Come Apart and Rest

 ” And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.”  Mr 6:31
It’s amazing what a day of rest will do for the body, mind and soul.  Yesterday was my birthday and I was lazy.  Was their work to do?  Always, but we decided to take the day off.  I slept late, had a leisurely breakfast, took a walk with my dear husband, finished a book, had lunch, took a nap…  You get the picture.
The amazing thing is that today I was more than ready to get at the work (although after two and a half hours in the garden, I was ready for another break!)
Jesus knew the importance of rest – and I can’t imagine being to busy to eat!  🙂  We do well to follow His example.  As I get older, I realize more and more just how much this body CAN’T take.  It needs to rest and have a time of refreshment
The soul needs rest too – rest from the battle against this wicked world.  How refreshing to join with other believers and worship our Great Creator God!  One of our young ladies was away for two Sundays.  I appreciated her comment:  “I feel like I just need to be in church and get away from the world!”
And our spirit needs rest: read a book, watch a wholesome movie, play a game, jump in the pool – rest your mind!  And DON’T you dare feel bad about it!  Work hard…rest hard!

Be An Example

“It takes twenty years to make a sermon, because it takes twenty years to make the man. The true sermon is a thing of life. The sermon grows because the man grows. The sermon is forceful because the man is forceful. The sermon is holy because the man is holy. The sermon is full of the divine unction because the man is full of the divine unction.”

E.M. Bounds (1835-1913) wrote a wonderful book called “The Power of Prayer.”  It never ceases to amaze me that the timely truths found in literary treasures of the past are still as applicable to our lives as if they were written today!  We expect that from the Bible – it is the living Word of God, but a book?

This man was writing to preachers; the book is geared to preachers as you can see by the opening quote; however, could we not change the words to make them fit our lives?

“It takes twenty years to make an example, because it takes twenty years to make the mother. The true example is a thing of life. The example grows because the mother grows. The example is forceful because the mother is forceful. The example is holy because the mother is holy. The example is full of the divine unction because the mother is full of the divine unction.”

The example is growing, forceful, holy, and full of divine unction (the shedding of a divine or spiritual influence upon a person.), because the mother is growing, forceful, holy, and full of divine unction.

This happens because the mother has a vision – she is desperate for growing, forceful, holy, and full of divine unction children; so she changes her life to be a model of her Master’s life.  She chooses her activities, plans her day, spends time with God because she has the vision of godly children before her.

I’m not sure how this happens.  I didn’t get married thinking about what kind of mother I would be.  I do know that early on, my heart was desperate to give my children an example to follow.  My life changed as I sat under the preaching of good men and spent time with my Lord – that really is a given if we have a heart that is tender to God.  I do remember looking up to godly women and longing to be one.  It’s a process ladies!  Keep on keeping on!  Little by little, choice by choice, victory by victory!

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Hidden Treasure!

Yesterday, I made history: my mom and I picked strawberries, raspberries AND blueberries all on the same day!  I started with the strawberries, mom opted for raspberries when she saw me sweeping back the green foliage and diligently searching for tiny crimson treasures!  I had been searching and picking for about twenty minutes, with my quart box about three-quarters full when she called to me.  On the other side of the raspberry row was a new field of strawberries.  The plants were small, but loaded with beautiful huge ripe berries!

Now, if you are a strawberry picker, you will know that in our area, strawberries are done.  It’s been a bad year with all the rain, and all the other farms are closed to strawberry picking for the season; so, when we found strawberries by the bundle, we were like the four lepers outside the city gates!

“Then they said one to another, We do not well: this day is a day of good tidings, and we hold our peace: if we tarry till the morning light, some mischief will come upon us: now therefore come, that we may go and tell the king’s household.” (2 Kings 7:9)

Christian, what good news we have for the world!!!  While the lost are picking around in the ravaged fields of this world for happiness, we KNOW where the treasure is!  Let’s tell them!

Tell them in your homes.  Do you talk about all that God is doing for you and your family around the dinner table?  Do you speak of God’s great love as you tuck the kiddos in at night?  Share your greatest treasure with those you treasure the most! Let them know it’s real to you.

Tell them in the market place: at work or while shopping.  I try to give out tracts at the stores I visit, but I must tell you that I often feel like the Lone Ranger.  I often ask cashiers if they get many tracts; often, the answer is no.  We just had a rare and unusual situation happen in our church.  One faithful lady gave a tract to a young man whom she often sees at the store.  The next time they saw each other, he said that he had read it and wanted to know more.  We contacted a pastor in his area who had the privilege of leading that young man to Christ during a Saturday morning visitation!  Hallelujah!  You don’t have to force feed them, just point them to the right field!  I often say to someone after I have asked if I could give them a tract that it’s the best news they’ll hear today! So true! Is it easy or comfortable? No.  Is it right and will it bring you and your Savior great joy?  Yes!

“He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.”  Psalm 126:6

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Faith of our Fathers

“And Abraham said, My son,

 God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering:

so they went both of them together.” Gen. 22:8

 

                This monumental event has shaped the history ofIsrael, geographically.  Abraham is “tempted” by God to sacrifice his son, Isaac.  A better word would be “proved,” because James tells that God does not tempt man.  (Ja. 1:13) 

                We don’t know the exact age of Isaac, but the next chapter starts with Sarah’s death at age 127, making Isaac 37.  He was probably a young man when Abraham took him on the three day journey north from Beershebato Mt.Moriah(Jerusalem).  Abraham is probably 120 or so.  My vivid imagination makes me think that Abraham did not tell Sarah what God had told him to do!  He obviously did not tell Isaac either.  Did Isaac think that his father had lost his mind as he bound him and placed him on the altar?  Certainly the knots of an old man could have easily been broken by this young man.  We often focus on Abraham’s great act of faith, obeying God’s command to sacrifice his son, the son whom he loved, his only son, as God reminds him; (v. 2) but what about Isaac?  He completely submitted his life to the binding, lying out, and the blade of Abraham’s knife!  What kind of a man was Abraham that his grown son would submit to this?  There are many painting and drawings of Abraham’s sacrifice, but I believe Rembrandt’s captures the emotions the best.  We see Isaac, hands bound lying on his back, his neck fully exposed.  Abraham would have slit his throat, the way sacrifices were slain – the most merciful. Abraham is covering Isaac’s face with his hand, but before he did, can you imagine the look that passed between father and son?  Again, I ask – what kind of a man was Abraham that his grown son would submit to this?  He was a man of great faith who would obey his God no matter what the requirement!  He had already lost one son, casting out the bond woman and her son, because Sarah had demanded it and God had sanctioned it.  Now he is poised to slay his promised heir, the one whom he had waited a lifetime to see.  In Rembrandt’s painting, and angel is clutching Abraham’s wrist, the knife has fallen from his grasp as he looks in the angel’s face. 

                Faith – the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  Corrie ten Boom, Holocaust survivor said, “We don’t need a great faith, just a little faith in a great Savior.”  Know that you can be just as faithful to God as Abraham – trusting God even though there is no evidence of the outcome.

What If It Were Today?

I have always been fascinated with a cuckoo clock.  (No wise cracks, please!)  When I was a child, one of my aunts had a cuckoo clock, and she would push the minute hand ahead so we could see the little bird come out and sing!  Now we are the owners of a cuckoo clock, which is a story in itself!

We inherited the clock which had hung silent in my husband’s great uncle’s house for many years.  We brought it home, but it didn’t run; so I called the clock store to see how much it would cost to get it cleaned and oiled – it was NOT in the budget! Sooo, I took off the back, blew in it and choked, and then sprayed it with my friend WD40!  Voila!  It started ticking and has run ever since.  There have been comical stories as to its fits of silence.  I have prayed over the clock and worked on it, ignored it and pampered it. It still sings sweetly in our living room.

It’s fascinating to me to see kids watching the clock. As I taught a lesson this morning, the next student would glance at it.  Then she would watch it for a while, hoping to see the little fellow; but she would then get distracted into looking at something else.  This happened several times;  when the first note of the little birdie sang, I saw her head snap in his direction, satisfied to have caught the little critter in action!

How are you doing at watching for our dear Lord’s return?  I must confess that my mind has been much on this topic lately because my next book is called A Moment in Time and will be centered around the life of a pastor’s daughter when the Rapture occurs.

In my studies, I have found that many churches do not teach about the Rapture.  I was so surprised, although I shouldn’t have been.  The church I grew up in does not teach about the topic; however, for the past thirty years, it has been a steady albeit small portion of my Bible study diet.  As with Twelve Smooth Stones’ Holocaust setting, I would never have chosen the topic; although the more I read those special passages in the Bible, the more I look to the skies!

We have so many blessings poured upon us from our heavenly Father as born-again believers – the Rapture is just one of them.  Isn’t it just like Him to bring us home before He turns His wrath against those that refuse Him?

We sing “What If It Were Today,” but do we really live as though it could be this day that we see our Savior face to face?  And then the question MUST be asked, is He my Savior?  Have I fulfilled His requirements for salvation?  Someone once said that there are only two churches in this world: one says, “DO” while the other says, “DONE!”

God’s requirements are not a “to do” list – He only requires one thing, the greatest thing to Him: a personal acceptance of Jesus Christ’s ultimate sacrifice  – I must only believe and receive.  I believe that:

  1. I am a sinner, and my sin must be punished
  2. Jesus paid the debt of my sins on the cross – He took my punishment
  3. He WILL save me IF I ask Him to!  “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”  Romans 10:13

I receive the gift of salvation completely free, but paid with the priceless blood of God’s only begotten Son!

Ready – Set – Go!   That makes us ready.  As a Christian, I keep walking close to my Savior, and that makes me set; and When He calls – I go!  Hallelujah, What a Savior!  Live in the light of eternity – it may be today!

“In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” 1 Cor 15:52

Anne Frank

            A girl writes a diary, and her life is forever a memorial for the world to view.  That’s obviously not true for every girl, but when the girl’s name happens to be Anne Frank, then that diary becomes a symbol of all the horrors we now call the Holocaust.  Today, eighty-three years after her date of birth, this blog is dedicated to her memory.

            A girl writes in her diary.  Isn’t that an every day experience?  Yes, but it’s the experiences which she wrote about that made all the difference.  Were there other girls who suffered innumerable tragedies like that of Anne and her family?  Yes, but Anne wrote about them.  She was neither an author nor a learned scholar of any sort.  She was just an ordinary girl who lived through an extraordinary horror.

            I’ve written a book about another girl.  Her name is Esther Ruth Raul, and her story is told in Twelve Smooth Stones.  She too lived through the Holocaust and all the horrors of displacement, but she lived to tell about it.  Esther, a young Jewish girl from Amsterdam could have been at Westerbork the same time as Anne Frank.  She may have even ridden in the same train fromAmsterdam to Westervbork!  They both ended up atAuschwitz, but there their paths diverged.  Anne embodies all who died – Esther, all who lived.

            Does it matter that Esther is a fictitious character?  It may to some; however, the fiction only serves to protect the privacy that so many deserve in this age of tell-all dramas. There lives may not match Esther’s exactly, especially her discovery of the Living Word of God; but my prayer is that they may just be curious enough to read about Esther’s journey and make it their own!  The story isn’t over until the last page is read.  Our life story isn’t over either until God turns the last page.

“And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.”  Jer 29:13

Weeding 101

Well, this had been an interesting week.  The foot is not broken, but is sporting some very lovely colors!  I’m still hobbling around, but was able to get into the garden two mornings.  Oh, what we can learn from those weeds.!

  1. Timing: The best time to weed is when the ground is wet – no problem there!  However, too wet is just as much a problem as dry. Thursday and Friday were the days to do it, sore foot or no sore foot.  The Lord gave me beautiful cool, low humidity weather – perfect! LESSON: when God has sent the rain of conviction and softened the ground of your heart, and then sends the Son to shine upon you through His Word: that is the time to work on the weeds in your heart.  We often don’t want to deal with the issues at hand – waiting for a better day, or warding off God’s prodding.  Nothing is more deadly.
  2. If you don’t get the root, you may as well not weed.  I use a long and short handled claw to dig them up, hoeing deep into the soil to accomplish the task. LESSON: dig deep!  I think I’ve said that before, but it is good advice, worth repeating! J  The only way for the Lord to “plant my feet on higher ground” is for me to take the time to go deeper into God’s word!
  3. There are all sorts of weeds.  Some have long roots that go toChina; some just crawl along the surface.  Some stand alone; others join forces, spreading their roots underground, like grass.  I HATE grass in my garden. Mint is lovely to smell, but unless you want it all over your garden, don’t plant it – mint also spreads like wildfire!  LESSON: Know your weeds and handle them correctly.  Some take a lifetime to root out and may have to be fought as long as we have this clay!  Some are chain reactions connected to other weeds.  You might be working on the weed of anger, only to unearth the weed of bitterness or rebellion.  They’re all weeds cluttering up our gardens of life and stunting the growth of the fruit we want to bear for the Savior.
  4. As I was furiously clawing the dirt around my onions, I pulled up some tiny onions that must have sprouted later.  Once they’re uprooted, their growing is done.  This was a hard lesson for me, but very necessary; AND this lesson is especially for you older Christians.  (Older in your Christian walk, not necessarily older in age!)  Be careful with the young plants – those folks around you that are young or newer or not as far down the road of Christian experience as you are.  Sometimes we try to press them into the mold that God has fashioned for us, but they are not ready for it.  We can do great damage, perhaps even wounding them for life!

Here’s another before and after picture. (plus some prints of our local bear’s visit – a little too close to the house for my liking!) It’s work dear reader, but it is SO worth it, physically and even more so spiritually!

 

Twelve Smooths Stones: Kurt Gerstein

                In any historical fiction, there are real and fictitious characters.  Esther Ruth Raul is fictitious; however, Kurt Gerstein really existed.

                Born in 1905 into an old Prussian family, Mr. Gerstein was very active in the Christian anti-Nazi Resistance as well as the Federation of German Bible Circles as a young man.  He joined the Nazi party in 1933, but because of his outspoken critique of Nazi blasphemies, he was expelled and later sentenced to a term in a concentration camp.  In 1940, he became an SS officer with plans to infiltrate the Third Reich and expose its dark secrets.

                Kurt was never involved with running a brothel; however he was responsible for purchasing the gas used in the gas chambers.

            Esther was ordered to stand by the door and wait for the other girls to finish, pain shooting up and down her arm from the tattoo.  Finally, the last of the girls were finished, most of them whimpering from the pain and fear of what was happening.  What next?  Who cares, Esther thought morbidly.  As she leaned against the wall, she felt her locket give way.  She frantically clutched at it, but before she could stop its descent, it clattered to the floor at her feet.  All eyes were upon her.  The woman officer, who seemed to be in charge, looked at her with eyes of menacing steel.  She coolly and slowly walked over to Esther, standing inches from her;  the woman’s hot breath blew from her nostrils into Esther’s face as she coldly stared into her eyes—pools of terror.  Without warning, the woman struck a hard blow across Esther’s face, sending her reeling to the floor.  She felt a shoe on her neck as the woman reached down to pick up the necklace.

            “You little fool,” the woman spat at her. “Take her out of here!”

            “You forget whose she is Frau Stedder,” a voice as calm and cool as an Artic breeze spoke.  Esther could not see him but knew it was the officer who had taken her from the platform.

            “But Officer Gerstein, you know the rules!  She tried to hide this from us,” she whined, waving the locket in his direction; Gerstein casually glanced at the locket and then back at the woman.

            “And are you more concerned with the rules or with keeping the trinket?”  Kurt knew much of the Jewish jewelry never made it to the official stockpile.  Stedder would keep quiet, for she knew that he too would keep her secrets.   She vehemently dropped the locket into his outstretched hand, spun on her heels and returned to her desk for the tattoo order form.  She curtly placed it in his hand and without a word, continued her duties, dismissing him by her silence.  He turned to the girls, his eyes locking with Esther’s for just a moment, “Follow me.”  Esther scrambled to her feet as they all reached for their satchels, Gerstein simply stated, “Leave them.”

Bear Choices

Choices – we make them every day. Years ago (like 15!),  I remember telling my senior high Sunday school class during prayer time that I wanted them to pray for our family because we had an important decision to make.  I can’t remember what the decision was but I do remember one of the young men asking, “What, you’re changing peanut butter brands?”

It is Monday morning and for you non-ministry readers, that is the preacher’s Saturday.  Tom and I had already planned to have a date today instead of doing the usual “off-day type” errand runs.  At 7:05, the phone rang with a serious difficulty.  At 7:30, phone rang again.  I had decided to do my aerobics but the TV wouldn’t work.  In the fifteen minutes that we were together, two “conflicts” occurred.  So, we regrouped and made some tactical choices because we know from experience, that Satan loves to ruin our off days! I decided to walk instead of doing the aerobics.

I love to walk our dead-end dirt road and usually take Pepper, our fierce little cocker spaniel with me; but after last nights torrential downpour, I go it alone.  As I’m walking, I’m thinking about the bear that one of the men saw last night on the property – a big bear, he said.  Should I turn around? I’m picturing the bear I saw last night on facebook.  (Thanks, Joan for the photo!) Yes, I turn around; but then I decide God can protect me.  As I continue to walk, I’m thinking though all the worst scenarios.  Dying by a bear attack wouldn’t be pleasant!  So I stop and talk to God, and  as I look down both ends of the road, I realize that this is exactly what we do when we make choices.  This choice is driven by two thoughts: fear and common sense.  I fear the bear and it’s foolish to tempt God.

The other alternate route is down Route 184.  Now we are in the epicenter of the gas drilling.  There are trucks coming in every direction, SO… I decide to jump the little stream and walk through the neighboring business’ front yard.  There’s a small incline and as I jump I feel something pop in my foot.  As I’m hobbling home, I’m thinking again, “Great, Tom and I just decided to walk the PA Grand Canyon today!!!  I should have opted for the bear!”

Have you ever made a choice – prayed about a choice, and then everything seemed to go wrong?  We all have.  Did I make the wrong choice?  I don’t believe so.  Well, maybe the choice to jump the stream was a wrong choice!

“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” (Pro 3:5,6)

coupled with Romans 8:28

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose,”

are the two guideposts in helping us to make and accept wise decisions.  It was a small decision, but I did pray there in the middle of the dirt road and sought God’s guidance.  I was trusting God and not leaning on my own understanding.  I acknowledged him, and I believe He directed.  Now, after a day at the doctor’s office and the hospital for x-rays instead of the quiet walk in the woods (which was also to include Bible reading and prayer), I lean on Romans 8:28.  Was it the day I would have planned, absolutely not; however, choosing to go through it while continuing to acknowledge my God and keep a smile on my face WAS God’s will for me in this one!