Sunday, April 28, 2013

Cowboy Ten Commandments

Cowboy Ten Commandments

1.   Just one God

2.   Honor yer Ma & Pa

3.   No tellin’ tales or gossipin’

4.   Git yourself to Sunday meetin’

5.   Put nothin’ before God

6.   No foolin’ around with another fellow’s gal

7.   No killin’

8.   Watch yer mouth

9.   Don’t take what ain’t yers

10.Don’t be hankerin’ for yer buddy’s stuff.
Thanks, Ria!

Friday, April 26, 2013


Abraham gave Lot first choice, and Lot took the choicest part. Lot didn't commit evil in the choice; rather, it was in the motive. He wanted worldly good, and didn't give thought to the final consequences of his choice. His uncle Abraham's first thought was how best to serve God; Lot's first thought was how best to serve Lot. That was the difference in the two characters.

"So Abraham said to Lot, `Let's not have any quarreling between you and me. . .for we are brothers'" (Genesis 13:8). Our era is dressed in lawsuits. Here Abraham is a shining light and example to us of pursuing peace instead of rights; he knew what was suitable, and it wasn't a lawsuit. Uncle Abraham looked into the future; he was willing to forego immediate satisfaction for subsequent results and realities.

Our character is the sum of the characters we have met in life. Some of these characters are direct such as our parents, teachers, or friends who have had an impact. The indirect character formation is just as important and these are the good or bad books we read, the time we waste on television which can rob us of true vision, and the good or bad thoughts we harbor. There is no doubt that good character is formed from the assets of principle and that bad character is formed from the liabilities of the debts we pile up each time we allow ourselves to indulge in unprincipled associations, tangible and intangible.

The world is filled with goodness if we have the spirit to search it out and dwell on it. It comes in the form of nature, beautiful thoughts from past ages, and living individuals who become a noble part of our whole character, if we but take the time and effort to develop the principles of God.

Records of Wrongs

Records of Wrongs
by Pat Nordman
"Love ... keeps no records of wrongs"
1 Corinthians 13:5 NIV
And above all things have fervent love for one another, for love will cover a multitude of sins" – 1 Peter 4:8

"Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all sins" – Proverbs 10:12
"He who covers a transgression seeks love ... " – Proverbs 17:9a
Oh, let us engrave these verses on our hurting hearts! These are the verses that, with God's help, can uphold us and help us to renew our commitment to God Himself, as well as to those who need and deserve our cherishment. Love, in spite of how we feel about the who or the what or the why ... ! What a monumental invitation into the very chambers and the character of the Father. It also takes monumental courage, with emphasis on the mental, for it is taking hold of the will to love, even as God loves, in spite of what has happened--and in place of spite.

One of the biggest stumbling blocks to love is the records we keep of wrongs. Our precious God covers our sins and He asks us to forget the things--including sins, both ours and others--that are behind, and go on with His love and mercy. "God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them ... " 2 Corinthians 5:19. Can't we do for others that which God does for us: write wrongs in ashes? Too often we keep a record of the "sins" which God has already put away from Him, "as far as the east is from the west" (Psalm 103:12). Our heart is blackened with the soot of another's trespasses and now and then we sweep up a bit of it and rub our hands and minds in it, and then ask God for forgiveness for our meanness--again. Instead, let us pray for the grace to reconcile and wipe the record clean forever!

"[The orchid] covers the deformity with its own loveliness, absorbs all foul exhalations and turns them into the perfume of its own sweet flowers. Charity is this beautiful orchid, covering human frailty, clearing away harsh, suspicious, and cruel slanders; breathing forth merciful judgments, compassionate sympathy." (James Neill.) What an extraordinary thought this is, that we can cover the imperfections of our lives with God's orchids of mercy and hope, and He will do the rest for us.

"For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him" (John 3:17). What comfort it is to know that God sent His Son to save us, not to disapprove of us. Would that we did the same for each other. Jesus said "Then neither do I condemn you ... Go now and leave your life of sin" (John 8:11). He even wrote in the dust the sins of the Pharisees, who were so ready to judge. "If You, O Lord, kept a record of sins ... who could stand? But with You there is forgiveness .... " (Psalm 130:3,4).

O Father, help us to wipe away records!

God's Loving Hedge

"Have you not surrounded him and his family and all that he has with your protection?" (Job 1:10).

It is God's love that puts a hedge about us; it is our choice to wander away from that love which constrains us from doing harm to ourselves and others; to wander beyond the security that He has lovingly determined for us. Sometimes we want to do something and yet we know instinctively that it would be wrong. Our conscience is one of God's hedges to warn us that certain actions, reactions and transactions are against His goals for us, goals that are in God's best interests as well as our own. He asks us to define that word hedge as a refuge, not as a prison.

It is that master of deceit, Satan, who suggests that God has put this enclosure around us. He started in the Garden of Eden, when he said, “Did not God say…?” It is a fact that God protects us and it is a fact that the Adversary is busy tearing down the border and exposing us, always. It is our decision to circumvent God's hedge or to accept its boundaries of love for us, through prayer and the diligent reading of His instructions that are in His Word to us.

“There is many a hedge that we have hardly ever noticed, and certainly have never properly valued. God has given some of us a hedge in the example and teaching of good and pious parents; in the influence of good teachers; in the form of good companionships; in the discipline we have to undergo in the home, in the school, and in life. A hedge not only shelters, it often keeps us from wandering. Sometimes we do not like hedges; we should like to see more of the country, and wander at will. God’s way of hedging us in is not always by sending us blessings which we are pleased to accept, but sometimes by sending us sorrow and trial. He thus keeps us in our places and guards us against going astray. That was the kind of hedge that Job did not like. The farmer sometimes plants thorns in his hedges, and we must not be surprised if God does. After all, a hedge may become a very lovely thing. What would the landscape often be without hedges? God makes the hedges along the country full of beauty, poetry, and song. And in our lives here, this is just what the Lord Jesus has done. The old Law of Moses was like a stone hedge. The hedges of the Lord Jesus are like our quick-set hedges. He makes His commandments sweet and welcome, and the ways of His testimonies full of delight. It is the love of Christ constrains us, and that is always a sweet constraint” (David Davies.)

The prodigal son broke through the hedges of his father’s love and wound up in a far country of sorrow. Thank God that he finally said, “I will arise and return to my father.” This broken son realized that his father’s hedges were protection and salvation. Young people resent being “told what to do” but, in the final analysis, parents, teachers and companions, if they walk with God, are the beautiful hedges so these dear young people can realize their potential.

How Is Our Soil?

"What more could have been done for my vineyard than I have done for it?" (Isaiah 5:4).

With the deepest sorrow possible, God finally had to let Israel have its way. He finally lets us have our own way, too. Surely He weeps as He admits there is nothing more He can do for us, for He has tried everything to soften our hearts. Our stubborn will circumscribes His perfect will for us.

As God deplores the state of our vineyard, how many times have we earthly parents lamented the vine­yards of our children? What more could we have done to save them from themselves? We plant, nurture, admonish, hope, and dream, but still they do not meet our expectations. When our child is lost physically or spiritually, we grieve and weep, as does our Lord. But we can do no more for those who wish to go their own way, just as God must let us go our way, for He has given us free will.

God graced Israel with every blessing necessary for full fruition. What strikes us is the lack of gratitude. God's tender tendencies seem lost on His chosen. He didn't plant this vineyard for personal gain. It was to be His and their garden of delights. His deep feelings for His people are expressed all through the Old Testament, as well as the New Testament, especially in Isaiah, Jeremiah and Hosea. And yet the vineyard--ours, too--grows weeds of disgrace!

"How is the soil? Is it fertile or poor? Are there trees on it or not? Do your best to bring back some of the fruit of the land" (Numbers 13:20). How do we bring back the fruit of God's precious land? What is it? "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control" (Galatians 5:22,23).

Today, let us enrich the soil of our hearts and minds with gratitude for God's daily blessings. It is so easy to forget them in our worldly pursuits. As for personal thanksgiving, I thank God every morning upon waking for our beloved sons and daughters and grandchildren! As happened with Job, our latter years are even more blessed!

Jesus, Cleopas and You

"As they ... discussed these things with each other, Jesus Himself came up and walked along with them" (Luke 24:15).

In this final and grand chapter of Luke is given to us perhaps the first fulfillment of comforting promises, "Where two or three come together in My name, there am I with them" (Matthew 18:20). A pastor once noted that only one of the two was named, and he suggested that the reader take his or her own place there beside Jesus and Cleopas. What a beautiful thought!

I would like to share this wonderful commentary from William Barclay:


This is another of the immortal short stories of the world.

(i) It tells of two men who were walking towards the sunset. It has been suggested that that is the very reason why they did not recognize Jesus. Emmaus was west of Jerusalem. The sun was sinking, and the setting sun so dazzled them that they did not know their Lord. However that may be, it is true that the Christian is a man who walks not towards the sunset but towards the sunrise. Long ago it was said to the children of Israel that they journeyed in the wilderness towards the sunrising (Num.21:11). The Christian goes onwards, not to a night which falls, but to a dawn which breaks -- and that is what, in their sorrow and their disappointment, the two on the Emmaus road had not realized.

(ii) It tells us of the ability of Jesus to make sense of things. The whole situation seemed to these two men to have no explanation. Their hopes and dreams were shattered. There is all the poignant, wistful, bewildered regret in the world in their sorrowing words, "We were hoping that he was the one who was going to rescue Israel." They were the words of men whose hopes were dead and buried. Then Jesus came and talked with them, and the meaning of life became clear and the darkness became light. A story-teller makes one of his characters say to the one with whom he has fallen in love, "I never knew what life meant until I saw it in your eyes." It is only in Jesus that, even in the bewildering times, we learn what life means.

(iii) It tells us of the courtesy of Jesus. He made as if he would have gone on. He would not force himself upon them; he awaited their invitation to come in. God gave to men the greatest and the most perilous gift in the world, the gift of free-will; we can use it to invite Christ to enter our lives or to allow him to pass on.

(iv) It tells how he was known to them in the breaking of bread. This always sounds a little as if it meant the sacrament; but it does not. It was at an ordinary meal in an ordinary house, when an ordinary loaf was being divided, that these men recognized Jesus. It has been beautifully suggested that perhaps they were present at the feeding of the five thousand, and, as he broke the bread in their cottage home, they recognized his hands again. It is not only at the communion table we can be with Christ; we can be with him at the dinner table too. He is not only the host in his Church; he is the guest in every home. Fay Inchfawn wrote,

Sometimes, when everything goes wrong;
When days are short and nights are long;
When wash-day brings so dull a sky
That not a single thing will dry.
And when the kitchen chimney smokes,
And when there's naught so `queer' as folks!
When friends deplore my faded youth,
And when the baby cuts a tooth.
While John, the baby last but one,
Clings round my skirts till day is done;
And fat, good-tempered Jane is glum,
And butcher's man forgets to come.
Sometimes I say on days like these,
I get a sudden gleam of bliss.
Not on some sunny day of ease,
He'll come ... but on a day like this!"

The Christian lives always and everywhere in a Christ-filled world.

(v) It tells how these two men, when they received such great joy, hastened to share it. It was a seven miles tramp back to Jerusalem, but they could not keep the good news to themselves. The Christian message is never fully ours until we have shared it with someone else.

(vi) It tells how, when they reached Jerusalem, they found others who had already shared their experience. It is the glory of the Christian that he lives in a fellowship of people who have had the same experience as he has had. It has been said that true friendship begins only when people share a common memory and can say to each other, "Do you remember?" Each of us is one of a great fellowship of people who share a common experience and a common memory of their Lord.

(vii) It tells that Jesus appeared to Peter. That must remain one of the great untold stories of the world. But surely it is a lovely thing that Jesus should make one of his first appearances to the man who had denied him. It is the glory of Jesus that he can give the penitent sinner back his self-respect.

Now there was a night...

"Now there was a day ... and Satan also came among them" (Job 1:6 NKJ); "... The day of grief and desperate sorrow ... Then behold, at eventide, trouble!" (Is.17:11c,14 NKJ).

It's no comfort that every person's day finally comes. I felt that my day--my dark night of the soul--came that dusky December evening when our oldest son Chuck came home from college, supposedly to enjoy the Christmas holidays, and instead killed himself. He had called from college the night before and seemed happy. The option to die had already been made but he didn't tell us. He simply came home, went to the woods and hours later, in the dark, we heard him scream and then shoot himself to death.

That year I lost three basic relationships within months, and I concluded the evening that Chuck determined to give up his most precious gift of life that God had prepared me for his death through the two previous losses. Lest this sound ghastly and ghoulish, the other two deaths were of older people with heart problems. But they were enormously dear to me and their instant deaths sent me to the Book of Job. In that respect I felt that God had plowed my soul for the planting of thoughts that would help me through the worst of the three deaths, that of my son.

Two years previous to this BC/AD (Before Chuck/After Death) event in our lives, a teacher who was my spiritual mentor and mother had sent me a book titled Power In Praise, by Merlin Carothers. I read the book and was very impressed with it. I began praising God for large and small blessings and even for what I thought were non-blessings, though at times I wondered about it. But it was that momentous night two years later that I applied the principle, "NOW--this moment--praise and thank [God] for your present circumstances..." I knew that if I didn't do it then, there was a good possibility I might never do it again.

May God help us all to utter sincere thanks in the midst of circumstances that would belie the very thought. I do believe that this is when the balm is applied and God blesses the awful circumstance so we can bring good from the evil. Several months after Chuck's death, with strength and grace from God, I wrote a booklet Grief which eventually helped others in their awful times. It is now available on Internet.

Patricia Erwin Nordman

Speaking of committees....

A Definition

The unable appointed by the unwilling to do the unnecessary.

Source unknown

Committee Invented

A traveler stopped to observe the curious behavior of a farmer who was plowing his field. A single mule hitched to the plow was wearing blinders, and the farmer was yelling, “Giddyap, Pete! Giddyap, Herb! Giddyap, Ol’ Bill! Giddyap, Jeb!”

After watching the farmer carry on like this for a while, the traveler asked, “Say, mister—how many names does that mule have?” “Just one—his name is Pete.” “Then why do you call out Herb and Bill and—”

“It’s like this,” explained the farmer. “If Ol’ Pete knew he was doing all this work alone, I couldn’t make him do it. But if he thinks he’s got three other mules workin’ alongside of him, he does the whole job all by himself.”

“What a marvelous idea!” exclaimed the traveler. And when he got back to his corporate office in New York, he invented the committee.

Source unknown

G. Campbell Morgan

While he always kept abreast of the activities of the church, Campbell Morgan detested committee work. He told a friend, “I would prefer to preach three sermons a day rather than spend half an hour at a deacon’s meeting discussing who ought to keep the keys to the door.”

The Wycliffe Handbook of Preaching & Preachers, W. Wiersbe, p. 209

Row Faster

The next time a committee is appointed and the committee names several task forces to do its job, think of this story:

To highlight its annual picnic one year, a company rented two racing shells and challenged a rival company to a boat race. The rival company accepted. On the day of the picnic, everyone entered into the spirit of the event. Women wore colorful summer dresses and big, floppy hats. Men wore straw skimmers and white pants. Bands played and banners waved. Finally the race began. To the consternation of the host company, the rival team immediately moved to the front and was never headed. It won by 11 lengths.

The management of the host company was embarrassed by its showing and promptly appointed a committee to place responsibility for the failure and make recommendations to improve the host team’s chances in a rematch the following year. The committee appointed several task forces to study various aspects of the race. They met for three months and issued a preliminary report. In essence, the report said that the rival crew had been unfair.

“They had eight people rowing and one coxswain steering and shouting out the beat,” the report said. “We had one person rowing and eight coxswains.” The chairman of the board thanked the committee and sent it away to study the matter further and make recommendations for the rematch. Four months later the committee came back with a recommendation. “Our guy has to row faster,” it said.

Bits and Pieces, September 19, 1991, pp. 5-6

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Father, I need a new heart!

"Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing." (Luke 23:34a).

A number of years ago I went through a period of sheer hate. Then one day, after much prayer and examination of my own contribution, I realized that I was the one who needed the new heart. We can never know what is in the heart of another, but we can, through a very close union with the Man who forgave those who were nailing him to the cross, finally understand our own meanness and ask God to give us a new heart and mind. In the process of weeding my heart and mind, I jotted down some quotes that helped, and I’d like to share these:

•Whatever be the motive of insult, it is always best to overlook it; for folly scarcely can deserve resentment, and malice is punished by neglect. Johnson.

•Slight small injuries, and they'll become none at all. Fuller.

•Lay silently the injuries you receive upon the altar of oblivion. Hosea Ballou.

•If men wound you with injuries, meet them with patience; hasty words rankle the wound, soft language dresses it, forgiveness cures it, and oblivion takes away the scar. It is more noble by silence to avoid an injury than by argument to overcome it. J. Beaumont.

•One [person] pins me to the wall, while with another I walk among the stars. Emerson.

•Be prudent, and if you hear...some insult or threat...have the appearance of not hearing it. George Sand.

•That which cannot be repaired is not to be regretted. Johnson.

•They are the strong ones of the earth, the mighty food for good or evil,--those who know how to keep silence when it is a pain and a grief to them; those who give time to their own souls to wax strong against temptation, or to the powers of wrath to stamp upon them their withering passage. Emerson.

•The surest method against scandal is to live it down by perseverance in well-doing, and by prayer to God that He would cure the distempered mind of those who traduce and injure us. Boerhaave.

•The secret of language is the secret of sympathy, and its full charm is possible only to the gentle. Ruskin.

•But hushed be every thought that springs/From out the bitterness of things. Wordsworth.

•A fool's heart is in his tongue; but a wise man's tongue is in his heart. Quarles.

•Troubles, like babies, grow larger by nursing. Lady Holland.

•Valor consists in the power of self-recovery. Emerson.

•The greater your real strength and power, the quieter it will be exercised. Lowell.

•There is no truth which personal vice will not distort. J.G. Holland.

•Speak to living ears as you will wish you had spoken they are dead. Anonmous

•Great minds, like heaven, are pleased in doing good, though the ungrateful subjects of their favors are barren in return. Rowe.

•It is another's fault if he be ungrateful, but is mine if I do not give. To find one thankful man I will oblige a great many that are not so. Seneca.

•The human heart, at whatever age, opens only to the heart that opens in return. Miss Edgeworth.

•If there is any person to whom you feel a dislike, that is the person of whom you ought never to speak. Richard Cecil.

•Jesus washing the feet of Judas is not concerned with claims and equities. PENordman.

•Ingratitude dries up the fountain of all goodness. Richelieu.

•Flints may be melted--we can see it daily--but an ungrateful heart cannot; no, not by the strongest and the noblest flame. South.

•Ingratitude is a nail which, driven into a tree of courtesy, causes it to wither... Basil.

•The roots of the deepest love die in the heart, if not tenderly cherished. Herder.

•A great mind will neither give an affront nor bear it. Henry Home.

•Patience and gentleness is power. Leigh Hunt.

•Little by little, the bitterest feelings are sweetened by the mention of them in prayer. And agony itself stops swelling, if we can only cry sincerely, "My God, my God!" Wm. Mountford.

•You are the seed that decides the harvest around you!

•How many a knot of mystery and misunderstanding would be untied by one word spoken in simple and confiding truth of heart! How many a solitary place would be made glad if love were there, and how many a dark dwelling would be filled with light! Dewey.

•Why is it that a blessing only when it is lost cuts as deep into the heart as a sharp diamond? Why must we first weep before we can love so deeply that our hearts ache? Richter.

•Religion is the hospital of the souls that the world has wounded. J. Petit-Senn.

•Forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it. (Attributed to Mark Twain).

“Oh, my dear friends, you who are letting miserable misunderstandings run on from year to year, meaning to clear them up some day, if you only could know and see and feel that the time is short, how it would break the spell! How you would go instantly and do the thing which you might never have another chance to do!” (Phillips Brooks).

Two men looked out from prison bars;
One saw mud, the other stars.

Priceless in their value

"And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased" (Hebrews 13:16).

"Let the weakest, let the humblest remember, that in his daily course he can, if he will, shed around him almost a heaven. Kindly words, sympathizing attentions, watchfulness against wounding men's sensitiveness--these cost very little, but they are priceless in their value. Are they not almost the staple of our daily happiness? From hour to hour, from moment to moment, we are supported, blest, by small kindnesses" (F.W. Robertson).

The word "sacrifices" is interesting in this context, for it is indeed a sacrifice, an offering, a price, that we surrender. It is part of our time or our money or our very selves that we give to another, not for what we can get in return, but out of God's love and our own. We will never know what comfort we bring to another just by listening. Many a broken heart and weary mind wants to share his or her sorrows, and only the one who knows how to love as Christ loves can carry that burden for another.

To do good to another means to promote the welfare and happiness of that person, and to help prevent misfortune or adversity in that person’s life. We honor God by honoring His commandment to love others as we love ourselves. This is the "sacrifice" with which He is so well pleased. He does not delight in self-torture of either body or mind. He does delight in innocent pleasures that restore the body and mind and spirit, and that help us to help others because our own lives are in harmony.

The greatest sacrifice was the Lamb of God who died that we might be at one with all. He has canceled out our debts, although we may have to live with the effects; all we need to do is to surrender our whole selves to Him who wills to use us where we are most needed. It may be only a cup of cold water in His name, but it is a great kindness to the one who so desperately needs it. As I read the Gospels, I’m always impressed that Jesus helped the individual as He came across his/her need. We aren’t asked to change the world, but we are asked to help the one who is before us, at this moment.

The Gold has Dimmed

There is an unusual verse in the Bible, "How the gold has lost its luster, the fine gold become dull!" (Lamentations 4:1). As I considered this verse, I thought to myself, yes, my own gold is tarnished. I began to wonder just how we tarnish this fine gold that God has graced us with, and it is these thoughts I would like to share.

Inherent within this gem is the fact that we are made in the image of God Himself: "You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor" (Psalm 8:5).

God has given each of us gifts of gold, but not the gold that the world worships. It is the gold of life, of humanity, of love, of talents and gifts that we scarce notice, much less give thanks for, as we consume each day on what the world treasures. We will chat, cheat, lie, embezzle and perjure ourselves for a pot of gold that we cannot take with us when God calls us all to account for the abilities He has graciously bestowed on us.

To the world gold is a precious metal for its qualities of stamina; it will not rust like iron nor tarnish like silver; it is less likely to corrode than other metals. It is a dazzling metal and it makes a splendid sight. It does not lose its luster and it appreciates in value. God's gold is humanity. He thought His creation of such great significance that He died so we might come forth as gold: "...When he has tested me, I will come forth as gold" (Job 23:10). And, praise God, He deems us worthy of redemption and of a mansion for eternity.  "...If it were not so, I would have told you" (John 14:2).

Considering all this, then we should weep as we read this verse from Lamentations 4:1. To think that our fine gold is dimmed from base uses of noble gifts -- how the Giver must grieve! It is man who has introduced ugliness into a once lovely world: "And God saw all that he had made, and it was very good" (Genesis 1:31). "How many are your works, O Lord! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures" (Psalm 104:24).

If God has blessed us with intellectual ability, artistic taste, gifts for music, philosophy or science, and the means for a refined education, then if we use these for worldly ambition, love of money, or solely for self-satisfaction, then we crucify Jesus every bit as much as those who cried for His blood when He was on earth.

We know our gold has become dim when we are no longer enthusiastic about life and our relation to its Creator. We are valuable in proportion to what we can accomplish and, even more important, our motives for doing what we do. And if we doubt what we are, then let us remember that we partake of God's nature, assist in God's work, and share God's glory!

What are the manifestations of our loss of luster? I think Paul sums it up in 2 Timothy 3:1-4: "But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God -- having a form of godliness but denying its power."

When we fall into sin then our fine gold is dulled and our talents are prostituted to low ends. What a shame! We are made to give glory to God, and to shine for Him. Whether music, art, business, teaching -- whatever our profession in life -- our first profession must be Christ, and then He will give us joy and fulfillment in all aspects of our lives.

Finally, the gold is the fruit of the Spirit: "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control" (Galatians 5:22). Notice that fruit here is single but, for the works of the flesh, the dimming of the gold, Paul uses the plural: "The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like" (Gal. 5:19-21). But the fine and precious gold that God wants of those who profess to love Him are those qualities that shine forth in His own character.

It is interesting that the words grace and joy grew from the same Greek root. "The joy that was the fruit [gold] of the Spirit sprang from a life that was gracious and kind, full of good will, generous to impart itself to others, glad when they accepted and rejoiced with it, but forgiving, and still singing, when men rejected and persecuted it." What a grand description of the very source of our gold, the gentle and forgiving Jesus. He is the Fruit that feeds our souls and keeps our life shining for Him.

I close with a superb quote from The Biblical Illustrator: "You have swathed your garden in the blooming time, when every spur upon the branch holds promise of the cluster of the fruit; did you ever watch the blooming time of manhood? Did you note the quick impetuosity, the keen susceptibility, the noble emotions, the tender sympathy, the fine candor, the metallic ring of conscience, the play of high principle? Oh! what power was there to bless the world, if all this blossom had set in fruit, and all that manifold being had developed, in harmonious proportion, to its true stature; what a rich power, to hundreds and to thousands, had that one man been; what light he would have shot into the dark places of the universe; what a lever of help would his strong sympathy have become; what a power against wrong; what a haven of healthy sentiment and opinion; what a moral power; how his goodness would have radiate round him, as far as his world stretched. And, best of all, had that promise been fulfilled, had all those buds of hope and aspiration been set in fruit, he might have been how true, and good, and grand, a saint; devout, and yet withal as cheery as a tenant of this sunny world should be; tender and gentle as a little unspoiled child, and yet as manly as the strongest hero in the world. A worshipper in all his life, with God in all his thoughts; God in his heart; his life a happy, conscious, willing service of his God; and yet the freest child of man and user of the world; a presence, and a power of righteousness, wherever he was" (Anonymous).

Those who have get more....

"To the man who has, more will be given; and he who has not, will lose even the little he thinks he has" (Luke 8:18).

This certainly seems unfair. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Perhaps Jesus is telling us here that truth that is not understood and made applicable in our lives will be lost. The proverb, "If you don't use it, you lose it," is so true. Neglect and misuse of a gift, whether truth or youth, means we not only lose the blessing inherent in the gift but we also lose the greater opportunities that would have come our way had we used the gift properly.

We have a very practical God who knows what is best for us. He invests us with abilities and opportunities and the courage to use them. He wants us to light this poor dark world with whatever aptitudes He graciously gives us. If we don't take advantage of the opportunities, we will wake up one day and discover that we have wasted time, talent and breaks--and both God and we will be broken-hearted.

“Luke 8:18 lays down the universal law that the man who has will get more; and that the man who has not will lose what he has. If a man is physically fit and keeps himself so, his body will be ready for ever greater efforts; if he lets himself go flabby, he will lose even the abilities he has. The more a student learns, the more he can learn; but if he refuses to go on learning, he will lose the knowledge he has. This is just another way of saying that there is no standing still in life. All the time we are either going forward or going back. The seeker will always find; but the man who stops seeking will lose even what he has” (William Barclay).

Could you have passed the 8th grade?

8th Grade Final Exam: Salina, KS 1895

Grammar (Time, one hour)

1. Give nine rules for the use of Capital Letters.

2. Name the Parts of Speech and define those that have no modifications.

3. Define Verse, Stanza and Paragraph.

4. What are the Principal Parts of a verb? Give Principal Parts of do, lie, lay and run.

5. Define Case, Illustrate each Case.

6. What is Punctuation? Give rules for principal marks of Punctuation.

7-10. Write a composition of about 150 words and show therein that you understand the practical use of the rules of grammar.

Arithmetic (Time, 1.25 hours)

1. Name and define the Fundamental Rules of Arithmetic.

2. A wagon box is 2 ft. deep, 10 feet long, and 3 ft. wide. How many bushels of wheat will it hold?

3. If a load of wheat weighs 3942 lbs., what is it worth at 50 cts. per bu., deducting 1050 lbs. for tare?

4. District No. 33 has a valuation of $35,000. What is the necessary levy to carry on a school seven months at $50 per month, and have $104 for incidentals?

5. Find cost of 6720 lbs. coal at $6.00 per ton.

6. Find the interest of $512.60 for 8 months and 18 days at 7 percent.

7. What is the cost of 40 boards 12 inches wide and 16 ft. long at $20 per m?

8. Find bank discount on $300 for 90 days (no grace) at 10 percent.

9. What is the cost of a square farm at $15 per are, the distance around which is 640 rods?

10. Write a Bank Check, a Promissory Note, and a Receipt.

U.S. History (Time, 45 minutes)

1. Give the epochs into which U.S. History is divided.

2. Give an account of the discovery of America by Columbus.

3. Relate the causes and results of the Revolutionary War.

4. Show the territorial growth of the United States.

5. Tell what you can of the history of Kansas.

6. Describe three of the most prominent battles of the Rebellion.

7. Who were the following: Morse, Whitney, Fulton, Bell, Lincoln, Penn, and Howe?

8. Name events connected with the following dates:


Orthography (Time, one hour)

1. What is meant by the following: Alphabet, phonetic, orthography, etymology, syllabication?

2. What are elementary sounds? How classified?

3. What are the following, and give examples of each: Trigraph, subvocals, diphthong, cognate letters, linguals?

4. Give four substitutes for caret 'u'.

5. Give two rules for spelling words with final 'e'. Name two exceptions under each rule.

6. Give two uses of silent letters in spelling. Illustrate each.

7. Define the following prefixes and use in connection with a word: Bi, dis, mis, pre, semi, post, non, inter, mono, super.

8. Mark diacritically and divide into syllables the following, and name the sign that indicates the sound: Card, ball, mercy, sir, odd, cell, rise, blood, fare, last.

9. Use the following correctly in sentences, Cite, site, sight, fane, fain, feign, vane, vain, vein, raze, raise, rays.

10. Write 10 words frequently mispronounced and indicate pronunciation by use of diacritical marks and by syllabication.

Geography (Time, one hour)

1. What is climate? Upon what does climate depend?

2. How do you account for the extremes of climate in Kansas?

3. Of what use are rivers? Of what use is the ocean?

4. Describe the mountains of North America.

5. Name and describe the following: Monrovia, Odessa, Denver, Manitoba, Hecla, Yukon, St. Helena, Juan Fermandez, Aspinwall and Orinoco.

6. Name and locate the principal trade centers of the U.S.

7. Name all the republics of Europe and give capital of each.

8. Why is the Atlantic Coast colder than the Pacific in the same latitude?

9. Describe the process by which the water of the ocean returns to the sources of rivers.

10. Describe the movements of the earth. Give inclination of the earth.

Overworked? Underpaid?

Lest we feel we are overworked and underpaid, here is a gem from 1892:

This notice was found in the ruins of a London office building. It was dated 1852.

1. This firm has reduced the hours of work, and the clerical staff will now only have to be present between the hours of 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. weekdays.

2. Clothing must be of a sober nature. The clerical staff will not disport themselves in raiment of bright colors, nor will they wear hose unless in good repair.

3. Overshoes and topcoats may not be worn in the office, but neck scarves and headwear may be worn in inclement weather.

4. A stove is provided for the benefit of the clerical staff. Coal and wood must be kept in the locker. It is recommended that each member of the clerical staff bring four pounds of coal each day during the cold weather.

5. No member of the clerical staff may leave the room without permission from the supervisor.

6. No talking is allowed during business hours.

7. The craving for tobacco, wine, or spirits is a human weakness, and as such is forbidden to all members of the clerical staff.

8. Now that the hours of business have been drastically reduced, the partaking of food is allowed between 11:30 and noon, but work will not on any account cease.

9. Members of the clerical staff will provide their own pens. A new sharpener is available on application to the supervisor.

10. The supervisor will nominate a senior clerk to be responsible for the cleanliness of the main office and the private office. All boys and juniors will report to him 40 minutes before prayers and will remain after closing hours for similar work. Brushes, brooms, scrubber, and soap are provided by the owners.

11. The owners recognize the generosity of the new labor laws, but will expect a great rise in output of work to compensate for these near Utopian conditions.


Still want to complain??

ISAIAH 40:11

"He will feed His flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs with His arm, and carry them in His bosom..." (Isaiah 40:11).

Our son Chuck's tombstone has Revelation 21:4 carved on it. I felt this would be a comforting verse and a witness for others because it soothed my own breaking heart every time I read this particular verse. For my own stone, though, I would choose Isaiah 40:11. My favorite vision of Jesus is as the Shepherd, for as Shepherd He brings love and comfort. As Shepherd, He understands when anguish covers us with darkness and pain and we are lost in a fog of circumstances that leaves us numb.

Jesus enfolds us to His heart according to our need. I like to think in particularly agonizing moments that those of us who have immediate needs He holds even closer to His breast. I'm reminded of that wonderful verse in John: "Then, leaning back on Jesus' breast..." (John 13:25). We need to lean back on Jesus' breast every moment, but at certain times we need to yield totally and allow Him to carry both us and our burden.

The following anecdote from Farm and Fireside illustrates wonderfully this point: "An aged, weary-looking woman with a heavy basket upon her arm, entered a train. Carrying her burden down the aisle, she found a seat and dropped into it, resting her heavy basket on her lap. A friendly workingman sitting across from her watched her for a long time, and then finally leaned across and spoke. `Madam,' he said, `if you will put your basket on the floor, the train will carry you and the basket, too.' How much truth there is in that kind remark. How often we do as the woman did, come to Christ for our soul's salvation, and yet steadfastly refuse to let him bear our burdens and look after our daily lives. We are willing to get on the train, but refuse to lay down the burdens."

How blessed we are to have a Shepherd who clasps our weary heart and body to His own pierced heart!

Count your blessings! - Anonymous

I don't know the author of this gem but, if we think about it, we have more sunshine than rain in our lives. If there is one virtue that we all need, it's gratitude. Even in our sadness we can thank God that circumstances aren't worse. Perhaps my attitude about our serious lack of thankfulness for the blessings we have and don't even recognize come from my study of the Holocaust, and meeting and working with people involved in this 20th century horror. Dear people, until you've wept and worked for and with these people, you have no idea what real grief is. I recall reading a story by a survivor titled "Spoon" and how he held on to that one possession with his life. It makes you think! PENordman.

*If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead and a place to sleep ... you are richer than 75% of this world. *If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish someplace ... you are among the top 8% of the world's wealthy. *If you woke up this morning with more health than illness ... you are more blessed than the million who will not survive this week. *If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation... you are ahead of 500 million people in the world. *If you hold up your head with a smile on your face and are truly thankful ... you are blessed because the majority can, but most do not. *If you can hold someone's hand, hug them or even touch them on the shoulder ... you are blessed because you can offer a healing touch. *If you can read this message, you just received a double blessing in that someone was thinking of you, and furthermore, you are more blessed than over two billion people in the world that cannot read at all.  
Have a good year, count your blessings, and pass this along to remind everyone else how blessed we all are.


Afterward you will understand....

"What I am doing you do not know now, but afterward you will understand" (John 13:7).

At the time Peter could not comprehend why Jesus wanted to wash his feet. Later, when he heard the rooster crow, perhaps then Peter understood the servile act his Lord bestowed upon all the apostles, including the one who was about to betray Him. Peter may have thought, "What are we, O Master, that you are so mindful of us that you become our servant? Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man" (Hebrews 2:6; Luke 5:8)

The great promise in John 13:7 is that one day we will understand what bewilders and frustrates us so now. In our lives confusing events shatter our comfortable existence and we are forced to trust in something that makes absolutely no sense to us but, to God, it is another part of the puzzle that He is piecing together for us. Faith is the only glue that holds together our fragmented hearts. We must know without a doubt that our Father views the summation of our life with the eye and heart of His omniscience. When our world seems to be crashing, He whispers to us, "Trust that I know what I am doing, and that you, too, shall know in My good time."

"By faith Abraham. . .obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going" (Hebrews 11:8). This great patriarch of faith stepped into the unfamiliar. "They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance" (Hebrews 11:13b). The faithful do not always realize what they think God has promised them. The promise to Abraham of entering Canaan never happened and it wasn't a broken promise. God drew a different and better blueprint for Abraham, that of the "city without foundations, whose architect and builder is God" (Hebrews 11:10). And Abraham walked in faith to the heavenly city.
"...Every branch that does bear fruit he [trims clean] so that it will be even more fruitful" (John 15:2b).

It seems unfair that those who are already bearing fruit will be pruned but only God knows what needs to be removed at what season of our lives so we may bear more fruit for Him. Even the most saintly have sinned and come short of God's glory. He can see the beautiful and yet unnecessary blossoms developing that will hinder the growth of the fruit of the Spirit. The Vine-dresser uses the pruning-knife of trial and affliction that the branch may bear even more excellent fruit.
“Why should I start at the plough of my Lord, that maketh deep furrows on my soul? I know He is no idle husbandman, He purposeth a crop" (Rutherford). God desires a yield from each of us or He would not have created us.

Job's friends were positive that his afflictions came from unconfessed sins but here in John 15:2 we have the suggestion that it is the very branch that is bearing already that feels the knife. Lest we become disheartened to the point of wanting to give up, it is because God sees something worth pruning. It is the unfruitful branch that is cut off.

Good people are sometimes confused at the reasons and the means by which God cultivates His vineyard, His people. Jesus was a tender shoot who was cut off at the prime of life. Many times it is the sensitive and the gentle who bear the brunt of the moral and emotional shocks of unexpected situations that seem to bear down on those who least deserve it. Yet the beauty lies in turning these experiences into God's glory and a beneficial use for others. God prunes us to get rid of our unproductive and ornate growth so that our dormant worth may flourish for His glory. If we remember this, we can accept the pruning more serenely and confidently.

Monday, April 15, 2013


“Have nothing to do with silly and ill-informed controversies which lead inevitably, as you know, to strife" (2 Timothy 2:23 Phillips); "But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments, because these are unprofitable and useless" (Titus 3:9).

Defend me, therefore, common sense, I say,/From reveries so airy, from the toil/Of dropping buckets into empty wells,/And growing old in drawing nothing up" (Cowper). Religion especially is not to satisfy our curiosity or to answer speculative questions. It is to restore our relationship with God; to sanctify our hearts and minds and prepare us for eternity. What good comes from stirring up strife over whatever does not help us with this goal? Chaucer shared this humorous bit of wisdom: "One shouldn't be too inquisitive in life/Either about God's secrets or one's wife." Our question is not, "Is my name written there, on the page white and fair?" but, "Is my God written here, on my heart full of fear?" "What must [we] do to be saved?" (Acts 16:30) and "What must we do to do the works God requires?" (John 6:28) - these are the compelling questions.

"...What may be known about God is plain..." (Romans 1:19). It is "wise" men who have obscured the plain things. We have made a fine art of wrangling and wresting from the very Word of God. "Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?" (1 Corinthians 1:20). Yes, there are thoughts past our understanding, but God would not leave us without precepts and promises that we can comprehend and believe beyond spiritual fatal doubts. What kind of God would do that if He professes to be Love?

Patricia Erwin Nordman, Walking Through the Darkness

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Broken Reeds and Smoking Wicks

I am reposting this because I have several friends going through sad times right now. I wrote this in a grieving time in my own life, when we lost our oldest son and I desperately needed to know that God indeed cares!

Jesus didn't--and doesn't--go by our theory of survival of the fittest. He takes
our bruised reed that twists in the storm and strengthens and straightens it
enough so that it makes music for Him and others; He takes our dimly burning
wick and tends it until it can give light for others groping in their dark night
of the soul. We can take glorious comfort in this thought.

There's a German legend that tells of a baron who built his castle on the Rhine.
One too-quiet and lonely day he hung wires from crag to crag and turret to
turret, hoping that the winds, as they blew upon this great Aeolian harp, might
make sweet music and lessen his loneliness. The baron waited patiently every day
for his beautiful music. Every day the winds blew from the four corners of
heaven, but no music came. Then one night a hurricane charged in, tossing the
Rhine into a fury. The lightening pierced the black night and the thunder shook
the land with its uproar. The winds seemed to go mad. The baron rushed to the
great castle door to view the terrifying scene and suddenly he heard the sound
of what seemed angels' music. As he listened with awe, he realized that his harp
had come to life at last. The terrifying tempest had given it new and sacred

Dear grieving friend, our precious Savior has allowed a sweeping hurricane to
carry off what is so dear to us! We feel our treasure being ripped from the core
of our existence and, when we reach into our heart to find something to assuage
the terrifying hopelessness, all we find is a hole so large we could sink in it.
What is so stirring about this particular verse is God’s promise that He will
never allow life's lightening bolts to devastate us completely.

This verse helped me mightily in the severe times after our son's death. It was
enormously comforting to visualize this weak little reed being lifted and held
ever so gently by a Man who understood every pang of grief I was feeling. I
envisioned strength and courage returning as I felt Jesus lift this
terribly-broken reed and whisper to me, "Dear child, don't you know that I take
broken reeds and make some of them pens to write of My love, using My own sacred
blood for ink? Some of these broken reeds I take and make instruments of lovely
music of praise. Handel was one of those drooping reeds when I gave him
inspiration and strength to write Messiah. Yet other broken reeds I make so
strong that they become pillars whereon others may rest."

O friend, let Jesus take us and make of us what He will, for it is the broken
reeds and smoking wicks that He loves so much!