Friday, April 28, 2006

Books about Books

My sagacious neice of Cosy Reader fame sometimes mentions the books she has read. So does the many other family bloggers. Popular blogspots like The Median Sib, Daddy's Roses and Alone on A Limb often talk about books.

In a previous post, I mentioned the birthday bash at my house in February.
My granddaughter Lisette, a teacher, sent me Indelible Ink by Scottt Larsen, which is a book about the books that have shaped the lives of prominant Christian leaders. I have Mothers of Influence, inspiring stories of women whose children have become leader, given to me by my son, David.

I have a basket full of new books to read. Other books in my basket to read or finish reading include, A Return to Modesty by Wenday Shalit, Forgive and Forget by Lewis B. Smedes, The Message by Eugene Peterson.

I am sitting in my study surrounded by shelves holding hundreds of books but I still buy books (carefully and mostly used). Family members and friends still pass along a books. Books.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Thursday Thirteen

1. It is a beautiful Spring day here in Rome Gee A.

2. Since moving here nine years ago, I have met with a small goup of women and men for an Intercessary prayer session.

3.We take names of people in crisis or who for any reason requests prayer from the church and pray of each by name. It is a wonderful refreshing time to be alone with God and close friends.

4. I am a member of our Local AARP. We meet once a month on the fourth Thursday. Iyt is a covered dish dinner memting.

5. I am serving as recording secretary . I usually typle the minutes early but waited and did a last minute job today.

6.. I made salmon patties to take tonight. It is a dish I seldom make. So hurridly opened a can of salmon, mix it with a few onion flakes , a litle corn meal and flour to hold it ogether with a beaten egg. Got out an electric fry pan and cooked them in olive oil. they smell good.

7. I prepared a second dish of English peas, which is one of my favorite vegetables.

8. I stopped by the Salvation Army thrift store near my home on the way home from Trinity Church.

9. I walked around in there for about 30 minutes. Looked at books, books, books. I successfully talked myslef out of buy any books today!

10. However, I did buy 3 blouses at the cost of $6.43 including tax. Nothing exciting but can always take them back (Not for a refund, of course. But as a donation to a good cause.

11. I did not take time to call today for an appoinTment to take care of some of my health issue. Tomorrow?



Tuesday, April 25, 2006

What Do You Want?

A few years ago, I was visiting with an older couple. They had two grown children; a son, a daughter and grandchildren. In the course of the conversation the man, a Mr. Edwards, told me, “I’ve finally conquered my ‘want-er.” I was not sure what he meant by “want-er.”

He explained that he had grown up during the great depression. He said he had worked hard hall his life. He had schemed and struggled - for money and the things money could buy. He had managed to buy a comfortable house, nice furnishings and a new car and truck.

Mr. Edwards and his wife lived on several acres of land. He said that no matter how much he had accumulated there was always something else he needed or wanted. But now, he told me, even though he did not have all the things he had previously thought important and had wanted, he no longer wanted anything else. He had conquered his want-er.

I thought of Mr. Edwards as I studied the life of Jacob. Jacob was also a want-er. He seems to have wanted everything and to be first in everything. We are introduced to Jacob in Genesis 25:26, the day he was born as the second born of twins. The Bible tells us Jacob came forth out of Rebecca’s womb grabbing hold of his twin brother Esau’s heal.

In those days the laws of primogeniture brought a great deal of advantage to the first born son. So we get a picture of the infant Jacob grabbing hold of his twin brother Esau ’s heel as if he was trying to pull Esau back in, so he could get out first.

Being a mother and a grandmother, I am a soft touch when it comes to babies. I can honestly say, “I have never seen a baby I did not like.” If I am in a Mall or out anywhere and see a baby, I instinctively turn and smile. Babies are wonderful little creatures

But even as a new born baby, Jacob does not appear likeable. He does not appear innocent. This picture of Jacob as a grabber, always wanting and grabbing to be first and to be best in everything is not a pretty picture.

So Jacob is pictured in the Bible as grasper from birth and we do not even get out of chapter 25 where we first meet him until we find him taking advantage of the weak and hungry and impulsive Esau by buying his brother’s birthright for a bowl of lentil soup.(Gen. 25:29-34).

You’ve heard the story of Esau coming in from the field, tired and hungry. Esau asked for some of the soup Jacob had prepared. Jacob told him he would sell it in return for the birthright. Esau reasoned he was about to die of hunger so the birthright would not help him anyway, so for “immediate gratification” he exchanged his birthright for a bowl of soup.

While none of us are without sin, the more we hear about Jacob, the more we see he may have given a new meaning to the term “original sin.”

But the plot thickens and the story becomes more sordid. In those days, not only the birthright but a Father’s blessing was of supernatural value. The wily Jacob - well kids today would call him a “jerk’. It was not enough that Jacob had gotten the birthright from his brother Esau. He wanted the “blessing” too.

He wanted it all! So with the help of Rebecca, his mother, he deceived his elderly and blind father, Isaac, and stole his brother’s blessing.

When Esau discovered the deception, he threatened to kill Jacob. So in fear for his life, Rebekah packs Jacob off to his Uncle Laban’s. Jacob almost met his match for trickery in Rebekah’s brother Laban.

Jacob fell in love with Laban's daughter, the beautiful Rachael. Uncle Laban made him work seven years for Rachael which Jacob gladly did because of his great love. But Laban tricked Jacob; when in the marriage customs of that time and place, he substituted his older daughter Leah. So we find Jacob working another 7 years for Rachael.

Most of us have heard about the Old Testament patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob! We probably remember more about grandfather Abraham … how h Abraham went from his home in Ur of the Chaldees in answer to the call of God … How Abraham got into Covenant with God in Chapter 15 of Genesis How God promised that he and Sarah’s descendents would be as numerous as the stars seen on a clear night and how Abraham's descendents would be a blessing to the whole world.

When we get down to chapter 32 in the Genesis of our Bible, Abraham and Isaac are off the scene and the covenant is in the hands of grandson Jacob. And Jacob - like other second and third generation Christians today - was not concerned about a relationship with God. Jacob had his own agenda!

Many of us in this country founded on Christian principles are reaping the benefits of our Christian heritage, have long since forsaken or basically ignore the God who made it all possible. Many of us, if we are honest, look back at the Christian dedication of our parents or grandparents and realize we fall far short.

Fortunately there are notable exceptions. In fact, I know a few children of non-Christian parents who have rebelled in the opposite direction. One minister who became a committed Christian minister tells of quietly and secretly listening to TV preachers while his non-Christian and non-churched parents slept in on Sunday morning.

Jacob, the grandson of Abraham, is reaping the benefits of the covenant. But, as we have already talked about, he wanted to live life his way. In fact Jacob was a rascal of the first order! When we pick up today’s scripture lesson in Genesis 32 some twenty years have passed after Jacob’s flight away from the angry threats of Esau

Jacob is coming home from years of absence. He went out with nothing but the clothes on his back but he has prospered and reappears as a person of success. In Jacob’s preparation for the reunion with Esau, we see the same old calculating Jacob. He divides his camp and sent presents on ahead to hopefully soften up his improvident brother who had so easily been talked out of his birthright.

But while Jacob is on his way back home, we see something of the other side of Jacob. Jacob finally decides it is time to pray. It is a prayer of desperation. Jacob finally confesses to God that he is not worthy of the birthright and not worthy of the blessing … and this is not news to anyone who knows Jacob.

But before we get so self-righteous …we need to remember that it is also true with each one of us. We may not be the trickster Jacob was, but like Jacob most of us often go through life singing, “I’ve done it my way.” Jacob’s “my way” attitude clashed with God’s plan for Jacob’s life. So he finally realized that God, not Jacob, was the center of the universe.

Like a gospel song I heard a Gaither group sing recently:
“The mountain’s too high
and the valley’s too deep.
It was down on my knees,
I learned how to stand.
Lord, I can’t even walk,
without You holding my hand.”

Jacob’s moment of righteousness came when he started home to face the music - and he has run out of slick tunes. It is time to face the brother he has wronged. “Wronged” is too mild a word here for the reprehensible, we would say, “criminal” act of deceiving a dying father and stealing from a weaker brother. It makes the prodigal son look like a saint.

So the next picture we see is not one of God running out to embrace Jacob as the Father ran to embrace the prodigal son in Luke 15. Instead we see an “all night struggle” in the darkness of the brook Jabbok.

This passage about Jacob wrestling with the stranger is one of the most mysterious stories in the Bible. The Scripture does not tell us who the mysterious stranger is.but after it is all over, Jacob testifies that he has seen God face to face.

The God Jacob wrestled with at the brook Jabbok shows a different side of God …not the promise filled aspect of the God he met at Bethel, when he saw the ladder reaching down from heaven all the way to earth…and heard God’s promise to him because of his grandfather Abraham.

It reminded me of a statement by C.S. Lewis, “God whispers to us in our pleasures and shouts to us in our sorrows.” Somehow we are able to hear God better when sorrow and grief slows us down. God whispered his promises to Jacob at Bethel where he saw the ladder reaching down from heaven to earth.

When we get down to the struggles that finally brought about repentance and change in Jacob … changed him as a person … receiving a new name and a new nation, God shouted to Jacob.

It seems God struggled to bring forth Israel … and so did Jacob.
It was a two way struggle. We are not told much about the wrestling, only that it lasted all night.

At the breaking of the light of day, we read, “The sun rose upon Jacob as he passed Pennuel” Jacob could finally say, “Sometimes I thought I was struggling with a man or a messenger of God but I was struggling with God and I have seen God face to face and yet my life is preserved.” (Verse 30)

But before he could be embraced by his brother Esau or by his God, he had to struggle and come out maimed. (This gives us a little insight into suffering.) Jacob prevailed. His life was preserved but he came forth limping and carried the rest of his life the mark of his struggle with God. Jacob had dealt with the terrifying face of the God who is hidden in sovereignty. One not to be appeased but the God who stoops to our weakness. (Philippians 2:5-8.) The God who so loved the world…Who so loved all of us, he gave his only begotten Son to save us.

When we wrestle with God, we do not come away unchanged. God does not change. Jacob still does not know God’s name but he knows who he is and he is a new creation. He is Israel. Jacob came out of the struggle limping but with a new name...a new focus. He is now Israel He is now God’s person.

And this is what the good news of God is all about … that people can change. We find Jacob, who had been a grasper all his life, coming out into the sunlight after his all night struggle with God … and saying for the first time, “I have seen God face to face... I have enough.” Perhaps this is why the whole sordid "warts and all" story is told. If Jacob can change, anybody can change. That is the Gospel story… through Jesus Christ, anyone can change … even me … even you.

Mr. Edwards told me he had been changed. Mr. Edwards had finally “conquered his want-er”, he told me. He had given up his desire for more and more “things”. But it had not been without struggle and pain.

Mr. Edwards had also been wounded in the struggle but he finally came out into the sunlight. Strangely, it came about in the midst of agony over the terminal illness of his only son who developed Leukemia. Mr. Edwards, in the midst of his grief over the death of his son, had seen God. He said, “I found God in the grief and it is enough.”

The theology of weakness in power and power in weakness turns this text toward the cross of Christ. In struggling with God to the place of surrendering our illusions of our own strength and self sufficiency, we know the power of God’s forgiveness and amazing grace.

As Mr. Edwards said, As Jacob finally said, as a little girl said in misquoting the 23rd Psalm, “The Lord is my shepherd, that’s all I want. Amen

Monday, April 24, 2006

Poor Teen agers in the Mall

Teen Poverty in America

We just spent several hours observing teenagers hanging out at our local mall. We came to the conclusion that many teenagers in America today are living in poverty.

Most young men We observed didn't even own a belt; there was not one among the whole group.

But that wasn't the sad part. Many were wearing their daddy's jeans. Some jeans were so big and baggy they hung low on their hips, exposing their underwear. I know some must have been ashamed their daddy was short, because his jeans hardly went below their knees. They weren't even their daddies' good jeans, for most had holes ripped in the knees and a dirty look to them.

It grieves us, in a modern, affluent society like America, that there are those who can't afford a decent pair of jeans. I was thinking about asking my church to start a jeans drive for "poor kids at the mall." Then on Christmas Eve, we could go Christmas caroling and distribute jeans to these poor teenagers
But here is the saddest was the girls that were hanging out there that disturbed us most. Never, in all of our lives, have we seen such poverty-stricken girls. These girls had the opposite problem of the guys. They all had to wear their little sister's clothes. Their jeans were about 5 sizes too small! I don't know how they could get them on, let alone button them up. Their jeans barely went over their hipbones.

Most also had on their little sister's top. It hardly covered their midsection. And their poor breast were half hanging out. Oh, they were trying to hold their heads up with pride, but it was a sad sight to see these almost grown women wearing children's clothes.

However, it was their underwear that bothered us most. They, like the boys, because of the improper fitting of their clothes, had their underwear exposed. We had never seen anything like it. It looked like their underwear was only held together by a single piece of string.

We know it saddens your heart to receive this report on condition of our American teenagers. While we go to bed every night with a closets full of clothes nearby, there are millions of "mall girls" who barely have enough mat! erial to keep it together. We think their "poorness" is why these 2 groups gather at the mall; boys with their short daddies' ripped jeans, and girls wearing their younger sisters' clothes. The mall is one place where they can find acceptance. So, next time you are at the mall, doing your shopping , and you pass by some of these poor teenagers, would you say a prayer for them?
And one more thing .
Will you pray the guys' pants won't fall down,
and the girls' strings won't break?
We thank you all,

Two Concerned Grandparents

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Thursday, April 13, 2006

The Gospel of Judas

The Gospel of Judas , according to the hype, including a one-hour National Geographic TV spectacular and the help of the New York Y Times headline, "In Ancient Document, Judas minus the Betrayal." has re-surfaced.

Re-surpfaced is right. As Bible scholars and serious Biblical students know this "new gospel" is not a "long lost text" but a part of the Gnoisticism that was rejected as fiction as early as 180 A.D.

Gnosticism was an attempt to add to the sinplicity of Christianity another worldview ... an essentially Eastern worldview of mysteries that only "those with secret knowledge "could unravel.

In today's world, many people who have rejected historical truth seem to have once again become "taken in " with fictional Gnosticism works like The Da Vinci Code and The Gospel of Judas.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Near The Cross

301. Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross Text: Fanny J. Crosby, 1820-1915 Music: William H. Doane, 1832-1915 Tune: NEAR THE CROSS, Meter: 76.76 with Refrain -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1. Jesus, keep me near the cross;

there a precious fountain,

free to all, a healing stream,

flows from Calvary's mountain.

Refrain: In the cross,

in the cross,

be my glory ever,

till my raptured soul shall find

rest beyond the river.

2. Near the cross,

a trembling soul,

love and mercy found me;

there the bright and morning star

sheds its beams around me.


3. Near the cross!

O Lamb of God,

bring its scenes before me;

help me walk from day to day

with its shadow o'er me.


4. Near the cross

I'll watch and wait,

hoping, trusting ever,

till I reach the golden strand

just beyond the river.