Sunday, August 26, 2012

Bread that Satisfies

When I was a child Sunday morning's highlight was a trip to the bakery.
Bakeries are a staple on Long Island.

My favorites were the bagels and hard rolls.
I do not know what it is about little breads baked on that island, but they are the best.
In all my years I have not met their equal.

What could be better than these goodies; still warm and slathered with melting butter??
My mouth is watering and I am not even hungry!

Bread is a comfort food for many of us.
Followed by mashed potatoes for me.  :)

So it was no surprise to me that Papa would choose bread as a topic of conversation between us.

He kicked off the discussion with the opening verses in the Fourth chapter of Matthew.

Satan was trying to tempt Jesus, who had been fasting for forty days and nights, with the suggestion that He demonsttrate His power by turning stones into bread.
Our enemy knows that the best way to trip us up is to appeal to a weakness.
Hungry?  How about a little bread?

Jesus responded, as He did with each temptation, with Scripture.
He knew and reminded the deceiver that we need more than just physical food to live.  We need....
"Every Word that proceeds out of the mouth of God."
What Papa spoke to my heart was that to stop at satisfying our flesh need for bread is to settle for so much less than what God offers.

Then He took me to the Sixth chapter of John (Via my pastor and for good measure He brought me back to the same passage the next morning.)

Here we read of the miracle of feeding over five thousand people with five small loaves of bread and two small fish.

The next morning the crowd was back for breakfast.
Sadly they sought Jesus for a free meal, not for Himself.
They were willing to settle for the temporary satisfaction of a full belly while missing the opportunity to discover the satisfaction of being fed spiritual food.

Jesus said it plainly in the Thirty-fifth verse,
"I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst."
What was the message to my heart?  A reminder that Jesus is my real food!  He meets so much more than my physical need of sustenance!
Why do I seek Him?  To make this life easier and more comfortable for the moment or for true life which is found in Him alone?

Further on in the chapter He teaches that unless we eat (partake) of His flesh and drink His blood, we have no life in us.
That sounds hard and weird on the surface, but not if we dig a little.

He is calling us to receive unto ourselves the sacrifice He made for us.  Not only does that bring salvation; a cleansing of all our sin, but makes available to us the privilege and joy of being filled with Him.
There is nothing more joyously satisfying!

The last thing that my Jesus spoke to my heart about bread had to do with the simple, ordinary act of eating or we could say breaking bread.

In Luke Twenty-Four we find Him revealed as He broke the bread with the two disciples that He had traveled with on the road to Emmaus.
He always wants us to discover Him in our midst.

As we gather around the table; asking His blessing then eating and sharing fellowship, He is indeed in our midst.  I got the sense that He wants me (us) to be acutely aware of His Presence; His entering into the time of breaking bread together.

"Where two or more are gathered in my name I am there in the midst of them."
Yes, He is there sharing in the connection we have, rejoicing in the love we share!

I think I shall place an extra chair at the table as a reminder that we have an unseen guest.
Unseen, but not One who wants to keep His Presence hidden!

Oh, fill me up with Yourself, dearest LORD and help not miss Your Presence!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

History Lessons

I am under a deadline.
My book club meets this coming Thursday and I need to finish reading the current selection so that I can fully participate in the discussion.
There is a second deadline I need to keep in mind, as the copy I am using belongs to the library, which sets due dates.  I have already had that deadline extended and am determined to finish the read within the six weeks that I will have had it in my possession!

The book is not a quick read.  It is interesting, but not quite a page turner.  However, it is a story that I want to see to its end.  All four hundred and seventy-one pages!
It is the biography of Henry Ward Beecher and is entitled, "The Most Famous Man in America," by Debby Applegate.
The most endearing part of the book is the author's loving appreciation for her husband, which she expresses in the acknowledgements.

As for the story itself; I am getting quite the education.
Though the story revolves around the Reverend Beecher, who happens to be brother to Harriet Beecher Stowe, it gives an interesting glimpse into a number of subjects.

The Reverend was raised in the home of a Puritan minister.  His father was very rigid in his religious beliefs.  The man's instinct as a father was to love his children, however, there was a great struggle between that desire and that which he believed was the Christian way.

The first ten years or so of our subject's life was spent in Litchfield, Connecticut.  Ms. Applegate drew a somber picture of what it was like to not only live in a Puritan's home, but in a community that was entrenched in Puritanism.
I live in New England and have often wondered over the New England spirit.  This book has given me a greater understanding of the foundational influence that lies beneath this chunk of the United States.

The story does not confine itself to this area, but follows the Beecher's to Ohio and Indiana and then back East to New York where Reverend Beecher spent the majority of his life ministering to the Plymouth Church congregation in Brooklyn.
I use the word ministering loosely here.
He struggled to walk the talk, as he did not understand that the power and help were both available to him.

The author does not use a minimal approach to the larger picture of the times in which the man lived.
We are given a picture of the expansion of the United States, the political and social climate, as well as the Civil War in full color.

These past few years a number of books have found their way into my hands that have portrayed a clearer, fuller picture of our national heritage, as well as the way that generations have interpreted the Christian faith.

What I have learned regarding my nation, as well as all others, is that politics has always been dirty and power has always tended to corrupt.

As far as how Christianity has been understood through the ages, the difference is found in whether we embrace it as a religion or a relationship.

Jeremiah Chapter Seventeen, verse Nine was true when it was penned and continues to ring true to this day.
"The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?"
Without a vibrant, personal relationship with our God and Savior we will end up stumbling over our flesh.
In all areas of our lives.

The Reverend did, as well as many others.

Something Jesus said, which I had often wondered over, comes to mind.  It is found in the Gospel of Matthew's Seventh verse, the Thirteenth and Fourteenth verses.
"Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it.  For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it."
I heard a speaker once use an analogy of landing a plane to give an understanding to this text.  A pilot cannot land his plane just anywhere he chooses.  He must land on the landing strip.
Likewise there is only one way to our God and that way is Jesus.  And we enter alone, one at a time, thus the way is narrow.

There is more to it for me.
The picture of a narrow gate keeps things simple.  In Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress the extras actually were a hindrance to entering.

How many believe in Jesus for their salvation, but think this great gift comes with a to do list?
Oh, to be sure to be in relationship with Jesus is to be on an adventure with Him.  An adventure that can keep us pretty busy!
The key is the together part.
Jesus and me.
Jesus and you.

A friend shared a copy of a message by a very alive preacher with me that Papa used to refresh me and remind me of that which I know to be true.
The Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit of God dwells within me.  Jesus promised He would send His Spirit and He did!
The Spirit and I are meant to enjoy a relationship that grows deeper and deeper.
When I focus on this truth and remember to recognize His Presence I am bowled over by His love.
Every time!

This Spirit is the One who gives me discernment and guides my every step.  I can rely upon Him and walk in the freedom of that trust.

That is the life that we are to find when we enter that narrow gate.
Often we rob ourselves of this joy and power by denying His Presence and thinking we need to conjure up the strength, power and wisdom to live right all by ourselves.

That sadly is the path that Reverend Henry Ward Beecher chose.  He wasn't alone in his generation and equally sad is the fact that so many of each ensuing generation have taken that same path.

Jesus Words in the Tenth chapter of John, the Tenth verse say,
"The thief comes only to steal, and kill, and destroy; I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly."
It is a sad thought to think that we would miss out on that life abundant when it is in us the whole time!

David got it and proclaimed in Psalm Thirty-Six,
"For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light we see light."

Monday, August 20, 2012


The exodus has begun; young people are heading off to college, many for the first time.  One particular young lady is among that number.  Her father commented,
“Eighteen years packed into - one blink.”
Tell me about it.

It has been said that time stops for no man.  Parenting has a way of underscoring that truth.  One day you are cuddling a precious bundle and, seemingly, the next you are looking into the face of an adult!  In my case, I am craning my neck to look into most of those faces!

Somehow it takes us by surprise.
And it takes some adjusting, but if we accept the new reality we will discover some wonderful treasures.

We get the privilege of shifting from authority figure to friend. 
There is also the joy of watching them grow into their adulthood and find the path that Papa has for them.

Most weeks two of our sons and a daughter-in-law join us for a family dinner. 
Yesterday was one of those times.

What a joy to listen to the banter around the table.  So much life and love!
How I praise my gracious God!

My children have filled my life from the moment of conception.  One of my greatest joys is being a mother.  It is part of the very fabric of who I am.  It is how Papa designed me.

As a parent is easy to lose track of time and be so immersed in our children’s lives that we do not recognize that time is moving us along too.

For sixty-one years I have enjoyed good health and few aches and pains.  Of course, there have been minor issues that have arisen, but nothing of much concern.
However, recently I have not been feeling quite myself.  It isn’t life threatening or anything like that, but my energy level has been affected.

As I adjust and take things a bit more slowly it has occurred to me that part of this is just the aging process.  Something I have never given much thought.

Papa and I have made a habit of living this life to the full.  It has come to my attention that with time I will not be able to continue in the same way.

A number of years ago I enjoyed seeing the movie, “The Bucket List”. The list was made up of all the things that the main characters wanted to accomplish before they died.

I have a bucket list, I just haven’t put it down on paper. 
The thing is that I keep coming up with more things to put on it!

By the grace of God I imagine that I will get to a number of items on the list, but I am not too concerned if I don’t.  You see, though I haven’t given any thought to the aging process I have given much thought to eternity!

Jesus is preparing a place for me in His Kingdom and it is wonderful!
Here are Jesus' Words found in the first three verses of the Fourteenth chapter of John,
“Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me.  In my Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”
And where Jesus is there is life, which He tells us in verse Six,
“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.’”
In the Tenth chapter of John Jesus says the life He gives is abundant!

Yes, though time does sneak up on us here and will one day stop for each one of us, it cannot stop eternity.
That is where real life takes over and we get to live beyond our wildest imaginations!

I love the scene in the last book of The Chronicles of Narnia, "The Last Battle" where Aslan has won the day and one of the animals says,
"I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now. The reason why we loved the old Narnia is that it sometimes looked a little like this. Bree-hee-hee! Come further up, come further in!”*
Yes, one day I intend to go further up and further in.
My Jesus will be waiting!

*Read more:

Friday, August 17, 2012


I have been very tired.  The size of concerns seem to grow in proportion to the depth of fatigue one is experiencing.

Papa has been reminding me that in Him I find ALL I need and that I can rest in Him.

Here are the words that my thesaurus supplied for the word All.

Every part.

That means everything with no exceptions!
He is ALL I need for every detail of my life.

The other morning His Words seemed to jump off the page and into my heart.

"And looking upon them Jesus said to them, 'With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.'"*
Nothing is beyond Him.  He can handle all things!  Including directing the hearts of all of my dear sons!
As a mother I can rest in this truth.  I have seen Him at work in each and all of their lives.
Some just have further to go.

"I can do all things through Him who strengthens me."
All strength is from Him and He equips me for all that comes my way!
Including health issues.

"The Eternal God is a dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms; and He drove out the enemy from before you, and said, 'Destroy!'"***
 My God holds me all of the time and routs all of the enemy!
No matter where he may have wormed his way into.

"The LORD will give strength to His people; the LORD will bless His people with peace." ****

His strength and peace is all mine!
All the time!

"And He has said to me, 'My grace is (all) sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness.'  Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me." *****
 It is not dependent upon me or my situation,  It is all grace!

He is worthy of ALL PRAISE!
My heart echoes the words of the psalmist in the First verse of Psalm One Hundred-One:
"I will sing of loving kindness and justice, to You, O LORD, I will sing praises."

*Matthew 19:26
** Philippians 4:13
*** Deuteronomy 33:27
**** Psalm 29:11
***** 2 Corinthians 12:9

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Keep it Fresh!

Here I sit in my car on the ferry, heading to Long Island for a weekend visit with family.
Having been in a bit of a rush I decided to do my Scripture reading on the boat,
so my Bible is open on my lap at the moment.

*This is my first attempt to post to my blog from my iPhone and I am not certain how it will appear, however, I want to share something I just saw on these pages so will give it a go!

I am in Psalm Seventy-eight.
It is a wonderful piece of Scripture!
Nestled in the first section are three verses I claimed a few years ago for my family; verses six through eight.
It includes those not yet born.
 "That the generation to come might know, even the children yet to be born, that they may arise and tell them to their children, that they should put their confidence in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments, and not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation that did not prepare its heart, and whose spirit was not faithful to God."

Oh Papa!  May every generation of this family have hearts and spirits that seek You!

Okay, that was just a brief side note.
What I really want to share is how the message of this Psalm is the message of Alcoholics Anonymous.

That might surprise many, but it is true.
The Fingerprints of our God are all over the teachings of AA.

So what is this message?
Keep it fresh!
Remember often where God has brought you from and what He has brought you through!

This means we must be active, engaged with this gracious Gos in remembering.
We cannot give the flesh room to start seeking its own desires.
Only He can bring us true satisfaction!

The other part of the message is to pass it on. Share it, proclaim the Good News far and wide to all who will listen!

So much promise is wrapped up in heeding these instructions. Just as consequences await those who don't heed them, as the Psalm goes on to illustrate and as many lives can sadly attest.

Yet, which ever we choose, our God's love is constant and He intends that either good or bad consequences drive us to seek Him wholeheartedly.

I believe that all that comes our way leads us to a choice. To allow it to drive us closer to Him or to become a wedge between us and him.

I choose to keep it fresh and give him the glory, which will happen as I draw nearer to my gracious God!

*As some will notice this is posted over twelve hours later, because I have not quite perfected the technique of posting from said iPhone!  I am also on a relative's very old computer, so I cannot do any fine tuning!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Tools or Toys?

Remember when life was simple?

In Nineteen eighty-seven we moved from New York State to Connecticut and into our first home that came with a mortgage and not just a rental price tag.
After the move we discovered that baby number four was on the way.

My honey insisted that we get a dishwasher.  I never had one before and didn't think I needed one then either.  He disagreed.
I figured he just wanted one because he liked big toys.  He said it was a useful tool.

He also thought we should have a microwave oven, but I refused.  How could we justify such a frivolous purchase?
Boy was he excited when he found a sale for dishwashers that threw in a microwave for free!
Great!  Something else to clutter up my counter!!

Speaking of toys...
Personal computers were finding their way into homes and somehow one made its way into ours too!
Remember Pac-man?  That's what we used it for!  Definitely not a tool!

Fast forward a number of years.
For some time my husband had been telling me that I needed a cell phone.
For heavens sake, what would I do with it?!  He could play with one if he wanted, but I had no interest in one.

I held out until one fateful night...
Having dropped the boys off at a summer camp I was working my way home.  The processing of the boys at the camp had taken considerably longer than I had anticipated and I was going to be arriving home much later than expected.

I proceeded to look for a public phone to let Ray know of my delay and finally found one at a darkened gas station.
It was isolated and I didn't feel comfortable getting out of the car, so I drove on.
After much looking I did find one, but the search for one had made me even later!

When I arrived home I told Ray I was ready for that crazy new phone.  Maybe it would be a useful tool.
He got me one the next day.
The first time that it rang I did not know how to answer it!

All this reminiscing brings me to the present...

Here I sit at my very useful tool, my own laptop, using its keyboard to share my story.
A little while ago I was busy playing Words with Friends and Scrabble with my friends on Facebook.
Okay toy!
Of course I didn't sit down to my computer until I had filled the dishwasher with the dishes that had held the food that I had warmed up in the microwave!  Wonderful tools!

As I work my way from one activity to another, my trusty cell phone is always within reach.
You never know when it will be letting me know of a call or a text, a calendar reminder or alarm.
Definitely a tool!

I was due for an upgrade and took the opportunity to get myself an iPhone.
It is so much fun!   A fun tool?  :)
It fits nicely in my hand and offers so much more than that first computer ever did.
As a matter of fact it offers just about everything that my laptop does!

Do I want to know the weather conditions or predictions?   One touch brings me the information!
So many options!
Surf the net?  Play music?  Have a little face time with my grand-kids?  Take crystal clear photos or videos?

It is hard to remember life without all this stuff.
In so many ways it enhances my life.
I definitely can keep in better communication with my loved ones who are scattered near and far.

Each morning I open the blinds and boot up my computer.
What has happened in the world while I slept?  My computer holds the information.
For all the benefits, now and then I step back and wonder what I have given up for all of this progress?

Information comes from all directions these days.
Many tasks that I do involve my computer, from paying bills and charting expenses, to creating greeting cards, plus sending receiving communications.
The list is endless.
I could spend all day in front of my laptop and all my other conveniences offer me the time to do so.
It takes careful watching to not allow it to own all of your time.

I often join the psalmist in offering Papa this plea...
"Teach me to number my days, so that I might present to You a heart of wisdom."
And I don't need any sophisticated tools to do that, but I am grateful for all of them.
I guess each one serves as both a toy and tool.

For all this I praise my God, who has planted into each of us creativity, which results in so many amazing things!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Reminders of His Love

If you were to leaf through my personal Bible, you would find a number of dates scattered on the margin of its pages.  They are alongside particular verses which Papa brought to my attention on that day.
Some are speaking to an issue within my heart and some are promises that He has given me regarding my loved ones.

It is a joy to come across them again, as I read that particular section of Scripture.
When I do, I am freshly encouraged.

Because I am reminded of His love for me and mine.
The fact that He speaks to my heart and gives me Words to hold onto and live by is ongoing evidence of His love.
He may have poured out His love on that Cross, but He did not exhaust its supply!

When I do encounter them, it is always timely.
A reminder of what He has promised....
And, not infrequently, evidence that He keeps His promises to me!

Reminders can be good.
In His Hands they are good.

He has always encouraged His children to remember what He has done and what He promises.

In the Old Testament He told His people to set up memorials of when He met them in a special way.  He also instructed them to institute celebrations at defined times.
The Passover and Purim are two examples.

In the New Testament Jesus instructed His disciples to remember, on a regular basis, His sacrifice of His body and blood for us.  It is known as Communion and/or The LORD's supper.
My church does so the first Sunday of the month, which means we celebrated The LORD's Supper today.

No matter which we might be celebrating, the focus should be on our God and  it should be a time of humble gratitude.

Today we had a guest speaker.  The man is ninety years young and I do mean young!
To be honest I was not excited about the prospect of someone so old speaking.  I have had plenty of experiences listening to someone ramble, lose their place and seem to go on for ever.
Well, Papa had a wonderful surprise for me!

The message was from the Fortieth chapter of Isaiah, the Thirty-First verse.
It is now dated in my Bible!

I have been experiencing some challenges health-wise and was greatly encouraged by the words this man shared with us.  His life is a testimony of God's faithfulness!

"But those who wait upon the LORD will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings li,e eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary."

I was reminded that waiting upon the LORD is a quiet, but active position.
Resting in Him, yet poised to hear from Him and in a position to soar, run and walk at His bidding, in His timing and strength!

That is an example of my Gracious God speaking to a need within my heart.
Here's one regarding my loved ones:
"For I will pour out water on the thirsty land; and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out My Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants; and they will spring up among the grass like poplars by streams of water.  This one will say, 'I am the LORD's' and that one will call on the name of Jacob; and another will write on his hand, 'Belonging to the LORD'. and will name Israel's name with honor."
This passage has two dates, as He had originally given it to me on the First of October in the year Two Thousand and Five!

The reminders of His love are everywhere...

Look to the Cross!
Look into His Word!
Or by simply looking to the evidence that surrounds us every day through so many ways!