last minute summer getaway, relax by or in the pool, take a hike to watch the sunset, have a day on the lake, try a new summer recipe
Which activities on the list might you squeeze in before summer officially comes to a close?  Frank and I will be going on another little daycation or two.

3. Your favorite summertime 'art' found in nature?  Sand castles at the beach......and the flowers that are blooming.
4. Stephen R. Covey is quoted as saying 'We judge ourselves by our intentions, and others by their actions.' Agree or no? Do you define yourself based on your intentions, your actions, or something else?  I am not a huge Covey fan (long story)....but I do agree with him on this one.  I define myself by my intentions and actions.   I wish my answer was always my actions....but sometimes I have to deal with the fact that I intended to do something....but didn't and it then becomes a growth experience.....and hopefully I won't do it again.

5. Are you useful in a crisis? Elaborate.  It depends on the crisis.....and who is involved  If it is one of my children....not so much. 

6. What's been your go-to dish this summer? Is it something you'll continue making as the seasons change?  I wish I had one.  Frank does all the cooking.  We have had a good many low country boils but that won't move into the next season.  The next season will bring stews, soups, casseroles....more hearty meals.

7. Adult coloring books are a thing now. Have you jumped on the bandwagon? If not is this something you think you might enjoy?  I have several and Frank and I actually sit down at night and color.  I love it and it is a great stress buster.
8.  Are you counting down the days for college football?  Are you a football fan and if so....who do you root for?  Have an awesome day!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Things We Knew


About The Book:  A tragedy from the past resurfaces in this tale of family secrets and reignited love.  After her mother's death twelve years ago, Lynette Carlisle watched her close-knit family unravel. One by one, her four older siblings left their Nantucket home and never returned. All seem to harbor animosity toward their father, silently blaming him for their mother's death. Nobody will talk about that dreadful day, and Lynette can't remember a bit of it.  But when next-door neighbor Nicholas Cooper returns to Nantucket, he brings the past with him. Once her brother's best friend and Lynette's first crush, Nick seems to hiding things from her. Lynette wonders what he knows about the day her mother died and hopes he might help her remember the things she can't.  But Nick has no intention of telling Lynette the truth. Besides the damage it might cause his own family, he doesn't want to risk harming the fragile friendship between him and the woman he once thought of as a kid sister.  As their father's failing health and financial concerns bring the Carlisle siblings home, secrets begin to surface---secrets that will either restore their shattered relationships or separate the siblings forever. But pulling up anchor on the past propels them into the perfect storm, powerful enough to make them question all they ever believed in.  Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/29vkFGh
About The Author:  Catherine West writes stories of hope and healing from her island home in Bermuda. When she's not at the computer working on her next story, you can find her taking her Border collie for long walks on the beach or tending to her roses and orchids. She and her husband have two grown children.
My Thoughts On This Book:   I have never read anything by Catherine West, but I can promise you I will be on the lookout for her next book.  This book was amazing.  Having lived with a mother who had Alzheimer's Disease this book really touched home.  I thought this would be an awesome summer read and it was.  I took it to the beach and could not put it down.  The characters were true to life and the dysfunctionality of the family made it that much more believable.  Great plot, full of twists and turns, lots of mystery.  This book is a must read.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion, as part of their Book Review Blogger Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have 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.”

Service Tails: More Stories of Man's Best Hero


About The Book:  Heart-tugging true stories of the courage, faith, and loyalty of remarkable service dogs.  Not all heroic dogs wildly toss themselves into lifesaving situations. Some save lives simply by their incredible commitment to duty and service. Some lead the way to independence for people whose disabilities were supposed to limit their lives.  In Service Tails: More Stories of Man's Best Hero, prolific author Ace Collins introduces us to leaders whose entire lives are wrapped in the banner of service. Their stories are remarkable snapshots of the value of vision and teamwork, as well as devotion to duty and unconditional love and acceptance---stretching the way we see both canine and human potential. Their training was intense, their loyalty unquestioned and each step of the way they constantly adapt to better serve those they lead. These unforgettable dogs are more than heroes; they are models from which we can learn how to love and serve unconditionally.  Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/2bb7SeE
About The Author:  Ace Collins defines himself as a storyteller. He has authored more than sixty books that have sold more than 2.5 million copies. His catalog includes novels, biographies, children's works as well as books on history, culture and faith. He has also been the featured speaker at the National Archives Distinguished Lecture Series, hosted a network television special and does college basketball play-by-play. Ace lives in Arkansas.
My Thoughts On The Book:  One of my former students got a service dog this summer.  She is a brittle type 1 diabetic and this dog was obtained to give her the freedom to go to college.  Emma (the dog) senses when my students blood sugar spikes either way.  It has been amazing to watch what this awesome dog can do.  That is why I asked to review this book.  It touched home.  The beginning of the book tells the history of the service dog and that was very interesting. The book itself gives you a dozen stories that are heart wrenching and uplifting at the same time as you read about some amazing animals whose whole
purpose is service. If you are a dog lover this book is a must read.  If you are not a dog person this book is still something you will want to sit down with.  I promise you that you will get a better understanding of service dogs. I loved this book.  It is definitely a keeper.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Abingdon Press and the Litfuse Publicity Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have 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.”

 

Sunday, August 21, 2016

It's Me Again, God


My scripture today comes from Luke:  13 : 10-17
One Sunday morning a stranger entered a small country church in the middle of the sermon. The man was unkempt and dirty, and clearly smelled of alcohol. The usher attempted to seat him in a far off corner but instead he walked to the very first pew and sat directly in front of the preacher. Then to the congregations horror the man began to make loud comments to their pastor’s sermon. “Amen. That’s right! Preach it brother.” The minister gave the man a nasty look, but it was to no avail. The stranger just continued, “Praise Jesus, Hallelujah!” Finally the usher approached the man and whispered in his ear, “Sir, we don’t act like this in church.” “But I’ve just got religion,” said the stranger. “Yes sir,” said the usher, “but you didn’t get it from here.” When you walked into church today what were you expecting?  Hymns, a sermon, a time for fellowship. We all come to church on Sunday morning with expectations, anticipations, of what we will encounter once we get here. As a minister I periodically run into people who are out church shopping. Individuals and couples who are going from Church to Church shopping for a congregation that possesses everything that they are looking for in a church. Expectations, we all have them. But in the midst of all our looking for what we expect, what we anticipate, what we want, how many of us have ever taken the time to ask what does God expect from Sunday morning worship? What is God looking for in a church? After all, we should ask ourselves, is what we expect from church and what God expects from church necessarily the same thing? I’m sure you know the answer to that! Not hardly. When our purposes and God’s purposes, our desires and God’s desires, our expectations and God’s expectations, find themselves at cross purposes, and I tell you there will be times when they are. At those times we need to ask ourselves why are we here, after all and who really is supposed to be calling the shots around here?

One day while Jesus is teaching in one of the many synagogues he beholds a woman who for eighteen years had been bent over and could not straighten up. Having compassion on her infirmity Jesus lays his hands upon her and immediately she stands up straight and is healed. As a result of her healing the women begins to praise God. Not bad, wouldn’t you say. But not everyone is happy with the results. The ruler of the synagogue becomes indignant righteously angry at what has just happen in his congregation. But unwilling to chastise Jesus in front of the people gathered the ruler instead chastises the woman and those who had gathered for the services. “There are six days on which work ought to be done,” the rabbi cries, “come on those days and be healed, but not on the Sabbath day.” What’s bugging this guy? Oh he’s just getting a little historical. You see, centuries ago the Jewish people didn’t listen to God very well. They turned away from following His will. So God sent the nation of Israel into captivity in Babylon for 75 years. When they finally returned to Israel those who were religious wanted to make sure that this never happened again. Out of fear of future failure and judgment the Pharisees were created. Religious lawyers whose purpose was to interpret God’s law and make sure that this time God’s people obeyed. So to the Pharisees God had commanded to keep the Sabbath holy and holy they would keep it. Since God had rested on the Sabbath man must also rest from all work. That included even the work of healing. There are six days on which work is to be done. Healing was OK, if you were healed on one of those days but not the Sabbath that is a day of rest. His goal is to honor the Sabbath, isn’t he? He’s just trying to be obedient to the will of God, right? But Jesus won’t buy it. He will not accept this religious expectation. He hits them between the eyes. “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or ass from the manger, and lead it away to water it? And ought not his woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?” The Pharisees had every intentions to honor God, to do the will of God so what was it they missed that deserved such harsh judgment from the Son of God? What is it that Jesus understood that made this man’s expectations for the Sabbath so reprehensible to Christ? The Pharisee’s intended to “love God with all their heart, soul, mind and strength.” Even to the extreme. Wouldn’t Jesus find that acceptable.  Apparently not.

So what was Jesus’s expectation? Obviously Jesus wants us to love God, he wants us to know the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. But he did not think this was the result of our labors, to keep the Sabbath or any other law. No. Knowing God, being a child of God’s kingdom is not our accomplishment, it is God’s blessing. A gift, undeserved and unachievable, but ours never the less. By the grace and love and mercy of God. The Pharisee’s believed ‘if we do it right, the kingdom of God will come.’ But Jesus grasped the truth that the kingdom of God is among us, here and now. He healed a crippled woman on the Sabbath because it was an assertion of the kingdom, on the Sabbath. It wasn’t work, it was joy. Joy in the Lord, in his presence and goodness. The Pharisee’s were so focused on fulfilling the dot and title of the law of God’s they were unable to live in the kingdom and they even failed to recognize the presence of the Lord, in that most holy day. Emmanuel, God with us in the here and now. Not wanting to disobey the God of judgment they missed an encounter with the God of all mercy. The woman received what the Pharisee could not grace, poured out, overflowing, unending grace from the hand of God Himself. They were more than hypocrites, they were fools. To look into the face of your creator, to receive from God forgiveness and healing, steadfast love and mercy, now that is Sunday morning worship. That Midway, is the purpose of God’s church.
 A minister passing through his church in the middle of the day,

 Decided to pause by the altar and see who had come to pray.
Just then the back door opened, a man came down the aisle,
The minister frowned as he saw the man he hadn’t shaved in a

while. His shirt was kind of shabby and his coat was worn and
frayed,the man knelt, he bowed his head,then rose and walked

away. In the days that followed,each noon time came this chap,
each time he knelt just for a moment,a lunch pail in his lap.

Well, the minister’s suspicions grew,with robbery a main fear,
He decided to stop the man and ask him,“What are you doing

here?" The old man said, he worked down the road. Lunch was
only half an hour.Lunch time was his prayer time,for finding

strength and power. I stay only moments, see, because the factory
is so far away; as I kneel here talking to the Lord, this is kind of

what I say:

 "I JUST CAME AGAIN TO TELL YOU, LORD, HOW HAPPY I HAVE BEEN,SINCE WE FOUND EACH OTHER’S  FRIENDSHIP AND YOU TOOK AWAY MY SIN.  DON’T KNOW MUCH OF HOW TO PRAY, BUT I THINK ABOUT YOU EVERY DAY. SO, JESUS, THIS IS JIM, CHECKING IN TODAY."

The minister feeling foolish, told Jim, that it was fine. He told the man he was welcome to come and pray just anytime.Time to go, Jim smiled, said "Thanks." as he hurried to the door.The minister knelt at the altar, he’d never done that before. His cold heart melted, warmed with love, and met with Jesus there. As the tears flowed, in his heart, he repeated old Jim’s prayer:

"I JUST CAME AGAIN TO TELL YOU, LORD, HOW HAPPY I’VE BEEN, SINCE WE FOUND EACH OTHER’S FRIENDSHIP AND YOU TOOK AWAY MY SIN.  I DON’T KNOW MUCH OF HOW TO PRAY, BUT I THINK ABOUT YOU EVERY DAY. SO, JESUS, THIS IS ME CHECKING IN TODAY."

 Past noon one day, the minister noticed that old Jim hadn’t come. As more days passed without Jim, he began to worry some. At the factory, he asked about him, learning that he was ill. The hospital staff was worried, but he’d given them a thrill. The week that Jim was with them, brought changes in the ward.His smiles, a joy contagious.  Changed people, were his reward. The head nurse couldn’t understand why Jim was so glad,when no flowers, calls or cards came, not a visitor once he had.  The minister stayed by his bed, he voiced the nurse’s concern:  No friends came to show they cared. He had nowhere to turn.  Looking surprised, old Jim spoke up and with a winsome smile:  "The nurse is wrong, she couldn’t know, that in here all the while, every day at noon He’s here,a dear friend of mine, you see, He sits right down, takes my hand, leans over and says to me:

"I JUST CAME AGAIN TO TELL YOU, JIM, HOW HAPPY I HAVE BEEN, SINCE WE FOUND THIS FRIENDSHIP, AND I TOOK AWAY YOUR SIN. ALWAYS LOVE TO HEAR YOU PRAY, I THINK ABOUT YOU EVERY DAY,AND SO JIM, THIS IS JESUS=CHECKING IN TODAY."
Real worship, is not singing hymns, although they are lovely, it is not in praying prayers or hearing a sermon, The Sabbath God wants is to meet you here, meet you in your home and on the streets with joy in the friendship we share. And then to share that blessing with all the world. Now that is a great expectation.

 

 

Saturday, August 20, 2016

It's The Rule


I read the neatest story this week by Lois Parker Edstrom called Finding  and just had to share it with my children today.  Did you know??????
"You know we all live by rules. There are family rules: brush your teeth before you go to bed, don’t play with matches, put  your toys away when you are done playing with them. Can you think of others?

Your school has rules: be quiet when others are working or the teacher is speaking, don’t go out to play until it is time for recess, do your homework. What other rules do you follow at school?
Our government has rules: cross the street in the crosswalk, stop for a red light, follow the speed limit when driving.

And….There are also holy rules. These rules are the Ten Commandments and the commandment to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.
In the worship service today we are going to hear a story in which a religious leader criticized Jesus for breaking a holy rule. Jesus was teaching in the synagogue on the Sabbath when he saw a woman who had been crippled for eighteen years. She was so crippled that she was unable to stand up straight. Jesus healed her and she immediately was able to stand straight. She began praising God. The religious leader became upset because Jesus had healed the woman on the Sabbath. He said, “there are six days in which men ought to work. Therefore come on those days and be healed, and not on the Sabbath day!” (13:14).  Jesus’ answer indicates that, while we need to pay attention to the rules, we also need to be compassionate. Compassion means that we care deeply and want to help someone who is having difficulty.

An example is that of emergency workers who help persons who have serious health problems or have been in an accident. We have speed limits, but there are times when emergency drivers need to go faster than the speed limit allows. Emergency drivers are aware of the rules of the road, are cautious in the way they drive, but they also must transport the injured person to the hospital as quickly as possible. It is the compassionate thing to do.
Rules are necessary to keep us safe, help us make good choices, make the things we do more efficient, and fair. There is no doubt that rules are important. It is also important to be compassionate. Compassion is holy. Jesus cared about people in need, and we should care too."

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Racing Time Hodge Podge

Here we are doing another Hodge Podge.  You know the routine.  You read, you answer, you post on Joyce's blog by clicking here.  Then....you hop over and visit a few and give them some bloggy loving.   

1. I read here four creative activities to try this month. They were-calligraphy, make your own cookbook, dance or learn a new type of dance, and letter writing. Which activity on the list appeals to you most? Will you add it to your August?  I like the make your own cookbook and the letter writing.  I think I will add letter writing to my August and I better hurry because August is half over.  I used to love writing letters to people....I wonder what happened?  Oh yeah....email.

2. Bertrand Russell is quoted as saying, 'To be without some of the things you want is an indispensable part of happiness.' Agree or disagree? Explain. Agree.  If we had everything we wanted, we would not be happy.  Most people who get all they want are miserable.
3. August 17th is National Thriftshop Day...are you a 'thrifter'? If so, tell us about one of your best or favorite finds.  I love it!  My best finds were a first edition John Grisham book and  a rare edition Shakespeare book.  I know you are all going....what????  I was teaching English at the time and this book was a big help.  I truly believe that one man's trash is another man's treasure.

4.  On a scale of 1-10 (with 1= almost none and 10=loads) how would you rate your sense of wanderlust? What kicks your wanderlust into high gear?  Mine is a 10+.  Any vacation from school from one day to a month...I love to pack a bag and hit the road.

5. Has life felt more like a marathon or sprint so far this month? How so?  Marathon.....Somethings just seems to go on and on........but...there are a few sprints thrown in there to keep life interesting.
6. What do you need to get a jump on before fall officially arrives?  I need to get ;my fall decorations spruced up and make a few more.

7. What's the last thing you did with friends or family where you lost track of time? Traveled to Michigan.

8. Second week of school is half over.  Is it just me or does time seem to be moving faster? 

Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Beggar In LA


My scripture references today are from Hebrews 11:29-12:2 and Luke 12: 49-56
Will you join me in prayer…..Loving and Wonderful God, you have called us to be your family. We stand in a moment in time, upheld by the great cloud of witnesses. O God, open our eyes. Open our ears. Open our whole selves to the movement of your spirit through these words and our meditations. In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.

Many things happened when I went to California. I attended an NEA conference as a State Delegate, spent some good times with my teacher buddies, interviewed for a job, and got to see an old high school friend that I had not seen in over 30 years.  I love California….to visit.  I have cruised through San Francisco, driven North to the dry pines, clear lakes, and beautiful mountains of Mount Shasta, and driven the entire PCH.   There are so many stories to tell of great museums, an invasion of sea lions, a mystical appearance of a deer. I want to share them with you all until you are bored to tears. But, I want to share one impression that left an impact in my heart.
A teacher friend and I were in the Mayor’s restaurant in LA. I had just jumped into an Internet CafĂ© to check my email.  This restaurant is in an upscale area of downtown LA.  There were lots of fancy shops, movie theatres, museums. To say the least it was a pretty fancy place. A fun place too. To be lost in the bustle and grind of a big city.  I felt so alive.  There was so much to see and only a week to see it in.

When I travel, I love to see the new places through my eyes. But when I see a new place, somehow I always come away taking a closer look at myself. While I was in Los Angeles; I examined myself.
My friend and I sat at the window of the restaurant. Directly across the busy street from us was a young woman. She wore a greasy T-shirt. Her skin was pale, gray. She sat next to the garbage can. She seemed to blend into the concrete, part of the gray buildings, gray sky. Her greasy hair covered her face. You could not see her eyes. The busy folks of a big city were just hurrying by her. They did not even know that she existed.

It was no accident that she was in front of Starbuck’s - the icon of a new materialism and overpriced coffee. In front of her rumpled rags, she had a cardboard sign in front of her and a small paper cup. Her cardboard sign said, “Please help me. Every day is a struggle.”  “Please help me. Every day is a struggle.” She was asking people for money. But her sign was a prayer. “Please help me. Every day is a struggle.” Her sign was a prayer. The money we placed in her cup was not enough to answer her prayer, but it would help carry her through. As I was preparing for my sermon….. I remembered her when I read the scripture for today:
“(Very important giants of the faith) . . .through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promises, ministered justice. . . .shut the mouths of lions, quenched raging fire, escaped the edge of the sword, won strength out of war, put foreign armies to flight. (But there were other people who did not have good things happen to them) . . . . Others were tortured. . . .suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned to death, they were sawn in two, they were killed by the sword . . . .destitute, persecuted, tormented.”

          “Please help me. Every day is a struggle.”

          “Please help me. Every day is a struggle.”
Her prayer is our prayer. Her day is our day. Her struggle is our struggle. Because she is in the dirt, we have work to do. “Please help me. Every day is a struggle.”

Her body was gray and ragged. My soul has been known to get gray and ragged. Maybe your soul too, your heart, your emotions have gone gray. Maybe you are able to get to your job, get along with your life, but maybe you feel thrown out next to the garbage can, where that woman was sitting.
So how do we explain the Christian faith to the now….when they had a hard time explaining it then…... The Jews knew all about the 10 commandments, who Moses was, what the laws were, what the Sabbath was. They knew all about being Jewish. What they did not know was much about this new bunch of people called Christians. They did not know who Jesus was.

They did not know why these people, who believed that Jesus was the Messiah, would endure so much, and yet still be happy. These new Christians were getting beaten and tortured and disgraced. Yet they were joyful. Their faith grew stronger. The more they were persecuted, the more their numbers increased. That was not supposed to happen.
The crux of it all comes next, “Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely , and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfector of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Here is shame… Dying a disgraced criminal in front of your family. A total failure. Denied by your friends. Rejected by your people. Everything you preached about came up a big fat zero. That is shame. That is grief.
“Please help me, O God. Take this bitter cup from me. Every day is a struggle.”
The prayer of that poor woman was the prayer of Jesus Christ.

There is a key difference between our suffering and Jesus’s suffering. When I suffer, I suffer for myself. My own heart hurts for me. When you suffer, it’s your back pain, your family, your job, your relationship. The suffering - most of the time - has something to do with us.
Jesus’s suffering was very, very different. Jesus suffered for us. He did not need to suffer and die the way he did. He could have been a quiet carpenter in Nazareth. He got down in the gutter, in the gray concrete, to suffer, and to cry out his prayer, he did that so that the poor woman down in the gutter with him, would one day sit next to Jesus on the right hand of the glory of God.

When Jesus gave his very inflammatory sermon about how everything would be divided in Luke 12:49-56, “Son against father, daughter against mother, and on and on,” he said that because Jesus was going to turn the whole world in its side.
“Please help me, O God. Take this bitter cup from me. Every day is a struggle.”
The answer to that is, “Look to Jesus the pioneer and perfector of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, and disregarded its shame. Jesus has taken the his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.”  Jesus-in-the-gutter is now and forever Jesus-in-the-throne.

“Please help me. Every day is a struggle.”
Jesus’s prayer was answered.

Take that prayer and make it your own. Take the prayer of that beggar woman and make it your own.  I promise you that God will hear you.  I am also assured that God will answer your prayer.
There is a cloud of witnesses who have gone before us, witnessed to this great and mighty and powerful truth. “Look to Jesus who had made our faith perfect, who is on the right hand of the throne of God.”

This, ladies and gentleman…. is the good news.

 

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Talking To God


 
•Does anyone here like to talk on the phone?

•Do any of you talk on the computer with emails, IM, or Skype?

•Who do you like to talk to and what about?

•How many of you have cell phones?

•How many of your parents have cell phones?  Do they get upset if they lose their phones?

So it is safe to say that talking with people is important to us! 

Well if talking to people is easy and we do it all the time, why is it so hard to spend time talking with God?

Why is it important to talk with God?

1.God wants us to know Him.

2.God really does answer prayer.

3.God loves us through prayer.

4.We love God through prayer.

Today we’re going to learn how to pray.  Remember that it’s as simple as talking to someone you love.  (Write out the word TALK as an acrostic on a whiteboard/chalkboard.)

T:  TAKE the TIME:  Always find time in your day to talk to God.  Pray at the same time each day.  Make it a habit, like brushing your teeth.  Ya’ll brush your teeth, right?
A:  AHHHHHH…. Quiet: (Have children take a deep breath with you.) Find a quiet place in your home.  Turn the TV off, your music off.  Silence!
L:  LEARN from God’s Word. (Have children place hands palm side up as if holding a Bible.)  Read one verse a day.  If you’re up for the challenge, read one chapter a day.  Try to understand what God is saying to you.  Ask a grown-up who knows Jesus for help if you need it.

K:  KEEP a Prayer Plan. (Have children pretend like they are writing.).  Write down praises, prayer requests, and verses that mean a lot to you.  Keep it simple or else you won’t keep doing it.

Do you think you can do that?  Will you try?

 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Hodge Podging On The First Week Of School

The Hodgepodge is back in action this week, and here are the questions you need to answer in order to participate. Answer on your own blog, then hop back over to Joyce's by clicking here  to add your link to the party. Here we go-


1. Are you watching the Olympics? Your favorite summer Olympic event? I read recently a list of the most iconic Olympic moments in history...what stands out in your mind as a great moment from some past summer Olympic games? I love the Olympics and yes, I am watching.  My favorite summer events are gymnastics and swimming.  Watching Flo Jo run, watching Nadia Commenich work the gymnastics arena. There have been so many amazing athletes and so many nail-biting finishes.....I LOVE watching the Olympics.
2. Have you ever been to Rio? How about the place that started it all-Greece? Have you ever been to any of the Olympic Games in person? Is that something you'd like to do? Have you ever met an Olympian in person?  I have never been to Rio.  I have never been to Greece.  I attend two soccer games when the Olympics were in Atlanta.
3. The ball's in their court (tennis), cross the finish line (track and field), on target (archery), make a splash (diving), on a roll (gymnastics), out of one's depth (swimming)...which Olympic-related idiom best applies to your life right now? Explain.  Our school year has begun and this year everything is about targets.  It is the years catch all phrase.  I have to admit many of our classrooms contain these phrases in some form or another.
4. What have you earned a 'gold medal' in recently?  No gold medal for me.  I have been so busy getting both of my rooms ready to Monday I have dropped the ball in others.  Once I get my school sea legs I will be so ready.
 5. What is it (or who is it) that motivates you to eat right, exercise, and do what you can to be healthy? No gold medal here for sure even though I am a diabetic.  This should BE my goal....but I miss the mark here more than I hit it.
6. Are you young at heart or an old soul? Explain.  I work with teenagers and think I am pretty young at heart.....most of the time.....but right now....I am exhausted.....from the first week of school craziness and I feel like an old soul.
7. It's National S'mores Day (August 10th)...are you a fan? Will you celebrate with a s'more today?  No S'mores for me today.  My day is so full I will be delighted if I get to eat supper before I fall asleep....besides they are no good for someone who is a diabetic.
8. Insert your own random thought here. I got a wild hair about redoing my room this year.  It started with a simple pair of curtains for my windows...and escalated into a full fledged make-over....Frank painted my room.....and I LOVE it....and so do the kids.  Oh and my next door neighbor teachers did my outside hall to match theirs, because I was out last Friday for Frank's graduation from Course of Study School.  So....What say you?  Like it?  Hate it?  Three walls are Americas Cup Navy and one wall is Classic Gold.   I am loving my room.




Sunday, August 7, 2016

Ready Or Not Here He Comes



My scripture text today is from Luke 12:32-40.
As a child I really enjoyed playing hide and go seek. I loved it .... no matter if I was the one hiding ...... trying not to get caught, ...... or if I was the one seeking; .... who was trying to catch those hiding .... unexpectedly. Although I have not played in a quite some time,.... I do remember that the seeker, .... was called the "It".  The "It" would close their eyes and count to 20 ..... giving time for the others ... to hide. Now sometimes the seeker would cheat a little bit ..... I must admit I did ..... and would peek around. But you could hear the count, ..... "One Mississippi Two Mississippi" All the Way To 20 Mississippi.  Then you would heed the cry, ..... Ready or not here I come."
Four things were always certain in the game:
(1 Finger) - The "It" was surely coming
(2nd Finger) - The "It" was coming when they were good and ready .... and not before
(3rd Finger) - The "It" was coming whether you were ready or not
(4th Finger) - And If you were not ready, .... then you would pay the consequences.
Little did I realize as a child how much this game of hide and seek paralleled the Return ..... The Second Coming of Jesus Christ. In our Gospel Text. The master is off to a wedding banquet. His servants .... are at the family farm. Some are alert, .... ready for his return; .... some are not ready. .... The countdown has begun.  No one knows exactly when the master will return. Thus Jesus exhorted his disciples and us today concerning the importance of being ready.  And at the end of our story, Jesus states this command, "You ... must be ready, ..... for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour" (Luke 12:40).  The Second Coming of Jesus Christ is one of the most repeated teachings in all of   Scripture.  The Apostle Paul was well aware of Christ's return and he explained it to the believers gathered in Thessalonica.  As a matter of fact, Paul told them that the signs would be clear ..... and that he should not have to remind them about this fact again. It is much like the story of a tourist driving through West Texas who stopped at a gas station. He observed a piece of rope dangling from a sign labeled ...... "Weather Forecaster."  The tourist was curious and asked ...... "How can you possibly tell the weather with a piece of rope?"  "It's simple, Sonny," was the droll answer.  "When the rope swings back and forth, ..... it's windy. When it gets wet, ...... it's raining.  When it's frozen stiff, and it has white stuff on it ..... well it's snowing, And when it's gone......... tornado!"   There are simply some things that should be clear .... That should be obvious without even asking. The return of Jesus Christ is one of those things.  Our Gospel Text informs us that the Messiah will return how? "... As a thief at an unexpected hour."  The question is not "If Jesus will return?" ..... but "When Jesus will return?" Again the Scripture are clear... no one knows!  Paul in his letter to the Thessalonians' explains this by describing the time of Jesus return as ..... A thief in the night. Just as a thief plans his entry at an uncertain time ...... that is when least expected; ...... so it will be with the coming of the Son of Man. Jesus Himself proclaims this truth as recorded in the Gospel of Matthew (Matt. 24:35)  "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only." In our Gospel reading from Luke ..... Jesus shares this warning: "You must also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour." Paul in his letter to the Thessalonians discusses the return of Christ in greater detail. Hear his words to us this day. When they say, "There is peace and security," then sudden destruction will come upon them, as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and there will be no escape! But you, beloved, are not in darkness, for that day to surprise you like a thief; for you are all children of light and children of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness.  (Thessalonians 5:3-5).  Paul often refers to the Second Coming of Christ as the ..... "Day of the Lord."  And throughout scripture the "Day of the Lord" was the designation of that latter time ..... when God would pour out His wrath on the ungodly. In the latter time, Our Lord will begin to pour out His judgments upon them; ...... in a time which is often referred to as the ..... "Great Tribulation." The tragedy of this day .... is that so many, .... so many people .... will be unprepared. And not only will they be unprepared ..... they will actually be ..... deceived. And they will be .... actively deceiving others as they proclaim ..... we have "Peace and Safety." Many will be convinced that there is no danger when in fact .... destruction ..... the end is near.  We must live daily ...... with an Attitude of Watchfulness.   Paul goes on to warn us: So then let us not fall asleep as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober; for those who sleep; sleep at night, and those who are drunk get drunk at night.  (Thessalonians 5:6-7)  Much As a soldier is commanded to "Stay alert while on the post", .... so must we ... as Christians. Paul instructs us to watch .... In the Greek "gregario" .... which means to stay awake .... to be vigilant.  Beloved ..... This command is in the present tense which means .... this vigilant act of being prepared... must be a continual practice in the life of .... a mature Christian. It is a matter of attitude.
A Roman soldier ..... would be put to death .... for falling asleep on the watch. The eternal outcome .... could be just as fatal .... for those who are not constantly on alert.  We as disciples .... must be ...... Disciplined. We are image bearers of the Lord ..... and should be diligent .... in that calling .  Disciples know who they are .... in Christ.  Disciples seek to be ...... conformed into the image of Christ.We must Not allow anything to invade our lives ..... that will be harmful to our....moral alertness. Just as an overabundance of alcohol will inhibit a person's ability to focus and make wise decisions.  So Sin .... will affect one's ability to make moral and Spiritual decisions. A person does not become drunk with just one drink. Slowly they become intoxicated. And a point is reached when all of the senses become blurred.  You become a danger to yourself .... as well as to others. In the same way,..... if we do not control sin in our lives, ..... we could soon be overcome and be blurred by its effects. We must live daily in the light .... in obedience to God's word.  Paul goes on to say that …We must be prepared. ...... We must be prepared at all times. During WWII there was a seamen who served on a small submarine chaser in the South Pacific. While on the ship .... one of the strict commands ..... was to always ....be combat ready.  Which meant .... even when you took a shower ..... you were to keep your gear nearby. Now, there were times when the crew would not see another ship or plane for weeks.   And during those times they would become a little lax ..... in their readiness. Then one morning the seaman and some of his shipmates where showering when the air-raid siren went off.  And they were all called to immediately man their stations. The only problem, ..... no clothes. As he came out of the shower a helmet was slapped on his head and he had to run immediately to his post as an artillery loader .....with nothing on ..... but a helmet. Can you imagine the look on the enemy pilot's face .... when he looked down on the ship .... with naked men manning the guns? This seaman and his buddies found out quickly that not being ready at all times ..... had some pretty tough consequences. There is a blessing when we walk in readiness.  According to the word of GodHear God's Word He has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing. There is a special spiritual Peace in knowing that you are always Ready ...... always prepared for the Coming of Our Lord. If you are ready ..... you will have God's heart. A heart full of love and a yearning to serve others.  The Scriptures are clear, ..... Crystal clear.
If you want to be great in the Kingdom of God ..... you are to be a servant to all.  Jesus said I came to serve ..... not to be served.  If you are always ready, ..... you will look for Christ's Coming with excitement and with expectancy.  Let me close with this illustration:  During one of his expeditions to the Antarctic, ..... Sir Ernest Shackleton left some of his men on Elephant Island.  He did this with the intent of returning for them ..... ..... But he was delayed. By the time he could go back for them ....the sea had frozen ...... and he had no access to the island. Three times .... he tried to reach them .... but was prevented .... by the ice. Finally, on his fourth try, ..... he broke through and found a narrow channel.  Much to his surprise, ...... he found the crewmen waiting for him,..... supplies packed and ready to board. They were soon on their way back to England.  He asked them ..... how they knew .... to be ready for him. They told him they did not know when he would return, ..... but they knew that he would return.   So every morning, ..... the group's leader rolled up his bag, ..... packed his gear ..... and told the crew to do the same saying, .... "Get your things ready, boys. The boss may come today." Beloved ..... You should plan for a voyage of a thousand years, .... but each day ..... be prepared to leave this ship .... of life.  Lay up your treasure in heaven, ..... for where your treasure is ... there your heart will be also. You are Children of the living God. You are Children of the Light. You must be prepared. You must be ready ....  18 Mississippi .... 19 Mississippi .... 20 Mississippi ...... Ready or Not He Will Come.   Amen and Amen!

 

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Blessing of the Backpacks


Sunday morning, we will be bringing in the  backpacks to be carried to and from school by the children and youth gathered here.   These backpacks will contain work to be done, work that's been returned, books to be studied, tools to complete homework. Notebooks, pencils, pens, protractors, compasses, crayons, rules, scissors, glue sticks and other items used for school work will find their way in and out of these backpacks.  Some days, so much stuff will fill these backpacks that the student may find it difficult to walk. Other days, they will be light and nearly empty. But on each and every day, these backpacks represent work required of the students gathered here. And, as in every aspect of our life, we bring these before God for blessing at this time.
Gracious God, we lift to you today, these students.

 They stand here ready to receive your blessings and they commit themselves to study and learning in the school year ahead. We ask your blessing on each of them.  We ask your blessing on these backpacks. They will hold the school work of each student and will be carried from home to school and back again. As these students carry these backpacks, may they be reminded of the love and care of this congregation that surrounds them each school day. We pray as well for the teachers and administrators in our schools. May they also be sustained by your blessing. May they be reminded that this congregation embraces their call to teaching and learning and surrounds them with love and care as well.We pray in the name of Jesus who we seek to follow day by day. Amen.

 

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Fetching Sweetness


About The Book: Standing Between Stephanie and Her Dream Is One Hundred Pounds of Lovable Trouble
It should have been so simple for Stephanie Pink: Meet up with Agnes Wharton in a small town in California, retrieve the reclusive author's valuable new manuscript, and be promoted to a full-fledged literary agent.  But Agnes's canine companion, Sweetness, decides to make a break for it before Stephanie can claim her prize. Until Agnes has Sweetness safely back at home in Eagle Cliff, Washington, Stephanie will never set eyes on the manuscript she needs to make her dreams come true.  When Stephanie tracks the runaway mutt to a campground, she meets Rhett Hastings—a man also on the run from a different life and a costly mistake. Rhett agrees to help Stephanie search for the missing dog...thus launching a surprising string of adventures and misadventures.  Once Sweetness gets added to the mix, it's a recipe for love and loss, merriment and mayhem, fun and faith in the backwoods of the Pacific Northwest.
About The Author: Dana Mentink is a multi-published, award-winning writer. When she’s not clacking away on the keyboard, she busies herself teaching third grade. Mostly, she loves to be home with her husband, two daughters, a rascally rescued terrier, a chubby box turtle, and a feisty parakeet.
My Thoughts On The Book:  What a lovely book to read before school starts back.  It was an awesome beach read on that last hurrah vacation.  I loved it.   The beginning of the book had me in stitches.  It was so much fun to read.  I actually found myself laughing out loud at times.   The book is a sweet and tender read. I loved the hermit author character portrayal of Stephanie Pink, with a dog and interesting male thrown in for good measure.  This is a light, easy reading can't miss, must read, kind of book.  Loved!  Loved!  Loved!
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Litfuse Publications and Harvest House as part of their Blogging Review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have 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.” Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Back To School With The Full Armour Of God


When my kids were young, I loved taking them to pick out their new backpacks, school supplies, clothes and shoes for school. We would spend the day knocking it all out at once as we store hopped on a determined buying mission. We checked it all off our lists as we braved the trenches of school supply aisles in Walmart.  We would be armed and ready for whatever the new school year would bring.  As the first day of school closed in on us, endless questions plagued my anxious mind. Would the kids like their new teachers? Would they get to be in the same classroom as their best buddies?  We would all have to get into a new routine, back to making those bagged lunches and after school snacks. There would be rides to practices, and piles of homework. Of course there would always be a few extra trips to the school to take the carelessly forgotten gear, lunches, and assignments.  These days the school supplies in my family have been replaced with weddings and grandchildren.  There are many times I wish I could go back to the days of making those early morning waffles floating in maple syrup before school. Those days that seemed so rushed, stressed and hurried now are just cherished memories of a time I wish I could have back again. It has flown by so quickly and without my permission. They are suddenly grown and gone.  I realized that as we are reluctantly handing our kids over to their new lives, but we can simultaneously hand them over to the complete, unchanging, infinite, protection of God!  He can and will be there to pick up the slack for us weary, anxious, parents. We can trust Him to always be there when we cannot. Whether our kids are coloring at the first grade art table or they are 8000+ miles away in a foreign country as a missionary. We can trust that our almighty God is watching over them and He will never leave them nor forsake them.   I like to start my mornings, coffee and Bible in hand, sitting out on carport.   It's where I have my morning prayer time with God. It is where I hand it all over, my concerns, fears and worries and ask Him to amazingly bless the days of my children…even now that they are grown.  I ask for His ultimate protection over them. I visualize them covered in the full, securing, armor of God. I pray that His perfect will be done in their lives, and that they would make wise choices according to His word. I ask for His unceasing favor and noble grace to be upon them. I ask for Him to send a legion of His heavenly angels to surround my children continuously and to pluck them out of harms way. I pray for wonderful Christian friends to surround them. I visualize the mighty hand of God holding them up, so safe and protected, so strong, changeless and unfailing. Then as I continue on in my day, I know that my words will not return to me void, (Isaiah 55:11). I know God has heard me and if it is His will, He will honor my requests.  So as we begin this and all new school years and as we are diligently packing up the school gear, waking the kids up early, and sending them out the door, let's send them securely wrapped in the Lord's arms with an abundance of favor and blessings heaped upon them, dressed in their new shoes and of course in the full armor of God!!