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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Thoughts from the Past -- God’s Glory

June 11, 2006
God's Glory

Isaiah 42:8 I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.

Here is another verse that shows us conclusively that Jesus Christ is God Almighty.

The LORD says He will not give His glory to another, yet in the New Testament we find Jesus Christ receiving glory repeatedly. (Look it up. Search it out.) Therefore, Jesus Christ must be God the LORD.

Peter wrote through the Holy Ghost that Jesus Christ should receive glory for ever. 2Peter 3:18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen. That is certainly a God-like glory.

2Peter 1:17 For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

Revelation 1:5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, 6 And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

Revelation 5:11 And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; 12 Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. 13 And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.

This last passage is extremely powerful, for it describes the worship as it happens in heaven before the throne of God Almighty. If Jesus Christ were not very God, this would absolutely not be permitted for, as we read in Isaiah, the Lord will not give His glory to another.

This may seem like a mute point to some, but with all the people today who are set on "reinventing Jesus" it is timely and good to keep this fresh in our minds. Man is constantly attempting to bring Jesus Christ down to his level and make Him a mere man. But, God has highly exalted Him and given Him His glory - the glory God will not give to another!

Philippians 2:9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;

May God find us also exalting His Son!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Elephant Stew for 3600

 

Elephant Stew for 3600
Contributed by Steve Van Nattan

Dress one elephant and tenderize it with a four wheel drive Land Rover.

Soak the elephant in salt water for two days.

Kill and dress two rabbits (Not absolutely essential).

Cut the elephant in bite size pieces.

Add ten gunny sacks of onions and a pick up truck load of potatoes.

Cover with water and simmer over low heat for two weeks.

Serve with all the zinc tubs you can borrow.

Garnish with half an acre of parsley.

Serves 3600 guests

If unexpected people show up, add the two rabbits.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Thoughts from the Past -- A Challenge In Isaiah

June 22, 2006
A Challenge In Isaiah

I have really enjoyed reading and studying Isaiah of late. Two things have been standing out to me this time that I had not noticed so much before.

The first blessing is how much Isaiah writes through the Spirit about Jesus Christ. I am thinking about reading Hebrews next because its theme has been said to be that "Jesus Christ is so much better," and that seems true. The theme of Isaiah could, in some sense, be said to be that a better thing is coming - meaning Christ Himself. This aspect makes Isaiah a great blessing.

The other thing I've been noticing is how much God says about other people being saved besides Jews. I had begun to notice the Lord's comments about the nations and people in general not long ago in Psalm 117, and have noted other references as well.

In reading Isaiah, the Lord has brought to my attention different things that He said about the nations worshipping Him or being saved, or the Jews bearing witness to Him (presumably to the world). This has been a great blessing too, because it shows that although God dealt specifically with the Hebrews in the Old Testament, yet He also desired other people to be saved as well. Now through Christ Jesus - who is spoken of so much in Isaiah - the way is made so much easier for us Gentiles to come nigh to God! The Lord makes a number of references to this coming day in Isaiah, though I didn't count exactly how many.

Ephesians 2:11 Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; 12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: 13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.

I think that we have so often heard how God dealt with the Jews in the Old Testament that we don't notice all the ways He dealt with Gentiles then, and the things He said that were to the nations or looked forward to a time when they would be in the one fold (John 10:16). It would make an interesting study. When we stop and think about it, there were quite a lot of Gentiles who were either brought into Israel or actually believed in their own culture in the O.T. times - an early Pharaoh of Egypt (Gen. 12), Abimelech king of Gerar (an early Philistine, Gen. 20-21), Rahab, Ruth, Naman, Nebuchadnezer, Uriah the Hittite, Ittai the Gittite, the 600 hundred men who came with David from Gath, etc.

My challenge to you is to notice these things particularly the next time you read through Isaiah. It is a blessing and joy to meditate upon our great Savior in this book, and to see God's desire to save the Gentiles as well as Israel!

Psalm 104:34 My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the LORD.
Psalm 25:6 Remember, O LORD, thy tender mercies and thy lovingkindnesses; for they have been ever of old.

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Post Script 2012

There are so many Gentile believers today caught up in “Torah Observing” and “Hebrew Roots” that it is all the more important that we reconsider God’s dealing with the Gentiles outside of Israel in the Old Testament as well as the New.  Naman could not be an observing Jew.  He could take a little soil with him to worship on, but he could not keep the Torah.  There is no indication that Nebuchanezer became a Torah keeping Jew, but history confirms his conversion with the fact that after a specific point he ceased to be the warring, brutal, arrogant king he had been.  And, before the Law was given on Sinai Abimelech, a Philistine and Pharaoh, an Egyptian were apparently believing and God fearing men and the fear of God was in their countries.  It is sobering and thrilling at the same time.  Thank God that He is big enough to break out of the boxes that men create for Him – even “good, godly Torah Observing boxes”! :-)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Thoughts from the Past –– Stranger Voices


(History repeats itself – here is a stylized photo of my brother calling his small son. :-) I was trying to take their photo when the little guy started running in the wrong direction.)

Feb. 1, 2010
Stranger Voices

I remembered something the other day that made me think. It was a parable I saw in action years ago.

When my youngest brother, Dan, was about 5 or 6 years old we had some friends come and stay with us for a while. This other family had two kids. The father's method of raising his kids was quite different from my dad's in some ways. Some I would say were not bad, just different. However, this family had a bad habit of being late for things - quite late. Now I know a lot of families struggle with this at times, we certainly did, but in this case it was pretty predictable, and as this story will show, it was probably with good reason.

Some or all of us were going away on the particular day in question. My brother, then "Danny", was having some trouble getting ready on time. I have this distinct memory of him struggling down the stairs. My dad may have already hollered at him once to come - probably he had. Now somehow the fathers from both families had ended up standing at the bottom of the stairs at the same time - probably calling their respective sons, and at this point Danny started down. I don't remember if he was trying to get his shoes on or a jacket or what, but as he fiddled around making his way down my dad called out, "Hurry up!" At the same time, or slightly afterward, the other father called out, "Take your time. Take your time." Two totally different commands and two totally different perspectives. It was so striking that it stuck in my mind.

My brother wisely chose to listen to his own father. He knew what would happen if he didn't!

This makes me think, though, about the voices that call to us. So often when we are struggling along in life, striving to do the right thing, voices call out to us. So many of them are voices that should be "strange" to us. John 10: 4 And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. 5 And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.

The most difficult part is that the "stranger voices" are almost always saying something that is more appealing than the voice of our Shepherd, of our God and Father. They are telling us things that are more comfortable to the flesh or that will distract us into wasteful pursuits. For example, it would have been much more comfortable for my brother to "take his time" than to "hurry up". Sometimes they are calling us away to extra effort that is wasteful or unnecessary. Sometimes it is a call to spin our wheels in useless things that keep us from following the Shepherd and obeying our heavenly Father. How similar is the experience for all of us, and how important it is to ignore the strange voices and obey only the Father's voice!

These voices call to us from so many directions that sometimes it can be confusing. As with the case of my brother, sometimes the voice that should be strange to us comes from a friend and fellow Christian - someone we respect, even. Sometimes the voices come from people who are highly admired and acclaimed among our fellow believers - the "experts". Sometimes it is our own deceitful heart (Jer. 17:9) that is desiring us to do that which is not of God.

How do we tell the difference? The same way my young brother did at that time - the message contradicted the message of his father so it must be ignored! So simple, and yet how we do struggle with discerning it sometimes!

A simple question to ask ourselves, "What does the Bible, God's word to us, say?" Another might be, "How will this glorify God?"

Proverbs 1:10 My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not.

Proverbs 1:8 My son, hear the instruction of thy father...

Proverbs 23:19 Hear thou, my son, and be wise, and guide thine heart in the way.

Ultimately we have to choose which voice we will listen to. Sometimes God's voice is loud and clear as it was to Paul on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:3-6). Other times it is a still, small voice as it was for Elijah (1 Kings 19:12). But, the point is, it is our job to listen and to discern what God is saying to us, and to "tune out" the strange voices that are calling something else.

There are so many examples in scripture of people either ignoring or listening to stranger voices that I could write a considerable amount on it, but this is not my objective at the moment. I simply want us all, myself included and maybe especially, to think on this "sermon" that I saw and heard so long ago.

1Samuel 15:22 And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Linky Kind of Day

Random links for your perusal.

Here are some recipe posts from my Australian friend Joluise at “Stop…Have A Chat”. They looked good and I thought I’d pass them on. :-)

Bread and Butter Pudding

Five Favorite Potato Recipes

J Is for Jam

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More canning and preserves recipes:

Canning and Preserves from Mennonites Girls Can Cook.

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Cake decorating:

How to Cover a Cake in Fondant

How to Make Icing Roses

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Basil – growing, preserving and using it.

Basil is one of the things that grows well here in Central Texas as long as it’s watered. It grew so well a couple years ago that I haven’t grown any since. I have loads of dried basil, some our own and some that was purchased previously. I haven’t yet tried growing it in a pot inside during the winter. Fresh basil is so nice that maybe I should try that next year. Personally, I prefer herbs fresh, unless they are the sort that has to be dried for best flavor.

(Note: No I do not wear head coverings all of the time. I wear them when I want to keep my hair clean, when my hair is dirty and I don’t have time to wash it, and when I’m having a bad hair day. ;-) I just wanted to clarify this because I know some women are very sensitive about this subject and can make false assumptions in either direction. I need to write something about the subject sometime. I do wear dresses and skirts almost exclusively, however, with a rare exception for exercising with friends or perhaps some difficult outdoor project.)

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And, last but not least, a couple of easy sewing projects! :-)

Mix and Match Napkins

Make your own cloth dinner napkins! My family used cloth napkins a good portion of my life at home. We each had our own napkin ring and my mom kept a nice selection of cloth napkins. Some she bought, some she made herself.

I tried to switch to cloth napkins since we’ve been married, but last summer when our well started giving us some trouble, I realized that paper would be better as extra laundry needed to be avoided. I haven’t switched back to cloth yet.

I like the mix and match idea here of using fabrics from the same line. You could use any line or complimenting group of fabrics you wish, just consider whether they are a type of fabric that would be absorbent and useful as a dinner napkin. If you made a pile from one line – or say from complimenting ginghams or solids, you wouldn’t have to consider whether or not you had enough matching ones for a situation, they would all blend. Consider selecting several colors from your dishes if you go with solids.

From 3/4 of a yard of fabric you can make two napkins. If you order fabric online, I suggest you focus on quilting type cottons as they tend to have the texture and absorbency that would be good in a cloth napkin. This would be a great project for a beginner.

Quick and Easy Table Runner

This table runner is easy to make and, as you can see from this lady’s tutorial, you can add some changes to make it more interesting if you are adventuresome. I would top stitch across the bottom of the triangle at the corners if I were making this rather than leaving them open. To me that seems more finished. You could also add embellishments to tack the open ends of the triangle closed – a row of small buttons or one large button, a fabric “yo-yo”, etc. Use your imagination. You could even make napkins to match you table runner.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Squirrel Recipes


Ok, so this post definitely qualifies as “adventure cooking” for some. :-)  I have not made any of these recipes myself, but I’ve heard that squirrel is quite good.  If you have a problem with them where you live, and you’re allowed to shoot or trap them, this might be a good way to put them to use – and perhaps get some of your nuts, fruits and plants “back” that they devoured.

If you’re too tenderhearted to eat a squirrel that’s fine.  Maybe someday if you get hungry enough and they are a handy source of protein (if you can actually get them), you may change your mind. :-)  I’ve been thinking that we should try to eat one just so that we know how it tastes and how to do it in case we ever find we need to to supplement our diet.  Besides, since we have pecan trees, we tend to have too many squirrels to “share” with around here.

I don’t know for sure where these recipes came from.  I moved them here from an old recipe site that I had at one time.  They were probably collected from other places on the web, though possibly there was someone contributed one or more.

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Broiled Squirrel

1 squirrel
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fat
Lemon wedges

Clean squirrel. Rub with slat and pepper. Brush with fat and place on a broiling rack. Broil 40 minutes, basting every 10 minutes with drippings.
Squeeze lemon on squirrel before serving.
Serves two to three. [That sounds rather hopeful to me, having seen a dressed out squirrel once before being cooked.]

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Fried Squirrel

1 young squirrel, cut in pieces
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup shortening
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Mix salt and pepper with flour. Shake pieces of squirrel in flour mixture and brown in melted shortening in a heavy skillet. Lower the heat after browning and cover the skillet tightly. Cook over low heat for 1/2 to 1 hour or until well done. Remove cover during the last 10 minutes to crisp outer surfaces.

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Squirrel Fricassee

1 young squirrel, cut in pieces
3 slices bacon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sliced onion
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup beef or chicken broth

Rub pieces of squirrel with salt and pepper and roll in flour. Pan fry with chopped bacon for 30 minutes. Add onion, lemon juice and broth and cover tightly.

Cook slowly for 2 hours. Just before serving, remove squirrel and make gravy by adding water or milk and flour to the pan drippings.  Replace squirrel or serve separately.

Variations: Add 1 tablespoon paprika, 1/8 teaspoon cayenne, 1 sliced tart apple and 2 cups broth instead of bacon and lemon juice called for in this recipe.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Thoughts from the Past -- “I Don’t Believe It”

Jan. 15, 2006
"I Don't Believe It"

John 8:46 Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me?

Friday afternoon my parents and I went out to run some errands and shop. We also stopped at our favorite Chinese restaurant for dinner. While we were eating a mother and her two young children came in and sat at the next table. As I recall, in the course of their conversation the mother made a statement and the little girl answered pointedly, "I don't believe you." This she said with all the profound wisdom of a five year old. Somehow this comment made its way into my dreams that night, and when I woke up I got to contemplating.

One of the most amazing things about truth is that it is not altered nor changed by lack of belief. If no one in the world believes it, it is still true. This is why truth is so powerful. (Which leads many people to claim or pretend that they have some "truth" only they can dispense.)

These things play themselves out in millions of ways in life. But, regardless of what people believe or don't believe, how they promote the truth or try to twist it, it is still recorded in the inerasable record of time and creation. It matters not to God that man has mis-recorded his record. God's alone is absolutely true. Speaking of the Jews who did not believe the gospel, Paul wrote through the Spirit, Romans 3:3 For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? 4 God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.

In total contrast it is only when lies are believed that they become truly powerful. What if no one had believed Darwin? What if Hitler had been branded a liar and run out of the country when he first started his loud lies? What if Marx and Lenin had been seen for what they were and cast aside? What if someone had burned the original "Protocols of Zion"? What if the monks at the monastery had told Tishcendorf that he could not have their discarded Greek manuscript of the New Testament because it had lies in it? Even so, these lies have no power to actually change the truth, even though billions of people have believed them! The truth remains the same. Proverbs 12:19 The lip of truth shall be established for ever: but a lying tongue is but for a moment.

Man has the ridiculous habit of thinking that if he does not believe a thing, it is therefore not true. His "proofs" may convince himself, but at the same time they do not alter the truth nor effect it in the least. Of course, the father of lies is always pleased to supply plenty of his "proofs" as well. John 8:44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

The fact that millions don't believe in creation has not changed the truth of it, nor has it changed that fact that the creation continues to show the mighty power of God. Just because some little brat stands up, looks God square in the face and says, "I don't believe you!" doesn't change what God did in the least. It doesn't impress Him either nor does it intimidate Him. And what's more, He has no need to "prove it" as some demand. He gave His record and man's belief or unbelief cannot alter it. (John 8:13-14)

So it is with a thousand different things. The age of the earth is not changed by the fact that man can't agree upon an exact date. The King James Bible is still the only pure scriptures in English, even if the scholars ridicule it and people doubt it. Jesus Christ is still the Son of God, even though men crucified Him and deny Him still. The catching away of the church will occur though many disregard it and mock it. Devils are still real and active though some judge that as superstition and myth. A child of God is still saved even though he or she may cease to believe it, 1 John 3:20.  (You might want to read that last one again.)

Our lack of faith and belief cannot break the truth. We may be deceived into thinking it has because of the effects our unbelief have upon our lives, but experience has no bearing on absolute truth. If experience and truth agree, the truth is right. If they do not agree, the truth is right. If the truth does not appear true, it is still true. How we feel about makes no difference.

Think of it this way - if a person is charged, found guilty, sentenced and executed for a crime they did NOT commit, does that prove they did it? Certainly not! Thus, as with the little girl and her mother, when some man or woman turns to their Creator and says, "I don't believe you," they have accomplished nothing but to prove their own ignorance and foolishness. Basically, they just look silly.

The very fact that truth is unalterable proves there IS a holy God. The unholy gods of other religions, and even "Christian" cults, have no power to keep truth true. Their alleged "truth", if they claim any, changes over time and through circumstances. The Lord God Almighty ...keepeth truth for ever... (Ps. 146:4). It is not up for debate. It is not affected by unbelief.

John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
John 17:17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
1John 2:21 I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth.
3John 1:4 I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.

Psalm 117:2 For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the LORD endureth for ever. Praise ye the LORD.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

May Joy Be Thine – A Poem by Annie Johnson Flint

The Springtime joy be thine:---
Joy of the wind across vast spaces sweeping
And like a giant on the forest leaping;
Joy of the trees from slumber rudely shaken,
From dreams of living unto life to waken;
Joy of the little bird that flies and sings
For very rapture of it song and wings;
Joy of the stream, whose penthouse roof of snow
Muffles no more its glad, impetuous flow;
Joy of the silver showers that gleam and pass
And leave a trail of green o'er tree and grass;
Joy of the mounting sap, the bursting seed,
The joy of life from death's dominion freed;---
This joy be thine.

The Resurrection joy be thine:---
The joy of those who, weeping
Because their dead, in straitened chambers sleeping,
Have left them for a while,
Yet know, that loosed from all earth's tribulations
They have passed on to heavenly habitations,
To Life eternal and the Father's smile;
The joy of those who hear
Beyond all doubt and fear,
Through jarring echoes of discordant strife,
That one Voice sounding clear:---
"I am the resurrection and the life;
They who believe on me
From death's dark thrall I free;
I drank that bitter cup, I passed that gloomy door,
Through that lone valley I have gone before,
Because I live, they live for evermore."
This joy be thine.

-Annie Johnson Flint-

John 11:25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: 26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?

Two following photos: Cades Cove, Tenn. (Great Smoky Mts.)

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Thousand Word Project -- Joy!

 

Crown Him the Lord of life, who triumphed o’er the grave,
And rose victorious in the strife for those He came to save.
His glories now we sing, who died, and rose on high,
Who died eternal life to bring, and lives that death may die.

Matthew Bridges

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Laying Aside Weights -- Get Rid of Fifty Things Challenge

 


(That’s the not-endangered spotted carpet of our spare bed room.
Thanks former resident, whoever you are.)

Hebrews 12:1  Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

I mentioned in a previous post in this series that I’ve been working on a decluttering challenge myself and would tell you more later.  This is “later”. :-)

In reading and watching things about the whole decluttering process, I came across a reference to a book called “Throw Out Fifty Things” by Gail Blanke.  In reading some of the book online at Amazon.com I concluded that I wanted to buy the book and read it, which I did.  Now, right up front I have to say that I really can’t recommend this book.  The reason is that, though the first part of the book is useful, the author has a number of chapters on decluttering one’s thinking and indentity which contain too much of the rudiments of the world.  Colossians 2:8  Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.  Throughout the book, in fact, is a thread that says you can “reinvent yourself” into something better and “become the person you want to be.”  As Christians we are called to be what God wants us to be, to be “reinvented” by Him.  2 Corinthians 5:17  Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

Having said that, I did find some things in the book that I could extract and use which were helpful to me.  The basic decluttering challenge in relation to going through one’s possessions was workable and there were some useful points there. 

To start with, the basic plan is to learn to disengage yourself appropriately both mentally and emotionally from the clutter in your life.  Secondly, the plan is to go through all of your stuff in a relatively short amount of time (I think the basic process was to take two weeks) and to “throw out fifty things” (you’re allowed to donate them or give them away). The grit of the challenge comes in when you find that each individual thing is not counted, but rather categories!  So, if you go through your books and “throw out” 15 that counts as one thing.  If you discard 22 items of clothing and pairs of socks, that counts as one thing.  Yeah, that’s a lot harder than you might at first think!  To get to fifty takes some work.

Also included in the throwing away process is bad habits and thought processes.  This was where the book became considerably less interesting to me.  There was quite a bit there was not too useful for a Christian for various reasons.  Some of it was still OK and had a point, though not applied the way she used it.  However, the basic idea of changing one’s habits and thought processes for the better can be applied in a Christian manner.

So, being me (the ladies in my family are noted for altering recipes, even on the first go), I changed it right off to fit my own needs and methods.  I didn’t start in the room she recommended (the master bed room).  We live in a single wide with additions on both sides, so  I started in the room that made the most sense progressively, which was the master bath.

At first I focused on the object-type things only, and I made some good progress.  As I mentioned before, when you start seeing the things go it can be quite invigorating and make you want to do even more. :-) 

Mrs. Blanke’s rules of disengagement left somewhat to be desired in my opinion (from a Christian perspective).  We do need to disengage ourselves from our things, and from wrong thinking and even some people.  However, it’s important to try to come at this from a biblical direction.  Some points in other areas that Mrs. Blanke made were spot on, so in my own thinking I kind of incorporated those into my own method of disengagement.

To start with, the Australian decluttering authority Peter Welsh says there are two kinds of clutter – 1) things we “might need” later, and 2) things that we are emotionally attached to (memory related).  I personally see a third and that is the things we don’t notice or refuse to make a decision on.  We know we don’t need them, we are not attached emotionally, but it’s a bother to do something with them.  My family has all three bases covered!  Consequently, I have a triple challenge, so to speak, but I suspect a lot of us do.

My rules for disengagement are something like this, though I admit I haven’t really written them down before:

1. Do I need this?

2. Does this serve a useful purpose? If not, why am I keeping it?

3.  Am I keeping it because I like it or from a sense of guilt, either because it “might be useful some day” or because it was important to someone I love?  (This is one I’m just realizing and I think it’s going to be helpful.)

4. Do I actually use it?  Or do I have plans for it in the foreseeable future that I will be likely to really carry out?  Would someone else put this to better use? (This one can be tough with things that I have fond hopes of someday doing – like craft projects.)

5. If it is a memento – does it have good memories associated with it, or are there some bad memories mixed in that I’d rather not recall?  (You’d be surprised how many things I’ve either let go of because of the bad memories, or decided to keep and adjust my thinking toward the memories, perhaps even letting go of old hurts or struggles – it’s been quite freeing.)

6. Is this weighing me down?  Is it a useful thing in it’s way, but really only making more work or stress for me?

Then there are the three questions that I mentioned in a previous post:

1. What does this have to do with my service of the Lord?  Is it profitable to the life to come (1 Tim. 4:8)?

2. Is this ___________ essential to my well being?  Does it help me maintain a workable comfort level?

3. Is it a good use of time, energy and/or emotions?

This has more or less been my thought process in this decluttering challenge.  Some of this comes from Mrs. Blanke’s ideas, some have been developing as I go and some have only come to me quite recently (though maybe it was in the back of my thoughts for awhile).  Disengaging from our stuff is more difficult than I expected.

I rolled right through things at first, but eventually I got bogged down.  I ran into some snags. 

First of all, I got to more difficult areas eventually, and rather than slowing down and doing them, I either skipped them “for now” or broke them down into smaller chunks.  Breaking them down worked, but putting them off is a weight that needs to be shed.

The second snag was that I realized I was becoming emotionally exhausted and that was weighing me down.  Because I come from a heritage for feeling obligated to keep “useful” things as well as one that easily is emotionally attached to sentimental things, I started having after shocks to the decisions I made when I was in “get it done and gone” mode.  I required a break, which helped.  But, sadly, I still wonder about specific items I got rid of simply because of who gave it to me or something connected with it. I have to remind myself that the person and/or the memories of the person are more important than the thing she/he gave me.  I don’t need every little thing to remember her/him by, especially things that I won’t even use or don’t like.  And, I don’t need to feel guilty because I didn’t like it!

The third issue I’m facing now is that our garage is getting warm as the weather here in Texas heats up.  So, I’m going to probably sidetrack a lot of areas I could work on and focus on that for awhile.  We really do need to get it cleaned up, and there’s a lot there that needs to go!  We would like to build a tornado shelter in there, and park our car inside.  Both are possible in our garage, but it is too full for either right now.

Working on the actual object-type things has had its challenges, but I felt that there was a point in Gail’s book regarding the throwing out of bad thinking, beliefs or feelings, though not in all the ways she dealt with it.  Consequently, I’ve also tried to work on some attitude and daily living issues as well.  This has been different.  I think I’ve made some progress in some areas while others I feel like a total failure in.  I’m sure this is pretty “normal”.

Last but not least, from the book I got the idea of keeping a record of what I was throwing out (or sending to the thrift shop, or giving away).  Again, I didn’t follow her suggestions exactly, and I also made the categories to suit my own thinking.  I didn’t run things over from one room to another much either unless they were closely associated (like food, which is stored in the kitchen and dining room).  Since she included throwing out bad thinking, habits, etc. as individual categories, I listed my “goals” along this line as individual things.  Unfortunately, I’m almost to 48 now and I still have a lot of stuff to go through. ;-)  But, I don’t have a problem with starting a new list to get through the rest, or raising my final goal total.

For my own interest and totally not in the book, I decided to also record some of the things I removed from a given room to a more suitable place, things I repurposed or recycled for other uses, and things that I reorganized and straightened up.  This has added to the project, of course, but it has also added to my sense of improving our living environment.

Altogether, I feel like I’ve made some good progress, but I also feel like I have a long ways to go.  I think this process would probably be improved by doing it “with” a friend or family member so that you can keep each other inspired, encouraged and accountable.

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I intended to make a later post on this book, but having thought about it off and on for awhile, I can’t really get motivated to write more on this specifically.  I will undoubtedly mention this book in further posts, but not particular posts on the book itself.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Counted Worthy

This weighty burden thou dost bear,
This heavy cross,
It is a gift the Lord bestows,
And not a loss;
It is a trust that He commits
Unto thy care,
A precious lesson He has deigned
With thee to share.

Rejoice that He so honors thee
And so esteems
Of highest worth; the crown of thorns
With Him to wear,
And all the suffering of that crown
With Him to bear,
That by and by His glory, too,
With Him thou’lt share.

Annie Johnson Flint

Acts 5:41 And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.

Romans 8:17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.