Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A Noteworthy Life

As the day ends today, I sit back reflecting on the past few years while I start a new year in life. Today is my birthday, another year older, another year (hopefully) wiser but not a lot to show for it. That got me thinking, and honestly a little depressed. After all, what have I really done that's noteworthy the last few years?
I know that I have a lot left in life that I can accomplish, and as long as it's a Kingdom perspective, that's all that matters. The other day, however, while I was evaluating my life I became very depressed. In fact I did something that I never do-I cried. I was desperate to find something that I have done to leave a mark. After all, I'm not the typical woman anyway you want to look at it. I'm not a "career girl", I don't have a husband or children, I have only an Associates degree for education. I'm not going to win any popularity contest anytime soon and even work isn't going so great right now, so what have I been doing that is noteworthy?
Then it hit me as I was teaching my Sunday School class. We are doing a study on the first 11 chapters of Genesis and right now we are on chapter 9, before the tower of babble, but after Noah, Shem, Ham and Japheth, plus their wives, had come of the Ark. It was only a short segment on how God values human life, but it was enough to bring me out of my funk. One of the verses we cross-referenced with Genesis 9:6 was Psalm 139:13-16:

For You formed my inward parts;

You wove me in my mother’s womb.
I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;
Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of them.

A set of verses that I had known most of life. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. He has my days ordained for me. He knows what I am made to do. All I have to do is trust Him. Let Him lead me. A radical thought of not letting myself get in the way of God. How simple a solution! How hard to actually do.
Then, today, I had another epiphany. I was reading the book Follow Me by David Platt. I'm only in the first chapter, but oh the insight I have gained! I'm not doing what I'm supposed to as a Christian. I'm not making disciples. Not as Jesus wanted us to do. Yes, I teach Sunday School. Yes I try to influence my nieces and nephews and point them to God. Yes I work hard to do as the Bible commands, but I'm not being a missionary in my mission field. But all of that is a blog for a different day. Right now I'm just basking in the light of God. Taking in the truths He's shown me. Learning to trust Him even if it's a day by day, minute by minute, second by second decision. This lady does not want to be a lukewarm Christian, but someone willing to stand up for truth and what's right. When that is accomplished, life is noteworthy. When seeking God's kingdom is my first priority (Matthew 6:33), everything else fades away. For in God I can show love. In God I can show mercy. In God, I can do all things (Philippians 4:13).

Monday, April 22, 2013

Eagles and Geese

When I was in high school I remember going on a youth retreat where the theme for the weekend was Eagles and Geese, and how as Christians we are to be like eagles and geese. These two concepts may seem mutually exclusive but are not necessarily so. When I see eagles, I always see them high in the sky and alone: always soaring, and very majestic. Geese are different. They move in groups and are seen on their migration packs in a V formation and move in a flock, never really alone. So, how are we to be like both of these birds?
In Isaiah 40:27 Isaiah asks the question

Why do you complain, Jacob?
    Why do you say, Israel,
“My way is hidden from the Lord;
    my cause is disregarded by my God”?
To me this verse speaks of the pain of being alone, of feeling alone. There are times when we may be physically surrounded by people, but feel alone; feel as if there’s no one we can go to, and no one we can rely on except ourselves. Isaiah refutes the theory that we are always alone having only ourselves and our strength to rely on. The rest of the passage states that we have God! By ourselves we cannot do it, we do not have the strength and the fortitude to persevere (verse 30), but through God and His strength we will (verse 28, 29, 31). Isaiah tells us in verse 28 that He is the everlasting God, in 29, He grants strength to those who need it, and in 31 that He will make us soar like eagles. 
Sometimes we are also asked to stand alone, be the only voice of truth. The same concept applies. We are not alone, we are not called to bear the burden alone, but through God and His strength we will make it. Verse 31 is one of my favorite verses, it’s a promise that God will not leave us or forsake us but be the wind beneath our wings and the power that we soar majestically on. 
But also, we are to be there and bear the burdens of others. Have you ever watched geese fly when they migrate? The fly in a V formation, the bird in front doing the majority of the work, making a path through the sky for the rest of the geese making it easier to fly, especially the further back in the V the bird is. When the lead bird gets tired, he moves to the back of the V and another bird automatically takes the lead. In the back of the V, the bird is not flying on his strength, but the strength of the birds before him. Romans 15:1-7 talks about this:

We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.” For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.
May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.

“We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves.” 
“Bear with the failings of the weak”. I love that phrase. I know I feel like I’ve failed when my strength gives out. I feel like I haven’t given my all or tried hard enough. But that’s what the friends I have around me are for. They aren’t there to complain to, but to be the shoulder, to tell me that I’m loved, to edify and encourage me when there is nothing left but feelings of failings as verse 2 tells us to do. Christ was our perfect example with this. Christ took on all of our failings, all of our sins (and feeling like you’ve failed when you ran out of your strength is a sin because we did not rely on God) when he died on the cross. He gave us the eternal supernatural strength that we need, and this strength can come through our fellow Christians, our Sister’s, lifting us up and encouraging us. I won’t lie, there are times when we are the lead bird, bearing the brunt of the burdens of others. I have also found out that most of us prefer to be the lead bird, it’s our comfort spot, but God in His infinite wisdom gave us a way to recover and recoup from the brunt of the work. There are times when we need to let someone else lead and lift our wings for us, to be our strength. God does not expect us to live off of our strength alone, but by the edification of Him and His word, and the others around us.

Bible verses taken from the NIV

Monday, April 8, 2013

Prayers Squared: Gleaning Wheat

Gleaning Wheat

Materials: 4 ply WW yarn
Hook size: I/9 5.5 mm

Special Stitches:
Bullion (BN8): wrap yarn around hook 8 times, insert hook in sp indicated, yo, pull up a loop, yo, pull through 8 loops on hook, yo, pull through remaining 2 loops.

Finished dimensions: 6x6 square

Special notes: The rounds all start with the corner, this is accomplished by doing a hdc into the top of the starting ch-3 for each round instead of a ch 2, sl st to top of starting ch. Beginning ch 3 counts as a dc throughout pattern.

Start with Magic loop
Rnd 1: Ch 3, 2 dc in loop, *ch 2, 3 dc in loop* repeat from * to * three times, hdc to top of ch3. 12 dc, 4 ch-2 sp

Rnd 2: Ch 3, dc in same st (around the hdc), *dc in next st, BN8 in next st, dc in next st**, (2 dc, ch 2, 2 dc) in corner ch2 sp*, work from * to * three times and to ** once more, 2 dc in corner ch2 sp, hdc to top of ch-3. 24 dc, 4 BN, 4 ch2 sp

Rnd 3: Ch 3, dc in same st, *dc in next st, BN8 in next st, dc in next 3 sts, BN8 in next st, dc in next st**, (2 dc, ch 2, 2 dc) in corner ch2 sp*, work from * to * three times and to ** once more, 2 dc in corner ch2 sp, hdc to top of ch3. 36 dc, 8 BN, 4 ch-2 sp

Rnd 4: Ch 3, dc in same st, *dc in next st, BN8 in next st, dc in next 3 sts, BN8 in next st, dc in next 3sts, BN8 in next st, dc in next st **, (2 dc, ch 2, 2 dc) in corner ch2 sp*, work from * to * three times and to ** once more, 2 dc in corner ch2 sp, hdc to top of ch3. 48 dc, 12 BN, 4 ch-2 sp

Rnd 5: Ch 2, hdc in same sp, hdc in each st around working (2 hdc, ch 2, 2 hdc) in each corner sp, 2 hdc in last half of the first corner, ch 2, sl st to top of ch2. 19 hdc per side= 76 hdc, 4 ch-2 sps

© Copyright March 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.

The book of Ruth is one of my favorite books in the bible. There is so much one can glean about Jesus in this short book! Ruth, a woman from Moab, followed her mother-in-law Naomi to the town of Bethlehem in Judea after the death of Ruth's husband, Naomi's son. In Bethlehem, Ruth started gleaning barley from the fields of Boaz, a relative of Naomi's late husband. Boaz eventual became the kinsman redeemer for Ruth and Naomi, a picture of what Jesus would later become for us. According to gotquestions.org*, a kinsman redeemer is a close family member who "has the privilege or responsibility to act on behalf of a family member who was in trouble, danger or need", someone who buys back or redeems a debt. This would include marrying the widow of a close family member, which Boaz did in the case of Ruth. By Boaz marrying Ruth, he gave her protection, and a safe place to live. But oh what a picture this is of Jesus!

Jesus paid our debt on the cross, He suffered and was forsaken by His Father so that the chasm between God and man would be bridged. Jesus redeemed us, he paid a price for us, so that we may once again know fellowship with God. Boaz redeemed Ruth and Naomi when he married Ruth. Jesus (or redeemer) redeemed us when He died on the cross for our sin debt.

The thing that I think is really cool about the story of Boaz and Ruth is not just the picture of the Messiah seen, but how that fits into the lineage of the Messiah. After Ruth married Boaz, they had a son named Obed, father of Jesse, grandfather to King David. Ruth, a woman from Moab, was chosen to be in the lineage of Jesus.