Sunday, November 25, 2012
Today our pastor, Dr. Dan Bair gave a fabulous sermon on Thanksgiving! It was very appropriate for this weekend, but it went beyond the usual, "let us give thanks for the harvest" November talk. I've been thinking about it all afternoon.
He took two Bible verses and created much thought. I could hear the wheels turning inside the heads of folks seated all around me. People were taking notes, faces were deep in thought.
I Thessolonians 1:2-3 is the spot. Dan flashed his incredible smile and outlined Paul's writing with WHOM? WHAT? WHEN?
Who do we gives thanks for, what do we give thanks for and when.
It was incredible!
I was stuck on the WHOM part for several minutes and quickly jotted down names of people in my life that have invested in me. I listed several patient souls that gave of themselves and their time to help me understand the scriptures and it's Author. Some will never know of their impact! A few have graduated on heavenward!
Here's my short list:
Rosemary J, Alyse R, Jeanne N, Jane R, Mary K, Eleanor C, Donna S, Cindy F, Linda B, Rita B, Melissa T, Robert L, Walter K, Jerry K, Ruth F, Andy B, Philip B, Dennis B. I'm sure there are many more. (Several are from my Bible Study Fellowship history, a couple of Sunday School Teachers, a couple of pastors.) These are the folks that looked me straight in the eye and told the truth. And that truth penetrated this thick skull and changed me forever.
Also, Dan encouraged us to list names of people that God has given us so that we might invest in them. Sons, daughters-in-law, grandchildren, I am thankful for each one!
WHAT do I give thanks for? The good news that God Himself came to this earth to help us/me understand HIS character. The gospel is more than WORDS, it is LIFE. We give thanks for the Indwelling Holy Spirit that teaches, guides and comforts. We give thanks for the written WORD that explains all we need explained.
WHEN do I give thanks? Well, not nearly often enough!! BUT, if I cultivate a thankful heart, I will become a thankful person.
When I thank God for someone, my thoughts and actions toward them change. I am kinder, empathetic, helpful, giving, patient, long-suffering, filled with joy and love.
When I am thankful for the gospel, it puts LIFE into it's proper perspective.
When I am thankful for the Holy Spirit, I find peace in difficult situations.
When I am thankful for the Bible, I find I'm immersed in it more frequently.
WOW, what a great day at church!
This truly must be the purpose for SUNDAYS!
Who needs paper and a pencil? We've got keyboards and smart boards and EVERYONE is texting these days! I've heard that soon schools will no longer be teaching "cursive." Who needs to take the time for beautiful penmanship in this era of fast and faster?
What a shame!
Because there is an incredible beauty in a handwritten note. It represents THOUGHT, TIME and EFFORT by the author. It conveys the idea that the recipient is "worth" the all the trouble it takes to find the right paper, writing tool and words. Notes are grammatically correct with full sentences and proper punctuation.
This one arrived in the mail a couple of weeks ago, sent to Honeybuns, a.k.a. PAPA!
Gabby Braner is the author and this one is a keeper. I'm thinking it took her quite a while to complete this work. It's hung on the fridge now for a while, but when it's taken down it'll be stored in a very special file to be reviewed much later when Gabby is older.
I have several like this in that file.
The words saved on simple notebook paper come from the heart of children and are PRICELESS.
You can see by Gabby's newly found skill that she thinks Papa is nos (nice), swet (sweet) and coot (cute). AND she loves HIM.
Can it get much better than that?
Maybe in a few years Gabby will truly understand how very important her handwritten notes really are. They are a great encouragement to her Papa that lives very far away from her! It lets him know that she's not forgotten him in the busyness of her little life.
That's what handwritten notes truly are, ENCOURAGEMENT!
Thanks Gabby! You've set a wonderful example.
u r lovd, c u soon!
Saturday, November 24, 2012
Thanksgiving 2012. Gracie, Mollie, Thompson and Betsy came to Broken Arrow on Saturday, Nov. 17th, their parents arrived Wednesday, Nov. 21st. It was Betsy's first trip to BeBe and Papa's without Mommy. What a fun and busy week. Healthy happy family, good food, children laughing! We have much to be thankful for!
Sunday, November 11, 2012
Today we sat behind some "strangers" and took a minute to introduce ourselves and welcome them to our side of the pew. Our church has several services every week so it's VERY difficult to know who's a member and who's just visiting. We just take the risk and welcome whoever comes our way!
The middle-age couple announced that they were VISITING!
They told their story. They are back in the US to rest and recuperate, after spending 5 years in Kabul. They are in charge of the "guest house" there and their job is to entertain missionaries and church groups, making sure they get fed, housed and are PROTECTED while visiting that war-torn, very dangerous place. They were in Tulsa visiting some folks that had experienced their hospitality in that far away city. They explained that their "company" very quickly turns into close friends in that setting.
They were at our church because they receive financial support from it and they wanted to thank the church mission pastor personally.
The wife admitted she was in the US several months before she could actually sleep at night. When I asked her to describe her life in Afghanistan, she hesitated and then pronounced, "Intense!" That one word spoke volumes. They will be returning in January.
Their son, daughter-in-law and 4 grandchildren live there also. All of them were "deployed" at the same time by two different mission agencies. They felt it was a miracle and were so grateful that the whole family was sent to the same city! (Grandchildren in Afghanistan, I cannot comprehend it!)
They live in a walled compound, razor wire on top, and a guard with a gun stands at their gate.
Our brief visit was over as the choir began to sing.
I glanced over their way a couple of times over the next hour or so. They were soaking in the music, the atmosphere, the prayers, the sermon, and the PEACE that prevails in that place. They were drinking it in as if their life depended upon it.
I suppose it does! They MUST be filled to overflowing before January! Every ounce of their being will be tested when they return, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
As they are squeezed by a foreign culture, a false religion, danger, toils and snares, I have no doubt that the love of God will pour out of these two brave saints.
I pray it reaches into a heart or two.
When church was over, we held their hands, looked into their smiling eyes, and wished them well. They were very thankful for friendly faces and our concern for them.
I'm SO glad we met them. Reaching out to strangers is ALWAYS a blessing!
Friday, November 9, 2012
Today I'm reminded of the prophet Isaiah and the "encouraging" direction he received in his day.
God appeared to the old prophet and gave him his very specific marching orders. Isaiah was to go to his peers and "tell them." Tell them what?
Isaiah chapter 6 gives the full account, but here's the Readers Digest Condensed Version:
Isaiah was to tell his people that some very bad things were going to happen, that God was going to humble them, BUT at the appropriate time GOD HIMSELF would actually come to them, dwell with them, free the captives, judge with righteousness, a whole lot more AND eventually the whole earth would be filled with the knowledge of God.
Well! Quite a task! With the Promise Keeping God of the Universe covering his back, Isaiah was comfortable responding with a hearty..."OK!"
THEN, he asked, "For how long God? How long should I deliver this message of DOOM and HOPE?"
And here's the rub.
6:11 "Until the cities lie ruined and without inhabitants, until houses are left deserted and the fields ruined and ravaged, until the Lord has sent everyone far away and the land is utterly forsaken....on and on." (At this point I strongly URGE readers to read the book of Isaiah, all the way through at one sitting.)
In other words, Isaiah, don't expect SUCCESS! Very few will listen, but NEVER MIND THAT, you just keep sayin' it. (Folks will be eating, drinking, marrying, celebrating....just as in the days of Noah.)
Talk about a plan! There would be no "stats and graphs" proving success for Isaiah. BUT, God Himself would be a SANCTUARY for the old prophet even as his world crumbled around him.
(Notice HE didn't say HE would build a sanctuary for him but BE his SANCTUARY.)
I don't for a second compare myself with this prophet, SO.....What's the point here? What's the comfort? What can I learn about people? What can I learn about God?
1. God measures success by OBEDIENCE TO HIM. (Obedience? Not a popular word in today's culture, where "every man does what is right in his OWN eyes.")
2. AND God keeps HIS promises.
Isaiah 9:6 For unto us a Child is born, unto to us a Son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
(I'm hearing the music that goes with this verse. Think "flash mob" at the malls last Christmas.)
One day the WHOLE EARTH WILL be filled with the knowledge of God. That one we're still waiting for!
When, I ask? Silence.
It simply can't come soon enough for me! Until then, I'm trusting in MY SANCTUARY.
What WILL our world look like when it is FILLED WITH THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD?
(Note: Isaiah was married, had two sons, and Jewish tradition tells us he died by being sawed in half.)
Wednesday, November 7, 2012
This creature is HUGE! And it's roaming around freely! Usually I see this kind of animal in a ZOO! It's reddish in color with a black tipped tail and black feet.
The image was captured by a night vision camera installed by some deer hunters. I'm sure they were hoping to see some big buck pass by. They NEVER expected this.
Now I'm hearing that hunters in the area search out these big guys frequently! WHAT? There are more??? Yes, there are other pictures of this fellows aunts, cousins, siblings, and friends popping up in local newspapers there.
The phrase "things that go bump in the night" comes to mind. Perhaps "things that go grrrr in the night" would be more appropriate. Because I am an avid fan of National Geographic I KNOW he likes to eat...REGULARLY! Scenes of flying legs, teeth bared, and rabbits fleeing for their life are popping into my brain.
Having lived in that area long ago and having visited many times in the past few years, I simply cannot imagine coming out her front door to face this! Time to start "packin some heat" don't you think?
Just what IS the plan? What do you do if you round the corner of your car late one evening heading to the house and this hungry face greets you? I don't mean to be an alarmist, BUT being prepared might be a good idea.
Is there a website titled, "How to scare away a cougar!"
It's the wild, wild west all over again.
This helps me be content living in a city. The beasts we deal with here have only TWO legs and usually are NOT carnivorous!
Be safe my country family and friends!