Burn baby, burn!

FireBIGNow this title could be dedicated to my dear mother and husband who LOVE to burn anything!  They are the movers and shakers when it comes to lawn clean-up!  However, this blog is dedicated to your weary warriors out there serving with a too-full plate.

“I can’t keep doing this or I’ll crash and burn.”  Have you ever made that statement?  I just did this evening.  Now, I could list all that I do, but most of you could do the same thing – we are a busy people; however, I hate to say it, but my age is catching up with me!

How does that square with Philippians 4:13? I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. It all depends on where you put the emphasis:

 I can do… If I put the emphasis on me, then I find out very quickly that my strength, ideas, stamina, patience, etc. wears thin.

I can do all things…  Do you have a “can do” attitude?  That is a good thing!  As I practiced with a student today who constantly told me why he couldn’t sing the notes, I felt sorry for him.  We won’t accomplish anything if we never try.  But that still is not where the emphasis lies.

I can do all things… Anything?  All things?  Is there a difference?  In a way, yes.  I can do all the things that God wants me to do today.  This is what it looked like for me:

  1. Leave home at 7:30 to sub as a chorus teacher
    1. @8:30 – theory class (80 minutes!)
    2. @ 10:30 – drive to the other high school
    3. 11:20 –  Sr. High Chorus
    4. 12:05 – Lunch (read chapter for next week’s high school Bible Study)
    5. 12:45 – Jr. High Chorus
    6. 1:30 – 3:00 – help students in County and District Chorus learn music (THIS just about pushed me over the edge! My brain was really fried by then.)
    7. Home by 3:30
      1. Teach a lesson
      2. 4:00 – Ahhh! Nap-time!
      3. 4:30 – make supper
      4. 5:00 – eat supper
      5. 5:30 – sit in my massage chair (my back is killing me and I’m trying to avoid a visit to the chiropractor!)
      6. 6:00 – teen time
      7. 7:00 – Master Club
      8. 8:30 – crash and chat with hubby
      9. 9:20 – write a blog

This was a bit much for the old grey mare!  I’m feeling that “crash and burn” feeling again.  So, what’s the answer?  What do I cut out?  Do I stop subbing?  The money is helpful and it puts me into the community.  Teaching lessons?  Well, this one is a special case for a young girl in our church whose mother is having to spend the week in Philadelphia for cancer treatments! Teen time – yes!  We’re too old, but who will do it, and I love them? Master Club – oh, these kiddos are my joy!

At this point, I believe with all my heart that I’m doing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing and that really, really helps!

Solution: put the emphasis where it belongs: I can do all things THROUGH CHRISTIt is truly the only way that it can be done!  Keep focused on Who gave me the orders, Who gives me the strength, and Who gets all the glory!  Keep looking up!  Keep longing to hear, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant!”  Oh the joy and peace that puts out the fires of burn-out! (Oh, and don’t forget that the enemy is ALWAYS ready to discourage you!  I just love to tell him to go “home!”)

 His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant:

… enter thou into the joy of thy lord.  Matthew 25:21

The Wise Woman’s Stone

Profound!

Morning Story and Dilbert

A wise woman who was traveling in the mountains found a precious stone in a stream. The next day she met another traveler who was hungry, and the wise woman opened her bag to share her food. The hungry traveler saw the precious stone and asked the woman to give it to him. She did so without hesitation. The traveler left, rejoicing in his good fortune. He knew the stone was worth enough to give him security for a lifetime. But a few days later he came back to return the stone to the wise woman.

“I’ve been thinking,” he said, “I know how valuable the stone is, but I give it back in the hope that you can give me something even more precious. Give me what you have within you that enabled you to give me the stone.”

Author Unknown - Please comment if you know the author…

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Tonic? Dominant?

For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. Romans 6: 14

Dominion – domain – dominant. Dominant!  Ah, for you music theory lovers, that word has a special meaning!  I will try to put it into ‘layman’ terms.

Music has twelve different tones, and those tones make music, just like the letters of the alphabet make words.  We can play them on any instrument one by one and we get a melody – the tune of a song.  If we pile them up and play or sing them together, we have harmony. Chords make up harmony, and chords come in all shapes and sizes depending on how many tones you put together and what tones you use!

In a scale (do, re, mi…) we can build a chord on every tone.  (Hang in there – there’s a great lesson for us!)  The chord built on ‘do’ or the first pitch of the scale is labeled with a Roman numeral one (I), ‘re’ (II), ‘mi’ (III)… the fifth note, or ‘sol’ is labeled (V) and is called…the Dominant chord!  There it is – Dominant, but why?  To be honest, until today, I wasn’t quite sure.  I mean, shouldn’t the first chord be the Dominant?  The (I) chord built on ‘do’ is called the Tonic.  Tonic?  Why Tonic?  Well, think of the (I) chord as home plate.  Every song you sing ends on the Tonic chord; if it didn’t,  the song wouldn’t feel complete.  Just sing Jesus Loves Me and end on the next to the last note.  It doesn’t feel finished and the chord for that next to the last note pushes your ear to hear the last note.  Guess what – the next to the last note has a Dominant chord, and the last note it Tonic. The Dominant pushes to the Tonic EVERY TIME!  AND if a Dominant chord goes anywhere but to the Tonic at the end of a song, you have what we call a Deceptive CadenceOOOOH!

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Here’s the lesson.  There are so many natural laws in this world.  (I succumbed to one of them in my last blog: gravity!) Music has laws as well. Even if you don’t know or understand the law, your ear naturally reacts to those laws.  That Dominant chord has dominion over the harmony set forth.  It dominates the path which the music will take.  It pushes your ear to want to go home to Tonic!  (What a wonderful name for home: Tonic!!)

For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. (Romans 6: 14) Sin does not have to dominate my life!  It doesn’t have to push me to the wrong ending.  When I was not saved, it was true – I was under the natural law of sin.  I naturally was bent to sin and was pushed to its desired end, but no more!  I am now under grace!  My life is a Deceptive Cadence in Satan’s eyes.  He had a plan, a dominating force, but that force was conquered at the cross!! Does that mean I never sin?  Don’t I wish!  It does mean that I don’t have to sin – there’s a big difference!  I have the power to ‘just say no’ because of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Woo! Woo!  That is a very freeing bit of information!  It’s not easy – in fact, it is impossible APART from the GRACE of God, but… ye are not under the law, but under grace!

Brains or Trains, and Other Shortcoming

IMG_5895Well, our Winter Wonderland is back with about four inches of fresh snow, so I thought it would be a good day to take Pepper, our black Cocker Spaniel dog, for a walk.  It was beautiful! I’ve come to realize that some things aren’t as important to some people as they are to others, like getting out into God’s creation to enjoy His beauty but more importantly, His presence; but for me, those times are invaluable.

However, it wasn’t long until I realized that the fluffy white stuff was hiding a solid layer of ice.  Anderson Lane is not used much and is rarely completely plowed; so all the rain we had gotten made the road VERY slippery – so much so, that I finally succumbed to gravity.  Ice is so unforgiving!  It was not a pleasant walk; however, it did accomplish two goals: 1. Exercise (Linda Haught’s voice echoed in my ears as I lifted my knees over the piles of snow on the side of the road!), and 2. I met with God.

As I reviewed my morning, I must say that I had already learned several lessons that I’ll share later; however one rose to the top, and it wasn’t the walk that triggered it.

I’m reading through the Bible this year, using a new plan (you can purchase it for a whopping $.35 at http://store.flpublishers.net/church-resources/bible-reading-plan/bible-reading-plan). It’s very unique and I’d like to use it again, so I made a copy of it so I could scribble on it.

Sometimes I thank God for the brain He gave me, then other times I think of the joke: When God passed out brains, I thought He said trains and I missed mine!  I wanted to write the dates on the card, but January first did not hit on a Sunday.  This really challenged me.  (Maybe I shouldn’t tell you this!)  When Tom looked at the card, he asked, “What are all these scribbles?”  So, I decided to make a new card this morning AND use pencil!!  After about six tries and a LOT of time, I have my card the way I want it!  I really wanted to quit!  Who cares what day it is!! But it was one of those times when I was determined to finish the job!

Do you have moments or projects like that – they try your patience, and you have a hard time finishing them?  One of my favorite quotes is: Character is what it takes to stop you!  This was just a small task, but it made me realize how little character I have – I nearly quite several times.  Would it have mattered?  Only to me – I would have looked at that piece of paper every day and been reminded of my failure.

Finish the job, finish the job, get it done!

Finish the job, finish the job, then have fun;

When you have a task to do – never quit until you’re through.

Finish the job – get it done!  (Thank you, Patch the Pirate!)

No matter how big or small, keep at it!  (And here’s some of the best advice I’ve ever received: if it takes less than two minutes to do – do it now, then you save yourself a whole lot of time and effort remembering to do it later!  THAT was life changing for me!) Keep cleaning, sorting, teaching, spanking, reading, watching, sweeping, listening, caring, loving… the list is endless, but the rewards are often out of this world!  Finishing the job often boils down to consistency – an essential ingredient for the parent as well as the dedicated Christian.

Ecclesiastes 9:10 Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.

(I usually only quote the first part, but the older I get, the more the second part speaks loudly!)

A Lesson from Injustice

 

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It’s three AM on a Saturday morning. So, why am I blogging at such a wonderful hour?  Because I was awakened by the whirring noise of machinery.  That wouldn’t be unusual if I lived near a construction site or beside an industrial park, but I live on the top of a mountain, for crying out loud!  So, what’s making that noise? The creation of the Marcellus Shale Pipeline.

For those of you who do not live in central PA, beneath our sleepy little area is a rock formation that has over a trillion cubic feet of gas trapped within it.  The formation spreads all along the Appalachian mountain range which makes it valuable because of its nearness to the Atlantic Ocean.  People in this area have dealt with gas companies all their lives, leased their land to them, and allowed them to explore; however, it wasn’t cost effective for them to pursue the tedious process of extracting the gas…until now.

So, after living in this peaceful country setting, enjoying the mountains and all their splendor –  bragging that Steam Valley was one of the best kept secrets because of its beauty and easy accessibility (I live half a mile off of Route 15), that has all changed.  Trucks run up and down little Route 184 nearly 24/7 – that’s quiet; across from my house is one of their headquarters, so there may be 20 pickup trucks parked in our church parking lot some mornings; and they now have a bank of lights that face our house, shining in our front windows as early as five o’clock in the morning rivaling the sunrise!  Am I complaining? YES!

Injustice – a situation or action in which people are not treated fairly.  I want to cry, “It’s not fair!”  Am I getting any of the millions of dollars that are pouring into local pockets? No!  Will my energy costs be lowered because of this pipeline?  Probably not.  Can I do anything about it? Absolutely not!  (Except complain to you!!)  That seems like injustice to me.

So, what is the lesson I need to learn from this, Lord?  I have to admit, I’m not a very willing pupil this morning!

Are you ever in a situation that you have absolutely no control over?  One of my favorite quotes is the Serenity Prayer:

God, grant to me the serenity

To accept the things I cannot change,

Courage to the change the things I can,

And wisdom to know the difference.

Yesterday, a fellow pastor and his wife from our area attended the funeral of his twelve year old grandson.  That puts things into perspective!  I’ll take my few sleepless nights and disturbed country solitude!  If we do not accept what we cannot change – those obstacles that God has purposefully placed in our path – we will spend a whole lot of time fussing and fuming and changing nothing!  May I spend my energies more wisely!  God puts those problem boulders in our path so that we might stop and look up.  I get this vivid picture of walking along a quiet pathway (have you noticed that I’m really in to QUIET? :)), and this huge boulder drops from the sky right in front of me.  Woah!  That will get your attention!  What would we do?  Would we complain and shake our fist at God saying something like, “Now why did you do that Lord?  Why did you drop that thing right in my way?”  Or perhaps, we could join Balaam of old and talk to the boulder! (Numbers 22)

God does everything for a purpose.  I need to say that again.  God does EVERYTHING for a purpose.  GOD DOES everything for a purpose.  God does everything for a PURPOSE.  And that purpose is to change us into His image.  He never tires or complains about our stupid stubborn ways, He just continues to teach us and love us!  Oh, that the world would see a difference in my life – a changed life!

Ps 119:71 It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.

 

 

 

 

Satan’s Biggest Lie

ID-100127433Actually, he’s not very original – he’s been using the same lie ever since the beginning of what we call time: “Yea, hath God said…”  (Gen 3:1)  That statement comes in all different shapes and sizes but always boils down to the same lie: Did God really say that?

Does the human race really have to worry about what Satan says?  Well, considering that he’s the most powerful force that we will ever encounter, except for Almighty God, I would say, “Yes!”

So, what lie does he whisper into your ear?  The most deadly lies are the ones that, if we believe them, will condemn our souls to hell for all eternity.  They look something like this:

  1. There is no God. This one doesn’t really work for the average thinking person.  Most generally, people have no trouble accepting that there is a greater power out there than the human mind.
  2. A loving God wouldn’t sent someone to hell.  Now this lie catches more people.  Actually, God does not send anyone to hell.  You or I choose to go there by rejecting the truth – the truth that cost God the Father his Son’s life!
  3. That’s just a Baptist belief.  I swallowed this one for a while … until I read the Bible!  It’s all in there folks: salvation, hell, born-again, sinner… the list is endless and they’re all Bible terms.
  4. I believe my ‘good’ will outweigh my ‘bad.’ Let’s think about this one for a moment.  If I could get to heaven by being good enough, then why did Jesus have to die on the cross?  Can you imagine the insult such a statement is to the Father, who SACRIFICED His ONLY Son to pay man’s penalty for sin, for a human being to say, “No thanks, I’m working my way to heaven?”

I’ve come to realize that the biggest reason that people refuse to listen to the Gospel is this: if they accept what someone is telling them: that they are a sinner (which most thinking people have no problem accepting), that sin keeps us out of God’s perfect heaven, and that only by accepting Jesus’ sacrifice will I get to heaven; it will require a decision.  It is much easier to ignore the truth than to deal with it!

I said earlier that the greatest force which we will encounter in this life other than Almighty God is Satan – there is one other powerful force: our own will.  It is the only thing more powerful than the Creator of the Universe.  We have the free will to choose salvation or reject it.  Wow! God gave man that free will, and then Satan sowed pride into the heart of man!  Our stubborn pride couples with our free will to make a deadly combination which keeps more people out of heaven than any lie Satan could ever fabricate.

Would you submit to God?  Would you pray to the God of the Universe and accept His free gift of salvation; or will you believe another of Satan’s lies: I’m alright. A simple prayer given with a broken and contrite heart is the greatest action we could ever choose to make:

Dear Father,

I know I’m a sinner.  I know that I deserve hell for the punishment of my sins.  Please, take away my sins; come into my heart and save me.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. Psalm 34:18

“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”  Romans 10:9.10.13

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A New Year

ID-100125807Happy New Year!  At times, I complain about the clock and look forward to an eternal heaven where time shall be no more; however, today I thank the Lord for a new beginning.  Oh, how we need them!

The following poem is from The Continual Burnt Offering, a 1941 daily devotional book by H. A. Ironside.  As I read it, I thought it put life into perspective for this New Year.

The Maker of the universe

As Man, for man was made a curse.

The claims of Law which He had made,

Unto the uttermost He paid.

His holy fingers made the bough

Which grew the thorns that crowned His brow.

The nails that pierced His hands were mined

In secret places He designed.

He made the forest whence there sprung

The tree on which His body hung.

He died upon a cross of wood,

Yet made the hill on which it stood.

The sky that darkened o’er His head

By Him above the earth was spread.

The sun that hid from Him its face

Be His decree was poised in space.

The spear which spilled His precious blood

Was tempered in the fires of God.

The grave in which His from was laid,

Was hewn in rocks His hands had made.

The throne on which He now appears

Was His from everlasting years,

But a new glory crowns His brow,

And every knee to Him shall bow.

— F. W. Pitt

 For those of you who are familiar with the movie White Christmas, think for a moment about one particular scene.  They are all sitting in the grist mill inn are the ladies sing.  Bing Crosby makes as statement about his former general who now owns the inn: “We ate, then he ate; we slept, then he slept.”  He was really bothered by the fact that this man whom he served under was now serving him.

What a wonderful picture of our God!  I serve Him because of His great example as Servant!  I die to selfish ambitions because He died for me!  May this year find you joyfully serving the Great God of the Universe Who came and died that we might live!

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