Puddles or Living Water?

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Oak Mountain State Park – February, 2017

“My soul thirsteth for God, though I misinterpret my thirst, and, like a hot dog upon a road, try to slake my thirst by lapping at any puddle of dirty water that I come across in my path. There is no satisfaction there. It is in God, and in God only that we can find repose.” –   Alexander Maclaren

I can visualize this so well. Yesterday as Ruby and I were on our return route at Red Mountain, we passed several puddles on the south trail. As she walked through them, her head went down to get a lap or two of water, orange from the clay. I didn’t stop her, knowing she would only get a smidge of a taste, and knowing that I’d already given her fresh water when we’d taken a break a little while before this.

How often do I take those little tastes of “any puddle of dirty water” when I have a spring of Living Water to slake my thirst?

“For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, And hewn themselves cisterns—broken cisterns that can hold no water – Jeremiah2:13
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Sav-A-Life Abides No Hatred

I have been so burdened down this past week with all the negativity on social media about abortion. I know I could just not read it all. But something in me is screaming out for the other side. Groups I am a part of on facebook have surprised me with the level of opposition displayed toward Christians. The picture below from Nick Anderson depicts what I hear so many people saying.

 

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I would like to show a different side. There is a group here in Birmingham that truly embodies the expression “Abide No Hatred”. It’s called Sav-A-Life. I know there are other similar organizations out there. I want to tell you a little about this one.

Yes, they are pro-life. They are this and so much more. They offer free pregnancy testing, ultrasound, prenatal assessment, STI/STD testing for men and women, childbirth education classes, parenting classes, and fatherhood programs. They provide counseling not only for the woman who wants to keep her baby or put it up for adoption, but for the one who chose abortion and needs help dealing with that decision, also. They have  mentors and offer support groups. They furnish assistance through the Stork’s Nest, providing clothes for mother and child, baby furniture, diapers and more. They have ongoing classes from basics such as diapering to finances and budgeting. Sav-A-Life also refers clients for community resources such as housing and Medicaid.

Watch this video to get a look at some of what Sav-A-Life does.

 https://vimeo.com/214742032

So…

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So I bragged on facebook about my winning poems. This is the first time I’ve ever won anything for my poetry, so I’m pretty encouraged. I joined the ASPS – Alabama State Poetry Society and submitted about 15 poems in different categories/contests, and three were chosen.

 

Category 9: Thelassic Poem – 3rd Honorable Mention

 

 

Starfish  

that July morning

at Siesta Key

a delegation of starfish

drew us all together

as we dipped our toes

in the warm gulf waters

beachgoers laughing and squealing

pointing and talking to each other

splashing and swimming

among the starfish that day

we formed a temporary friendship

over the joy of the ocean’s offerings

years later across the land

“Remember when” will be heard

and tales of the starfish

will be told

 

Category 2: The Mary (Mickey) Cleverdon Memorial Award – 3rd Place

 

 

Music of Creation  

 

The music of the woods

Is not just the song of the bird

But  the beat of the brook

The harmony of wind and leaf

A twig, a scamper, layers

 

The music of the ocean

Is not just the cry of the gulls

But the crash of the waves

The melody of wind and water

A splash, a scrape, laughter

 

The music of the snow

Is not just the hoot of the owl

But the patter of flakes

The rhythm of wind and white

A crunch, a frost, whispers

 

The music of the world

Is not just a song, a cry, a hoot

It’s beating, crashing, pattering

It’s harmony, melody and rhythm 

A symphonious creation

 

 

Category 3: A Spiritual Journey – 1st Place

 

 

Instructions  

 

Are there only ten instructions?

I can do that

I believe in God

You know, GOD

No way!

I don’t have any statues in my house

Football trophies don’t count, right?

OMG- that’s not really saying it, right?

Yes, I call myself a Christian

I go to the early service

(Doesn’t interfere with the game)

Yes, sir/No, sir

That’s so old fashioned

Murder in my heart? My thoughts count?

Honestly, I only buy it for the articles

It’s not plagiarism if I change a couple words

Little white lies don’t hurt anyone

Who in the world are Ananias and Sapphira? A rock band?

No, I don’t want my neighbor’s truck

I want my own

What? I thought you said ten

There are only really two?

Why didn’t you say so?

With ALL my heart, soul, and mind?

That’s a tough one

I like my neighbors – I always wave

I even put money in that kettle every December

Love them as much as I love me?

I’ll get back to you

March Wisdom

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astrologymemes.com

“The temptation for anyone who is much occupied with the hope of some great change and betterment in the near future is to be restless and unable to settle down to his work, and to yield to distaste of the humdrum duties of every day.”  – Alexander Maclaren (1826-1910)

I need to preach this to the choir of myself. Everyday. I need to remind myself that even though I have a desire for the future, I am living in the here and now. I have everyday work to do and I need to do it well.

“Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.” – Philippians 2:14-16

 

 

Maclaren on Micah 6:8

 

 

At the end of last year I discovered Alexander Maclaren, a Scottish minister who pastored in England.  He lived from 1826-1910 but what he had to say is still so relevant today. His practical yet insightful way of putting things reminds me of a pastor friend of mine in St. Augustine, Eric Watkins. I think if they had been contemporaries they would have been great friends.

 

He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God? – Micah 6:8

“Micah…wages war against that misconception of sacrifice, but does not thereby protest against its use. One has heard people say,  ‘We are plain men; we do not understand your theological subtleties; we do not quite see what you mean by “Repentance toward God and faith in Jesus Christ. To do justly and to love mercy , and to walk humbly with my God, that is my religion, and I leave all the rest to you.’ “

I am afraid that I am guilty, if not of voicing this, of thinking along these lines. I often want to hide behind the simple when the complex is too hard for me.

‘To do justly, to love mercy, to walk humbly with our God’ is possible only through repentance towards God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. ‘To do justly’, that is elementary morality in two words. There must be mercy as well as the justice.”

The minimum according to Maclaren:

  • “…give everybody what he has a right to, including mercy to which he has a right,
  • to have a lowly estimate of myself
  • to live continually grasping the hand of God
  • to be conscious of His overshadowing wing at all times
  • conformity to His will at every step of the road…”

“To think of God’s requirements, and of my own failure, is the sure way to paralyze all activity…” . This is often the take-away after Sunday morning sermons where I’m told what I should be doing and left feeling there is no way I am living up to the standards given.

“The gift of God is Jesus Christ and that gift meets all our failures.” 

“His last word to us is not ‘Thou shalt do’ but ‘I will give’  We have not to begin with effort; we have to begin with faith.”

All words in quotations are Maclaren’s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

January Wisdom

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“The most valuable thing in life never changes by time or place – it is to be honest and cheerful, to find happiness in what you have and to have courage in hardships.”   – Laura Ingalls Wilder, when she  was solicited for advice to Japanese women.

I think this is good advice, but not necessarily the most valuable thing in life.  I find it easy to be honest, not so easy to always be cheerful. I can’t brag on my honesty, though, as it isn’t perfect.  And cheerfulness? Well, God loves a cheerful giver and I’m making progress in that area. I can find happiness in what I have, but there is a sadness in what is missing. What is missing for me isn’t things, though. I usually have courage in hardships, but not always patience. Whatever honesty, cheerfulness, happiness or courage I do have is because God has granted it to me.

“Because from the least of them even to the greatest of them, Everyone is given to covetousness; And from the prophet even to the priest, Everyone deals falsely. – Jeremiah 6:15

Even better than Wilder’s advice is this:

“Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” – Hebrews 13:5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From the lost files of Thoughts On the Words of C.S. Lewis #2:

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C.S. Lewis was was a novelist, poet, academic, literary critic, essayist, , and . He is probably best known as the author of The Chronicles of Narnia, but he wrote numerous other works, including The Problem of Pain from where the quotes in this series were taken.

“God is both further from us, and nearer to us, than any other being.”

That is a thought that needs to be pondered. In all our human understanding, God is far away, far above us. We know we are not equal to God. Yet, He speaks to us through His Word and is within the hearts of Christians.

What an amazing thought!