July 21, 2014

Boy Tethers

Last Saturday, we had the privilege of taking the hubbin's nephew out to several museums in our area. He's really into snakes and the Greeks, Roman, and Viking cultures, so we took him to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, the MO. Conservation Discovery Center and Lakeside Nature Center in Kansas City and spent several hours walking through them. By the time, we got to the last place, my knees and legs had had it, so the guys went inside by themselves.
While I was waiting for them to come back out, I watched a young family approach our car where I was sitting. I thought of the old saying "Necessity is the Mother of All Invention" and thought of a thing I could be grateful for this week, so I quickly made a note of it in the little spiral notebook I carry in my purse.
Our preemie son was born RUSH'ing here and there! LOL! Often times he wasn't aware of where we were in relation to his own body (outta sight, outta mind) since he was too busy exploring. Daily, I had a hard time keeping up with him and near the end of the day, when the husband came home from work and sat down, I'd hand the child over to his daddy and say, "Your turn,"  while I'd go make supper. When he was young enough and could sit strapped in a stroller, I could keep an eye on him and his safety, but when he got too big for that, I thank the mother who invented the halter and handle for her own busy little boy.
My husband's parents and one sister did not like our use of the halter and leash, because they said, it made him appear as though he was "a dog." However, they did not have my experience of caring for their grandson and nephew on a day to day basis, until . . .
We attended a sport show together. Since the aisles between the vendors were too narrow, the convention advertisers asked people not to bring strollers into the show, but nothing was said about using a halter and line, so we buckled our 2 year old son into his. He could look all he wanted, but the rope only went out so far and I kept a tight grip on the handle. During the course of the evening, the grandparents wanted to take the grandson for awhile, so we handed him over and the first thing they did was to remove the halter. They said they were going to carry him, so no need for "the dog leash", and although I had misgivings, I said a little prayer as I turned to leave with my husband.
Well, when we met up with them two hours later at our rendezvous point where we agreed to meet at a certain time, they had the halter back on the child. I was surprised and must have looked it as they quickly began to explain. Grandpa was holding him, got tired, set him down for a moment to look at something, turned back a second later and the kid was gone. They spent a frantic hour looking for him. This was back in the days before cell phones or walkie-talkies for ordinary folks were common, so in their panic, they did not think to try to page us over the convention loudspeaker. They finally found him several aisles over very interested in a hawker's speech and grabbed him up, quickly buckling the halter and handle back on.
So today, I'm thankful for the halter/line, God's protection, and lessons learned! :)

July 14, 2014

Family Reunion

"If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother (family members, friend, associate, neighbor) has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother, then come and offer your gift." (Matthew 5:23-24).

This verse came to mind this morning as I was mulling over the lives of two brothers. I've seen a lot of bitter resentment build up over the years between the brothers and their wives because the oldest of the two sweeps his feelings under the rug and says he is keeping the peace. He refuses to seek true reconcilation between them. When they share the same space, I feel tension and hear the rivalry get rehashed each time they are together. It's like a private Hatfield and McCoy feud. How can love flow and gratefulness take place when the poison of false forgiveness crowd it out? And then to top it off, their festering anger against each other is being taught to the next generation. Perhaps not consciously, but nevertheless it is still being passed down to their descendants. Until recently, I didn't understand what the verse meant about the sins of the fathers until I put two and two together "The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation." (Exodus 34:6-7).
So I believe that this is saying that the two brothers are not only responsible for not letting their personal quarrel between them get out of hand, but like ripples in a pond, they should have made sure it didn't spoil their descendants' lives. Well, that's so much water under the bridge now, however.
I was reminded of the verse in my life chapter of Ephesians when reading a Christian book recently. It read: "In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry. And do not give the devil a foothold." (Ephesians 4:26-27). I wrestled with this one awhile because at the moment I read this chapter I was nursing anger towards my husband and I didn't want to forgive him. I was right and he was unwilling to admit I was right. The writer said you will get angry from time to time and the emotion of anger is not a sin. He said that even Jesus got angry at the sellers in the temple. "Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. 'It is written,' he said to them, 'My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of robbers.'" (Matthew 21:12-13; Mark 11:27-33). Jesus, the only perfect human being ever in existence, was not sinning in his righteous anger because he was zealous for his Father and his holy temple. He recognized that the moneychangers and the noisy animal sacrifice hawkers were short-changing the people who had come to worship. Many things such as greed and irritating noise were blocking the people's joyful prayer-time and grateful adoration of their heavenly Father.

He said when you become angry, you will come to a fork in the road and you will make a decision towards the right or to the left. You can turn to  righteousness and make peace with the person you are angry with before the day is over or you can turn away from God (which is sin) and nurse pride and resentment, which might even lead to depression, in your heart. The writer of this book said it is much better to get right with the other person before the sun goes down and continue to talk it out even if it takes all night then to have a festering wound between you. He said otherwise you have carried the burden of bitterness all night long, making it harder and harder to let go of it each day and night that passes until it becomes a malignant ball and chain wrapped around your heart. He said it is much better to confess your part in it, apologize, shake hands, forgive, and return to love again. Only then can you know real peace.
"Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children. . . always giving thanks to God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." (Ephesians 4:31-5:1, 20).

I pray to see the miracle of thawing pride and forgiving love come to the brothers before they pass on. And I would enjoy seeing the cleansing of all the hearts involved and a strong loyal bond knit between the two families.

Thank you Lord for the lessons you teach us. Help us learn from them. And if there is any sin in me, show me where I might be hiding it so I can rip it out and hand it over to you. Mend me, wash me and make me whiter than snow.
"Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool." (Isaiah 1:18).

So if you find you are having a hard time being grateful, perhaps something is blocking your way. Are you hiding sin in your heart? If so, I recommend getting right with with your brother and with the Savior. He is merciful and gracious.
"He himself bore our sins on his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness." (1 Peter 2:24).

July 08, 2014

Praise God 4 Blessings

I'm thankful for the two new-to-me relatives who have found my biographical postings on my History Nut Blog. Thank you, Lord, for sending them my way. We have been exchanging information like mad and it has helped me grow in knowledge about my 3rd great-grandfather whom I'm researching. He wasn't exactly popular, but as a minister of God, he strove to live the right way as he in his finite human understanding could.

Sometimes it's not easy living as a Christian. Sometimes you must make hard decisions and say things to people they may not want to hear.
Recently, I reminded several people on Facebook that they must be careful not to share things that might make a weaker brother fall, because regrettably, I had done the very thing myself not too many days before. I forwarded something that I thought better of later and when I went to delete it out, I discovered it was too late. It had been passed on by a weaker brother. God reminded me of the verse we had memorized together with this particular brother "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." (1 Corinthians 10:31). And the verse just under it says "Do not cause anyone to stumble . . . For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved." (1 Corinthians 10:32a, 33b). I was ashamed. But I went to God and "confess (ed my) sins, he (was) faithful and just and (forgave my) sins and purif (ied me) from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9). I made it right with him and he, in turn, extended grace and mercy.

There was at least one person in particular who did not like what I had to say and accused me of trying to embarrass her in front of everybody, but that was not my intention. I just wanted her to be aware that the devil is sneaky and the good quote she was forwarding had a little devilish tail attached to it. Having been at the butt end of too much teasing and cruel tormenting from others, I struggle with knowing the right time to "speak the truth in love" (Ephesians 4:15), afraid I might hurt other's feelings, "but the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it, And I was delivered from the lion's mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen" (2 Timothy 4:17-18).

In the scripture, I'm reminded that I'm not to " let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up, according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." (Ephesians 4:29) and "If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. . . Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in your faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings." (1 Peter 4:11; 5:8,9) and "In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned. . . so that in every way, they will making the teaching about God our Savior attractive." (Titus 2:7, 8a, 10c). That puts the responsibility keeping a guard on my mouth-gate at all times and if I get the urge to speak for the right, then it's not me, but "men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit." (2 Peter 1:21b).

Sunday, during morning worship, I thought again of this whole week and how I could express my gratitude in this post. One of the rituals we do as part of our service is the singing of the doxology after offering God our tithe for his kingdom work. It's a good weekly reminder to thank God for the blessings that come our way such as lessons learned and forgiving friends.

Praise God, From Whom All Blessings Flow
By Thomas Ken & Louis Bourgeois

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen!