Something I Have Been Thinking ABout

In the end of chapter 2 of the book of Acts we are told about how people were devoting themselves to the teaching of the apostles and prayer and how everyone was giving of their resources for the good of the whole group and daily people were being brought to the faith. We see the same sort of report of the early church being given at the end of chapter four as well.

We don’t have a lot of information like how much time passed but by the time we get into chapter six they are starting to suffer growing pains. Word gets out that some of the widows were being neglected and not being properly taken care of. We aren’t given much more than the bare bones description of the dispute and when Rob referenced the passage Sunday in his sermon my mind, as it is wont to do these days, began to ponder the passage.

I wondered how those widows handled their lack. Did they whine and fuss? Did the grumble and gripe to all and sunder? I’d like to think that they didn’t do those things. That maybe they were already practicing what Paul would write down later about learning to be content no matter their state. Maybe they noticed they weren’t getting as much as others in the daily distribution and just shrugged it off the first few times before going in humbleness to the people that needed to know for the situation to be addressed later on.

We don’t know though because the Bible doesn’t tell us. But it does tell us something important that hit me in a new way.

Out of the widows need came the framework for a system of church government that is still in practice today. The primacy of preaching the Scriptures and a division of labor to handle the physical needs of the church was birthed by way of their lack.

And it made me wonder how I handle my own lack and my own needs when I have to wait for them to be met. Am I patient or am I so blind to everything except what I am going without? Am I able to see past myself to see what God might be doing for someone else through my own deficit? What good work might He be doing, not just in my life but within my community? Surely our emptiness and need has a place at the table otherwise what would be the use of our talents and gifts?

If I am being honest I must admit that I really don’t want for much or go without often. But I must also honestly pray that God lets me respond rightly when it happens. Maybe that situation will bear out in much the way as it did in those early days of the Church and the word of God will continue to increase and faith will abound among the people of God.

Think On These Things ~ John 21

After this Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, and he revealed himself in this way. 

Simon Peter, Thomas (called the Twin), Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together. 

Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 

Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” They answered him, “No.” 

He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish. 

That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea. 

The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off.

When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. 

Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” 

So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn. 

Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 

Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. 

This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 

He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 

He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 

Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” 

(This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”

Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who also had leaned back against him during the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” 

When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” 

Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!” 

So the saying spread abroad among the brothers that this disciple was not to die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not to die, but, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?”

This is the disciple who is bearing witness about these things, and who has written these things, and we know that his testimony is true.

Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.

Some Day

Some days I don’t know whether to apologize to my children for the kind of parent I am being or call my parents and apologize for the kind of child I was.

I should probably do both.

Some days, when the weather is so very gray and rainy like it was yesterday, I just want to read and cook or bake. And not necessarily anything good for you but leaning more on the indulgent side. I didn’t bake though. A Florida friend is coming to visit today and I will probably make a pound cake. Oddly enough what I am looking forward to the most is the smell. A freshly baked cake smells almost as good as bread coming out of the oven.

On Sunday Rob read a familiar passage from the last chapter of the book of John and I have been thinking about it the last couple of days. The disciples had been fishing all night but they had no fish to show for it. Jesus, whom they did not recognize at first, told them to put their net out on the right side of the boat and boy, did they score a mess of fish! And more importantly they recognized Christ. Peter was so excited he jumped into the water to get to Him as fast as he could. Once they arrived at the shore the Bible says this,

John 21:9

“When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread.”

That’s what jumped out to me. Do you see it? Jesus already had fish but He invited the disciples to bring their fish to the table, so to speak, after instructing them on where to catch some.

God suffers no lack yet He graciously invites us to join Him in the work of restoring and renewing the world. Not only that, He provides all that we need and equips us to do so.

How humbling is that? We should approach our days with the trembling excitement of a child being invited into the kitchen to help create the most unbelievably delicious fare.

Someday we will see ever so clearly all the ways that God allowed us to be part of His redemptive work. I think we might be surprised at how He used our to-do lists.

Think On These Things ~ Proverbs 8

“Does not wisdom call?
    Does not understanding raise her voice?
On the heights beside the way,
    at the crossroads she takes her stand;
beside the gates in front of the town,
    at the entrance of the portals she cries aloud:
“To you, O men, I call,
    and my cry is to the children of man.
O simple ones, learn prudence;
    O fools, learn sense.
Hear, for I will speak noble things,
    and from my lips will come what is right,
for my mouth will utter truth;
    wickedness is an abomination to my lips.
All the words of my mouth are righteous;
    there is nothing twisted or crooked in them.
They are all straight to him who understands,
    and right to those who find knowledge.
Take my instruction instead of silver,
    and knowledge rather than choice gold,
for wisdom is better than jewels,
    and all that you may desire cannot compare with her.

“I, wisdom, dwell with prudence,
    and I find knowledge and discretion.
The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil.
Pride and arrogance and the way of evil
    and perverted speech I hate.
I have counsel and sound wisdom;
    I have insight; I have strength.
By me kings reign,
    and rulers decree what is just;
by me princes rule,
    and nobles, all who govern justly.
I love those who love me,
    and those who seek me diligently find me.
Riches and honor are with me,
    enduring wealth and righteousness.
My fruit is better than gold, even fine gold,
    and my yield than choice silver.
I walk in the way of righteousness,
    in the paths of justice,
granting an inheritance to those who love me,
    and filling their treasuries.

“The Lord possessed me at the beginning of his work,
    the first of his acts of old.
Ages ago I was set up,
    at the first, before the beginning of the earth.
When there were no depths I was brought forth,
    when there were no springs abounding with water.
Before the mountains had been shaped,
    before the hills, I was brought forth,
before he had made the earth with its fields,
    or the first of the dust of the world.
When he established the heavens, I was there;
    when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,
when he made firm the skies above,
    when he established the fountains of the deep,
 when he assigned to the sea its limit,
    so that the waters might not transgress his command,
when he marked out the foundations of the earth,
then I was beside him, like a master workman,
and I was daily his delight,
    rejoicing before him always,
rejoicing in his inhabited world
    and delighting in the children of man.

 “And now, O sons, listen to me:
    blessed are those who keep my ways.
Hear instruction and be wise,
    and do not neglect it.
Blessed is the one who listens to me,
    watching daily at my gates,
    waiting beside my doors.
For whoever finds me finds life
    and obtains favor from the Lord,
but he who fails to find me injures himself;
    all who hate me love death.”

Hidden Beauty

Rob mows the yard and pasture about once every ten days or so right now. In the summer it will more than likely be a weekly event. What I have been amazed by is how very quickly the clover pops back up. We get large patches of them all over our property and I enjoy their sweet smell.

I did recently learn something new about the plant. I thought the flower was the puffy white part and it sort of is but actually each one of those “petals” is considered an individual flower. Pretty cool, huh?

I am fascinated by wildflowers in general. I had noticed some tiny little purple flowers growing in the field while walking the dogs and grabbed my camera and extension tubes real quick so that I could photograph them before Rob and the mower made their way over to do their thing.

It’s like a whole secret world tucked away in grass and you might miss it if you aren’t trying to figure out if your dog is eating worms and such.

There were also tiny white flowers.

I really love moving in so close and creating such a narrow point of view…isolating such small details. I think what intrigues me the most is the knowledge that God creates such hidden beauty knowing that it isn’t always noticed or appreciated. Yet, he made them anyway and drops them in random fields. But they’re there declaring his goodness and beauty.

It’s Holy Week and it started by a declaration war. We tend to view Christ riding into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey humbly and graciously accepting the praise of the people. Our idea of the beauty of this scene is a soft and gentle watercolor.

In truth, he came riding in declaring himself victor of a war they didn’t even realize was about to be fought. They would see no beauty in the twisted crown of thorns or the jagged wooden cross but their seemingly unholy loveliness would pierce the darkness of sin and death to reveal the greatest beauty ever seen…the empty tomb.

God is the master Creator and from the beginning of time his delight has been to tuck beauty into the most uncommon and unexpected places. There is a beauty and truth and goodness in every circumstance you may be facing because he is there. Look for it. Look for him. And rejoice that your King lives and reigns.

Think On These Things ~ Ephesians 5:1-9

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 

And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. 

Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving. 

For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 

Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 

Therefore do not become partners with them; 

for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 

for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true.

Think On These Things

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!

Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble and gathered in from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south.
Some wandered in desert wastes, finding no way to a city to dwell in;

hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted within them.

Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.

He led them by a straight way till they reached a city to dwell in.

Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!

For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.

Some sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, prisoners in affliction and in irons,

for they had rebelled against the words of God, and spurned the counsel of the Most High.

So he bowed their hearts down with hard labor; they fell down, with none to help.

Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.

He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and burst their bonds apart.

Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
 for his wondrous works to the children of man!

For he shatters the doors of bronze and cuts in two the bars of iron.

Some were fools through their sinful ways, and because of their iniquities suffered affliction;
they loathed any kind of food, and they drew near to the gates of death.

Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.

He sent out his word and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction.

Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!

And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of his deeds in songs of joy!
Some went down to the sea in ships, doing business on the great waters;

they saw the deeds of the Lord, his wondrous works in the deep.

For he commanded and raised the stormy wind, which lifted up the waves of the sea.
They mounted up to heaven; they went down to the depths; their courage melted away in their evil plight;
they reeled and staggered like drunken men and were at their wits’ end.
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.

He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed.

Then they were glad that the waters were quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven.

Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!

Let them extol him in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders.

He turns rivers into a desert, springs of water into thirsty ground,
a fruitful land into a salty waste, because of the evil of its inhabitants.
He turns a desert into pools of water, a parched land into springs of water.

And there he lets the hungry dwell, and they establish a city to live in;

they sow fields and plant vineyards and get a fruitful yield.

By his blessing they multiply greatly, and he does not let their livestock diminish.

When they are diminished and brought low through oppression, evil, and sorrow,

he pours contempt on princes and makes them wander in trackless wastes;

but he raises up the needy out of affliction and makes their families like flocks.

The upright see it and are glad, and all wickedness shuts its mouth.Whoever is wise, let him attend to these things; let them consider the steadfast love of the Lord.

Psalm 107

Learning New Things

Did y’all know my brand new son-in-law is a photographer? He is and a really good one. He’s a young whippersnapper though and has given me grief over the fact that I don’t use Lightroom (the industry standard) for my editing. All in jest of course, and much love, because he wanted to marry my daughter 😉

He is actually going to second shoot a wedding with me in July though and in the interest of making life easier for both us in that endeavour I made sure my computer was up to snuff and could handle the Adobe program and I am now officially doing things like a grownup photographer.

I’m shooting in RAW and editing in Lightroom.

Turns out that young whippersnapper knew what he was talking about when he kept telling me I just needed to do it. I still have a bit of a learning curve and as of yet I haven’t worked on anything involving people but I love love love what I have been able to do so far just with some flower pictures I took in my yard.

Between the extension tubes and Lightroom I am feeling all fancy and the clover in my yard has never looked prettier.

I don’t do a whole bunch of editing but I do think I like what I have the freedom to do since the file is larger and gives me more information to work with if I do want to play with it.

I know, I know. I’m just geeking out over a few pictures and new techniques and skill sets and it’s probably not terribly interesting to you. But seriously, look at the scope of detail that God put into a simple little clover.

The swirl and flare of each petal. The movement of color from stalk to stem. Even the beautiful tea stained shade of the dying flower.

How much more does He care about the details, the smalls ones and the big ones, about your life?

I’m still hung up on the wonder leading to wisdom I guess. Because how can we not be in awe of the God who created this and not trust Him enough to live the life He calls us to? A life of genuine love and real forgiveness? One flush with steadfastness and truth, beauty, and goodness.

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10

We have been created with even more attention and care than the flowers and He has work for us to do, good works. So get busy. You’re supposed to glorify Him today. Go make someone marvel at what He has done.

Think On These Things ~ Psalm 116

I love the Lord, because he has heard
    my voice and my pleas for mercy.
Because he inclined his ear to me,
    therefore I will call on him as long as I live.
The snares of death encompassed me;
    the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me;
    I suffered distress and anguish.
Then I called on the name of the Lord:
    “O Lord, I pray, deliver my soul!”

Gracious is the Lord, and righteous;
    our God is merciful.
The Lord preserves the simple;
    when I was brought low, he saved me.
Return, O my soul, to your rest;
    for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.

For you have delivered my soul from death,
    my eyes from tears,
    my feet from stumbling;

I will walk before the Lord
    in the land of the living.

I believed, even when I spoke:
    “I am greatly afflicted”;
I said in my alarm,
    “All mankind are liars.”

What shall I render to the Lord
    for all his benefits to me?
I will lift up the cup of salvation
    and call on the name of the Lord,
I will pay my vows to the Lord
    in the presence of all his people.

Precious in the sight of the Lord
    is the death of his saints.
O Lord, I am your servant;
    I am your servant, the son of your maidservant.
    You have loosed my bonds.
I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving
    and call on the name of the Lord.
I will pay my vows to the Lord
    in the presence of all his people,
in the courts of the house of the Lord,
    in your midst, O Jerusalem.
Praise the Lord!

Think On These Things ~ Psalm 116

I love the Lord, because he has heard
    my voice and my pleas for mercy.
Because he inclined his ear to me,
    therefore I will call on him as long as I live.
The snares of death encompassed me;
    the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me;
    I suffered distress and anguish.
Then I called on the name of the Lord:
    “O Lord, I pray, deliver my soul!”

Gracious is the Lord, and righteous;
    our God is merciful.
The Lord preserves the simple;
    when I was brought low, he saved me.
Return, O my soul, to your rest;
    for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.

For you have delivered my soul from death,
    my eyes from tears,
    my feet from stumbling;
I will walk before the Lord
    in the land of the living.

I believed, even when I spoke:
    “I am greatly afflicted”;
I said in my alarm,
    “All mankind are liars.”

What shall I render to the Lord
    for all his benefits to me?
I will lift up the cup of salvation
    and call on the name of the Lord,
I will pay my vows to the Lord
    in the presence of all his people.

Precious in the sight of the Lord
    is the death of his saints
O Lord, I am your servant;
    I am your servant, the son of your maidservant.
    You have loosed my bonds.
I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving
    and call on the name of the Lord.
I will pay my vows to the Lord
    in the presence of all his people,
in the courts of the house of the Lord,
    in your midst, O Jerusalem.
Praise the Lord!