Thursday, February 28, 2013

Holy Holy Holy

Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.
Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.
I am a person of unclean lips living among a people of unclean lips, full of sin, wickedness and unrighteousness.
Forgive me for my sins for You are my Strong Tower, Redeemer, Savior.
When I acknowledge You and lean on You, You direct my ways and straighten my path.
Transform me, Lord, by renewing my mind, keep me from being conformed to this world, but to be a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to You.
Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.
Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty.

Scripture from Isaiah 6:3,5; Proverbs 18:10; Psalm 78:35; Proverbs 3:5,6; Romans 12:2

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Prayers Squared: Crossing The Red Sea

2 colors worsted weight yarn, CA and CB
Hook: H/8 5.00 mm
Tapestry needle for weaving in ends

Special stitches:
Cross stitch (Xdc): (worked over 2 st) sk 1 st, dc in next st, working in front of dc just made, dc in sk st 
Half treble (htr): yo twice, insert hook in st indicated, pull up a loop (4 loops on hook), yo, pull through two loops, yo, pull through remaining 3 loops

Form a magic loop (or ch 4, sl st to first ch to form a ring)
Rnd 1: With CA, ch3, 15 dcs in loop, sl st to top of ch-3. (16 dc)

Rnd 2: ch 3, dc in same st, 2 dcs in each st around, sl st to top of ch-3. (32 dc)

Rnd 3: ch 1, sc in same st, *sc in next st, hdc in next 2 sts, (2 dc, ch 2, 2 dc) in next st, hdc in next 2 st**, sc in next 2 sts* repeat from * to * three times ending at ** on last repeat, sc in next st, sl st to first sc. (16 dc, 4 ch2 sp, 16 hdc, 12 sc)

Rnd 4: ch 1, sc in same st, sc in next 5 sts, *3 sc in ch2 sp, sc in each st across* repeat from * to * three times, sl st to first sc, fasten off CA. (56 sc)

Rnd 5: attach CB with a sl st in any corner sc, ch 3 (dc, ch 2, 2 dc) in same sp, *3 Xdc over the next 6 sts, ch 1, sk next st, 3 Xdc over the next 6 sts**, (2 dc, ch 2, 2 dc) in corner sc*, repeat from * to * three times ending at ** on last repeat, sl st to top of ch-3. fasten off CB. (24 Xdc, 16 dc, 4 ch2 sp, 4 ch1 sp)

Rnd 6: attach CA to any corner ch-2 with a sc, 2 sc in same sp, *sc in next 8 st, htr in front of ch-1 sp into unworked st from rnd 4, sc in next 8 sts**, 3 sc in ch-2 sp*, repeat from * to * three times ending at ** on last repeat, sl st to first sc. (76 sc, 4 htr)

Rnd 7: ch 1, sc in same st and each st around, working 3 sc in each middle sc of the corner 3 sc. Sl st to first sc, fasted off, weave in ends. (88 sc)

Moses: A biblical character that all children who attend church learn about. 

We learn about his mother, who hid him for until she could hide him no longer and then made a waterproof basket for him to float down the Nile in. 

We learn about how Pharaoh's daughter found the baby in the basket and took him as her own. 

We learn how he was a Prince of Egypt, but fled to Midian when he murdered a man. 

We also learn how he returned to Egypt to free the Israelites from slavery. 

We learn about the 10 plagues of Egypt.

We learn about the Passover.

But there's one thing that we don't really see with Moses and leading his people out of Egypt, and about us as followers of Christ.

You see, when the Israelites left Egypt, they were leaving an old life of slavery and oppression behind to start a new life of freedom in the land that Abraham was given. When they crosses the Red Sea, the past life was behind them and their future, bright as the morning sun, was before them. A picture of what salvation is to us: leaving the old life behind with the promise of a future better than anything we can dream of. When we accept Christ as our savior, we are like the Israelites crossing the Red Sea. We are leaving our old life behind and entering a new one, as a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17).

It would be perfect if the story would stop here, but it did not. The Israelites had only been following Moses to the Promised Land a short while when they decided to make a golden calf as an idol and worship that as the god that delivered them from Egypt (Exodus 32:1-6). Oh how we do that too. We follow God, worship Him. But after a time, other things take the place of God. Our work, our hobbies, even our family can take the place of God in our lives. Just remember though, when we all "crossed the Red Sea" how we gave God prominence in our lives, and that we can always make Him prominent in our lives once again.

Just as when the Israelites crossed the Red Sea, their journey was just beginning, ours also just begins at salvation. We will turn away. We will get off track just like they did, but we can also get back on track and continue on our journey.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Tangled Life

"Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive" goes the famous line from the Sir Walter Scott poem "Marmion" (1808), and how true it is. This line talks about how lying leads to more lies to keep the first lie from being discovered. Here's the thing though, we do not need to "practice to deceive" to get a tangled life. All we really have to do to get a tangled life is to rely on fallible things. Things like our jobs, our hobbies, our friends and family, or even ourselves. None of us are infallible, we are all imperfect. Now this is a frightening thought for most people, if we cannot rely on our friends, family, or ourselves, then how do we have an untangled life?

Is there a way?

Is it possible?

Is there something infallible to rely on and trust?

There is! There is only one infallible place we can put our trust-in God.

Even though we say we rely on God what happens a lot is we will give our lives to Him for a "trial run". After some time, if God isn't working to our imperfect standards, we will take our lives back like a small child grabbing at a toy screaming "NO IT'S MINE" instead of waiting for the perfect outcome. Then our lives, which God had so delicately started to untangle as a knitter of fine threads would untangle a priceless thread, become tangled again. Maybe even worse than before. Maybe with more scars and knots than what we had anticipated. But, when we come to our wits end, God is there, waiting patiently for us to return to Him. He's there, willing to start unraveling the mess we made bringing us closer to Him, closer to His perfection of us.

If we let God work, this is what will happen: God will take our wits end, gently working us into something he can use, something he designed specifically for us. He will unravel our tangles as gently as possible. There will be some tugging and pulling that will hurt, but the reward of an untangled life is worth the pain. He takes our tangled life, like a knitter would take a tangled mess of yarn, and winds us up to be used, like the knitter does with the yarn. Patiently working out the tangles and knots pulling our mess into an usable mass, preparing us for what He has planned. Painful, yes. Frustrating, at times, but don't give up. The results are worth the struggle.

After God untangles our messy life and has wound us up into a workable mass, He is ready to cast us onto His tools to create His design He planned specifically for us. He so patiently manoeuvres us into His pattern creating a useful object made and designed for a purpose. This part of the process is at times tedious and boring, and other times challenging and hard-but don't give up, God's not done for as it states in Philippians 1:6 "For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus". He steadily works us into His unique pattern, a design created specially for you.

When the design is complete, there is still work to be done. As the knitter who has finished her shawl knows to have a workable cloth you need to wet it down, stretch it into it's shape, and let it dry. Yes, some more pain. I know, pain doesn't feel good, but as the knitter will tell you, this process is essential to having the nuances of the pattern show. And just when you think "FINALLY, I'M DONE!!" God gently reminds us that we are to be useful, even after we are shaped and stretched, for it's now that we are the most useful. We are now able to bring comfort to those around us. We are to wrap ourselves around those who need comfort, a blessing, or peace. It is now that we can bear each others burdens (Gal 6:2), be the peace makers (Matt 5:9), love one another (Matt 22:39, Mark 12:31, Luke 6:27-36. John 13:34), and comfort each other (Rom 12:15). For in these things, we are being, as the song states, "Jesus in disguise".

Philippians 1:6 from the NASB version of the bible
"Jesus in Disguise" by Brandon Heath from the album Blue Mountain released August 10, 2012
Thanks to Linda Nelson for the picture with the shawl.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Prayers Squared: Esther's Courtyard

Hand made gifts are given from the heart, when you pray as you make the gift, it's also from your soul. Afghan squares are a great way to add a special show of love and prayer to any gift you give someone who knits/crochets. Given enough squares, they can be made into a physical reminder of the love poured into each stitch.

Esther's Courtyard:

by JM Jones

Finished measurements: 6x6
Lion Brand Pound of Love acrylic WW yarn
I/5.5 mm hook
Special stitches: Bullion (BN8): wrap yarn around hook 8 times, insert hook in sp indicated, yo, pull up a loop, yo pull through all loops on hook, ch 1 to close.
Start with Magic Loop,
Rnd 1: Ch 3 (counts as beg dc now & throughout), 2 dc, (ch 2, 3 dc) 3 times, ch 2, sl st to top of beg ch-3, pull tail to tighten loop. (12 dc, 4 ch-2 sps)
Rnd 2: Ch 3, dc in next 2 sts, *(2 dc, ch 2, 2 dc) in corner ch-2 sp,** dc in next 3 sts*, work from * to * 3 more times, ending at ** on the final rep, sl st to top of beg ch-3. (28 dc, 4 ch-2 sps)
Rnd 3: Ch 1, sc in same st, *ch 3, skip dc, sc in next dc, ch 3, skip next 2 dc, (sc, ch 3, sc) in corner ch-2 sp,** ch 3, skip next 2 dc, sc in next dc,* repeat from * to * 3 more times, ending at ** on the final rep, join with dc in the first sc (forming last ch-3 loop). (16 sc, 16 ch-3 sps)
Rnd 4: Sl st into ch-3 sp (ch 3, 2 dc) in same ch-3 sp, *2 BN8 in next ch-3 sp, 3 dc in next ch-3 sp, (3 dc, ch 2, 3 dc) in corner ch-3 sp,** 3 dc in  next ch-3 sp,*  repeat from * to * 3 more times ending at ** on the final rep, sl st to top of beg ch-3. (48 dc, 8 BN8=2 BN8 in the middle ch-3 sp on each side)
Rnd 5: Ch 2, hdc in each st to corner, (2 hdc, ch 2, 2 hdc) in corner ch-2 sp repeat from * to * 3  more times, hdc in next 3 sts, sl st top of the ch-2. (72 hdc)

Rnd 6: Ch 1, sc in same st, sc in every st to corner ch-2 sp, 3 sc in ch-2 sp, repeat from * to * 3 more times, sc in each st until the first sc on rnd, sl st to the first sc, finish off and weave in ends. (80 sc)

© Copyright February 2013 by JM Jones, all rights reserved. This pattern, in whole or part, may not be reproduced – mechanically, electronically, or by any other means, including photocopying—without the written permission of JM Jones. Projects made from this pattern may be gifted, swapped or sold. If you use this pattern to sell items on the internet, kindly credit JM Jones as the designer.

One of my favorite biblical characters is Queen Esther. Esther became Queen of Persia after Queen Vashti refused to appear before King Ahasuerus during a feast he was giving. Esther was a Jew, a people that had been taken captive by Persia long before the story of Esther begins. Her people were also despised by some in the kingdom, one particular man, Haman, was powerful. Haman made a decree that all of the Jewish people in the land were to be executed. When Mordecai, a relative of Esther, found this out, he petitioned Esther to intercede on behalf of her people with the king. Esther, knowing that appearing before the king unsummoned could mean her death, prayed and fasted with her people, then adorned herself with her best cloths and beauty treatments and appeared before the king. She invited Ahasuerus and Haman to a feast she was giving in their honor. When Esther informed the king that it was her people that Haman wanted to execute, he decided to hang Haman on the gallows built to kill Mordecai. Esther's people were safe and able to defend themselves in case someone did try to kill them. Esther and Mordecai had favor with the king. Mordecai was even promoted to the position that Haman held.*

The reason the story of Esther is one of my favorites is due to the courage one woman had that saved her people. She could have kept silent, the king and Haman did not know Esther was a Jew, but she knew she could not. Faced with annihilation of her family and friends she faced her own mortality and interceded for her people. What a picture of Christ this is! He, too, was faced with His own mortality to save His people (Matthew 27, Mark 15, Luke 23, John 19). Though He was rejected by His people, He died on the cross to be the final blood sacrifice, the perfect holy Lamb so that His people would no longer be separated from God. He came, gave His life and rose from the dead for us to gain a life with Him, the only life with meaning (Matthew 28:1-8, Mark 16:1-8, Luke 24:1-12, John 20:1-10).

The courage of a young woman saved her people, the sacrifice of a perfect holy Lamb saved His people. Would I be able to do the same?

*Esther's story is found in the book of Esther from the Old Testament.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

February 14th, the day of love for America; the day to celebrate romance and I sit on my couch physically alone, not a soul in the house except the cat. I may be alone, but far from lonely. I sit, watch a bit of t.v. and read the Psalms. Reading to remind me of the peace from God, the joy He brings and His love for me. the Psalms, a book that runs the gamut of emotions from the highest joys to the deepest sorrows and I receive strength. Strength from Psalm 36:7

"How Precious is Your lovingkindness, O God!
And the Children of men take refuge in the shadow of Your wings."

and I'm reminded that though I am alone, I am not lonely.