Monday, January 15, 2018

He Wasn't In Control After All

Sharing a thought as I study the book of Esther, the story that's about God without mentioning him. There are many personal insights to be gained through the characters involved as the story unfolds. Each has his or her own weaknesses, yet God works in and through them all. His purposes are always fulfilled, never thwarted, in spite of who may seem not to be on board with the plan.

This evening I'm thinking about Persia's King Ahasuerus, or Xerxes as we remember him in history. He had several bad characteristics, and one of the most glaring was his issue of controlling power--both as a ruler and as a husband. He ruled his queen as he did his kingdom. Or, rather, he tried to rule her as he did his kingdom.

We know that marriages in those days tended to be more political than personal, a way to keep the peace between nations. That it may do, but it won't keep the peace between marriage partners. Any relationship based on control is out of control.

Control doesn't rear its ugly head just with those who have political positions. There are too few among us who don't struggle to control or feel a need to do so. It's often a source of security to those who seek to control another person, yet a source of slavery to those who are.

Our security is not found in control. Control is borne out of fear, that if we do not control then we will lose something or someone, that we will be hurt by something or someone, that we will not gain something or someone, that we will fail without something or someone. We become dependent on our fear and eventually squeeze the very life out of what or whom we hold so tightly.

Security is found only in Jesus Christ and God's Word where we see "that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence" (2 Peter 1:3). There is no need to fear any loss.

King Xerxes wanted kingdom control. He lost much more than his queen. A few years later his own advisors murdered him in his bedchamber. He wasn't the one in control after all.

And neither are we.
Image ~ Lady Rachel Russell in a Green Dress
Sir Edwin Henry Landseer, 1802-1873
public domain, via pinterest





Sunday, January 14, 2018

The TimeChart of Biblical History

I truly enjoy the Sunday School hour at our church as a variety of different classes are offered each quarter. I'm taking a class this quarter on studying the Bible, and one topic brought up in discussion today was suggested resources for studying the historical context of a book or passage. A friend in the class recommended the Time Chart of Biblical History, which I've also found to be a very helpful resource.

It's handy to keep by my quiet time/study area where I can refer to it as I'm reading. It's 18 inches tall (so it doesn't fit in the bookcase, for sure!) and opens accordion-style to about 17 feet. It provides a visual representation of over 4000 years with charts, maps, lists and chronologies. You can see who's living and what's going on in the known world during the same time period.


If you've wanted to connect the dots in biblical history, the Time Chart of Biblical History would be a great addition to your own home library.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Weekend Daybook

Today's post doesn't seem to keep its formatting. It looks fine in preview, but gets all mixed up in publishing, with all different fonts, sizes, and spacing. It looks all messed up to me, but I've spent too much time trying to fix it. It is what it is. I hope it's readable for you.

Outside My Window...
We've had a few snowflakes fluttering in the air the past couple of days. I miss the beauty of the new-fallen snow in West Virginia where we used to live.

Around the House...
I finally got the Christmas things put away and re-organized their corner of the attic. I left this guy out for awhile on the front door. For a few days, he's felt at home. Brrr!! It's cold outside!























In the Sewing Room...
I tried another pattern for a little girl's dress, but it's not a pattern that I especially liked working with. I didn't want the elasticized sleeves that the pattern called for, so I changed them. (They look crooked in the photo, but it's just how the dress is hanging.) It has three pleats at the neck edge, with binding around the neck. Finished the rickrack around the sleeves yesterday.  I doubt that I'll make another from this pattern.




















Thankful For...
Funerals and memorial services that turn our focus to the Giver of Life and remind us that those who know Jesus pass from this life into His forever kingdom.

Noticing the sound of...
Beautiful music as two young grandsons played the violin and piano at their grandpa's memorial service today. They will miss his love and encouragement.

Brought a smile...

The young brothers playing so tenderly. I think Father God maybe told their Grandpa about it, or maybe let him watch. I'm not sure if God does things like that, but His ways are beyond our imaginations.

Pondering...

Continuing to read through Romans and stopping to ponder 8:16-18, where the Apostle Paul speaks of our "suffering with Him [Christ], in order that we may also be glorified with Him." His suffering was more than physical, as awful as that was. He also suffered emotionally with rejection and hatred, and He told His followers that we would be hated and rejected as well, simply because we follow Him and His way of living. Yet, the suffering we experience while here on earth will enable us to be glorified with Him when we are in His presence. 

Thinking...
I hope we or someone finds My Beloved's wedding ring. He lost it yesterday, and we've searched high and low in the house and retraced errands where it may have come off when he pulled his glove off his hand. An arthritic knuckle made it impossible to get off a few years ago, so he had it cut off, resized, and although it now fits over the knuckle, it can sometimes be loose on his finger. When the knuckle isn't swollen, the ring is more easily removed, and he thinks he must have pulled it off with his glove when he was running errands. This is the second ring he has had. It's just like the first that he cut off himself about the second or third year we were married. He had his car jacked up changing a tire, and when it slipped, he tried to steady the jack and caught his hand between the jack and the car. We still had that ring with our memorabilia, so he took it today to a jeweler to see if it could somehow be refurbished. It can.

Looking forward to...
Beginning some counseling classes. I should get the student link next week, and I'm hoping to complete the coursework within a couple of years.

Learning...
To just do it. I wondered if it was a bit late in life for me to do something like working toward another degree, but I felt the same way the previous time. I know that I don't recall things as easily as in the past, but I will just be faithful and see what God will do. And pray like crazy!

Reading...
I agree with Ruth...

"If you fear growing old--or the notion of it simply seems distasteful or immaterial to you--be assured that ignoring or resisting it will in now way delay its onset. In fact, the more you try to disregard or suppress or belittle it, perhaps the more likely it is to shock and upset you when it arrives, whether that's a few short years from now or decades down the road. How much wiser to approach it with eyes and arms and heart wide open, with a healthy, broadly informed sense of expectancy instead of a dark and narrow dread."


~ Ruth Myers 

from 31 Days of Encouragement as We Grow Older, p.12



Friday, January 12, 2018

The Passage Homeward


Death is a passage through tunneled light.
The tunnel ends, but not the light.
~ unknown


Our church family is mourning the death and celebrating the life
of one of our fellow believers. 
Harold has gone to the One True Light.

I have come as a Light into the world,
so that everyone who believes in Me will not remain in darkness.
~ Jesus the Christ
John 12:46

Jesus is the way Homeward.

Image ~ Light at the End of the Tunnel
via freepik.com

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Thankful Thursday ~ Caring Doctors

I took my mother and sister to the doctor today and was once again thankful that he is a very caring person. He explains thoroughly what is going on, and my mother says she has learned a lot in a little more than a year that she has been seeing him. He reminds her of one of her favored grandsons. My sister has just recently become his patient, too, but as yet she is rather unsure about him.

My sister has an aversion to doctors and hospitals after a near death experience several years ago, so at the sound of the word hospital she begins to get agitated, to put it mildly. More like hysterical. The word hospital was said today in regard to my mother, and the hysteria started to rouse itself. I was there to take notes, but we decided I should take her out while the doctor talked with Mom.

When we were called back into his office, she was calmed and he began to talk with her in a very caring, cordial manner. My sister is often difficult to understand, but the doctor carried on a productive conversation with her, and she left in pretty good spirits. The hospital is still in Mom's near future, so when that day comes, so will the hysteria. But for now it has been put at rest.

God's grace is sufficient, and there are those He puts in our path through whom His grace flows. I'm thankful for this doctor who told my sister that he is our friend. And I think he truly is.

Image via pixabay
CCO Creative Commons

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Frozen, And Now Alive


The front of this month's issue of World Magazine took my breath away. A picture of a newborn baby with the caption: A 25-year-old Baby. The subheading reads, Meet Emma Wren Gibson, frozen as an embryo in 1992, born on November 25, 2017. 

I don't really know the biblical implications of how life is now being engineered and produced, but I offer the link to you for your own perusal and contemplation. It's certainly food for thought.

Click on the image to go to the article entitled "Hope for the Unchosen" in World Magazine.

Image via pixabay
CCO Creative Commons


Tuesday, January 9, 2018

A Hope That Doesn't Disappoint

Reading through Romans and coming to chapter 5 today, which reminds us that we have peace with God through Jesus Christ. It is through faith in Him that we receive grace upon grace.

As I read, my thoughts go to those in our church family who are suffering. Some with illnesses, some with recent losses of loved ones. Without the peace of God, suffering is a terrible thing to face, yet God's grace enables us to endure and even to exult in our tribulations. Those without faith in God know little of His love and care. One of the blessings of knowing God and being loved through His grace is that we know that He works all things for our good. Even through the suffering and tribulation.

He tells us in His Word that the tribulations we face ultimately bring hope because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit. It is His Spirit that enables us to persevere, to find grace upon grace, to be carried and lifted up by His abundant love.

And so, as His children, we rest in His everlasting arms. Resting, knowing the hope that does not disappoint. Our final hope will find us Homeward. I hope to see you there, dear one, as every tear is wiped away and we exult in past tribulations where hope set us free.
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.  (Roman 5:1-5)

Image via pixabay 

Monday, January 8, 2018

We Women Need to Be Accountable As Well

Trading a night with the king for a prominent role goes back in ancient history. Some have been willing to do the trade-off, and now that they have it, they want revenge.

With all of the #MeToo accusations, women need to be held more accountable, too. This has all become too extreme in accusations and ruining careers and personal lives without as much as a court hearing.

With some women reaching back far into their memories for any hint of impropriety, it seems that many of these accusations have simply become a way to gain attention by joining the posh parade. Portraying oneself as an innocent victim is characteristic of today's cultural mentality, and many women are simply marching to the beat of the current drummer. Only they and the ones they accuse know for sure.

The issue has rightfully put the spotlight on sexual integrity and its lack, for both participants in whatever impropriety has taken place. Teens, especially in their naive state, need to be reminded and mindful that years down the road their impropriety may cost them more than they want to pay. Living in integrity costs something, but being naive or willing to compromise costs us more. God does not regard sex with the casual attitude that it's often regarded by many, and we all need reminded that any sex outside of marriage is wrong.

There are some things we women should be held accountable for as well. Are we so naive and foolish? I really don't think most of us are. Why is seduction fueled with one breath while we're accusing and ruining with another? And what about flirting? It isn't an innocent game. It's an invitation. Some women say they have a right to dress however they want, and it's the man's problem to control himself. I don't think that's at all fair, and I often wonder if this is personal preference or a power play.

Where do relationships go from here? God created man as the aggressor, and yes, he must learn self-control in how God wired him. We women need to learn discretion and stop flaunting everything we have. If this #MeToo trend continues, it's sure to affect relationships. The feminist movement already has done a great deal in emasculating men by begrudging them expression of their God-given characteristics. Men are being told to stay away until bidden by a higher power, the women. When women take the role of the aggressor, men become more passive and less protective. Certainly not the characteristics of their God-given gender-role. The enemy of all things good turns the beauty of what God created into something fraudulent. And he certainly has his hand in this stewing pot.

I could go on, but I read an article that says some of the things I've been thinking for awhile, and she says it so much better than I could. It's from the NY Times, which I don't read often, but the article was recommended in a blog that I read. Although I don't agree with every point she makes, it's definitely food for thought. Click here for the article: Publicly We Say #MeToo, Privately We Have Misgivings.
Image ~ Thalia, Louis Michel van Loo
1707-1771, public domain via WikiMedia Commons

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Sunday Ponderings ~ Where I Want To Go

After listening to our pastor's sermon this morning, I've been pondering this afternoon on what may well be the most important statement from the book of Proverbs, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding" (9:10).

I think wisdom is something we're all after. It's what Eve went after in the Garden of Eden. Satan convinced her that the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was going to make her wise. Now, wisdom is a good thing to have. It helps us make our way through life less haphazardly. So Eve ate of the forbidden fruit. She soon learned, however, that was definitely not a wise thing to do. The price of the fruit was more than she expected to pay.

Eve listened to the wrong voice, and we often do the same. Heeding any voice that contradicts God's Word, as Eve did, can sometimes sound and feel right and good, but it too often takes us where we do not intend to go. Add our own voice to the voices outside of us, and life can become rather confusing. I want wisdom, and I'm pretty sure that you do as well, but we need true, godly wisdom, not the wisdom the world or what Satan offers to us. I've seen the consequences Eve paid, and I don't want to go there. I've learned from some of my own consequences as well.

How do we know what true wisdom is? Where do we begin to gain this kind of wisdom? We first have to look at a foundational truth, and that is the statement in Proverbs, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding." If we have no fear of God, no understanding of His holiness and what He requires of us, then we are stuck in the muck and mire of our careless, foolish ways. And life will be one poor decision after another, consequence upon consequence, until we are so totally confused that life itself seems to be a ricochet from one disappointing or even disastrous decision or relationship to another.

That's why the world's wisdom doesn't work for us. There is no fear of God, no understanding of His holiness in it. If we want more wisdom, we must know more about God, for that is where it all begins. Knowing God teaches us the whys and wherefores of daily living, because He created us and knows how to best live this life. Knowing God teaches us about the blessings and consequences of our decisions and patterns of living.

The fear of the Lord, resulting from the knowledge of His holiness, is the beginning of true wisdom. Which takes me where I truly do want to go.

Image ~ Posing With Posies, Wilhelm Menzler, 1846-1926 
public domain, via Tumblr


Saturday, January 6, 2018

Weekend Daybook


Outside My Window...
Very, very cold in the South for this time of year, but I can imagine that it's warmer with the beautiful sunshine today.

Thankful...
That our daughter and her family were able to come for a visit the week after Christmas. It was to have been an extended family get-together, but our other daughter was sick. Thankful, though, that she is better now. 

Noticing the sound of...
The hum of the vaporizer. The air is so dry with the furnace running so much these days.

Looking forward to...
Meeting up with our daughter and her husband halfway in Knoxville later in the month for lunch.

Learning...
Not to dwell unduly on cares and concerns.

Pondering..
"The  Good News is packaged and marketed (using, uncritically, all the techniques of modern advertising) as a religious product offering 'peace of mind', 'how to get to heaven', 'health and prosperity', 'inner healing', 'the answer to all your problems', etc. What is promoted as 'faith in God' often turns out, on closer inspection, to be a means of obtaining emotional security or material blessing in this life and an insurance policy the next. This kind of preaching leaves the status quo untouched." 
~ Vinoth Ramachandra, in Gods that Fail.

In the Kitchen...
My favorite cookies were requested while the grandchildren were visiting. Sharing the recipe with you.

Banana Oatmeal Cookies
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup butter
2 eggs, beaten
1 ¼ cup mashed bananas (2-3)
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 cup wheat germ
1.5 cup quick oatmeal, uncooked
1/3 cup raisins (I sometimes use Craisins)
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional) 

Preheat oven to 400°F. Cream sugar with softened butter and add eggs, bananas, vanilla. Sift flour with baking soda, cinnamon; then fold into mixture. Combine remaining ingredients. Add to mixture. Lightly grease cookie sheet. Drop by heaping teaspoons. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown. Makes about 30 cookies.

Around the house...
Almost finished with packing away Christmas.

Thinking...
I was reminded in my devotional reading this morning of why I don't vote for those who live in perversion, why they are not a positive influence in government. Reading through Romans 1 this morning and seeing in verses 18-32 that it is not only their sexual life that characterizes them. Through the writings of the Apostle Paul, God exposes the depths of their heart and their mind. There's quite a list of character qualities that they bring to the office to which they are elected. God says that He gives them over to their degrading passions. I don't know if that is a permanent state they find themselves in or not. Perhaps it's to bring them to the reality of where their rejection of God has lead them. I do know, though, that He is not willing that any perish.

Brought a smile...
My precious grandchildren whenever they visit, as most grandchildren are apt to do. :-)

Reading...
The NIV Application Commentary on Esther by Karen Jobes in preparation for a class I'll be teaching in the fall. The book of Esther doesn't tell us very much about the thoughts of Esther herself, so I'm finding Jobe's insights particularly helpful. Not only does she give the original cultural context of the book of Esther, she also builds the bridge to contemporary application. The book of Esther has been rather romanticized over the years, and Esther herself has sometimes been held up as a feminist role model. Jobes does none of that.
Image ~ Charles Dana Gibson
1867-1944, public domain
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