March Wisdom

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“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

 

 

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February Wisdom

“I don’t think we can ever love too much…only too little.”  – from Blue Eyes Better by Ruth Wallace-Brodeur

I’v tried to think of a time when this statement wouldn’t apply, but I just can’t. Yes, we can overindulge is many ways, but that isn’t love. We can say “love you’ at the end of every conversation, but that’s not always love; it’s often habit. Sometimes it feels as if we have loved too much when it isn’t returned, but no, if it’s real love it’s never too much.

We have a new dog in our household and it’s been a real learning experience for us all – me, the dog, the husband. We don’t know anything about her background as she was just dumped off at the shelter, but we suspect a little abuse. However, she is one, in whatever way a dog “loves”, that knows no bounds. She can never be accused of loving too little. Our last dog, Loretta, was wonderful. We had her for ten years. She was sweet and faithful as a dog can be and loved being with us and near us. But this new girl, Ruby, she needs to be right next to if not on top of us. She craves and gives the most snuggles of any dog I’ve ever had. But, for me, it’s never too much.

Keep loving – it’s never too much.

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Solace

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No Hard Feelings by the Avett Brothers has been my solace for the past year, though at times I’ve had to skip it on my playlist because it almost always makes me cry. I lost my mother-in-law in August 2017, then my Mom in February 2018, and today my dog, Loretta. Yes, I understand there are huge differences in losing a pet vs. a person, but when one comes on the heels of the other it is just nearly too much.

The song begins
“When my body won’t hold me anymore
And it finally lets me free
Will I be ready?”

I wasn’t ready to let any of them go, but in Loretta’s case, I think SHE was ready. She had a good life and enriched ours in so many ways.

Then
“When my feet won’t walk another mile.”
My dog, Loretta, hit this point  so suddenly last night I can’t wrap my head around it. She was fine and peppy one minute, then lethargic and unresponsive the next. She perked up once for a few minutes, a sort of last hurrah I guess, then just could hardly move. My husband carried her to our room where we’d made her a soft blanket “pallet” to lie on. We finally fell asleep, but both awoke at 2AM to sit on the floor beside her as she drew her last breath. I can only guess it was her heart giving out.

Listen to this song – more than once if you can. It is overflowing in meaning and may be a balm for YOUR spirit.

 

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!

Dreams Don’t Always Come True

 

Disney and Nike have propagated such a lie to this generation. I’m all for encouraging kids, even adults, to pursue their dreams. I pursued mine and got my degree at 39. But, I hate the way kids are pumped up and I wonder what happens when they are let down? How do they deal with the broken promises?

 

Whosoever

 

They were told all their lives

If you dream it you can do it

Just do it

Now walk past the guy with his plastic bag

filled with all his worldly belongings

Tell him

Just do it

 

Every other nine year old boy says

I want to be in the NBA

Or NFL

I got a trophy

I got a shelf of trophies

I wonder where that grown boy

Under the overpass

Keeps his trophies

 

She was told

You can be whatever you want to be

Left college to marry her sweetheart

Who didn’t turn out so sweet

Now she lives in the shelter with her three kids

Ask her

Is this what you wanted to be?

Just do it