Monday, March 28, 2011

Eat Your Peas Faithfully

This book is billed as a 3-minute-forever book. I am guessing that the thought there is that it will only take 3 minutes to read, but the sentiments will last forever. That just may be the case. The book is a short, syrupy read that encourages us as women that God loves us, made us special, has a purpose for us, and we can trust Him. All of these are wonderful truths that we need to dwell on, meditate on, and chisel on our hearts. Unfortunately, these truths are so quickly read that I fear they will not make the lasting impression that they should. I think that this would be a great gift book for a teen with whom you would like to share deeper, more intimate talks. It is an encouraging way to say that someone cares and is around to share your burdens. I would hope that those who are more mature would use this as a jumping off point though. Do not let this be the extent of your encouragement. The book is artistically well done. The textured pages are simply illustrated in soft colors. The type is feminine, yet easy to read. I did find it odd that some scripture passages had the translation listed, while others did not. It made me wonder. I received this book for free from Thomas Nelson Publishing as part of booksneeze a blogger book review program. I was not required to give a positive review.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Blessings in the Burglary

We are at the point in our lives where Stan doesn't usually have to work on Saturdays. In fact, it has been so long since he has worked a Saturday that I make plans as if he will be home. So, when he told me that he had to work in the morning this week, I confess that I pouted a little. Not a lot, my plans could easily be adjusted, but enough to remind me that I am a selfish sinner. The thing about God is that He uses everything for our good, even when we don't want it, complain about it, or don't even realize it.

Our dog woke us up about 3:00 this morning barking like crazy. The police were at the front door wanting to know if the GPS they had belonged to us. It seems they met up with a couple of teens walking around the neighborhood with a back pack containing our GPS among other things. We claimed our other items, filled out a report and pressed charges for burglary. It seems these boys had been breaking into cars in the neighborhood. Nothing they took from Stan's work van was very valuable and that is where his Saturday morning job becomes a big praise. Stan carries several hundred dollars worth of tools in his van. None of them were missing. Why? The whole cargo area of his van was packed with wooden shutters for him to install in the morning. There was no way for these boys to get to the valuable things.

God is so good to us. Not only did He protect the expensive equipment that Stan needs to do his work, He returned our little items to us before we even realized that they were missing. Sometimes the blessings He heaps on us just make me sit in awe of His amazing power and grace. I wish I could say that I have learned my lesson and won't complain about my minor inconveniences in the future, but I know me better than that. I also know that He will continue to use everything for my good, whether I realize it at the time or not.

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Right Stuff

"Do the right thing" So easy to say, much harder to do. We wonder, "What is the right thing?" How do we know the right thing to do? We look to God's Word. His Word is Truth, so He certainly won't steer us wrong. Use His guidelines to find the right thing in your life. They are there and with prayer and meditation on the Scripture, you will find them.

Sometimes it is hard to find the specific "right thing". We may not see a clear answer to our question, but by ruling out everything that is the "wrong thing" we have shortened our list by quite a bit. It can be hard at times to rule out the wrong things. Society tells us that some things are legal and okay, but we know they are the wrong choices. Our sinful selves tell us that we should just choose what makes us happy,(After all, God wants us to be happy) but because we know the truth, we know that isn't the standard we use for choices. It can be hard to find the right thing, but if we are honest, we can pretty easily rule out the wrong things.

Choosing the right thing is not easy. It is not popular. It is not the world's way. It will make you stand out. It will make you seem odd. It will bring ridicule and attacks. It almost doesn't seem worth the effort, but it is. Choosing the right thing will make you wiser. It will make you more dependent on God. It will make you pray more, weep more, love more, grow more. It will keep you on the path that God has intended for your life. It will bring you blessings that you never even imagined. Choose the right thing and do it. A great rule for life.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Yes, We Have No Bananas

I stopped by Walmart last week to pick up a few groceries. While I was there I noticed that they had NO bananas. I wasn't looking for bananas. In fact, I had some at home, but I was still a bit put out that they had NO bananas. How could this have happened? I expect there to be piles of bananas in the middle of the produce section when I go to Walmart. How is that for arogant, self centeredness? There should be bananas at the store whether I want to buy them or not.

When I got home and shared this startling news with my dear husband, he was kind enough to point out to me just how incredibly spoiled rotten I am. I make a grocery list and shop every couple of weeks after writing up a menu, checking sales and coupons. I never doubt that the foods I wish to purchase will be available. Oh sure, a store may be out of a special sale item, but I can get a rain check and pick it up later in the week. No big deal. So much of the world lives with a very different reality. Grocery lists aren't needed because you buy whatever the store has and are glad to get it. Many in our country and around the world don't have money to buy what little is available. The depend on being able to scrounge up something edible or on handouts from strangers.

Boy, am I humbled. I am seeing my job as family chef in a whole new light. I still may not enjoy grocery shopping, but I am darned appreciative of the opportunity to do it: in a clean store, with a variety of foods, with money to pay. God's blessings abound in my life. I need to stop taking them for granted and remember to thank Him.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Set Apart for Holiness

I love how God reveals new things to you every time you read the Bible. I have read through Exodus several times over the years. Sometimes I am reading a redemption story, sometimes I am struck by how God provides all of our needs, sometimes I see myself (and I cringe)as I watch Israel repeatedly doubt God, and sometimes I am amazed that God chooses such people to be His children. This time when I read through Exodus, I got something different.

I was struck by how God kept his people set apart from the culture around them. He brought them to a wilderness where there were no others in order to give them their instructions on how to live, how to build His temple and how to worship Him. He gave them instructions to not mingle with the tribes in their new home. Israel was not to let them live in the land because they would cause God's people to sin against him because the worship of their gods would be a snare. God is deadly serious about His people being holy and set apart for Him. Israel was different than any other tribe of the time. The people of Israel stood out from everyone else. Others in the area learned to fear the God of Israel.

I wonder why it is the church of today has decided that things should be different now. Why does the church in America seek to be like the culture around them? Why are we so afraid to stand out as unusual? Why don't we want our churches and our lives set apart as holy unto the Lord? Don't we want others to see who God really is? Don't we want them to know Him and tremble if they do not bow the knee? It seems that the church today is just like those long ago Israelites. We don't want to stand out from the crowd. We want to be just like those around us. Maybe we should continue reading the story. Conforming to the surrounding culture never did Israel much good. I doubt it will be any different today.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

An Ordinary Woman

I've been thinking about Pam Tebow today. I just love her. Not because she is someone extraordinary, amazing, or especially outstanding in any way, but because she is an ordinary wife and mom. She has become a well known name because many years ago she chose to give birth to her children and raise them in the fear and admonition of the Lord.

I know a lot of women that fit that description. Not all of them are as famous. Most of them aren't. They go about their daily lives sinning, repenting, and calling upon the grace of God to make them into the woman that He desires them to be. They will never get national recognition for their tireless work to make a peaceful home and raise godly children. That is okay with them. None of them (and my guess is that includes Pam Tebow) are interested in our approval. They are looking to the One who set the universe in order. They are listening to hear Him say, "Well done, good and faithful servant."

Pam Tebow made a decision all those years ago that has brought her into the limelight today. I pray that she (and her family) will continue to make decisions that will bring glory to God. I pray the same thing for myself, my family and my friends. Life today may be repetitive, tedious and without recognition, but you never know where God will call you to serve next. You never know what He has prepared for you in your future. Press on where you are. Be faithful in the little things and seek His glory always.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Sacred Meal

I knew when I picked up this book that I would have some issues with some of the things this author wrote. What I didn't realize was how many issues I would have or how serious they would be. The only recommendation that I can honestly give about this book is: Do not waste your money or your time with it.

Nora Gallagher states in her introduction that when the editors of this series on ancient practices contacted her, she was ready with her answer: no. Obviously, she changed her mind. Just as obviously, she shouldn't have. I do not know why anyone would choose her to write a book about Communion. Her claim that she is uniquely qualified because she has served both the bread and the wine and has also received communion is ludicrous. I know of many in that position who would have done a much better job on this task.

My first problem with this book is the lack of clear direction. It is full of rambling stories and personal experiences from the author. Unfortunately, many have nothing to do with the topic at hand. She tells of the soup kitchen her church started, miracle mud in New Mexico and her brother's death.

Next, there is the lack of information about Communion. Her only point of reference seems to be the Episcopal Eucharist. There is no effort to discuss communion in different denominations. Her thought that communion itself actually stems from the feeding of the 5,000 rather than the Last Supper is totally unfounded.

Then, comes the problem with her theology. This is a woman who seems to have very little interest in the sacred (that which is devoted or dedicated to a diety) to begin with. She has no use for a Christ who is God incarnate. Her statement that the things Jesus did could not have been done without the disciples and the thought that he sought out the vulnerable so that he would stay vulnerable make that very clear. Her views on heaven are just that, her views. When Christ talks of the "kingdom of God" he is not talking of heaven, but rather an alternative society to the Roman empire. Where in the Bible does she get that idea?

My biggest concern is addressed in the title of the book. The Sacred Meal never once addresses the sacredness of this meal. The Lord's Supper is repeatedly refered to as a practice and never as a sacrement. Since a practice is a habitual performance and a sacrament is a visible sign of an inward grace, she seems to have totally missed the point of Communion. In her mind, there should be no barriers to anyone partaking of this very special meal shared by those who are members of God's family, in fact, even geese should be served. Where is the sacredness in that?

I received this book for free from booksneeze in exchange for this review.