I am going to miss our stone fruit trees when I move: the peaches, the apricots, the plums, nectarines .........! We have several trees, and all of them have been loaded to the breaking point this summer. In fact, most summers are like this. It is hard for me to remember a summer when it wasn't this way. First the apricots ripen, which we can. Then the plums, which are made into jam (one of Dad's favorite kinds). The nectarines and peaches ripen almost simultaneously, which leads to a hectic week or two when we try to take advantage of as much as we can! Now we have buckets and buckets of fruit in the kitchen, all waiting to be processed. Yummy!
... This book is not for the superspiritual. It is not for muscular Christians who have made John Wayne, not Jesus, their hero. It is not for academics who would imprison Jesus in the ivory tower of exegesis. It is not for noisy, feel-good folks who manipulate Christianity into a naked appeal to emotion. It is not for hooded mystics who want magic in their religion. It is not for Alleluia Christians who live only on the mountaintop and have never visited the valley of desolation. It is not for the fearless and tearless. It is not for the red-hot zealots who boast with the rich young ruler of the Gospels, "All these commandments I have kept from my youth." It is not for the complacent who hoist over their shoulders a tote bag of honors, diplomas, and good works, actually believing they have made it. It is not for legalists who would rather surrender control of their souls to rule than run the risk of living in union with Jesus. ... [this book]was written for the bedraggled, beat-up, and burnt-out. It is for the sorely burdened who are still shifting the heavy suitcase from one hand to the other. It is for the wobbly and weak-kneed who know they don't have it all together and are too proud to accept the handout of amazing grace. It is for inconsistent, unsteady disciples whose cheese is falling off their cracker. It is for poor, weak, sinful men and women with hereditary faults and limited talents. It is for earthen vessels who shuffle along on feet of clay. It is for then bent and bruised who feel that their lives are a grave disappointment to God. It is for smart people who know that they are stupid and honest disciples who admit they are scalawags. [It] is a book I wrote for myself and anyone who has grown weary and discouraged along the Way. -brennan manning, the ragamuffin gospel, pgs. 13-14
It is a book that I have begun to read. I'll let you know how it goes.
"Evelyn Underhill said, 'Spiritual reading is, or at least can be, second only to prayer as a developer and support of the inner life.' And The Message of the Wesleys contains this striking sentence: 'It cannot be that people should grow in grace unless they give themselves to reading.' Surely a gracious God provides for the illiterate in other ways, but for most of us, the Scriptures and varied spiritual writings guide us to a deeper understanding of the truth that set us free." -brennan manning, the ragamuffin gospel, page 12
Reading refreshes me. It broadens my thinking, challenges my soul. It can encourage, as well as convict, inspire and reassure. But reading is not everything. One of the blogs I read put it well:
"take the time to knit (or cook or sew, or scrapbook, or hot glue pom-poms onto your daughters keds, or whatever lovely crafty thing you like to do), Because I find it impossible to read a science book, or go to an aquarium, or to exposit the first couple of chapters of Genesis and not be overwhelmed with God's delight in beauty and variation, and in the actual process of design in creating. It's fascinating, don't you think, that in the tremendous act of creation, God chooses, not to speak the completed universe into existence all in one shot, but instead to spend six days creating and ordering the earth (days 4, 5&6 of creation filling up what was created on days 1, 2&3 - - look! it's there!) and its inhabitants into the final "very good". Do we not, then, reflect the image of our creator when we ourselves order and create?"
-naomi smith, "on why i knit every once in a while instead of expositing scriptures", july 15, 2007
Sometimes I just need to do something. Sometimes, in order to process everything and make sense of any of it, I need to take the things I have read and go. It may be for a run, it may be to lay in the grass and watch ladybugs, or even kneed a batch of bread. Today it was bread and scrapbooking, and in a little while, after it cools down a bit, will include gardening. I am sorting through the past month, seeking God's heart, and asking Him to heal mine. It may take a while, but I know that the end result will be a little more beautiful, a little more perfect, a little more like His. Because He is a God of creativity as well as mercy. He wants to have me in His Image, wants me to show His glory. So ... the "work" God started many years ago is still in process. You know what is something that amazes me? That God choses to use both the seemingly great things, as well as the seemingly insignificant things, to make me bow my head and worship Him. He never changes, but is continually revealing new facets of Himself. He is good.
Life IS beautiful, it really is. Even when you feel like you are barely hanging on. Even when your friends seem to be dying left and right. Even when your heart hurts so much it feels like one mass of throbbing, beating and bloody pulp. Why? Because "in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." -romans 8:27 God is good. God is mighty. And God is tender.
"In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. ... And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will." -romans 8:26,28
In Christ alone my hope is found He is my light, my strength, my song This Cornerstone, this solid ground Firm through the fiercest drought and storm What heights of love, what depths of peace When fears are stilled, when strivings cease My Comforter, my All in All Here in the love of Christ I stand
In Christ alone, who took on flesh Fullness of God in helpless babe This gift of love and righteousness Scorned by the ones He came to save 'Till on that cross as Jesus died The wrath of God was satisfied For every sin on Him was laid Here in the death of Christ I live
There in the ground His body lay Light of the world by darkness slain Then bursting forth in glorious Day Up from the grave He rose again And as He stands in victory Sin's curse has lost it's grip on me For I am His and He is mine Brought with the precious blood of Christ
No guilt in life, no fear in death This is the power of Christ in me From life's first cry to final breath Jesus commands my destiny No power of hell, no scheme of man Can ever pluck me from His hand 'Till He returns or calls me home Here in the power of Christ I'll stand
- "in christ alone" by: stuart townsend, performed by: the newsboys
These things I have spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might befull. This is My commandment, that ye love one anotheras I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. - John 15:12-13
Hereby percieve we the love of God, because He laid down His for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the bretheren. ... My litttle children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. - I John 3:16, 18
"We ought to" because He has. That in itself is all the reason we need
So, what does this look like in our lives today? Probably not a literal dying, but I do not think that that is the point. I think it is about putting someone else and their needs before yourself, serving them out of a heart that desires to love them as Christ has loved you. Sometimes it seems like dying, and in a way it is. Dying to your own self can be more agonizing than an actual death, because it must be continued and repeated every single moment of every single day. An actual death only happens once, "and then the glory". Every day, learning to serve out of love. Thereby learning to love.
It does work. There is no question about that. Learning to love those around me is a leason that I had thought I had learned. But it is something that is making me draw heavily upon the fathomless grace and strength of my Saviour.
Well, I am going. Leaving for Sacramento for a conference, then La Porte for camp. I am not sure how often I will be able to post - if at all - so, if nothing is here when you log on .......... don't worry! :-)
(where I record my projects, including those for the shop)
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Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not take them bothAnd be one traveler, long I stoodAnd looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;//Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing thereHad worn them really about the same,//
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,I doubted if I should ever come back.//I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made the difference.
"These little moments ... matter, for they are where we live every day."
- Paul David Tripp