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Saturday, January 7, 2017

The Hardness of Heart That Accompanies Depravity

  Nobody becomes depraved in a day.  It is a gradual process of sinning and hardening your heart against the truth.  There are those who sit in church every Sunday, lead a double life the rest of the week, and harden their hearts just a little more every time they hear the truth proclaimed.
  Of course, there are also those who don't attend church, but still harden their hearts against the conscience that God gave them.  How does one become the kind of person who will kill his wife because he is having an affair with another woman?  Could that person be you?  If you are persisting in known sin, it could very well be you!
   I think of David.  Because of his rondezvous with Bathsheeba, he ended up becoming a murderer.  We look at some of the horrendous acts of crime that people do and we think we are somehow different from then, when in fact, we are not. We think there are acts that we are incapable of doing, but that is false security, my friend.  If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. 1Corinthians 10:12.
   Once someone continually "stiffens their neck" they are setting themselves up for the worst possible scenario.  In the account of Sodom, the perverts who visited Lot and wanted to "know the men carnally" were struck with blindness. And then, the following statement - so that they became weary trying to find the door.  Picture that.  You are in the process of gross immorality, you get struck with blindness, and you don't even stop to consider what is happening.  You are so intent on your debauchery, that nothing is going to stop you!  And so it happened.  Destruction!  There was nothing more that God could do.  In his mercy, he gave a stern warning of blindness and it was ignored.  At some point, we are at a place of no return. He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck, will suddenly be broken beyond healing. "Today if you will hear his voice, do not harden your hearts, as in the rebellion."

Friday, January 6, 2017

Omi's Preschool

   I was excited as I prepared for doing preschool with my three grandchildren - Bentley (4), Kenzie (3) and Brooklyn (2).  I expected the highlight of the morning to be the magnetic "car" that we were going to build, but I should have known that wouldn't turn out as planned. It was just like all of the other "science stuff", which is why I hated those dreaded experiments.
   In reality, I am pretty much against preschool, but not my preschool, because the kids aren't pressured in any way, and there is very little in the way of what some would consider to be preschool.  We rarely deal with letters or numbers, for instance.  So, you might wonder what it is, exactly.So, let me enlighten you.  It always involves reading, of some sort.  Sometimes, it is books I bring.  Sometimes, it is their books. Today, it was an old Highlight magazine I picked up at a yard sale.
   When I got there, one was dressed, and two weren't.  The girls were running and screaming.  Not a good introduction for me. Mommy was there, initially, so I talked to her, and then she and their younger brother, Jason, left for Bible Study.
   My intentions were to start out with the car, but it just didn't seem like the right timing, so I asked if they wanted to color. The pages were three different winter scenes.  In the lower right hand corner, it showed them how to color the picture. A first.  The two year old was oblivious, naturally.  (The only reason she is in "school" at all is because big sister and brother are in it and she wants to do what they're doing, of course.) I picked out crayons for her and pointed to where they should be used.  It was of little import to her.  The four year old did somewhat better as far as both matching colors and staying partially in the lines. The four year old did very well at both matching colors and staying within the lines.
   Right here, I want to interject that this is why I pretty much feel like preschool is a waste of time, energy, and  money. Notice the difference as we went from two year old to four year old.  Now think if we went from four year old to six year old. You've got it; faster learning time, better understanding, and better use of time.  But, I digress.
   None of the three finished their pictures, but almost simultaneously jumped up and started playing.  I did not try to coax them into finishing.  Their attention spans had expired.  I allowed them to play for a few minutes before moving onto the next project.
   Seems to me, we read the Highlights, next.  A story. Hidden pictures that nobody could find (except me). An action poem. Everyone liked that. They always do. Part way through the magazine, they lost interest again, so I just allowed them to play for a few minutes.
   Next,I asked who wanted to make something in the kitchen (a favorite). We all washed hands. They pulled the chairs over to the kitchen.It takes forever to make something, but I allow each of them turns doing different things. Today, we made bacon popcorn, something I happened to see on facebook. First, I fried some bacon strips and allowed them to drain. After removing the strips from the pan, I added popcorn and cooked until it popped. Next, I transferred that to a bowl, and now the fun began.I got out a small cutting board and a silverware knife. Each took turns cutting the bacon into smaller pieces. Amazingly, they hardly ever argue and are happy, for the most part, to wait on their turn.
   It was around 11:00, so I destroyed their appetites for lunch, but they did have fiber and protein (smile).  Kenzie, true to form, wanted to just pick out the bacon pieces.  I put a stop to that, for a little while, at least.
   I took junk mail envelopes and "checks" from someplace that wanted contributions,that I didn't give, and Christmas stamps (not postal).  They had a blast with this project.  What did they learn?  Well, for one, that you put the stamp in the upper right hand corner.  It was also good practice for fine motor skills. I had to help both of the girls get their papers into their envelopes and neither one really understood licking the envelope. Everyone did well with the stamps. I allowed them to believe that they were really being sent by putting them in an empty napkin holder on the table for mommy to mail. They had so much fun that I promised we would do it again, sometime.
   I introduced the magnetic car next.  First, I showed them two cow magnets.  They were stuck together and virtually impossible to pull apart, but,of course,I let them try. Bentley immediately got smart and realized they had to be twisted in order for them to be pulled apart.  He's way beyond his years in this sort of thing because his hands-on daddy is good about letting him "help" and takes him on adventures.  I explained that magnets have poles and that they can either repel or attract.  (Only, I told them the wrong way.  It happens in homeschool since we can't be experts about everything and magnets are definitely not my specialty. I wouldn't have known, had my husband not told me.)
  Well, no one showed much interest in the magnetic car that didn't really work, except the youngest.  That's always the way it goes.  One never knows.  But, Bentley was definitely interested in the magnets.  He attached them to his spoon to eat lunch.  Way to make the spoon nice and heavy! So, I left them behind for further discoveries.
   I almost forgot to mention the ipad.  Man, I wish we would have had internet when my kids were younger.  It almost makes me want to start over!  At one point, the kids were playing.  For whatever reason, they were hanging upside down on the couch and pretending to be asleep.  I asked if they were sloths.  Of course, they didn't know what they were, so I pulled up a short video.  I always have to consider that Bentley loves a good fighting video, as do most, if not all boys, so I showed them a contest between a puma and a sloth.  It was quite interesting to say the least. The puma chased the sloth up the tree, but got stuck more than once, and in anger, sharpened his claws nearby.  Even on a preschool level, there are things that interest me and I can learn.
   The preschool child, for the most part, needs plenty of time to run, jump, play, and discover.  He often enjoys games; a wonderful tool for learning. A great deal can be imparted just by talking - asking questions to ascertain his level of understanding, and building on that.  Preschool kids generally love to talk, anyway, and those two-way discussions are far more productive and important, in my book, than flashcards and worksheets.  They love to hear stories about your life.  They love to talk about things they have seen.  And oh, how they love to show you what they can do. There is far more to education than jamming a kid's head full of knowledge. Making lifelong learners is more important than performing at grade level. But, most important, is winning their hearts, because that is the most important item for passing on the faith, and without that, you have nothing.
 

Thursday, January 5, 2017

The Blessing Stands

   Can man diminish or take away the blessing of God? Most definitely not!  I give as an example, Abram.  You may remember that his nephew, Lot, traveled with him from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to the land of Canaan.  God had told Abram to leave, and with that command, He also promised that He would make of Abram a great nation.
   At one point, Abram went up from Egypt with his wife, Lot, and all that he had with him, to the South. The problem was, Abram was very rich in livestock and the land wasn't able to support both Abram and Lot.  So, Abram, being the elder, humbled himself and asked Lot to choose which land he wanted.  He said if Lot went to the left, he would go to the right, or vice versa. Lot chose the better portion - the plain of Jordan, which was well watered everywhere. So, Abram went west and lived in Canaan.
   Things aren't always as good as they look on the surface, though, and Lot ran into trouble because the men of Sodom were "exceedingly wicked".  Interestingly, immediately after they separated, God told Abram that he should look in every direction. Then he promised him all of the land that he could see for him and his descendants forever.
   Let's recap.  Lot tagged along with Abram.  Abram had direct communion with God.  He had the promises of God, not Lot.  Fighting breaks out between the herdsmen, due to lack of resources.  Abram, instead of choosing the land which was obviously "best" defers to Lot.  Lot, naturally chooses what, from all appearances is the obvious choice, and Abram gets blessed even more.
   Nothing can hinder the plans of God - no man, no law, no tragedy, no nothing!  Can you see it?  Can you believe it?  "Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass."
  When you don't get the promotion, but the biggest cutthroat in the office does, rest.  When you are falsely accused, rest.  When you don't get what was promised you, rest. When you are despised or rejected, rest. 
   Sometimes, it takes decades until right prevails.  Sometimes, a lifetime, but God sees.  God hears. Everything is laid bare before God.  He is the rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.  
For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.
   If you are in a dark place, ask the Lord for light.  If you have been rejected, embrace His love.  If you are weary, ask for new strength. "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength".  There is no mountain to high you cannot climb with the aid of God.  There is no valley too low that God doesn't stoop down to help. 
   (Deu 7:9-10) “Therefore know that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments; {10} “and He repays those who hate Him to their face, to destroy them. He will not be slack with him who hates Him; He will repay him to his face.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Has God Forgotten You?

  If you were to look into my Bible and see the subtitles listed there, you would find the following:  Noah Pleases God, The Ark Prepared, The Great Flood, and Noah's Deliverance, in precisely that order.
  Let's break that down.  Noah Pleases God. Let's see what God has to say about him - a)just b)perfect in his generations c)walked with God. Pretty impressive resume, wouldn't you say?
  What might you think would happen to such a man, assuming you weren't familiar with the story? Blessings, right?  I mean, that's kind of what we are taught from little on up.  Think Santa Claus.  Remember how we were rewarded by our parents. No parent ever said, "Now, Johnny, if you are a good boy today, tomorrow it will rain and you will have to stay inside."  Of course not.  On the other hand, they may have said, "If you are a good boy today, tonight we will go for ice cream."  Reward follows obedience.
   Even the Bible says so.  Blessed (happy) is the man that doesn't walk in the counsel of the ungodly. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. The blessing of the Lord brings wealth, without painful toil for it.  Sign me up!
   Oh, but wait.  Back to our story.  The Ark Prepared. God talks to Noah.  He tells him what is about to happen.  Then he tells him exactly how to prepare for the disaster in order to save himself, his family, and a remnant of animals. Please observe what I said first. God talks to Noah.
    On to the next title.  The Great Flood.  God is still talking to him.  He commands this and that; very precise directions. Then the Lord shuts him in and the Great Flood begins. For forty days this boat bobbed around on the top of a rolling, powerful, huge beyond imagination, body of water. Forty days.  Think of it!  Do you get depressed on rainy days?  I must tell you that I quite enjoy rainy days, for the most part, although I don't enjoy the succeeding messy floors.  There are others that enjoy rain, too, my oldest daughter being one of them.  But, we are an odd and tiny group, I am afraid.  More often then not, we can be experiencing a drought and someone complains if we get rain.  Most people don't want rain - ever!  It totally messes up their plans.
   Granted, there wasn't much happening on earth about that time that they would have to miss, if you know what I mean.  But, still!  Even I, the one who likes rain, start to get a little tired of it after a few days.  I am ready for some sunshine after those dreary, tedious periods.
   Imagine this, as well. A great body of people that they knew had perished.  A single death is difficult. A teen dies and the whole high school mourns.  A few teens die in a car accident, and the whole town mourns.  But, we are talking about every  - single -  person -  that   they   knew, save them.
   Can I remind you at this point that this is a man who was just, perfect in his generations, and walks with God. For you animal lovers, there's more - "And all flesh died that moved  on the earth: birds and cattle and beasts and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, and every man."  Remember that God told them exactly which animals to take.  It says they went to him.  It doesn't say he went to them.  Therefore, that pet chicken of yours?  That pet cow?  Maybe even a cat or dog, who knows?  Probably left behind.  Imagine the agony!  Imagine the grief!  Imagine the sorrow!  It is beyond description.
   And let's not forget, they were losing their homes, as well.  That is no small thing, for sure.  Of course, they were getting a new home, but this one wasn't very stable. I can only imagine that, short of a miraculous intervention, sea sick would hardly describe their predicament.
   Now, after these forty days of flooding, there was more waiting! "And the waters prevailed on the earth one hundred and fifty days." I love the next sentence, which falls in under Noah's Deliverance.  "Then God remembered Noah, and every living thing...Wait, what??  He forgot about Noah and what was happening on the earth?  Hardly.  According to Bible Hub, it is called anthropromorphism when human characteristics are assigned to God, and happens often throughout the Old Testament. Why did He wait those one hundred and fifty days before causing a wind to pass over the earth, that the waters might decrease? Your guess is as good as mine.  This is why He is God, and we're not.
    Again, I want you to notice something.  The ark rested in the seventh month on the mountains of Ararat. The waters continued to decrease until the tenth month. Noah sent out first a raven and then a dove to test things.  All told, from the time that God shut the door until the time of  Noah's departure from the ark, it was one year and ten days.  In all of that time, God said absolutely nothing to Noah.  He never told him to send out the raven or the dove, but when the time came, God spoke to Noah saying, "Go out of the ark, you and your wife, and your sons and your sons' wives with you."
   May I suggest that God doesn't waste words. Leading and guiding us doesn't always mean that He is talking to us.  Was it necessary to talk to Noah while they were waiting for the flood to cease?  Not really.  I can only imagine that at times Noah and his family may have wondered if they were going to be floating around indefinitely. I'm sure they would have appreciated it if God had checked in periodically.  Perhaps saying after forty days, "Ok, the rain is over now."  Maybe, just maybe, he could have said, "I'm sending wind, now, so that the water will decrease," or  "You're sitting on top of Mt. Ararat, now." Would it have changed things? Not really.  But often, knowing feels like we've got some control, and they didn't.
    Sometimes, God is silent for "no good reason".  Sometimes He is silent because He has nothing more to say to you at the moment. Sometimes, he is silent, of course, because of our sin.  It isn't always easy to know. Hindsight is, of course, the clearest.
    There are those who will tell you that if you have faith, all will be well, all of the time.  Things will be "well" because God is in control.  He is the Great Shepherd. If you are his child through faith in Christ, nothing can touch you that God hasn't allowed.  Nothing can "go wrong", if you will. At the same time, things can go "terribly wrong", but only from our perspective.  God was managing things all along.  Noah just had to go along for the ride. Pun intended. He had already done the "work" previously, through his relationship with the Lord.
    Remember how frustrating it was sometimes as a kid?  Those times when mom and dad wouldn't budge regardless of your whining, begging, or pouting?  Yeah, same with God. He'll take care of you.  Doesn't mean you're always going to be happy about the way He is managing things.
   You don't get to vote. You can relax knowing that He is at the helm, come what may.  He may not be telling you what he is doing, but if He isn't, you don't need to know. You can rest in this knowledge, but it isn't always easy.  In fact, sometimes, it can be beyond difficult. Remember Noah when you seem to be getting an unjust "reward". Remember Samson or Jonah when you're getting what you deserve.  But, ultimately, remember that all things work together for good to those who love God.  You're not forgotten.





Tuesday, November 8, 2016

An Exhaustive List of The Advantages of Aging for Women

1) no pms
2) no periods
3) don't have to wash my hair every single day, now
4)
5)
6)
7)
8)

Sorry.  Guess that's all I've got.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Almost 60

        My daughter, Rachel, has an analytical mind, as I do.  I'll bet she was maybe only fourteen or so when she asked me, "What do you have to look forward to at your age?"  I was rocked to my core.  I don't know how I answered and I'm sure the answer didn't come quickly.
       The thought never occurred to me when I began this blog that I'd still be writing as I enter the sixth decade of my life.  But, in a few short months, I'll no longer be "fiftysomething".  The big six O is on the horizon.
        I remember being aware of how my thinking was changing as I was in my fifties. And now, I am, once again, cognizant of the fact that my thinking is again changing as I enter my sixties.
       So, what's different?  I find myself doing a lot of thinking about the past.  As my youngest daughter officially became an adult in September, I think of days gone by - times when our lives were filled to the brim with children's laughter, activities, music, and more.  I think a lot about my childhood, too.
        Some people say things like, "If only I were sixteen, again."  Seriously?  No thanks.  I've lived a good portion of my life, and I am ok with that.  I am not pining for the past.
        Young people are forward thinking; hoping to turn twelve so they can go hunting, or sixteen so they can drive.  Always, it is about life ahead of them.  But, sixty, that is another story.  Do I think about the future and still have goals?  Absolutely!  I could never live just one foot in front of the other.  I actually just completed a goal that I've had for years.  In my church, I've worked with children, but I don't really like children's ministry.   So, I've "paid my dues" and just recently had the opportunity to lead a small group of women through a six week course.  I've already decided what I'd like to teach next.  Here is where my heart is, not with children.
         A lot of my life is still centered in my family - get togethers, baby sitting, and helping with the educational process. In that sense, there is always something with which to look forward.
         Today, I am going to my daughter's to assist.  She just had a new baby.  I may cook, do laundry, or help with the boys - probably a combination of all three. I will be a part of the craziness of four little boys.  There will be crying (plenty of that), whining, running, screaming, and "Hey Omi, watch this."  I will feel bombarded and overwhelmed, but  I will feel a sense of satisfaction for having been able to enter their world and lessen the load, if just for a few days. Then, I will come home and do the same things, basically, sans all the commotion, and I will be glad that stage of life is behind me.
         Yes, most of my life is in the rear view mirror, and I am ok with that.  God had a plan that included raising seven children and homeschooling them.  It was God's "big task" for me. I have run the race, I have finished my course.  I expect to hear, "Well done thou good and faithful servant", and I couldn't ask for anything better.
 

Friday, October 7, 2016

4 Dozen Cookies

   We live very complex lives as women here in America.  There are so many choices that can be made.  I recently read a story about an MK coming to America and being sent to the grocery store to buy a box of cereal.  The choices were staggering. The cereal aisle contained more food than was available in her entire village!
   And so it is, that every day, we have a myriad of choices facing us about how to live - what to eat, what to wear, how to spend our money, and what we do with our time, to name a few.
   As Christians, we want to serve and please God, but how do we do that?  How do we choose from the vast array of things  that can be done for the kingdom? There are ministries both inside and outside the church, for starters.  And then, that further breaks down into more options.  Knowing this, it can be very easy to just be carried along with the stream.
  Case in point:  Our church is having a 35th Anniversary as a church.  We are having a big celebration, and rightly so.  One woman in our church, in particular, has taken,  and is taking, the lion share of the work.  Why?  Mainly, because she has the gift of administration.  There is nothing she enjoys more than heading up a big project such as this.  She loves all of the little details. She concerns herself with things that would never even enter my mind.
   We are having a fellowship meal following the services, of course.  Usually, when we have a fellowship meal, we are asked to bring a dish.  This time, there is a request, only,  to bring four dozen cookies.  I have not looked at the sheet to see if a need still exists.  I almost made a motion to do so, but was stopped by the Holy Spirit.  The need is not the call!  That is something my mother was told early on in her Christian walk, and it is something that has stuck with me and served me well.
    When we are dedicated to Christ, and therefore, his church, it is easy to overextend ourselves.  It can become a habit to madly dash around doing everything under the sun, but do nothing well. We can get caught up in mindless activity and think we are doing a good thing.  Nothing could be farther from the truth. Things have to be taken into consideration as to our other responsibilities in life. When I was raising and home educating seven children, it was a grandiose task just to get there on a Sunday morning.  At one point, I did little else, and so it should be.
    Besides our station in life, some of the other variables are exercising our spiritual gifts and using our talents. For instance, my administrative abilities are next to nil.  One of my jobs at my church is children's church coordinator. The three components of this job are recruiting people to work, making a schedule, and making and handing out copies of the material.  My forte is recruiting.  I am very bold and "go where no man has gone before" in asking people to work in children's church.  The schedule is no problem, whatever, either. But making the copies and handing them out is another story.  This job requires very little in terms of organization, but until I was able to come up with a plan, I almost quit because of the frustration I felt.Clearly, I would not be a suitable candidate for heading up the 35th Anniversary Celebration.
    Certainly, I am not saying I am "above" making cookies.  I have done similar things in the past, when it was appropriate. But, that task might be better left to someone else.  I am thinking of an elderly lady in our church who probably signed up.  She loves to make cookies, for starters, and makes them in big quantities.  Due to her health, she is limited in her service, and I'm betting, this was perfect for her.
    What we do, and how we do it, will change and grow over the years.  As we try different activities, we will find our niche.  One year, I signed up to be a helper for the Sparks class in AWANA. It flows with the school year.  I had no sooner started than I was hoping for snow on a Wednesday  evening so it would be canceled.  That was a long year; which brings up another issue - commitment.  Even though, I had no sooner begun, than I realized I hated the job, I finished the year.  There are times, obviously, when we cannot fulfill our duties, but we should never make that a habit. The church could not survive (but of course it will) if the majority of workers were cut from that cloth.
   Sometimes, we will be asked to do something that we may not think is a good fit.  "No", is an option at those times. I actually was asked by our pastor to head up children's church.  Interestingly, I'm not a big fan of children's church.  Our kids rarely took advantage of it.  I am more prone to think that children should stay in the worship service. Nevertheless, because I had never actually been asked to do something by the pastor, I agreed, on a trial basis.  What I wasn't even aware of at the time is that I am not a team player. I prefer working alone.  Both children's church and the AWANA store lend themselves to that scenario. And I've been doing both for a number of years.
    When we are positioned correctly, we will both enjoy and be good at the tasks for which we are responsible.  It may take some trial and error, but generally, we will be drawn towards that for which God has equipped us.  Be in prayer and be sensitive to the Holy Spirit.  He will guide.