Thursday, December 31, 2015
Colossians 3:23-24 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.
Sunday, December 27, 2015
Here is a short devotional thought from a lady named Mercy. I posted this at the Home Maker's Corner some years ago, but I wanted to share it with you as well. It seemed like it might be helpful to anyone who is going through a hard time right now. It also seemed appropriate as we end one year and look to the new challenges of the new.
Ephesians 3:20-21 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.
Saturday, December 26, 2015
Friday, December 25, 2015
Recently I was reading a blog where the writer was feeling sorry for "those poor souls" who don't celebrate Christmas, but he wished us happiness in spite of ourselves. I have to admit that I was a little peeved and wanted to leave a comment, but I decided against it. I was left wondering, though, why people tend to assume that we are "poor souls."
Probably most of my readers know by now that we don’t celebrate Christmas. Some may wonder what it is exactly that we do while we’re “not celebrating”.
So, I thought I’d just write a post about these topics. :-)
It's Not What You Think
In the first place, we don't sit around feeling sorry for ourselves and being gloomy and sad because we “can’t celebrate like other people do.” Some folks tend to get funny ideas of what people with different convictions than theirs actually think or feel about a thing like this. Unfortunately, there are people who think that when you have a conviction about something that makes you different from "the norm" (Christmas, ladies wearing pants, homeschooling, simple living, television etc.), that secretly in your heart you are constantly lamenting the fact and feeling terribly deprived. Sorry to disillusion some of you, but we’re not all like that – though I don’t deny that there are some non-celebrators among us who do feel that way, and also that many of us are sometimes a bit forlorn because no one has time for us during this time of the year. (And because our churches are full of Christmasy stuff.)
For some women and kids it is common to have people assume that their husband or father forces them not to celebrate against their will. While I know there are some families that have that uncomfortable problem, I also know that there are people with the opposite problem. They are forced to celebrate against their will. So, here's the thing: if you judge our conviction as "wrong" because someone among us is unhappy about it, that will condemn your own celebrations because there are unhappy people in your crowd too (and maybe more of them). So, be careful how you judge. John 7:24 Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.
I also know for a fact that there are plenty of wives and children who are not at all bothered about their family's conviction not to celebrate and even agree 100%. It's a huge frustration to some of us that we have extended family and friends who simply refuse to believe we are "on board" with not celebrating.
My mom had a lady she knew greet her in the grocery store one year in December and say in a condescending, exaggerated ways, "It must be the Lord who puts that smile on your face!" My mom, who had no idea what was going on, said, "Of course, it is!" She was so puzzled that she mentioned it later to the woman's sister. The sister told my mom the lady said that because she was feeling sorry for her because she'd found out we didn't celebrate Christmas. My mom was really burned up about that as she would have answered differently if she'd know the reason for the comment. However, it's just as well, because Mom's answer may have challenged the lady's presuppositions since Mom replied as if she thought the lady was somewhat daft for even saying such a thing. :-)
To the Lord
My own mom and others I know have had much more annoying things than this happen, however. There are those who simply can't let the thing alone - usually some close family member or friend. Ladies, you should be more consumed with "Christian grace" than with "Christmas spirit." Just because you "couldn't stand" not to celebrate, or because it cramps your personal style that we don't, it doesn't follow that you need to pester folks into "joining the fun." Nor do you need to shame them into participating to prove that they "really love the Lord." "Christian grace" with its shoes on in this case is "Keep Your Mouth Shut." I know it's hard sometimes, but here's the truth:
1. If the lady has one mind with her husband or church about not celebrating Christmas, you are only annoying her and causing offence.
2. If the lady does not agree with her husband or church about not celebrating, you are hurting her and making a wound worse!
These go double for children! It is not your job to turn kids against their parents on matters that are purely preference and personal conviction, rather than clear commands to the New Testament church.
1 Thessalonians 4:9-11 But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another. And indeed ye do it toward all the brethren which are in all Macedonia: but we beseech you, brethren, that ye increase more and more; And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you;
Speaking of personal preferences and convictions, I should point out something really important here that people on both sides of this issue need to deal with.
Romans 14:4-10 Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand. One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks. For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's. For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living. But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.
Did you catch all that? We each answer to our own Master - God; not to each other. Some of us esteem one day - Christmas, in this case - above another and some of us treat the day the same as any other day. We each need to be fully persuaded in the position we take in our own minds - not some one else's!! Hello! You - yes, YOU - stop following the dictates of some one else's conscience and stop trying to force your conscience on someone else. This is about YOUR relationship with the Lord, this is about why Christ died for YOU, so that YOU could be HIS servant in this life and the one to come. We live unto HIM, not unto men. Whether we regard the day, or whether we don't regard it we are HIS and we will give account to HIM. And, we jolly well better be doing it for HIM and not to please man. Would to God that we could grasp the depth and liberty in that!
So What Do "Those Poor Souls" Do Anyway?
I couldn't even begin to tell all the things non-celebrators do. I don't know myself. But, here are some things that I know or would expect: Reading, catching up on sleep, family games, sledding, cook outs, barbecues, working, studying, talking with friends who also don't celebrate, camping, fishing, cleaning house, sewing, writing (that's me right now), watching a movie, washing clothes, having a family meal...
You get the idea. :-)
I expect that there are even a few who forget that it's a postal holiday and check the mail! :-)
My Own Family's Practice
When my family really finally gave Christmas up completely, we usually treated the day like any other. We did school work (we were homeschooling), chores, etc. and ate a much-less-than-festive meal. Otherwise we treated it like a Saturday – chores, a little recreation (maybe reading or playing outside), and normal meals.
Later, when we had friends who lived in our area who were not celebrating we sometimes got together for a meal and to visit and play a few games. This was usually because they were folks we didn’t see often, and as the men all had the day off we were able to enjoy spending a day together.
Where we live now our local family doesn’t have any friends close enough to really get together with conveniently, so we usually spend it as a regular Saturday around here with some chores and some family time – perhaps a meal or a movie together.
One year my brother managed to shoot a deer here on our property on the morning of December 25th, so that year we spent in various stages of processing the carcass. That was a very important addition to my brother and sister-in-law's income, so it was a real blessing for them and it was pleasant working together as a family on such a project. It was also rather convenient that it happened on a "spare" day. :-)
I know other people do different things than we do. If you wonder what it is they actually do, ask them. But, don't do so in order to feel sorry for them or make prickly remarks, OK?
Speaking of asking, there is one more issue I'd like to touch on. I have realized that part of the problem with misunderstanding comes from people not wanting to talk to US about why we do what we do. Maybe they are embarrassed, maybe they don't want to deal with it, maybe they just don't take the time. What can happen, though, is that they will take someone else's explanation for why we don't celebrate as the truth, when it may not be at all.
I ran across one explanation recently that was bothersome because the person doing the explaining (a Christmas celebrator) showed that "they" didn't have a grasp on what "we" really believe or why. The story given was something I had never heard before and I've been hearing and reading on this subject for around 30 years! You might say I was a little surprised and annoyed. In thinking about that though, I just want to encourage you to ask your friends why they don't celebrate. Don't assume you know, and don't just take someone else's explanation for what they do. There's a good chance that second hand information may be inaccurate on this issue, as often is the case.
One of the most ridiculous situations I've heard of happened to my husband and a few other people who were all attending a Baptist church in the southwest. The pastor was highly offended when he discovered that there were various people in his congregation who didn't celebrate Christmas and he was apparently determined to force them to submit to his opinion - that all "good Christians" celebrate Christmas. The comments he made from the pulpit were meant to make others think that anyone who didn't celebrate Christmas had been influenced by the Jehovah's Witnesses. This was far from the truth, but it connected the people he was shaming to a cult, even if it was in a very nebulous way. Don't fool yourself. That was intentional, and it was a very powerful mind game he was playing, both with the ones who didn't celebrate and with those whom he wished to "keep" in his camp. This is tragic, friends. Tragic. Such things ought not to be in the Lord's church over issues such as this. Romans 14 makes that abundantly clear!
We ourselves have a number of reasons why we don't celebrate - not just one. Consequently, I'm sure it's safe to say there are a lot of reasons why people don't celebrate. I have one friend who was already really frustrated with the whole drama of American Christmas before she met her husband who didn't celebrate. For her, it was an easy transition because she'd already cut back. There are people who had tragic Christmases in their childhood, such as one man my dad knew who had actually received a lump of coal some years. There are people who have had some terrible personal tragedy that has spoiled the season for them. There are people who just don't care any more because they are always alone anyway. I am sure there are people who can't deal with the pain of not having children. I'm just saying...don't assume you know.
Micah 6:8 He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?
Ephesians 4:29-32 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. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.
Thursday, December 24, 2015
Tuesday, December 22, 2015
Here are some links to Family Circus comics that I liked. :-) I hope you enjoy them.
There's just something about snow...
I feel that way myself sometimes. :-)
Kind of like some people on Facebook...
I know that feeling too.
The budding artist.
Food for thought.
...and this one is just riiight.
Sunday, December 20, 2015
heavy for our friends who have lost loved ones this year. The majority of the loved ones were born again, which is good, but I know that the holiday season is particularly hard when one is dealing with a recent loss like that. Consequently, I decided to share this poem instead. I'm sending you to the page on the Home Maker's Corner this time rather than copying it here.
Annie Johnson Flint was well acquainted with grief and loss. She lost her birth parents, her adoptive parents and her own mobility apparently before she was 30 years of age. I hope her heartfelt poem will bless someone.
There are loved ones who are missing
From the fireside and the feast;
There are faces that have vanished,
There are voices that have ceased...
Please read the whole poem here: The Blessings that Remain
2 Corinthians 1:2-4 Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. 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.
Saturday, December 19, 2015
Matthew 11:28-30 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Friday, December 18, 2015
Thursday, December 17, 2015
One of my favorite displays in the Brisbane Botanic Gardens at Mt. Coot-tha which we visited when we were Australia in 2013, was the black bamboo. I'd see this for sale in a catalog here in the States for rather high price for a rather small plant, so I found it really interesting to see this fantastic specimen. It makes me think of ebony.
Tuesday, December 15, 2015
Another thought was that awhile back I found a blog where a lady posts a word/subject once a week and people who participate then write for five minutes on the subject. I thought it was a good idea, but I was not willing to participate due to some of her requirements that she was asking so I decided against joining in. However, it got me to thinking.
The outcome of all this is that I am thinking of starting a jar into which I can put ideas for writing - subjects, words, maybe even some quotes. I also am thinking of using an online word and sentence generator to give me ideas.
I have also been collecting memes which I wanted to write about, so I may think of a way to incorporate those, though admittedly they would not be so much about creative writing and more about teaching again.
Overall, though, I'm not so much concerned about creative writing as expanding my writing in a productive way, and one that will honor the Lord. It's sometimes hard to settle on one topic or idea for writing when one's mind can produce 12-15 in a relatively short period of time and they all seem worthwhile - at the time. It is also hard to think of something to write about sometimes when I should be writing but I'm not in the mood to write what I "should" be writing - or what I think I should be writing.
So...I think that I am going to try the jar idea and see what happens. It may not work out well, in which case I would simply dispense with it. But, it might just prove to be something useful and challenging. I haven't determined how often I would use it. I think that would depend on how well it works out.
Added to this, I thought it might be interesting to ask my readers - that's you - to give some of your ideas for me - words, Bible verses, quotes, topics, etc. I could include in my jar the ones that I felt were useful, interesting or a good challenge. Of course, I reserve the right to make that decision since this is, after all, my blog. :-)
What do you think? Do you have any ideas to contribute? Please leave a comment.
If you like this idea please feel free to use it. :-)
Sunday, December 13, 2015
Hebrews 13:5 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.
I Am with You
It is not always comfort to remember
That "God is in His Heaven",
When heavy clouds have hidden all the sunshine
And we are tempest-driven;
When all the world is desolate and lonely,
Or filled with hate and strife;
When hearts grow weary with their cares and troubles,
And grief and sin are rife.
It does not help that God is in His Heaven,
For that seems far away;
No voice comes down to us from that high silence,
No answer when we pray;
Up there, we think, the ceaseless hallelujahs
That rise around the throne
Must dull the echoes of earth’s lamentations,
And drown the sad heart’s moan.
But here is comfort - "I am with you alway
The Faithful and the True
And I will never leave thee nor forsake thee,
The long, hard journey through",
For Jesus Christ is present help and refuge,
Not far, but very near;
Our Light, our Guide, our Shepherd, our Consoler,
A Savior Who is here.
by Annie Johnson Flint
Matthew 28:19-20 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
Saturday, December 12, 2015
Friday, December 11, 2015
Here is a neat tutorial from Rebekah at Verdant Bents, showing how she transformed an old wedding dress from a thrift shop into a maxi skirt. This is a great idea and could be used for anything from everyday skirts to formal or church clothing. You could even make a skirt for a wedding ensemble. (Yes, some ladies wear skirts for their weddings. I am one of them.) :-) You also could use this on a dress you own that you no longer wear but you still would like it as a skirt.
Tutorial: Turn an old dress to a maxi skirt
Thursday, December 10, 2015
Sunday, December 6, 2015
Attribute n. - a quality or feature regarded as a characteristic or inherent part of someone or something.
Jeremiah 23:23-24 Am I a God at hand, saith the LORD, and not a God afar off? Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the LORD. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the LORD.
The big fancy word for this is omnipresent, which just means that God is present everywhere at once. So, simply put we may say that “God is present” and that will be as true for you as it is for me regardless of our separate locations. It will also be true of all the other places on earth, the planets, space and heaven.
That stretches our human minds much farther than usual, doesn’t it? We tend to focus more on the “present with me and mine” aspect and tend to forget the bigger picture. Probably this is because it is so much bigger than what we can grasp, but also I suspect that we are just a lot more interested in our own little lives than in all that “out there”. Sometimes I feel like my thinking is rather cramped.
But, the reality of God’s presence is that He is not limited by our finite thinking. He is present everywhere at all times whether or not we think about it or understand it. He is not hindered by our small minds, and that is a very good thing!
Isaiah 55:8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.
Even when We Don’t “Feel” Him
Psalms 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
Our unbelief does not hinder Him being present either. He is present with us regardless of how we feel about it. We may not always sense His presence or nearness, but He is still with us.
Imagine if your mother or friend or spouse were with you and you kept telling them they weren’t there because you didn’t feel like they were there. That would be rather awkward wouldn’t it? Sometimes we do feel like someone is with us in body but their mind is somewhere else – they’re really not with us. God isn’t like that. He is with us and He is present in Spirit and fully aware of everything in the situation, but He is not present in body. So, it is even more awkward for us to insist that He is not present; but there are times we still feel that way.
I think part of the reason for that is that we are not drawing near to Him. There is a sense in which God is present with us and yet we don’t feel close because we have failed to obey the command to draw near to Him.
James 4:8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.
The problem here seems to be the sin when we look at the whole verse. It’s like a father keeping his mud-encrusted son at arm’s length. The father is still present, but there can’t be close fellowship because of all the dirt. Once the son is cleaned up (confessing sin, 1 John 1:9), then that closeness can be restored. But the father was there all along.
And, so is God.
He is even present with those who are not His children by faith in Jesus Christ because He is literally, not figuratively, everywhere at once. So, for those who are not born again, He is as near to them but they don’t know it because there is no relationship there. Even so, they are as close to that nearness as simply calling on Him for salvation.
Acts 2:21 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
And the name that must be called upon is Jesus Christ -
Acts 4:10 & 12 Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole…Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
He is no farther away than the name of His Son to anyone who will believe – anyone who calls upon the name of the Lord. That is an amazingly wonderful thought!
“I Am with You”
Matthew 28:19-20 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
Hebrews 13:5 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.
If you remember, “you” means “you plural” – “you all”; and “thou” means “you singular” – “you right there, yeah, I’m talking to YOU.”
So, from these two passages we can see that the Lord Jesus has promised to be with us as the church, as His whole body; and He has promised to be with us individually. We might say separately and together.
It is interesting that in Matt. 28 He said “I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” That is in the present tense – I AM – which reminds us of His name, “I AM THAT I AM” (Ex. 3:14), and of the fact that Jesus said that “before Abraham was, I am.” (Jn. 8:58) The Lord is present in all time now. That is something that we cannot comprehend with our human minds. He is not only present in all space, He is present in all of time simultaneously. It kind of makes my head hurt to even think about it.
It is also interesting that in the context of the above verses He is with us as a group as we go and preach the gospel and teach the things He commanded us, but He is with us individually where we meet the needs of this life on a day-to-day basis. This reminds me of a line from a poem by Elizabeth Barret Browning:
“I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.”
Only, the Lord Jesus loves us far more deeply than a woman could ever love a man, and He truly knows the level of each day’s need for each and every one of us. This is because He is truly present with us in a way that no human can ever be with another human, and He loves us in a way that no two humans ever loved each other.
One way that He is with us is in the person of the Holy Spirit, the Comforter. Though Jesus left physically, He gives us His Spirit to be with us and in us when we are saved.
John 15:26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:
John 16:7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.
In fact, this was the very reason that Jesus Christ came – to make it possible for us to have God with us at a level and in a way that had not been before.
Matthew 1:23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
It is through the birth, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ that we can truly have God with us. Though He was present always, and though He was with some in the Old Testament in a close way, there is a new nearness for the believer after the cross than there was before. We can now have boldness to come before the throne of God at any time in any place because He is as close as….well, the presence of His Son!
Hebrews 4:16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
Hebrews 8:1 Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens;
Near, so very near to God,
Nearer I cannot be;
For in the person of His Son
I am as near as He.
So dear, so very dear to God,
More dear I cannot be;
The love wherewith He loves the Son -
Such is His love to me.
- Catesby Paget
God is so very present in this world that not even a common little bird can die without Him knowing about it.
Matthew 10:29 Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.
How can we doubt His presence with us when He is present with the sparrows? Surely we can believe Him and His infinite interest and presence with all His creation. And, yet it is strange how quickly we forget…
It is strange we go on living our everyday lives
So carelessly, stumbling, dully we plod
Our commonplace paths, and forget that we walk
Every day, every hour, in the presence of God.
- Martha Snell Nicholson
Saturday, December 5, 2015
Friday, December 4, 2015
Last Friday we learned how Polyester Fleece is made. This week we’re learning how polyester fabric itself is made from plastic bottles. Polyester becomes many things besides fleece. Some of them are used often in sewing and crafts. It is mixed with cotton in some fabrics to reduce wrinkling. It is made into a number of other types of fabrics as well. It is made into threads and yarns of various types.
Did you know that some people are intolerant of wearing polyester on their skin? I am one of them. I can wear it only in limited amounts. My dad used to tune pianos and he had a customer who told the horrible story of how his wife developed a terrible intolerance or allergy to polyester after wearing in constantly for some years. Her whole body broke out in a bad rash and it really affected her health. At the time my dad met them she was having to wear only clothing made from all natural fibers. Recycling plastic is a worthy cause, but the fibers God created are the best after all is said and done. :-)
Thursday, December 3, 2015
Debby Ray at My Favorite Things posted another set of photos that I just had to share. These are milkweed seed pods which are very nostalgic for me since I lived for some years in Michigan where milkweed grows. The silken parachuted seeds are so pretty in late autumn as they burst from their husky prisons, and Debby caught them beautifully in all their short-lived glory!
Tuesday, December 1, 2015
This month’s challenge is again going to be about reaching out to others. Those who have been reading this blog for awhile know that starting four years ago I have been challenging Christians who celebrate Christmas as Jesus’ birth to do so in a manner that HE would like. I’ve also encouraged those who don’t celebrate to still take the extra opportunity to reach out the hurting, poor and lonely at this time of year. Consequently, our challenge this month is going to be about reaching out to others.
So here we are!
Take someone out or invite her over for lunch or tea – a friend, relative or anyone you think needs it.
Call a lady on the phone who has recently lost a loved one, moved, or has some other large challenge going on in her life right now.
Firstly, the idea is to minister to individual people that might be needing some compassion this month. It’s about taking time to really stop to listen and talk with someone who is hurting, lonely, sad, tired, or otherwise overwhelmed by life. This is not about squeezing a quick lunch in while you’re out Christmas shopping and then rushing off to the next “really important” thing. This IS the really important thing from a biblical viewpoint. Matthew 25:35-36 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
Secondly, think outside your usual holiday box. Who do you usually NOT spend time on during the “holiday season”? That’s probably the life you need to touch with compassion this year. Is there a shut-in that can’t go out to eat? Take a little tea party to her where she is.
Please don’t limit yourself by what’s easy. If necessary, eliminate some holiday excess to do this. That is showing the love of Christ and following His example. He made time, even in the midst of bustle, to stop and talk to individuals who needed Him. We are His hands and feet today.
I know it will be a challenge for some to work this into their busy schedule this month, but if there wasn’t a stretching element or a sacrifice involved it wouldn’t be a challenge, would it? :-) It may take focus and effort, but resisting the greed and distractions of this season require that anyway. Those Christians who do try to live above the excesses know that it takes conscious effort – “striving against sin”, Hebrews 12:14. If you go into the “holiday season” in a passive “go-with-the-flow” attitude, you will be sucked into the lust of the flesh and won’t do things that reflect the mind of Christ. So, yes, this is meant to challenge you to step up and do something on purpose that might be inconvenient, but hopefully it will bring the satisfaction that walking in Jesus’ steps brings.
1 Peter 2:21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:
I’ve asked this before, and will continue to do so – How do you think Jesus Christ would want you to celebrate His birth? Please give that prayerful consideration.
Sunday, November 29, 2015
Here is Part 2 in the series on refugees. This week we’re talking about a few biblical examples of refugees and what we can learn from them.
In Part 1 on this series we discussed the history of immigrants and refugees who came to the U.S. in the past seeking a better life. Some of them also brought ungodly or evil things with them. We also talked about the Good Samaritan and the example that Jesus gave us through that parable.
This time we're going to talk about some biblical examples.
David In Gath
Because we need to be honest about the issue of refugees, it seemed like a good idea to think about the story of David when he and his men lived in Philistia as refugees for awhile when Saul was trying to murder David.
Saturday, November 28, 2015
2 Timothy 1:12 For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.
Friday, November 27, 2015
Here’s an interesting video that explains how fleece is made. Did you know that it is partly recycled bottles? :-)
Next Friday we’ll find out how they make the polyester from plastic bottles! :-)
Thursday, November 26, 2015
Give thanks and praise to God above,
For everlasting is His love;
Praise Him, ye saints, your Savior praise,
Forever good in all His ways.
- from The Psalter
What shall I render to the Lord
For all His benefits to me?
How shall my soul, by grace restored,
Give worthy thanks, O Lord, to Thee?
With thankful heart I offer now
My gift, and call upon God’s Name;
Before His saints I pay my vow
And here my gratitude proclaim.
- author unknown
My thankful lips shall loud proclaim
The wonders of Thy praise,
And spread the savor of Thy Name,
Where’er I spend my days.
Hebrews 13:12-15 Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come. 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.
Sunday, November 22, 2015
This is a big issue right now with a lot being said about it. I wasn’t sure if I should address it at first, but it is getting to be such a “big deal”, and I’ve seen so many things that disturbed me that I finally decided to do so. As it turned out there’s a lot more to it from a biblical standpoint than I would have thought. Here is PART 1 of a series.
What About the Refugees Anyway? PART 1 - A Beginning and A Parable
James 2:13 For he shall have judgment without mercy,
that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.
There has been a lot of emotion, animosity and heated opinions about the refugee situation. Sadly, there has been a lot that, from my perspective, doesn't seem to reflect the mind of Christ - and I'm speaking about the Christian context here. (I don't expect that from the world.) Quite a lot of this is probably because modern right-wing and conservative politics have been made "the norm" and essential among Evangelicals and Fundamentalists. But, what do you do when some, or the majority of them, take a position on a significant issue that is contrary to scripture and the example of Jesus Christ?
Conservative politics and many conservative Christians say that Syrian refugees are very dangerous and must be refused. There are cries for our safety, accusations that most of them are "young men", and a fairly broad disregard of all the other refugees from other countries that need help. We've heard similar claims about the Mexican situation, except that the "loss of jobs" has been a major complaint on that.
First of all, I want to say that I am in no way trying to "solve the problem" here. I don't have a perfect answer for a situation as complicated as this. I actually doubt that anyone really does. Messy situations usually require multi-faceted answers.
Saturday, November 21, 2015
Friday, November 20, 2015
If you’re a sewist – sewer – seamstress – and you like the idea of fat quarters but you are not into quilting, you may feel like you’re missing out on the fabric fun. Here are some nifty little projects to do with fat quarters from crazylittleprojects.com. A lot of these items would make nice little gifts, and if you are trying to apply my first Christmas challenge to your holiday season, this would be one way to do that. :-)
Also, if you have a selection of fat quarters or scraps of a similar size languishing in your stash, you can find a lot of ideas here for using them up. Headbands, doll clothes, children’s clothes, wall art, zip pouches, and more. Fifty ideas to use up those fat quarters without quilting. :-)
Thursday, November 19, 2015
Tuesday, November 17, 2015
This tidbit comes from my Gramma Hoover. I don’t know who did the calculations, but she gave a copy years ago.
Did you ever stop to think about how much manna it took to feed the Hebrews while they were in the wilderness for 40 years?
How Much Manna was Gathered?
One omer per day for each of two million people…
1 omer = 6 pints
6 pints x 2,000,000 = 12,000,000 pints per day
= 9,000,000 pounds per day
= 4,500 tons per day
Needed each day = 10 trains of 30 freight cars (each car loaded with 15 tons)
Over a million tons gathered each year – and this was continued for 40 years!
Psalms 78:22-25 Because they believed not in God, and trusted not in his salvation: Though he had commanded the clouds from above, and opened the doors of heaven, And had rained down manna upon them to eat, and had given them of the corn of heaven. Man did eat angels' food: he sent them meat to the full.
How often do we doubt God’s ability to supply our needs? It seems like He’s more than able based on those statistics. :-)
Sunday, November 15, 2015
Here is another short Bible study that I wrote some years ago and edited today.
There are two kinds of fear of God. One is that of the unsaved and/or rebellious who will not submit to God willingly. Their fear is only in evidence when they are confronted with the power of God in such a manner that they cannot resist. The other is the respectful fear of the submitted Christian that causes us to look to God as our Father, in love and with obedience. Obviously, you can't have both kinds. They are exclusive, so to speak.
These two fears were demonstrated at the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Matthew 28:2 And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. 3 His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: 4 And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.
This is the first kind of fear…
Saturday, November 14, 2015
Friday, November 13, 2015
JES at Strangers and Pilgrims on Earth shared these nice ideas for decorating our houses with natural things for autumn. Since Thanksgiving is approaching in the U.S. I thought some readers might be interested in some ideas for simple, potentially inexpensive decorations.
JES got her ideas from The Pottery Barn, but she explains how to do them with things that you may have on hand. For the clear vases she recommends canning jars, but you could use clear glass vases if you have them or the clear glass chimney part of an oil lamp or candle. Even glass bowls will work as I did above.
Here I used a small pumpkin that I bought and some pine cones. The leaves I used are fake, but if you still have real leaves that are pretty in your area you could collect some for this. You could also cut some out of craft paper or fabric.
Thursday, November 12, 2015
Tuesday, November 10, 2015
Ok, I’m very tempted to call this “The BEST Texas Sheet Cake Ever”, but that might be a bit over ambitious! Anyway, it’s the best I’ve ever had. :-) My friend Elisabeth shared the recipe with me. I don’t know where she got the original, but I understood that her mom made some changes to it. So, here’s how to make the “yummieness” as I’ve experienced it. :-)
Mocha Texas Sheet Cake
In a large saucepan add:
2 sticks butter
1 cup water
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp instant coffee granules
Heat the above ingredients, mixing well, until butter is melted. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, add:
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 tsp baking baking SODA
1/2 tsp salt
Whisk above ingredients together until well-combined.
1/2 cup buttermilk
1-1/2 tsps vanilla
Mix well. (It helps to use an electric hand mixer). The batter will be very thick and sticky.
Add warm cocoa mixture. Mix well, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl. Pour into greased cookie sheet (15"x10"x1" is a standard size) and bake at 375F for 20 minutes.
In a saucepan add:
1 stick butter
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsps instant coffee granules
1/3 cup buttermilk
Mix well and heat until mixture barely bubbles, then remove from heat.
Approximately 3-1/2 cups of sifted confectioners sugar.
You may need more or less depending on the consistency you want the icing to be. Spread on the cake.
NOTE: This cake freezes well in a single layer with the pieces pre-cut. It can be eaten frozen or thawed and is good either way. I would recommend not leaving it in more than a month, or two at the most.
(Note: I think when I made the ones used for the photo above I used two cake pans of a smaller size, so mine might have come out a little deeper.)
Below is one my friend made and served with fresh strawberries. It was very good! :-) (The photo was taken at my parents’ house where we had gathered for a meal and fellowship. Happy times.)
Sunday, November 8, 2015
Turkana women – Tanzania – 1960
This poem is a good reminder, especially as the frantic holiday buying season is upon us. I read recently of one family’s personal challenge to give as much as they spend on the Christmas holiday. This would certainly limit the spending, and giving to missions would be a good place to start.
The Voice of One Who Wept
Today I heard the voice of one who wept
In far off lands
Because of sin and misery,
And begged with outstretched hands
For one small lamp to light his dark.
Now fain I would have slept,
So - stopped my ears, but in my heart
That sobbing voice still wept.
And then I heard the voice of one who
Counted not the cost,
But left His ivory palaces to seek and
Save the lost.
He said, "The sound of one who weeps
Is coming up to Me.
Dost thou forget that last command
Which I gave unto Thee,
To preach my Word to all the world?"
O, bitter be our shame!
Still hopeless millions walk the earth
Who never heard His Name,
And still the world spends lavishly
In every crowded mart,
And still the voice of Him who wept
Is sobbing in my heart!
by Martha Snell Nicholson
Mark 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
Acts 16:9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us.
Saturday, November 7, 2015
Friday, November 6, 2015
Here’s a great little tutorial by Jennifer Bosworth from Shabby Fabrics on how to make bookmarks with mini charms (2 1/2” squares, also called Moda candy).
Thursday, November 5, 2015
Tuesday, November 3, 2015
Since November is a month when we particularly think about being thankful here in the U.S., it seemed like it might be nice to incorporate that into this month’s challenge.
Here we go:
Send a “thank you” note to a lady who has been a blessing to you (or your children) spiritually – a pastor’s wife, Sunday School teacher, Bible study leader, etc.
Write a letter or email to a missionary lady who is far away from home.
I am focusing on pastor’s wives and lady teachers and leaders because I was a pastor’s daughter and I know that sometimes people forget to thank the ladies in the church who either are teaching or doing work behind the scenes in the line of ministry. Verbal thanks is good, but a written “thank you” is really meaningful. It means someone actually took the time to stop and write down some thoughts, not just say “thanks” in the hall and rush on with their lives. If you know what I mean…
I will also add that I’m not talking about your mother or grandmother here. I sincerely hope that if you have godly parents and/or grandparents that you let them know on a regular basis that you appreciate them. This is about the women who aren’t usually thought of as “needing” to be thanked. Galatians 6:6 Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things.
The second part of the challenge is, I think, self-explanatory. Missionary ladies may not get many personal letters from someone just reaching out in love to thank them or encourage them. If possible, I really recommend sending snail mail. It is such a blessing to received a real letter from someone “back home”. But, when it comes down to it, I think they will be happy with an email as well. And, please, try to write a personal, friendly letter. Half a dozen questions about their work and a brief synopsis of the weather is hardly going to make them feel loved and cared for. Tell them about your kids, your projects, something you’ve learned in your walk with God, maybe even share a recipe if they are in a place where they can get Western ingredients.
Romans 12:10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
Hope you enjoy this challenge! :-)
NOTE: I have a question. Shall I continue the monthly challenges next year? Are you enjoying them? Thanks for your input.
Sunday, November 1, 2015
Attribute n. - a quality or feature regarded as a characteristic or inherent part of someone or something.
As we look about us it is good to remember that though the world is full of lies and uncertainty there is One True God and He has given us His absolute truth in His Son and in His word. This is the attribute that I suggest we think upon this month – that God is true.
John 18:37-38 Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice. Pilate saith unto him, What is truth?…
This is an age old question that man had been constantly trying to answer. The tragedy of history, and also the present, is that very few really want the correct answer. They want philosophy, humanism, false religions, theories, lies, entertainment and so much more. (Yes, there are people who would rather be lied to and entertained than to know the truth.)
God has answered this question for us, however.
The One True God
God has declared Himself to be the true God. Because He is the true God, He, and only He, is able to do this.
Jeremiah 10:10 But the LORD is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king: at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation.
1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.
All the gods that are worshipped in this world are false and are nothing. There is only one true God, and that is the God of the Bible, the LORD God Almighty. He is all-powerful and living and He is able to deal with all of this earth and all that the nations have done or will do. There is none besides Him. He alone is the true God.
Humans Are Liars
We read in Romans 3:4, …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.
All of mankind are liars. I know there are some people who are obsessed with being truthful, but they have fallen short. I found out for myself that it is impossible in this sinful world. The most simple lies we tell regularly are when people ask us, “How are you?” and we answer, “Fine” or “Doing good”, when in fact we are not fine or doing good. But, we know they don’t really want to hear how we feel so we feel compelled to hide behind this falsehood.
I remember years ago when a friend of our family’s told my mom that her son had never lied to her, that he was always truthful. Later my mom pointed out to me that she should not have said that because there is no such thing as a child who never lies. She said to me that she was concerned about that lady’s claim and the bad fruit that might come from her mistaken view of him. But then, perhaps the lady herself was the one who was lying. Who’s to say?
John 3:31-34 He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all. And what he hath seen and heard, that he testifieth; and no man receiveth his testimony. He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true. For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him.
As earthly beings, we speak earthly things. This includes not always telling “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.” Jesus Christ was sent by His Father to speak the truth of God to us, and whoever believes His testimony is saying that God is true.
Humans Mishandle God’s Truth
Mankind also has a way of mishandling the truth. They may deny it outright, as with atheists, evolutionists, and many who are offended by God’s definition of sin. They may use the truth to justify their lies or give themselves credibility, as with cults and –isms that have elements of truth which they use to deceive people into thinking their lies are true. (Examples: the Roman Catholic Church, the Latter Day Saints [usual disclaimers apply], Seventh Day Adventists, Torah keepers, the Patriarchy Movement, Jehovah’s Witnesses, etc.) By incorporating a large or small portion of God’s truth into their belief system, they hope to justify the lies that they also teach. (I speak of the systems, not the individual followers who are often ignorant of the deceptions that they have been taught.)
Romans 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
Romans 1:24-25 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
Changing the truth of God into a lie could almost be called an epidemic. There are so many ways this is played out. We see the effects of this throughout U.S. culture: from the Bible publishers who make horrible changes to the word of God and publish and sell it as “God’s word”, to those who justify sexual deviations by denying what the scripture says, to those who declare that God approves of their political agenda because they are “right”. At least some of these are present in some other countries as well. It is no wonder then that we see a world that is given up to uncleanness and to dishonoring their bodies (and I don’t think this just means sexual things as there are so many other ways this is appearing in Western culture now).
God Is True and His Ways Are True
God is not only the true God, He is also true and His ways are true. Being the true God means that He is the only God, the only real God. When we say that He is true and that His ways are truth, this speaks to us of what kind of God He is.
Psalms 86:15 But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.
Revelation 15:3 And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.
Deuteronomy 32:4 He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.
One of the tough things to deal with regarding God’s ways being true is that we don’t always understand His ways. We read in Isaiah 55:8-9, For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. This can make it hard for us to understand His truth at times. But, this is OK because this is an aspect of God that we must take by faith rather than through our own flawed reasoning. Because God is true and we are not, we must accept His word over our own false thoughts. This is the way of safety and of truth.
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.
Jesus Christ, as the Son of God and God in the flesh, is the way and the truth. If we would come to the God of truth, we must come through Jesus Christ or we cannot come at all. The true God whose ways are true has given us one true way by which we can come to Him, and that is through the person of His Son! This is wonderful and miraculous!
John 8:31-32 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
Truth and freedom are available to all who will believe on the the Lord Jesus Christ!
God’s Word Is True
John 17:17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
If there is no version of God’s word available that is true, how can we know that God is true? If we have a true God who is a God of truth He must have a true word and, we can only come to know Him in truth through His true revelation of Himself. This is one reason that the devil has worked so diligently to corrupt the true words of God. We believe and are sure that God has preserved His word in the Received Text of the Greek and the Masoretic Hebrew and through a number of translations based upon these texts in various languages. I do not have time or space to delve into this subject deeply here but one outstanding indication that many of the English, and other language, translations are not true is that they contain lies and/or they make God a liar. [Further reading on this subject.]
When God gave David the promise that his house and kingdom and throne would be established forever (2 Sam. 7:16) David replied before God, and part of what he said was, “For thou, O LORD of hosts, God of Israel, hast revealed to thy servant, saying, I will build thee an house: therefore hath thy servant found in his heart to pray this prayer unto thee. And now, O Lord GOD, thou art that God, and thy words be true, and thou hast promised this goodness unto thy servant:” 2 Samuel 7:27-28 David believed that he would receive this promise because he knew that God’s words are true. We also must believe that God’s words are true if we would receive the promise of eternal salvation. You cannot call God a liar and know His truth at the same time.
We read in Psalms 19:9, The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.
The judgments of the LORD are true and consequently are fully trustworthy.
“We may trust Him fully
All for us to do;
They who trust Him wholly
Find Him wholly true.
Stayed upon Jehovah, hearts are fully blest
Finding, as He promised, perfect peace and rest.”
- Frances Ridley Havergal
2 Thessalonians 2:13 But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:
John 17:3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
Because Jesus Christ is the Son of the true God,
and because He is the way, the truth and the life,
and because He is the word of God (John 1:1-14) and God’s word is truth,
it is no wonder that He is inseparable from our way to God and that He IS our way to God. You cannot have the truth without the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the true God and the true God in the flesh. Your eternal life depends upon it. John 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
Let’s meditate upon the the true God and His Son who is the truth, and upon the true word of God through which He reveals His truth to mankind. If we will focus on the truth, the lies will be self-evident. As darkness is expelled by light, so lies are exposed by the truth of God – both in our own lives and in our view of the world. In a world full of lies, this is a profoundly reassuring truth. And, our salvation depends upon it.
1 John 5:20 And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.
Saturday, October 31, 2015
Psalms 46:1-3 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof. Selah.
Friday, October 30, 2015
Sometimes it isn’t easy to decide what to do with pre-cuts. Jelly rolls, or 2½” strips, are especially challenging, in my opinion, because the size and shape limits the possibilities. If you don’t want to make a whole quilt with strips, what to do? Little projects are a good alternative, and these placemats are a very nice idea. These would make a refreshing change for you décor or a nice gift.
Here is the tutorial at sew4home:
Thursday, October 29, 2015
Tuesday, October 27, 2015
Awhile back a reader asked what their family might do in December since they were no longer celebrating Christmas. It seemed like it would be a good subject to write about, so here are some ideas for our fellow non-celebrators. I wrote this at the Home Maker’s Corner under the section on Christmas-related subjects.
For those of us who don't observe Christmas, it can sometimes be a little hard to know what to do in December while everyone else (more or less) is consumed with celebrating. We may feel alienated from our family, friends and church to some degree. This isn't always because they don't care or are resentful (though, sadly, that does happen). Sometimes it is simply that they don't think of it, or they don't have time to fit non-celebrators into their holiday schedules. Being resentful or hurt about that won't help. Since we made the choice to not celebrate, it is our responsibility to find other ways to use that time.
Here are some ideas that may help those who are still trying to figure out what to do in December.
For those who may wonder why we don’t celebrate Christmas, here is the answer from our own personal point of view.
Saturday, October 24, 2015
Friday, October 23, 2015
Here’s a tutorial from Melanie Ham for making an improvisational quilt block. This is a great way to use up scraps and strips from other projects. Be creative and let yourself go with this. I thought that Melanie cut off too much in some instances. Making blocks will go faster if you just let the big pieces fill space.
Also, I don’t think that it’s necessary to keep your 90° angle. Really, you can sew the strips together any way you like until you have a piece large enough to cut out a block the size you want. If you want a relatively squared look, then the 90° angle is probably a good idea, but if you want a more angular look to the finished block then it isn’t really essential to keep that in evidence. The truth is that you could start the center with a triangle and work out to a square from there.
Anyway, just have fun with it. And if you want to mix up the styles of the blocks, by all means go for it!
By the way, you could also incorporate some small “orphan blocks” (those left over from other projects) as the centers of these blocks. That would be a nice way to use them up and also showcase them as individual pieces.