Sunday, August 7, 2022

Weekend Words

 From More Letters from Ruth's Attic...

Pure Refreshment

"Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; on You I wait all the day." - Psalm 25:5

It could be merely a piece of plywood stretched across two saw horses, but you should have a special place for Bible study - a place that doesn't have to be shared with sewing, letter-writing or bill-paying.  For years, mine was just an old wooden table between an upright chest of drawers and a taller desk.

On my desk I have collected a number of good translations of the Bible for reference, a Bible dictionary, a concordance and several devotional books.  I also keep a notebook, a mug full of pens and a special pen that writes on the pages of my Bible without smearing or bleeding through.

When we were in school, we also kept a notebook handy to take notes on the professor's lecture.  How much more important is it to take notes when God is teaching us!

If we have to clear off a spot for Bible study during a crowded day, we are likely to put it off.  But if we have a place where our Bible is always open and handy, whenever there is a lull in the storm, we can grab a cup of coffee and sit down for a few minutes or more of pure refreshment and companionship.

Prayer for the Day: In the midst of each day, Father, may I pause and allow Your Word to refresh and strengthen me.  Let the Scriptures speak to me in a new and deeper way as I study and seek to understand what You are teaching me.

From Amish Peace...

Finding Rest

Jesus said, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest." - Matthew 11:28

Do you find yourself ready to get off of your feet at the end of the day?  According to the New York Times, the average American takes 5,117 steps a day; the average Amish man takes 18,000 steps a day, and the average Amish women takes 14,000 steps!  If anyone needs rest it's the Amish...and they take it.  The Amish community considers Sunday a day of rest.  They eat simple meals, prepared the day before, and give their bodies time to rejuvenate.  They may read, sit and visit with family, or write letters.  Their feet do not have to worry about all those steps!

For many people Sunday isn't so different from any other day.  They shop, they cook, and they even squeeze in work.  I can't tell you how many times I've told myself, Answering a few emails won't hurt.  But it does.

In Matthew 11:28, above, God tells us He will give us rest.  The question is, do we take it?  Do we rest on the Sabbath?  More than that, do we go to God - every day of the week - and ask Him to lift our burdens?  Isaiah 28:12 adds, "God has told his people, 'Here is a place of rest; let the weary rest here.  This is a place of quiet rest.'  But they would not listen."

I don't know about you, but sometimes I find it easier to complain about my burdens than to take them to the Lord.  Sometimes it's easier to feel overwhelmed with my work than it is to push it all to the side for an hour and just relax with my family or a friend.

The question is not whether we have burdens and weariness.  The question is, will we take them to God and still our minds and our hands for Him to do His refreshing work?

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

On the home front...

Slowly getting back into 'normal' mode after the family visit.  It's still very cold here, especially nights and early mornings, but some of the days have been warming up a bit and hopefully Spring is not far away.  The grass seems to think so, as it has started growing, so after not having to mow for the last couple of months, it will be time to get the mower out again soon.

I've finally finished the sweater I was knitting for Hazel and will get it in the mail to her tomorrow...

she has now requested a yellow cardigan :)

Meanwhile, I am going on with the knitted squares for the Wrap with Love blanket...

And if I get sick of knitting, I can work on my crocheted blanket...

I need to get my supply of blankets back up, as Natasha took 3 of them home with her when she was here recently.  I forgot to take a photo of them, so will get her to send me one (for next post).

Vicki asked me for the recipe for the bread and butter pudding I mentioned making in my last home post.  This is the original recipe...

But I didn't add the honey, apple or banana.  I've made it a few times since then, simplifying each time, and the last one I made I used some of my fruit cake that I had in the freezer (instead of bread) and just added milk, eggs and vanilla.  The cake had fruit and sugar in it so I didn't need to add any more.  I did sprinkle some nutmeg on top before cooking...

so simple!

and so good!!

Here's another recipe I've made a couple of times recently.  Vanilla slice...

Put a layer of Sao biscuits in a dish/cake tin...

Make up a VERY thick custard (custard powder/milk/vanilla), allow to cool slightly, then pour over the Sao biscuits...
place another layer of Sao biscuits on top

When completely cold, ice with passionfruit icing...
and then try not to eat too much :)

From my walk this morning...

And remember...

"Almost everything will work again if you unplug it a few minutes, including you." - Anne Lamott


Saturday, July 30, 2022

Weekend Words

"The Lord God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places" - (Habakkuk 3:19)

During the days of difficulty and discouragement Habakkuk had learned to walk by faith with God.  He could say. "The Lord God is my strength."

He compared his feet to hinds' feet by which he was able to climb above discouraging circumstances and walk on higher spiritual levels.

A most thrilling sight in high mountain country is watching deer bound up the mountainside.  They leap from one ledge to another, often from precarious positions.  We marvel that they don't lose their footing and fall to their death.

The hind is the female red deer.  Deer have the ability of being sure footed.  Because of this, they can jump confidently from rock to rock without danger of slipping.

Also, the hind tracks perfectly.  As the hinds move, their rear hooves step into the front hoof marks.  This prevents them from slipping, for their rear feet rest securely in the prints made by their front hooves.

God plans our pathway through life.  "You chart the path ahead of me" (Psalm 139:3, LB).  His path is a perfect way.  "As for God, his way is perfect" (Psalm 18:30).  The psalmist uses the same illustration of the hinds' feet.  "He maketh my feet like hinds' feet, and setteth me upon a high place" (v. 33).

God charts the path of His will before us.  As the hinds' front feet mark the steps in which their rear feet follow, so God marks out the steps of His will before us.  Our part is to place our feet in His steps.  Sometimes His paths before us are very steep; sometimes they are over rough and dangerous places.  Yet we need not be afraid, as we place our feet securely in His steps.  As we "track" in His marks, our feet will not slide.  "My steps have held closely to Your paths - to the tracks of the One Who has gone on before; my feet have not slipped" (Psalm 17:5, Amplified).

As God's mountaineers, we can walk on high places of spiritual victory in Him.

From Beside The Still Waters...

Follow the Leader - Read: John 10:1-18, 12:24-26

"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me." - John 10:27

From the top of a high ridge in eastern Oregon, Stephen Meek scanned the vast landscape below him in alarm.  Not a trace of water was evident.  The year was 1845, and Meek was leading a train of 200 wagons and 1,000 people along the Oregon Trail.  To avoid hostile Indians in the Blue Mountains, Meek had turned off the main trail and tried to forge a new one far to the south.  Relentless heat and rapidly depleting resources had already taken a deadly toll, and the father of two perished children was blaming Meek and threatening his life.

All of us follow someone, and the leader we choose could well determine our eternal destiny.  Referring to the Pharisees, Jesus said, "They be blind leaders of the blind.  And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch" (Matthew 15:14).  This life's journey is fraught with far more dangers than the Oregon Trail was, and a trustworthy guide is absolutely essential.

Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6).  He has traveled the way before us, and He promises to guide us safely if we trust Him unreservedly.  He offers no shortcuts, bypasses, or even a smooth pathway.  In fact, tribulation is guaranteed, but He has told us, "Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world" (John 16:33)

Fearing for his life, Stephen Meek fled the wagon.  More than thirty people died as a result of Meek's Cutoff, as the route came to be known, and the stigma of Meek's poor leadership followed him to his grave.  In contrast, our true and faithful Guide, who sacrificed His life for us, has never failed anyone. 

 Let us all make sure we faithfully follow this perfect Leader.
 Pete Lewis - Halsey, OR

Saturday, July 23, 2022

Weekend Words

 From Our Daily Bread...

Watching Out For One Another - Read Zechariah 7:4-10

"Show mercy and compassion to one another." - Zechariah 7:9

Jose, a seventy-seven year old substitute teacher, had been living out of his car for eight years.  Every night, the elderly man bunked down in his 1977 Ford Thunderbird LX, carefully monitoring the car battery as it powered his computer for his evening's work.  Instead of using the money earmarked for rent, Jose sent it to numerous family members in Mexico who needed it more.  Early every morning, one of the teacher's former students saw Jose rummaging through his trunk.  "I just felt I needed to do something about it," the man said.  So, he launched a fundraiser and weeks later handed Jose a check to help him pay for a place to live.

Though Scripture repeatedly instructs us to watch out for one another, it's sometimes difficult to see past our own concerns.  The prophet Zechariah rebuked Israel who, rather than worshiping God or serving others, were "feasting for [them]selves" (Zechariah 7:6).  Ignoring their shared communal life, they disregarded their neighbors' need.  Zechariah made God's instructions clear: the people were to "administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another...[and] not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor" (vv. 9-10).

While it's easy to be consumed with our own needs, faithfulness calls us to attend to the needs of others.  In the divine economy, there's plenty for all.  And God, in His mercy, chooses to use us to give some of that plenty to others.

- Winn Collier

Who are some of the people that you're responsible to care for?  Where do you find yourself consumed with your own concerns?

God, please give me greater vision to care for my neighbors. 

From Beside The Still Waters...

Little Is Much - Read Matthew 6:1-8, Mark 12:28-44

"Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God." - 2 Corinthians 9:11

It was a grand scene: the holy hush inside the temple courtyard accented by the swish of richly colored robes as wealthy Jews dropped their offerings into the collection boxes on the walls.  Jesus watched with interest as people passed through.

A poorly dressed woman entered and timidly proceeded to the waiting box.  Cling, clink!  Two small coins dropped into the box.  Turning, she slipped out of the room ... but not before the carpenter of Nazareth smiled His approval.  Jesus explained to His disciples that this poor widow had put in more than any of the others.

The disciples were probably incredulous.  How could two pennies be more than large amounts of money?  But in His usual insightful way, Jesus was speaking of how the ratios compared.  To give $5,000 out of a lush profit of $50,000 is not as generous as giving two cents, if the latter is the whole of a person's wealth.

This widow gave everything: she had no more.  And very likely the heart behind her act was purer and nobler than the hearts of the wealthier upper class.  The song, "Little is much when God is in it" emphasizes an important truth: God notices small acts of love.  He sees the  alms done in secret, the humble service, the cup of cold water.  Do not underestimate His ability to multiply your offering abundantly if you give it in faith and in Jesus' name.

According to 1 Corinthians 16:2, each person is to give "as God hath prospered him."  We need to give generously and cheerfully because "God loveth a cheerful giver" (2 Corinthians 9:7).  Remember, "Little is much when God is in it."

- Nathan Wanner - Malden, MA

Little deeds of kindness, little words of love, make our earth an Eden, Like the Heaven above. - Julia Abigail Carney

Friday, July 22, 2022

Family time

 I have been away at Stanley with family.  Natasha visiting from the US and Jefferson and Jaya from Canberra, plus us 'locals'.  Here are some photos, in no particular order...

enjoying the view from our holiday rental

beach walks

beach carries

wide open spaces and solitude

love this place!

father and son


walking in the great Tassie outdoors

a sunshiny day

in the frame

Denver and Sophie joined us for the last day

Marnie had a birthday while we were there

mother and son

Jefferson and Jaya sporting custom made (by Marnie) Campfire Beanies

nothing like a cuppa, whatever the time of day! and just so you know I was actually there :))

Jaya summed it up!!!

Sunday, July 10, 2022

Weekend Words

"O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day" - Psalm 119:97

What a privilege we have of being able to read the Word of God.  Most of us have a number of copies of the Bible in our homes.  We are reminded in the above verse that we are not only to read it but meditate on it.

One definition for the word "meditation" is "to think in view of doing".  According to this definition, how much real meditation do we do?  Do we hurriedly read the Bible as a habit, not thinking of what we are reading?  Do we read as a duty, because we think as a Christian we should?  Or do we pause as we read it, meditating upon it with the view of appropriating it into our lives?

As we read and meditate on it, we need to assimilate it, digesting it that we may be nourished and grow by it.  "As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby" (1 Peter 2:2).

Not only are we to assimilate it for growth, but to practice it in our everyday lives. "But be ye DOERS of the word, and not hearers only" (James 1:22)

David meditated on God's Word because he loved it, and he loved it because he meditated on it.  He couldn't get enough of it.  He meditated "all the day."  It is important to be regular in spending time in His word.  We need to keep our minds saturated with it.

Paul challenged Timothy, "Meditate upon these things, give thyself wholly to them, that thy profiting may appear to all" (1 Timothy 4:15).

Meditation is not something we can do hurriedly.  The Lord Jesus Christ is revealed to us from the pages of the Bible.    Our mediation is to lead us from the Word of God to HIM.  We are to consider HIM.  Such meditation on Him brings us to our knees in humility and praise.  Our hearts overflow with love.

With the psalmist we can say, "My meditation of HIM shall be sweet: I will be glad in the Lord" (Psalm 104:34)

From Water My Soul...

A New Jerusalem

Revelation 3:7-13; 21

"Could we get to Jerusalem from Grandma's house?" Matthan and I were on the way to Grandma's house for the day when he interrupted my thoughts with his surprising question.

"Uh, yes," I answered.  "Yes, you could get to Jerusalem from there if you took the right roads." ...

I will probably never decide to travel to Jerusalem, so I didn't need to be concerned about the way to get there.  But what about the New Jerusalem we read about in Revelation 3:12. where it says, "I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem"?

Now that was a place I didn't want to miss seeing.  So how was I to get to the New Jerusalem?  What road would take me there?

When Matthan asked whether we could get to Jerusalem from Grandma's house, the answer was yes.  But first I had to know from where I was starting before I could decide the correct road to travel.  In the same way, a desire to arrive someday at the gates of the New Jerusalem must begin inside each individual, and first we have to know where we are.

Is my heart full of bitterness or grudges or envy?  Does sin have more of a hold on me that God does?  Am I devoted to learning more about the things of God - or am I addicted to things that are harmful?  What must be my first step on the road to the New Jerusalem?

It takes that willing first step, and then it takes a second one.  It takes choosing the right turns, and the right roads, over and over.  Sometimes it will be necessary to backtrack, to start over, to reroute and begin again.  Because have you ever known anyone - anyone at all - who ended up on the correct road just by accident?  Perhaps, but not very likely.

Taking the narrow, less traveled road that leads to the New Jerusalem involves deliberate thought as well as taking responsibility for our actions.  I don't think anyone is going to drift aimlessly through the gate and say in surprise, "Why, how did I end up here?"

Rather, it will be a result of God's grace and Jesus' death on the cross, combined with my daily choices, my daily labor.  Each day I must decide where I stand.  Can I get to the New Jerusalem from here?  Am I on the road that leads in the direction of that holy city?

And if the answer is no, if I've taken steps down a wide bypass or an alley that wanders nowhere, I had better turn around and head back toward the way I should go.  God has promised in Psalm 32:8, "I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye."

Follow Him.  He knows the way.

Prayer: Lord, guide my feet along the right roads today.  Without your instructions, my feet are sure to wander.

Reflection: What is one choice I could make today to show that I'm choosing to walk towards the New Jerusalem?

Sunday, July 3, 2022

Weekend Words

From A Year's Journey with God...

The 'make or break' Journeys

"His brethren pulled Joseph up out of the cistern and sold him for twenty shekels of silver." - Genesis 37:28

What a terrible start to one of the saddest journeys in the Bible.  What must Joseph have felt as he stumbled towards Egypt, hands bound, neck clamped in an iron collar, dragged like a dog into slavery?  Each faltering step took him further from his father who loved him, his comfortable home and the person he had always been, and nearer to a new and humiliating identity among strangers.

Disaster can strike any of us at any time, and when life kicks us out of safe familiarity we are forced to begin a journey - the journey of adjustment to change and loss.  It can either break us, or make us.  Some people 'never get over' their tragedies or seem able to begin to live again, while others grow enormously through them.  Joseph's journey to Egypt changed him from a spoilt brat into a man of strength.  Jewish rabbis translate the description of his journey in Psalm 105:18 as the time when 'iron entered into his soul'.

Why didn't his terrible experience damage him?  Because 'the Lord was with Joseph' (Genesis 39:2).  He may often have felt abandoned, as we all do when change undermines our security, but he came to recognise God's presence was with him and, even when he had lost everything, God's hand was still there - guiding him all the way.  Years later when he met his brothers again he was able to say, 'You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good' (Genesis 50:20).

People sometimes do often rob us of all that matters to us most. and permanently alter our lives, but they can only destroy us if we let them.

From Water My Soul...

Falls of Life - Read Acts 27

In his wonderful book When God Doesn't make Sense, James Dobson tells the story of a man who was on an eight-day trip downriver with some friends and the raft master who was guiding their raft.  They encountered some treacherous rapids during their journey, but none as bad as the day they dropped over some falls in a canyon where the river sank thirty-seven vertical feet in a distance of seventy five.

There, in the icy spray, with the roar of the churning water thundering in their ears, the raft master seemed to lose control, and their raft was flung sideways in the rapids.  It was a terrible moment.

The man considered jumping: to leap from the raft and pit his strength against that of the frenzied river as it poured downward through the rapids.  Fleetingly, that seemed to be a choice preferable to perishing with the floundering raft.

But he held on, and as he looked back, he could see what had happened.  The raft master had spun the craft sideways on purpose.  He did so to steer past an immense jagged rock that had fallen into the river from the canyon walls far above them.  By going sideways hard and fast, he used the full power of the motor to push them safely past the jutting rock.

Now the man could see that if he had jumped into the river, he would certainly have died.  Leaving the safety of the boat would have killed him instantly.  It only appeared that the raft master had lost control of the situation.  In reality, he was guiding the craft with great expertise.  The raft was sideways for a reason, and the guide knew exactly what he was doing.  Those in the boat were safe as long as they stayed with him.

In Dobson's book, he quotes the words of his friend Bob Vernon: "To those of you who are plunging over the falls today, resist the temptation to jump overboard!  God knows what He is doing.  He has your raft sideways for a reason."

Has your raft ever been flung sideways in the spray?  Does nothing make sense anymore?  That has happened to me on occasion.  Haven't we all at one time or another experienced that sinking feeling of seeing our secure life spiraling out of control?

That's when we make a most important decision.  Sometimes it's a split-second reaction.  Other times it's a dogged determination to hold on, a determination that must be renewed daily.  

Will we believe the Raft Master of life has lost control, and jump into the rapids swirling around us?  Or will we trust that God knows what He is doing, and honour our commitment to follow Him?

In verse 31 of our Scripture for today, Paul tells us what to do: "Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved."

Take Paul's words to heart: "If you don't stay on the boat, you won't make it to the shore."  Or reword it like this: "If you turn away from God, He cannot take you safely through the falls and rapids in your life."

Prayer: Lord, there are many things in life that I don't understand.  Help me remember that you know all things and that you will give me the strength to keep my commitment to you, even when things don't make sense.

Reflection: How can I remain committed to God today?