Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Power

My father is a member of a men's chorus called the Sons of Jubal. It is an excellent group comprised of Ministers of Music from across the state. On a regular basis, the group receives an e-mail from the director, Jon Duncan, that contains devotions from members of the choir. Daddy passed the devotion on to me and it was particularly poignant so I thought I would pass it on to you. Enjoy.

Devotional by Jon Duncan

In a seminary missions class, Herbert Jackson told how, as a new missionary, he was assigned a car that would not start without a push. After pondering his problem, he devised a plan. He went to the school near his home, got permission to take some children out of class, and had them push his car off. As he made his rounds, he would either park on a hill or leave the engine running. He used this ingenious procedure for two years. Ill health forced the Jackson family to leave, and a new missionary came to that station. When Jackson proudly began to explain his arrangement for getting the car started, the new man began looking under the hood. Before the explanation was complete, the new missionary interrupted, "Why, Dr. Jackson, I believe the only trouble is this loose cable." He gave the cable a twist, stepped into the car, pushed the switch, and to Jackson 's astonishment, the engine roared to life.

For two years needless trouble had become routine. The power was there all the time. Only a loose connection kept Jackson from putting that power to work. In John 15: 4-5 we discover the need to be grafted into the vine. Dependence in the "True Vine" offers strength, power, and life. I can certainly identify with the story above. It is easy to become self-reliant. Ministry is demanding. The task list continues to grow, and we find that loads are more than we can handle. We often look for the "newest and latest" that can help us push a powerless car down the road. It is true that we need such help from time to time. There are times, however, that we are neglectful of simple maintenance. As one who has experienced pushing cars too often, let me encourage a little maintenance check. We may discover a "loose" wire or two. How's your connection to the Vine? Check out the connection. In these times we really need a source of power beyond our own strength. Such power comes from the Vine.

Comments from Shannon:

As a product of the 90's, my first thought upon reading this devotion was the early 90's dance hit by the German-America Techno group call Snap. The song was called "The Power". (Some of you are laughing, but you know you loved it, too.) After hearing and occasionally dancing to this song for two decades, I was surprised to find that it has actual verses, albeit senseless verses. The whole point of the song though, is that this rapper called Turbo B has The Power. The power to do what, I don't know. When comparing this song and the devotion, I am relieved that we don't have to have all the power. It seems that when we, humans in general, try to have the power, we end up pushing a car for two years or like the song -- not making much sense.

Here are a few verses that correspond nicely with Dr. Duncan's devotion. They follow:

"Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." John 15:4-5

"Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all." 1 Chronicles 29:12

"Then He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." 2 Corinthians 12: 9

The devotion is reprinted from Jon Duncan, Sons of Jubal e-mail.

The picture is from "Journey Across Africa" which is a blog written by a Peach Corps Volunteer named Mike. You may find his blog at http://journeyacrossafrica.blogspot.com/2003_12_01_archive.html

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A Little Appetizer

A friend gave me several poems and quotes that have been special to me over the past couple of years. I thought this one would be appropriate for passing along. If nothing else, consider this an appetizer while waiting for the impending entrĂ©e of the next post. I am still quite busy with school but am working on my next post. Stay Tuned…

Cratered landscape at the Ouvrage de Thiaumont, in the heart of the fighting at Verdun from February 1916 to December 1916.

Forgiveness by George Roemisch

Forgiveness is the wind-blown bud
which blooms in placid beauty at Verdun.

Forgiveness is the tiny slate-gray sparrow
which has built its nest of twigs and string
among the shards of glass upon
the wall of shame.

Forgiveness is the child who
laughs in merry ecstasy
beneath the toothed fence that
closes in Da Nang.

Forgiveness is the fragrance of the violet
which still clings fast to the
heel that crushed it.

Forgiveness is the broken dream
which hides itself within the corner of the mind
oft called forgetfulness so that
it will not bring pain to the dreamer.

Forgiveness is the reed
which stands up straight and green
when nature’s mighty rampage halts, full spent.

Forgiveness is a God who will not leave us
after all we’ve done.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Bad fruit and Why I am Slow

I want to start this post by apologizing. When I began this blog, I had hoped to post at least once a week. As you have read, my posts are quite long and they require of me a good amount of time researching and writing. As most of my readers know me personally, you realize that I am a both a graduate student and stay-at-home mom; uninterrupted time at the computer is precious and recently that time has been devoted to my studies. While posting to the blog has been less frequent it has certainly not been forgotten.

I have a long list of posts that I intend to write as time allows, but one thing that constantly plagues me as I write these posts is the story of Cain and Abel. Years ago, when I was still a member of my father’s children’s choir, he told his choir the story from Genesis chapter four. He told of how the two brothers presented God with their offerings and explained that Cain brought God an offering of fruits and vegetables that were wilted and not fit to be eaten but Abel brought God an offering of the prized sheep from his flocks. God was pleased with Abel and displeased with Cain. My father then explained that everything we do is presented to God as an offering so everything we do should be done to the very best of our ability. Daddy was probably telling the group of fourth graders that we needed to sing better or behave better but that has stuck with me ever sense. I say all of that to explain why I want each of my posts to be the very best they can be. I am offering this blog to God for His service, so I am going to postpone posting for another couple weeks, so that it will hopefully be my very best offering and be pleasing to Him.

In the mean time, I am going to leave you with a little tid-bit from some of my quiet time that may be meaningful. I invite any readers (hopefully, I have readers other than my mother) to comment if you have inspirational words, scriptures or even web links -- whatever you feel like sharing is welcome. I monitor the comments, so it may take a couple of days for it to post, but I promise to get to it.

The following is from Come Away My Beloved. It is a sort of follow up to the previous post on hatred. It tells of the dangers of allowing unhealthy emotions destroy not only our relationship with God but also our physical well-being. As you read, imagine that God is speaking the words directly to you. Because these words are all scriptural God has in essence already spoken them to you. Not only will it provide a sense of peace, but it allows better understand on how God does speak.

Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously… Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 2Corinthians 9:6 and 10

How can I give you healing for your body while there is anxiety in your mind? So long as there is disease in your thoughts, there will be disease in your body. You need many things, but one thing in particular you must develop for your own preservation, and that is an absolute confidence in My loving care.

It is written, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Only when your mind is at rest can your body build health. Worry is an actively destructive force. Anxiety produces tension, and tension is the road to pain. Fear is devastating to the physical well-being of the body. Anger throw poison into the system that no antibiotic can ever counteract.

“Be sure your sin will find you out,” the Bible states (Numbers 32:23). One of the most common ways that hidden sin is revealed is through the maladies of the body. Resentments and ill will bring about more arthritis than is caused by wrong diet. More asthma is caused by repressed fury than by pollen or cat fur.

There was no illness in the body of Jesus because there was no sin in His soul. There was weariness as a natural result of labor and sacrificial service, but there was no undue fatigue and exhaustion brought on by anxiety.

Ten minutes of unbridled temper can waste enough strength to do a half day of wholesome work. Your physical energy is a gift from God, entrusted to you to be employed for His glory. It is a sin to take His gift and dissipate it through the trap doors of the disposition’s evil emotions.

Do not condemn others for jeopardizing their health by harmful habits and wasting their energies on vain pursuits while you undermine your health by unworthy emotions. You waste time by entertaining such things as self-pity and remorse and evil surmising when you might be keeping your mind in an attitude of praise and faith. Your mind could be constructively employed, but instead you allow this to be a period of destructive action.

You cannot risk giving your thoughts free reign. They will never choose the right path until you bridle them and control them by your own disciplined will. You are master of your own house. You do not have to invite into your mind the foul birds of evil thoughts and allow them to nest there and bring forth their young.

Whatsoever you sow in your secret thought life, that you will reap. Sow love and kindness, and you shall be rewarded openly. Sow charity and forgiveness, and you shall reap in kind. Sow generosity and gratitude, and you shall never feel poor. Sow hope, and you shall reap fulfillment. Sow praise, and you shall reap joy and well-being and a strong faith. Sow bountifully, and you shall reap bountifully. Sow! You shall see your seed and be satisfied.

Passage from Come Away My Beloved by Frances J. Roberts, published by Barbour Publishing, Inc.

The painting is "Vanitas still life" by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio. He painted this in 1587. Caravaggio was a remarkable Italian Baroque painter who knew all too well the ills caused by emotions.