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This blog is a place for me to share thoughts, recipes, things I learn from my Bible, links and anything else I happen to want to post. It is in essence an extension of The Home Maker's Corner. I hope you enjoy it!
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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Creatures Great and Small – Sasha the Siberian Husky

 

For a change I thought it would be fun to switch in some other photo subjects with the “Thousand Word Project” this year.  “Creatures Great and Small” will feature critters of all sorts.  Among other things, I’ll post pictures of our own pets both past and present.

This is Sasha.  We took her as a rescue dog last year and had her for several months.  She turned out to have a very strong killer instinct so she was not at all good for a farm dog.  She was very sweet and affectionate with us, but small animals and fowl were in danger of their lives.  Thankfully, we were able to find someone else who wanted her who had a better arrangement for her. :-)  We were sorry to lose her, but we were much sorrier to lose our chickens which are a source of food for us!

Aren’t her blue eyes beautiful?

She loved to be with the people even more than our other dogs do.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Laying Aside Weights – Counting: Every Blessed Thing

 

This is part of series.

Hebrews 12:1-2  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, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

None of us would probably ever think of counting blessings as a weight to be laid aside.  It just doesn’t sound right, does it?  And yet, I think that sometimes we can get so caught up with keeping track of everything that God has done for us that we can become overburdened with the sheer weight of it all.  Real life tells us that there can be “too much of a good thing”.

David the king wrote, Many, O LORD my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered.  Psalms 40:5

Journaling and recording blessings has become a modern fad.  I don’t mean to imply that these things in and of themselves are bad, but some of the types of journaling and record keeping are either new age, mystical or trivial in nature. 

The book One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp has probably been very instrumental in promoting the introspective, contemplative Christianity aspect of counting personal blessings in a sort of religious and “self-affirming” way (even though it claims to glorify God).  Thankfully, some very on-target reviewers on Amazon.com have dealt with the problems in this mystical Christian book and explained quite well what is wrong with it.  Some of the reviews here [see the review by ForeverHis] and here [see the reviews by Mtn. Girl of Colorado and Sunny Shell] and here [see review by Ruby Slippers] are very helpful and insightful. (Some of the other reviews may or may not be helpful.  Please use biblical discernment!)

Another useful item explaining some of the problems with the book One Thousand Gifts was in the Lighthouse Trails newsletter, which you can read here.

One of the main faults of the book, according to the various reviews I’ve read, is Ann Voskamp’s preoccupation with self-focus in her alleged relationship with Christ.  As the writers at Lighthouse Trails point out, appealing to the senses – what we see, feel, hear, etc. – is sensual and appeals to the flesh – the carnal man. 

Romans 8:6  For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

In trying to keep track of every little blessing we find or imagine God has given us, we can easily become totally preoccupied with ourselves and our flesh – our sensations and how we perceive God is blessing us.  In trying to see “God in everything” (Voskamp’s views appear to be panentheism) we can easily become fixated on the creation (things and concepts) rather than on the Creator and His Son, Jesus Christ.  In other words, heavy focus on “my blessings” can result in idolatry and selfishness.  This is, quite simply, sin.

But, in addition to that, this kind of self-compelled, imaginary necessity to be perpetually grateful can become a burden too heavy to bear – a weight that will keep us from running the race with patience.  Trying to enumerate every little blessing and write it down is an overwhelming task.  It is the sort of religious self-punishment or abasement that monastics lay upon themselves thinking that they will get God’s approval or an “intimate relationship” with Him by doing things rather than through simple faith in Jesus Christ.

1 Timothy 2:5  For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;

Hebrews 11:6  But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Not long ago a friend suggested to me that I should keep a journal of answered prayer so that I could go back over it later to be encouraged.  I thought at the time that it was a good idea and I got out a blank book  and laid it where I thought I would remember to use it.  After awhile I came to myself, so to speak, and realized that I was not going to do that, no matter how good it seemed.  Keeping a journal for myself has never worked, though I’ve tried several times over the years.  For me, writing is a gift, not to myself, but to others.  I keep a very skeletal record of the days’ activities in a date book, and I keep a Bible study journal part of the time; but to write out my thoughts or thanksgivings in a journal just does not appeal to me.  I know I won’t take the time to do it, so why make the commitment to myself?

I am not saying that it is necessarily wrong to keep a journal, or a prayer journal, or a blessings journal.  They can serve a useful purpose to some people.  But, I do so want to warn you that it can consume too much of your life!  It can become a burden that is simply not worth the trouble.  And, it is not commanded in scripture.  As the verse in Psalms clearly says, the thoughts of God toward us are more than can be numbered!

What would your husband or your father or your mother or even your children think, if every time they did the smallest thing for you, you ran and wrote it down in a book – and might I say, probably forgot to mention it directly to them?  Don’t you think they would rather have a heartfelt “Thank you” spoken directly to them?  Do you think OK – honestly, I wonder if Mrs. Voskamp really was dumping her own special OCD on an unsuspecting audience and encouraging “us” to join her in it in order to make it seem right and good for her to do it. Just a passing thought from a former sufferer of religious scrupulosity speaking here! :-)maybe they would rather have the time you spent writing down every little thing instead spent on them or communicating with them directly?  Maybe they would even get annoyed with your neurotic compulsion to record every detail of their kindness to you. 

Do you think it’s possible that the Lord also doesn’t really want you beating yourself into recording every little blessing, real or imagined, that you receive from Him?  Do you think that just maybe, He would rather have a simple and heartfelt “Thank you” said to Him directly, and then have you go on about His business?  I believe that it is not God’s will for us to burden ourselves with a “requirement” that causes us pointless stress or makes us self-focused.

The Apostle John ended his book with this amazing statement, And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.  John 21:25  If the acts Jesus did, presumably in the 3 years of his ministry, could not all be written down, how do we imagine that we are going to record every single thing He does for us on a day to day basis without becoming burned out in the process?

You see, this is the crux of the matter.  Whenever we invent something that is not commanded in scripture and lay it upon ourselves or others as a requirement of being “spiritual”, we are making a burden that can and will drive us away from Christ rather than to Him.  Something that might bring some joy and encouragement in moderation, when run to extremes can and will cause discouragement and weariness.

Galatians 6:8-10  For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

Colossians 2:8-10  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.  For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:

Man’s traditions do not lead to peace and completeness in Christ.  They lead to weariness and bondage.  And, that is what can easily happen when we compel ourselves to count every little blessing.

We have the freedom in Christ not to record every blessing.  We have the freedom to thank Him personally and then keep on moving, leaving the burden of recording and counting with Him – if He keeps records of such things. :-)  So, if you enjoy keeping a prayer journal, or an answered prayer journal, or just a journal – that is your choice and is fine.  But, it is completely possible to live a thankful life and acknowledge the blessings of God without writing down every single one!  What do you think the Christians did for hundreds of years when paper and ink were not common commodities and they couldn’t keep journals?  Quite simply, they forgot, or they remembered only the significant things.  I think we can safely say that those that walked with God thanked Him and moved on.  And, the Lord didn’t count that as sin!  How could He?  That’s the natural course of human life in this weak flesh.

Is it wrong to remember blessings?  No, but the thing can be overdone or done for wrong motives.  And we are told …to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.  Acts 20:35  When we are spending a lot of time remembering all the things we have received from God, we are likely to forget to give – which is a greater blessing!  Even worse, we are likely to forget the words of our Lord Jesus when we are focusing so much on ourselves.

What’s more, we read in Hebrews 13:15,  By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.  This means that God wants to HEAR our thanks to His name!  The sacrifice of praise is not writing in a journal or on a list, it is speaking with our lips!  This is something to really think on in the face of the writing trend.  And, by the way, when we speak His praise, others are going to sometimes hear it as well and receive a blessing – remember giving is more blessed that receiving.

If you are feeling overwhelmed with keeping a journal, a prayer journal, a blessing journal or list maybe it is time to lay it aside and instead focus on the Giver of the blessings Himself.  Maybe it is time to stop examining your own “attitude of gratitude” in every situation and just say “Thank you, Lord” out loud to God Himself whenever you are blessed.  Perhaps it is time to use your voice to make known His wondrous works rather than obsessing about writing down every blessed thing.

Psalms 26:6-7  I will wash mine hands in innocency: so will I compass thine altar, O LORD: That I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all thy wondrous works.

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After thought – if you would like to keep a written record of some of your blessings without the burden of writing a journal, I might recommend a “Blessings Jar”.  You – and your family, and even friends – can write your blessings on slips of paper and place them in a jar.  At the end of the year – or really whenever you want to – you can read all the blessings and see the things the Lord has done and/or prayers He’s answered.  Maybe you could even add verses of scripture that are an especial blessing to you over the year.  But don’t forget to talk of His blessings too! :-)  Psalms 145:21  My mouth shall speak the praise of the LORD: and let all flesh bless his holy name for ever and ever.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Short Thoughts – Give Thanks For THAT?!?

 

This is an old picture of me. :-)

Yesterday I had two migraine headaches.  One started around 6:45 AM and just about the time I started to feel better another one started around 2 PM.  I see an “aura” when they start before the pain sets in, so I take my medication and hope for the best.  Neither one got to the point of being full blown, but the first one was worse than the second.  Even so, I felt lousy, somewhat nauseous and headachy all day and I had a pretty bad neck ache as well.

When we sat down to our dinner in the evening (a really simple one, as you might guess), my husband prayed over the food.  My thoughts were arrested right at the beginning when he said, "…Thank you for this day…”  I admit, my thoughts were not thoughts of thankfulness for the day!

Then the Lord reminded me of something I learned from a friend years ago.  (It’s amazing how fast the human mind works sometimes.)  This friend had an interesting philosophy about bad days.  Her attitude was that it was good to get them over with because we could know we never had to live that day again! :-)

Maybe that is one way to obey the Lord when He tells us we should be “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;” Ephesians 5:20  We like to remember the verse that says In every thing give thanks…” (1 Thess. 5:18), but we tend to forget this one that says FOR all things.  It’s human nature, I’m sure.  But, one thing I can be thankful for about the day is that I don’t have to live through it again! :-)  It is over and done with and, by God’s grace, I endured it.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Another Random Day

 

Today:

Outside my window…

It is sunny, over 80F and the air is obviously full of cedar pollen, so we can’t open the windows.  I’ve been considering turning on the air conditioning, except that seems illogical for January!  Only in Central Texas.

I am thankful…

My mom is recovering well from the hip replacement she had this month!  What a blessing to see her go through such a surgery so well, and improve so much.  It’s a real blessing to see her smiling and alert again and hear her laughing so much more! :-)  Her courage has been an inspiration to me.  Praise God from whom all blessings flow! 

I think…

Christians need to be more discerning about whom they follow and listen to.  We need to be noble Bereans and search the scriptures to see if what anyone teaches or says is truth – no matter how “great” they may seem.  Acts 17:11  These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.  I also think that when someone is seriously off in some area we need to mark and avoid them (Rom. 16:17) rather than trying to pretend we can pick out the good from the bad.  Let’s stick with the Book and the Lord who wrote it rather than the “wisdom” of man!

I would like…

To be able to make it to our church’s Bible conference meeting tonight.

Blessings…

My husband was able to work from home. :-)

Things already accomplished…

Not a whole lot.  It’s been a slower day for me after spending a few days working on a rather intense research project.  I read some quilting blogs and some interesting news articles, made two meals so far and have fought with allergy related symptoms – dizziness, itchiness, sore throat and shortness of breath.  Worked a little on laundry.

What’s for dinner?

We had ham and home canned green beans and warm tortillas with butter and black pepper on them. :-)  Super simple!  And we ate early so we can have a lighter meal later.

Random photo I like:

When we went on vacation in November my husband brought a bottle of Mexican Coke but we didn’t bring a bottle opener.  He was determined to open it, and so he broke out the tool box to find something that would work. :-)  He used something as a lever and finally did get it open.

Quote for today:

If I understood all about the Bible I'd know somebody wrote it who didn't have any more sense than I have.
- Sam P. Jones

Verses for today:

Romans 6:8-10  Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.

These are great verses – but did you think about the fact that they teach eternal security?  We know that Christ is in us, the hope of glory, Col. 1:27, and we know that Christ is raised from the dead and cannot die any more but lives forever.  How can we lose our salvation and die again once we are in Christ?  He cannot die again!  Praise God!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Hard Questions – Is Depression or Anxiety Sin?

 

January and February are said the be the worst months of the year for depression, at least in the northern hemisphere (I have not checked about the southern hemisphere).  The Lord has brought me through some things in this area, and since nothing is wasted with Him, I know that He intended me to pass on things about this subject with others.

For my own part, for some years when I was a young adult and very “wise in my own eyes”, I had the attitude that Christians who suffered from depression, or such things were, “wicked” and/or needed to “repent” of something.  The Lord has a way of humbling us so often with the very things we despise in others.  My lack of compassion in this area (which I did not inherit from my parents, by the way – I wish to make that clear), was something that He literally knocked out of me by allowing me to go through that same tribulation that I had contemned in others .  It was a hard lesson, very hard.  But, out of that He brought me to some realizations that I am sure He wants me to pass on to others.  I am by no means an expert on the subject.  Far from it!  But, I can try in a small way to pass on the comfort wherewith He comforted me. 

2 Corinthians 1:3-5  Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.

Mercifully, the Lord gave me a good friend who has been through 12 years of depression, some of it sever depression.  She was a tremendous help to me in learning to deal with the anxiety disorder that I have, and later her wisdom helped again in dealing with the Seasonal Affected Disorder (SAD - really seasonal depression) that became a terrible trial as well.  He also gave me other friends who were familiar with natural remedies that helped me a lot, and He showed me other helpful things too.  The Lord also kindly saw to it that I was not put on a powerful mind-altering drug, but rather on a much milder, slower working one which was very beneficial.  He gave me friends and family that encouraged me, prayed for me and helped me in many ways.  Lastly, but most importantly perhaps, the Lord gave me parents who are sympathetic and compassionate toward those with troubled minds/emotions and who believe His word above all else; and then, adding blessing to blessing, He gave me a husband who also is this way and is willing to deal with my weaknesses in this area!

This web page which I am linking to here is far from finished.  I wish that there was more on it, actually.  But, I hope that it will help someone, and so I felt that I should write up this (very) brief account of my own experience and share the link here in hopes that it might encourage someone in need, particularly at this time of year. :-)

Depression – What Saith the Scriptures?

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Sew Happy Saturday – Fabric Wall Art: Cameroonian Applique

 

My mother-in-law brought this beautiful appliqued piece home from Cameroon in West Africa where they lived as missionaries for some years.  The workmanship on it is excellent and I really like the concept.  Everyone but the two littlest are helping keep the household running. :-)  The way the prints were arranged for the cutting is also interesting.

The Cameroonian lady who made this used heavy muslin for the background and cottons for all the applique and the borders.

Whether these logs are “too big” or not is hard to tell.  Some people would be amazed at what Africans can carry on their heads!  Some of them must have fantastically strong necks.

Here are a couple close-ups of the work.  I couldn’t decide if it was done by hand or machine, but the irregularity of it makes me think it might have been done by hand.  However, various African artisans can do amazing things with a sewing machine – even without fancy stitches.  My mom saw that demonstrated years ago.

Here is a photo that one of my grandparents took years ago, to show you that Africans really do carry heavy things on their heads.  This was taken in East Africa, but it’s the same all over the continent.

That’s a big load of cotton. :-)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Whole Wheat Bread

 

While we were at my in-laws for Thanksgiving, my husband, Peter, made bread with his mom’s help.  He has made very good bread before, but always with our Kitchen Aid stand mixer to do the kneading for him.    This time he had the opportunity to learn to knead the bread by hand. :-)  The bread turned out so well that I decided to share the recipe with you.

The recipe actually came from an old copy of the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book.  (It was new at the time, anyway.) I have made some slight changes.

Whole Wheat Bread

Ingredients:
3 to 3 ¼ cups All-purpose flour
1 package Active dry yeast  (2 1/2 tsp.)
1 ¾ cups Water
1/3 cup Brown sugar
3 tablespoons Butter
2 cups Whole wheat flour (King Arthur Band gave the best results)

Directions:
In large mixing bowl combine 2 cups of the all-purpose flour and the yeast. Heat water, brown sugar, butter, and 2 teaspoons salt just till warm (115-120°), stirring constantly till butter melts. Add to dry mixture. Beat at low speed of electric mixer for ½ minute, scraping bowl. Beat 3 minutes at high speed. By hand, stir in whole-wheat flour and enough of the remaining all purpose flour to make a moderately stiff dough.
Knead on lightly floured surface till smooth, 8 to 10 minutes. Shape in ball. Place in lightly greased bowl; turn once. Cover; let rise in warm
place till double, about 1-½ hours. Punch down; turn out on floured surface. Divide in half. Cover and let rest 10 minutes. Shape in loaves; place in two 8½ x 4½ x 2½ inch greased loaf pans. Cover and let rise till double, about 1¼ hours. Bake in moderate oven (375°) about 45 minutes. If tops brown too quickly, cover loosely with foil last 20 minutes.
Makes 2 loaves.

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Here is Peter learning to hand knead from his mom:

Notice her cotton apron. :-)

The loaves turned out so well! (See top also.) 

This was his annual bread baking project that he likes to do at Thanksgiving.  Since we weren’t with my family, he did agree to make another batch for a family dinner we had to celebrate my mom’s birthday and my brother and sister-in-law’s anniversary.  The first batch (all in these pictures), turned out the best.  He used different (perhaps heavier) whole wheat flour for the second batch here at home, and also, someone (AHEM!) turned on the lower oven and overheated the upper oven while he was allowing the dough to rise in there, thus reducing the effectiveness of the yeast!  (Yes, that would have been me! Ack. Oops, and Oh, no!)  Thankfully, it was not a total wreck and was still edible.  He made half the batch into dinner rolls too, which was nice for our dinner.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Emmanuel, God (Is Still) with Us – A Poem By Annie Johnson Flint

 

This is good thing to remember as we head into another uncertain year.

Emmanuel

"God with us" in this world of sin,
This life of weakness and of woe:
His love, His power and His strength
With us, wherever we may go,
Since Jesus came to earth to dwell
And be for aye Emmanuel.

No weary days, no starless nights,
No sorrow deep, no trial sore,
But we can feel His presence near,
"God with us", now and evermore;
Since He hath come to earth to dwell
Whose name is still Emmanuel.

Matthew 1:23 …and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Sew Happy Saturday – Something New for the New Year

 

(Working on my wedding skirt about 5 years - and quite a few pounds - ago.  Ahem!)

Well, I’ve been thinking about adding some sewing related posts to my blog this year, and this was the name I settled on.  I do not promise that it will be every Saturday, but we will see how it goes.  I want to post at least some things.  The sewing subjects will vary – clothing, crafts, quilting, items of interest (historical and otherwise), links, etc.  There may be some tutorials – if I can manage to write them out.  Some things will probably be in my typical fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants style. :-)  And, just so you know, I actually don’t sew much ON Saturday.  My husband is home from work that day and usually I don’t cut in on his time here by sewing. :-)  But, I liked the name and it doesn’t really matter what day the posts go up.

Sewing is one of my hobbies, but it is also somewhat essential since there have been times when I really couldn’t find many clothes to buy ready made that I liked and that met my requirements.  I enjoy making simple clothing and craft and quilt projects that don’t require cutting and sewing many small pieces. :-)  For the craft and quilt projects I tend make my own designs, though I do get inspiration from other people’s designs and ideas.  I seldom ever follow a pattern exactly, except for clothing and even then I do things the way I’m used to and make adjustments as needed.

I actually started sewing by hand.  My mom taught me some embroidery when I was perhaps 8.  From there I learned to sew simple running stitch seams and I proceeded to design and sew some of my own doll clothes – such as they were. :-)  I was more interested in embroidery and counted cross stitch for some time, but sewing actual clothing eventually came along. 

I’ve been sewing on a machine since I was about 14 or 15 years old.  My early sewing with a machine was, of course, simple – I remember a couple skirts in particular.  I was always one to bite off more than I could chew, though, so it wasn’t too long before I started branching out into projects that, frankly, I wouldn’t particularly want to do now that I’ve been sewing for so many years. :-)  Youth is sometimes blissfully ignorant, but sometimes it does work to our advantage because I did manage to make some quite nice things in spite of the fact that I was in way over my head.  Or, maybe I’m just getting lazy in my “old age”.  More likely, I have too many projects that I want to get done besides my regular responsibilities. ;-)

I hope the sewing posts will be interesting to someone besides myself.  I know some ladies won’t get much use from them, but it is a significant part of my life and I really don’t want to start another whole blog just for that – at least not at this point in time.  Since sewing and quilting are growing in popularity lately, I hope that it will be a help to some of my readers. :-)

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P.S. I didn’t check the name till after I’d written this, but I did find one other instance of it is use.  Oh, well.  With this many people running around on earth there’s bound to be overlap in ideas. :-)  Who knows, I might have even seen it mentioned somewhere and forgot the source.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Thousand Word Project – Frozen Art

 

Psalms 147:17  He casteth forth his ice like morsels: who can stand before his cold?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Laying Aside Weights – Counting: Works unto the Lord

 

I haven’t written an item for the Laying Aside Weights series for some time.  As I was working on this post it occurred to me that this was something that can be a real weight for believers.  There are a lot of areas where people think they need to “keep score” on certain aspects of the ministry that just aren’t encouraged in scripture.

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,

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1 Corinthians 1:16  And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other.

It’s very interesting here that Paul was not “keeping score”.  He didn’t even remember who all he had baptized at Corinth.  I wonder if he even kept track of those whom he “led to Christ”. 

Man has an instinct to count things – especially if it’s something that will make him look good to other men or himself.  Nations like to count their people to determine how much tax they can raise, how big of an army they can raise, and other sundry things.  Radio and television stations and programs like to raise funds by enumerating their “listening audience”.  Many organizations and groups like to count their members to prove their success.  Churches like to count their members, baptisms, salvations and attendance, probably assuming the same thing – that more means they are successful.

I have heard of people who boasted about how many people they “led to Christ” “every week”.  I’ve even heard of Christian colleges that required their students to witness to a given number of people each week.  I am sure that some of the former are lying (for one thing, many of them practice the “one, two, three repeat after me” method, which is usually not the true Gospel of Jesus Christ).  I know that at least some of the latter lie about their numbers because a good friend of mine had a lady admit it to her.

Keeping count is also a terrible burden.  People who are counting their works and various aspects of their ministry are often comparing themselves to others. 2 Corinthians 10:12  For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.  When you find you can’t keep up with other people’s numbers, it’s a temptation to become frantic in your efforts and careless in the endeavor, or to quit entirely.  It can become a serious weight and hindrance to running the race with patience.

But, in 1 Cor. 1:16 we see that Paul wasn’t even keeping count of those he had baptized. 

If the great Apostle was not making “marks on his gun” as to how many people he’d baptized (and possibly those he led to Christ), why should we?  Success is not measured by numbers.  Jesus Himself did not have a huge following and, interestingly enough, when He did have more He preached a hard message that sent all those who were looking for shows and handouts running for cover (John 6:48-66).  He also told us that it would be the few who would find and enter the strait gate: Matthew 7:13-14  Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:  Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

From what Paul had to say in other places I think it’s safe to say that Paul was more concerned with people going on with the Lord and walking in the ways of righteousness than in how many people he had personally baptized.  Over and over he talks about standing and growing and walking in God’s word and ways.  Over and over he reproves, rebukes and exhorts with all longsuffering and doctrine (2 Tim. 4:2).  From that I think we should take the hint that edifying our fellow believers in much more important than keeping track of our own personal accomplishments in the work. 

Romans 14:19  Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.

Ephesians 4:29  Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

1 Thessalonians 5:11  Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.

I think we are all tempted by this from time to time in various ways. It is a common thing to dwell on our own accomplishments to make ourselves feel like we’re worth something.  At the end of the day, Jesus told us not to count our accomplishments, but to consider what we did our expected duty.  Luke 17:10  So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.

In 1 Corinthians 4:2-4 Paul wrote,  “Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self.  For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord.”

When it’s all said and done, our judgment comes from the Lord.  If we are working for the Lord and to be a blessing to men, rather than to impress men, we will leave the record keeping and counting in God’s hands.  And, this will be a great weight off of us.  When we stop counting and let the Lord give the increase, we will be happier, freer and less burdened with human ideals and demands (both of our own and others).  When we do this, we are free to focus on the Lord and His work instead of on ourselves and the opinion of others.

1 Corinthians 1:30-31  But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

2 Corinthians 10:18  For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Words of Courage and Confidence from the Mighty King

 

Psalms 27:14 Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.

Joshua 1:9  Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.

Isaiah 41:10 Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

Psalms 31:24 Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD.

Proverbs 3:25-26  Be not afraid of sudden fear, neither of the desolation of the wicked, when it cometh. For the LORD shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken.

1 John 4:18  There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

2 Timothy 1:7  For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

Hebrews 13:5-6  Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.

Psalms 27:1 & 3 The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? …Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident.

Psalms 56:3-4 What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee. In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Thousand Word Project – Crystals

 

Job 38:29  Out of whose womb came the ice? and the hoary frost of heaven, who hath gendered it?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Thoughts from the Past - A Clean Start

Jan. 10, 2008

A Clean Start

Lamentations 3:22 It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. 23 They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.

How curious and yet appropriate that these comforting words should appear in the book or Lamentations - a book of sorrow with a word of hope and comfort. This is the way of our Lord.

The lines of an old poem came to mind recently. I looked it up and here is part of it:

Every day is a fresh beginning,
Every morn is the world made new;
You who are weary of sorrow and sinning,
Here is a beautiful hope for you --
A hope for me and a hope for you...

Yesterday now is part of forever,
Bound up in a sheaf which God holds tight;
With glad days and sad days and bad days which never
Shall visit us more with their bloom and their blight --
Their fullness of sunshine or sorrowful night.

Let them go, since we cannot relive them;
Cannot undo, and cannot atone;
God in His mercy receive and forgive them;
Only the new days are our own,
Today is ours, and today alone...

("New Every Morning", Susan Coolidge)

This comfort comes to the child of God in the above verse and in 1 John 1: 9; If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

As we head into this new year it's a great comfort to know that through Jesus Christ our sins from last year can be washed away and removed from us as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12 As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.) This is infinite distance and means that they are completely removed! Thank God that we can start out this new year with a clean slate if we but obey His word and confess our sins!

We who are "in Christ" are not responsible to pay for the sins of last year or of any time in our life. He paid the price in full for us on Calvary. We are saved to the uttermost. Hebrews 7:25 Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.

Last year, and already this year, we have failed, we have sinned. But through confession to God and forgiveness from God each year, each day, each hour can be a new beginning to start fresh - as white as snow!

Isaiah 1:18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

Psalm 51:7 ...wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. 8 Make me to hear joy and gladness...10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

Let us go joyfully and hopefully into the new year with our sins confessed and forgiven through Jesus Christ! Through Him, and Him alone, our year lies white and clean before us and miraculously, the past year can lie white and clean behind us! This is peace and comfort beyond human understanding!

Philppians 4:6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

[Also see, "New Every Morning", by Annie Johnson Flint.]