Pickled Peppers

Great lesson here.

GraceSpeak

When a jar of pickled peppers falls off the refrigerator shelf onto the tile floor, it makes a big mess. I know this, because this morning found me on my hands and knees cleaning up peppers and sticky syrup and broken glass.

It was a small jar, but the mess created was worthy of a gallon bucket.

I should probably say here that I am known in my household for placing jars too close to the edge in the refrigerator, fitting one more thing on a shelf, thinking I will find a better place for that later.

This morning later happened.

The thing about a jar crashing onto the floor is that the damage is ongoing. I can clean up the immediate mess, place everything in the garbage, wash out the cleaning cloths and think, “Done!”, but it isn’t done. Little pieces of glass find their way into the oddest…

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Day of the Christian Martyr

Church tradition say that the Apostle Paul was killed on June 29. This year Christians are called to take time today – and throughout the coming weekend – to remember and honor those who have given their lives to share the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I have shared some of their stories in posts before. I hope you will take time to read them.

We have so many to remember. Check out the stores of some of these heroes of the faith:

  • John the Baptist
  • Stephen
  • Polycarp
  • William Tyndale
  • John Huss
  • John and Betty Stam
  • Eric Liddell
  • Jim Elliott and Nate Saint
  • Richard Wurmbrand

“Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.” Hebrews 13:3

Friday’s Quotes – Importance of God’s Word

  1. Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
  2. How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living accord to Your word.
  3. I have hidden Your word in my heart that I might not sin against You.
  4. The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.
  5. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
  6. It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.
  7. The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul.
  8. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.
  9. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
  10. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.

Homes for Elves

We found the perfect elf house. Actually, several houses perfect for elves.

In Charlevoix, Michigan there are 26 houses built by Earl Young that appear to be perfect for a family of elves.

The neighborhood has a sign asking everyone to respect the privacy of these homes. However, across the street from most of the homes we found cars pulling to the side of the road and taking pictures. I wonder how it would feel to live in a house where tourists are standing across the street taking pictures.

They were so unique. I could not stop taking pictures.

Young created his homes to fit the site using the limestone, fieldstone and boulders he found in Northern Michigan. Each home is different from the other and has cedar-shake roofs with wide, wavy eaves. Over the course of his fifty-year career, Young built twenty-six residential houses and four commercial properties.

Along with the houses was all the beautiful use of the stones for fences.

The house that really caught my attention was the Thatch House. It was very large, and looked like a giant mushroom.

I discovered that this house is actually for rent for vacations or special events. It would be so cool (can I use that word?) to stay there, but since it rents for $1,000 a night during the week and over $1,400 for a weekend night, I will just settle to take pictures from the outside and try to imagine what it looks like on the inside.

But if you know of any elf looking for a home, send him to Charlevoix Michigan.

Going the Extra Mile

Nike created a tennis shoe they called “The Extra Mile” and their ad campaign said:

We take the extra steps to chase something bigger. Even better…we go the extra mile.

However, Nike was not the first one to share the idea of going the extra mile. While Nike was suggesting we get out there and move and physically run/walk more, Jesus challenged us to pursue something greater than just another mile on our walk/run.

He said in Matthew 5:41:

If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.

What exactly did Jesus have in mind when He made this statement? The Greek word used here refers to someone being forced to help someone. Jesus was talking about a common practice at that time. According to Roman law, any Roman soldier could order a Jewish civilian to carry the soldier’s baggage, often his heavy armor, for one Roman mile.

Obviously, this practice was resented by the Jewish people. But instead of resenting it, Jesus said to carry it one more mile.

So it is with us. Many times we are offended, hurt and we harbor resentment toward the one who has harmed us. Jesus is saying we need to deal with our resentment and go the extra mile. To seek peace and offer forgiveness. This verse was part of the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus added that we are to love our enemies, pray for them and not turn anyone away if we can meet their need. All of these require us to go the extra mile.

Many times, we are quick to remember when someone has offended us, but we need to ask the Holy Spirit to make us aware of times when we may have offended someone else. Going the extra mile may require us to be humble and reach out and say, “I am sorry.”

May God help us to be people that will seek to go that extra mile in offering forgiveness, understanding, love and devotion in our marriages, with our children, our parents, our neighbors and yes – especially with that person whose opinions and beliefs are so opposite of ours.

Friday’s Quotes – Importance of Prayer

  1. Let us never forget that the greatest thing we can do for God or for man is to pray.
  2. Intercession is service…unlike all other forms of service and superior to them in this: it has fewer limitations. In all other service, we are constantly limited by space, bodily strength, equipment, material obstacles and difficulties involved with differences of personality. Prayer knows no such limits…S.D. Gordon
  3. Prayer is partnership with God’s activities on earth…Dietrich Bonhoeffer
  4. The greatest need is prayer. Without increasing the number of Christian workers or their financial support, we could see multiplied results if we would only multiply prayer…Wesley Duwell
  5. One way of laying down our lives is by praying for somebody. In prayer I am saying “my life for yours.” My time, my energy, my thought, my concern, my faith—here they are, for you…Elizabeth Elliott
  6. Praying takes personal time, energy and determination. No other personal commitment has been so hard to carry out.
  7. Prayer is asking God to align you with His will rather than asking Him to be aligned with yours.
  8. Prayer should not be regarded as a duty which must be performed, but rather as a privilege to be enjoyed…E.M. Bounds
  9. Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts…Mother Teresa
  10. I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had no where else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day….Abraham Lincoln

Hard Work U

On one of our trips south we visited the College of the Ozarks. This Christian, liberal arts college is located near Branson, Missouri. Presbyterian minister, Rev. James Forsythe, founded the school in 1906. Called The School of the Ozarks, it was first a high school and became a junior college in 1956. Nine years later it became a four-year college and in 1990 took the name College of the Ozarks.

The students at the college work on campus to help pay for part of their tuition. They work 15 hours a week during the school year and do two forty-hour weeks during that time. Scholarships provide the rest of the tuition, so students do not graduate with a large debt to be repaid. This does not include room and board, but students can choose to work during the summer and that will cover their room and board for the next year.

When they first arrive, students are assigned to a service-oriented job for the first one or two semesters such as working in the cafeteria or the restaurant that is open to the public, or mowing and keeping the lawns and gardens in good repair.  After the first two semesters they may apply to work in an area more suited to their career plans.

For example, students seeking a degree in agriculture work to produce the dairy, beef, fruit, and vegetables used in the kitchen at The Keeter Center, C of O’s restaurant, ice cream shop, and bakery.

They have a beautiful art gallery where students seeking a degree in Art Education can also work helping with the many events the gallery has each year.

Students seeking other degrees are offered jobs in areas where they can apply what they are learning to real life.

The campus is beautiful. Set in the beautiful Ozark Mountains the views are breathtaking.

We watched one of the students demonstrating the use of a loom. Her major was in Arts and she was working in the museum area as part of her job to pay for tuition.

There was also a mill where they made their own wheat and bread (again students working off their tuition and also learning a trade).

We loved all the water fountains on the campus.

We ended our visit with a delicious meal at the Keeter Center and enjoyed the view in the distance.

If you are ever in the Branson area it is a beautiful and interesting place to check out. While the free tuition is great, it is a very conservative college and would not be a fit for anyone who does not lean very right on the political scale.

Sixty-eight Years – and He is Still Faithful!!!

I posted this in 2018 but today I celebrate 68 years of walking with my Savior, my best friend.

Life has had its ups and downs, but one thing has remained true. Jesus has been faithful to me through it all.

  • He was there when my father left my mother and I when I was fourteen. “When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up.” Psalm 27:10
  • He was there when my husband was killed in an accident leaving me with two little girls to raise. “I will be with you always.” Matthew 28:20
  • He was there when the doctor told me “The odds are not in your favor” and gave me little hope of surviving more than a few more years. “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil for you are with me.” Psalm 23
  • He is here as I began to age and face pain of arthritis and all the other issues of the aging. “The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, “The Lord is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.”

In 74 years of life, I have made a lot of decisions, some good, some bad. But that decision as a six-year-old was the best one I ever made and one I have never regretted.

Laughter and Wisdom from the Queen

Since we just saw England celebrate the 70 years of the reign by Queen Elizabeth II, I thought I would share her comments for my Friday list of laughter and wisdom (even though i am a day late.)

  1. Grief is the price we pay for love.
  2. None of us can slow the passage of time; and while we often focus on all that has changed in the intervening years, much remains unchanged, including the Gospel of Christ and his teachings.
  3. When life seems hard, the courageous do not lie down and accept defeat; instead, they are all the more determined to struggle for a better future.
  4. If I wore beige, nobody would know who I am.
  5. It has been women who have breathed gentleness and care into the harsh progress of mankind.
  6. Children teach us all a lesson – just as the Christmas story does – that in the birth of a child, there is a new dawn with endless potential.
  7. We all need to get the balance right between action and reflection. With so many distractions, it is easy to forget to pause and take stock.
  8. Let us not take ourselves too seriously. None of us have a monopoly on wisdom.
  9. Memories are our second chance at happiness.
  10. The world is not the most pleasant place. Eventually your parents leave you and nobody is going to go out of their way to protect you unconditionally. You need to learn to stand up for yourself and what you believe and sometimes, pardon my language, kick some ass.

I Have My Rights!

Probably no country in the world has been more adamant about the rights of its citizens and the role of government in maintaining those rights. When the U.S. Constitution was written, three delegates to the Constitutional Convention did not sign it because it lacked a bill of rights.

Created in 1787 the Constitution became the official foundation of the USA in 1788 when New Hampshire became the ninth state out of the 13 to ratify it. Many states agreed to ratify it with the understanding that a bill of rights would be quickly added.

In 1789, 19 amendments were submitted to the U.S. House of Representatives. James Madison is given credit for writing them although it is believed others, including George Mason, who had refused to sign the Constitution without a bill of rights, had given input. Seventeen of the 19 amendments were approved by the House and sent to the Senate. The Senate approved 12 of them and in December 1791 the states had ratified ten of them.

Throughout the history of our country these amendments and the rights they gave have been debated and challenged in our courts. Today it is the Second Amendment that has produced so much disagreement and arguing.

The point of this post is not to argue for or against exactly what that amendment meant in regards to our right to possess guns.

But what distrurbs me is the role many evangelical leaders are taking in pushing an agenda of the “rights” of Christians. Many have been very hostile in speaking against those who do not agree with the “Christian” point of view. Sadly they seem to feel that their viewpoint is the “Christian” viewpoint and anyone who opposes that is clearly not a Christian.

The contrast between this militant voice of many evangelicals and the voice of Jesus shows that the Christian “right” has lost its Biblical connection.

Listen to the words of Jesus:

“Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.”

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Jesus said we need to become a servant. To be a follower of Jesus does not mean you have no rights. It means you give up your rights freely in order to bless and help someone else.

Hear how Jesus was described:

“Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.”

Although Jesus had a “right” to be treated like royalty he gave up that right and make himself “like a slave.” In doing so He modeled exactly what He meant when He said “If any man desires to be first, let him be last and servant of all.”

Jesus ministered in a country that was under the rule of another nation, the Roman Empire. There was much that was unjust in that time. But Jesus said nothing about trying to change the political scene. He said his kingdom was not of this world. He had a plan that was much bigger and greater than any government, any nation, any political party.

The issues we as Christians face in our country today do need to be faced and legislated and thank God because we have rights, we have the right to express ourselves. But we must not invest so much of our time and energy in trying to make our nation Christian by trying to force our beliefs on others that we fail to introduce them to a different kind of kingdom, one based on the love of God. (Laws may change behavior, but they will never change hearts.)

“Passing laws to enforce morality serves a necessary function, to dam up evil, but it never solves human problems. If a century from now all that historians can say about evangelicals of the 1990’s is that they stood for family values, then we will have failed the mission Jesus gave us to accomplish; to communicate God’s reconciling love to sinners….Jesus did not say ‘All men will know you are my disciples…if you just pass laws, suppress immorality and restore decency to family and government,’ but rather ‘if you love one another.’ “

He made that statement the night before His death, a night when human power, represented by the might of Rome and the full force of Jewish religious authorities, collided head-on with God’s power. All his life, Jesus had been involved in a form of “culture wars” against a rigid religious establishment and a pagan empire, yet he responded by giving his life for those who opposed him. On the cross, he forgave them. He had come, above all, to demonstrate love: “for God so loved the world he gave his one and only Son…”

Philip Yancey in his book “the jesus I never knew.” i highly recommend this book

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