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Seeds logo   Archives of    Seeds For Thinking   
  Index of  Seeds For Thinking articles for the year   2000


 



    David obviously did something that many people today probably don’t do very often. Oh, people are aware of the sun, or lack of it, and perhaps the moon. Even in the country, where the night skies are still dark enough to see the stars plainly, we don’t spend much time considering God’s heavens.
    The current National Geographic magazine has a section about the universe, which is more miraculous than David could have imagined. The Earth, our home in the universe, is but a tiny blue dot among the billions of stars and galaxies.
    The same issue has another article about the building blocks of our bodies, the genes, and the complexity of the DNA molecule. At conception, we are one large cell, containing the information to form the millions of different cells that will eventually develop into our bodies. The DNA tells one cell to become the mateand uttering things best left unsaid? Well, start with the scripture given in the box above. Let the Lord be your guide to etiquette, not the lower-life forms of this World. Satan may love it! You don’t have to.
    “Try a Little Kindness!” Shine your light for everyone to see.”
    Thank the thankless - this world needs a few more smiles.   
Scripture:   Paul wrote, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God - what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2, NIV

9/24/00

    There’s no doubt about it! We all like to have our egos stroked, at least a little bit. Witness: my fourteen-year old grandaughter quizzing her two-year-old cousin on what sounds different animals make. Correct responses were prompted with oft-heard teacher talk, “Good job!” That’s what we like to hear, “Good job (Well done), good and faithful servant.”
    Servant. . . Ah! Yes, servant, as in Jesus. Lord God, Almighty power, Savior. Suffering Servant. One whose Father said of Him, this is my Son, in whom I am well pleased. The One who asks us to follow Him, the One of whom we are to ask, “What would He (Jesus) do?”
     Administrator. Supervisor. CEO. Big Brass.  Executive . . . Power and prestige.
    Laborer, worker, peon, underling. Servant.  Which do we want to be?
    Suppose you are the Big Boss, walking along part of your “realm.” You see a piece of trash on the ground. You:
    a. Bend over and pick it up, and deposit it in the nearest trash can.
    b. Call the official “trash picker-upper worker” to do his/her job.
    c. Tell your secretary to call the official “trash picker-upper worker” to do his/her job.
    d. None of the above. (Ignore it; somebody will take care of it; it’s beneath your status and concern.)
    That example is not as far-fetched as it may seem. There are those who cherish titles and perks above all other rewards. A nice salary helps, of course. But to be called an Executive movitates many. The question is, “Which Boss would you like to follow?” Or emulate, if you got your opportunity.   The one who stoops to a mediocre task, or the one who “Lords” it above all others?
    As Christians, we vow that we will be like Him. We are to become a “Suffering Servant.” We are to find no task that helps a “neighbor” (another of God’s children) to be too menial for us, since Jesus came into servanthood, not to receive our praise, but to help us out of the bonds of sin that make us all servants of the World.
    He is worthy of praise, yes. But it was not for praise that He came. Nor should we expect praise for doing what it is our duty to do. Read Luke 17:7-10. 
    In Matthew 6:1-4, Jesus cautions that if we do our “good deeds” for praise, praise will be all the reward we will likely get.
Scripture: Jesus said, “So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, “We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.” Luke 17:10, NIV

    Do we really practice what we “preach”?  Or, as some ask, if we can talk the talk, can we (do we) walk the walk?  If we say that we believe in God, and the teachings of Jesus, the true test of our faith and obedience is in what we do, not in what we say. Speech is easy; we all know people who don’t seem to be concerned at all about the truth in what they say. If it makes the sale, if it gains them access, if they get their way, they will say anything, truth or lie.  That is not the way we Christ-followers are supposed to live, of course.
    On the other hand, some people would have us doing “in your face” ministry. There is a church in Newark that practices confrontational evangelism. They go to college campuses and challenge groups of students, pointing out their sins and short-comings (especially Gays) and practically hog-tie and deliver them to hell-fire.    Then, there is the question of cults, and various group that we may not agree with. What are we to do about them? If we are not on the battle-lines, are we falling short of what God wants us to do? If we are quiet, peaceful citizens, are we missing something that God wants us to do to show our love and obedience for Him?
    I have been pondering these questions, and more, as part of our Bible study of cults. The bottom line is this - What should the faithful Christian do (what would Jesus do)?
        We could also ask the question, “If God wanted to eliminate cults, doesn’t He have the power to do it? Even the Proverbs and Psalms of old observed that the good seem to suffer and the sinner prospers.
    Here are some thoughts you might want to consider as you ponder the right way for yourself:
God gives us peace and a feeling of security in our hearts. We do not feel threatened by those who choose to turn from God’s way.
When Jesus sent His disciples out to the villages, He did not tell them to exterminate those who did not respond favorably. He said to forget it, and move on. 
Jesus did not say we must be the persecutor; rather, He spoke of His followers being persecuted. (Mt. Ch 10.)
Do not be afraid of those who seek to lead you by their ways. Be afraid on the One who can destroy both body and soul in hell. Mt. 10:28b 
There will be a judgment!  The true winner is the one who is called to be with Jesus for eternity, not the one who seems to have it all during this life on earth.
Scripture:   Jesus said, “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet as you leave that home or town.” Mt 10:14, NIV.

9/10/00


    How well do you handle tears? No, not how well you produce them . . .  I mean how well you cope when someone else turns them on. Tears are a favorite ploy of children, at least some children. Sympathy seems to grow well when some persons are watered with tears! The whole idea (from the weeper’s viewpoint) is to either make the subject of the deluge take pity on the poor, weeping soul, or to simply give in to shut off the torrent. Children quickly learn that crying is quite effective, even before they learn to talk, and tend to extend use of the technique as long as they can get away with it.
    Another technique for getting one’s way is to stop breathing and turn blue - on purpose, that is. The target (parent) of this stratagem can elect to give in quickly, or simply say, “That’s nice. Blue will go good with your new sweater.”  Children seldom are able or inclined to do themselves serious harm. Unfortunately, the “I’ll hurt myself if you don’t give me what I want” threat becomes more serious with advanced experience. Also more difficult to deal with. The ultimate “hurt” - suicide - should always be taken seriously. However, the threat is sometimes used because it is effective in getting one’s way. These, and many other ploys, are intended to play upon the fears, sympathies, or emotions of the target person.   
    Strangely, one use of  the “I’ll hurt myself” concept is to hurt someone else. “They will be sorry when . . . “ There are times, though, when we have to wonder who is hurting who. “If you don’t  . . . , I’ll never speak to you again.” “You wrote something I didn’t like, so cancel my subscription.”  Or, pick any one of the reasons/excuses for not coming to church: Sermon, music, seats, people, etc. etc..
    Many people refuse to partake of some activity because they have suffered a ‘boo-boo’ to their vanity or pride. I recently met someone who refused to go to the local fair, because, years ago, the family perceived that they had been slighted by the fair officials. Forgive and forget? No way!
    The saddest self-hurt of all, though, is the person who turns away from God because (you fill in the blank) “and so I’ll never, ever   . . . “.  What a price to pay! Who is hurting who?
       
Scripture:   Paul wrote, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil by good.” Romans 12:21, NIV


    Once upon a time, there was a man who enjoyed fishing. Once, he caught a rather large carp. He had a friend who sometimes went fishing with him, and he told him that carp were a trash fish, and no good to eat. “Just throw it up on the bank,” the friend advised him. So he did.
    A few days later, he came back to that same spot, and there lay what was left of the fish. “Uggh,” he said. “Fish stink!” And he vowed to never go fishing again.”
    Ridicules?  Of course! Wrong conclusion for reasons that make no sense? Certainly! But many people jump to  conclusions for reasons that are just as ridicules. It is one thing to be partial to a sports team, for example.  Or to favor one make of car (or tractor) over others. Maybe even tease someone who is partial to competing teams or manufacturers. But would you go so far as to have nothing to do with another person who does not believe as you do? Occasionally, a person will become so paranoid or irrational that they do just that - refuse to admit that there may some value or justification for an opinion or belief different from their own.
    One of the saddest fixations of self-centeredness really makes no more sense than the man with the dead fish; despising or even hating  another person, group, or belief system because of some perceived difference that might not be at all typical of the true facts. Prejudice, we call it, forming an opinion before having the truth. Lumping all of a race, creed, or ethnic group  into the worst possible example, to be shunned, hated, or even “cleansed” for being what they are.
    We can look at many examples, whether from the Bible, history, or our own experience. The Jews of Jesus’ day would shake the dust from their feet if they were “contaminated” by having to travel in a heathen or Gentile nation. They counted Samaria among such nations, yet Jesus used the Samaritan as an example of a “good neighbor.”
    There was conflict because many Jews  felt that the sect following the way of Jesus was in error and sin; Christians through the ages have retaliated by hating non-Christians, especially the Jews. Adolph Hitler and his Nazi party sought the “final solution”  to  problems in his nation, many they had caused themselves (like the man with the fish) and blamed on a people that he could not only hate, but could entice others to accept his “solution” in the name of Aryan nationalism and pride.
    What would Jesus do? He looked down and prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
Scripture: A truthful witness does not deceive, but a false witness pours out lies. Proverbs 14:5, NIV

8/27/00


    The Fine Arts and Arts and Crafts buildings are among our favorite places to visit at the Ohio State Fair. Granted, some  Fine Arts entries  are a little bit weird - gross, even. Never-the-less,  the idea for the artwork was conceived in somebody’s mind, created by their hands, and put on display for other people to view. Why? Doesn’t matter. Artworks created by pre-historic peoples exists all over the world. Whether created to be religious or inspirational, or just to express thoughts or feelings, art, including music and dance, is universal and timeless.
    Dorothy enjoys looking at the quilts and sewing exhibits. Many quilts celebrate an event in the family, such as a child’s birth, a wedding, or a fifthtieth anniversary. Many, like a painting or sculpture, are simply art for art’s sake. Something inside that has to come out, a compulsion to create and express images from  our minds “eye.”
    Skills, what we refer to as talent, abound all around us, and in us. As the dictionary puts it, “A marked innate ability, as for artistic accomplishment.” American Heritage Dictionary.
    There is another definition for the word talent, which we find used in the original sense in the Bible. Talent, “A variable unit of weight and money used in ancient Greece, Rome, and the Middle East.”    Did we derive our meaning for talent because it signifies something of value? Perhaps.    Within the church, God’s people here on earth, people are also given gifts, endowed through the Holy Spirit.  Paul wrote about these important qualities to the church at Corinth. While secular  art may be inspired by many things, and expressed even in anti-religious intent, the Biblical Gifts are a manifestation of the Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:7    Like the frosting on a cake, these Gifts are the “finishing layer” on the skills, talent, creativity, and ability that God endowed in us from birth.
     Do we come into the world complete, a finished, mature being?  Of course not! We are a work in progress. God gave us the potential; it is up to us to develop it. Many waste it. Like Esau selling his birth-right, some squander it. Some sell out to Satan.  What a terrible waste, to not become all that God endowed us to be! How tragic to shut out the Holy Spirit, to deny the best Gift of all, to become a useful part of the Body of Christ.   
Scripture:   The Psalmist wrote, “ You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet.” Psalm 8:6 NIV

8/20/00


    Noisy? You bet!  A buzz of conversations everywhere, to a constant din of shouting, squealing, and in the background, the chant of an auctioneer. I am behind the scenes at the pig auction at the Hartford Fair, waiting for my grand-daughter’s pig to be sold. Her brothers have already been through this same routine. I’ve usually been out front, watching the auction ring. We sat waiting for them to work their way to Christie’s number, 156. She moved around on the shelf above the pen, as did the girl at the adjacent pen. Parents sat around, making small talk, ocassionally asking someone what number was currently selling. Through the isles, pigs were being hustled too and fro, to shouts of “Show-ring” or “Pen.”
    Finally, Christie’s turn came. A parent volunteer came, checked on her name and number, and we moved the pig from the pen to the isle. Workers helped shoo the pig toward  the auction ring. First, each exhibitor had a Poloroid™ picture taken, and pasted on a plaque to give to the eventual buyer. Next, the pigs got a final wet-down from the wash hose in holding pen.  Meanwhile, pigs were moved in and out in a steady stream, while a few yards away, the auctioneer kept up his chant, finally prounouncing, “Sold!”
A “Thank-you” to the buyer, and on to the next. Christie and pig moved from the on-deck pen to the focus of the crowd. A quick introduction, and the cry begins. Several volunteers help spot (and encourage) bidders, finally, at $2.00 a pound, the auctioneer cries, “Sold!” The plaque with the exhibitor’s picture is taken to the buyer, and the pig goes back to the pen to be loaded on a truck after the auction is over. Lot’s of smiles all around, “thank-you’s” to the buyer, and another 4-H project reaches its conclusion.
    The number of people involved in this activity is amazing! This was only a small part of the Fair. Each 4-H member is enveloped in an atmosphere of sharing, participation, and fellowship.  They will acquire friends, memories, and skills they will carry with them throughout their lives. They will likely become, indeed, have already become, volunteers, sharing knowledge and assistance with others. Certainly, society as a whole - the public - will benefit.
    Such a grouping of people, sharing a common interest, is called a community.
Scripture:   “Teach a child to choose the right path, and when he is older he will remain upon it.”
Proverbs 22:6, Living Bible


8/13/00


    The New Testament book of Revelation is one of the more intriguing books of the Bible. Unlike most of the scriptures, Revelation concerns the future that we can not see, rather than the past that we can examine as fact. We are always intrigued by the unknown; we want to know what is going to happen, and when.
    Think for a moment about the many what and how questions we raise every day. We want to know what the weather is going to be; weather forecasting is a big business, and many people either have a need or desire to know how the weather tomorrow, or next week, will impact on their lives. Another prognostication that affects our lives, even if we don’t personally follow the predictions, is the stock market. People talking about Bulls and Bears, margins and holds may not get our attention, but depression, recession, and inflation sure do!
    We wonder about our children and grandchildren, even from the moment of conception. What will they be? Boy, or girl? Folklore abounds, because we can’t help wondering. Fortune tellers, soothsayers, mystics, diviners, and prophets have been around throughout history. Most newspapers carry an astrology column; many people take these predictions very seriously.
    Some predictions, like the weather forcasts, are quite useful, and help us prepare for conditions that directly affect our lives.      Reading your fate in the cards, tea leaves, or astrological tables serves more as amusement than a factual basis for conducting your life.
    Back to Revelation. In light of what I have just said, it is only natural that we are intrigued by John’s visions. We especially want to know “when.” Anyone who seems to have an “inside insight” gets our attention. And many have claimed to possess the key to unlocking the mysteries. To date, only God has that key. Jesus affirmed that to His disciples when they asked, “When?” Matthew 24:36
    Jesus advised us to be ready, at all times. Our concern is to walk everyday on that path to God’s Kingdom.
    I, for one, am more concerned about the warnings of Revelation, then the hows and whys. Read Ch. 22:18; “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. 19And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.”  Now that I can understand!
    God will take care of the future. I believe that, and am content with it.

Scripture:   Jesus said, “Men will tell you, ‘There he is!’ or Here he is!’ Do not go running off after them.” Luke 17:23,  NIV

10/8/00

    I wonder how much of our lives we spend waiting for things to “become normal.” Take the weather, for example. The forecast may call for conditions to be “about normal,” or perhaps “above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation.” That’s fine, if we know what normal is supposed to be. If we look at the weather over many years of time, certain weather conditions may occur more often than others. The condition we call normal is not absolute; normal may be what we long for, but we can not be assured we will always know what normal is.
    If we look back at our lives, and try to choose a period that we could label as “normal,” we will realize that a lot of changes occur.  Perhaps a more fitting term would be the word “typical.” We had a typical childhood; we were typical teenagers. What was normal for those years is vastly different from marriage and childbearing years.
    If we contact an illness, we may display symptoms that are normal for that affliction; we would definitely not say we were experiencing normal health, though. Not as we would want it to be.
    That is today’s “Seed” for thinking. Normal may in part be whatever we wish it to be. If we do not get our desires, our wish, we say things are “not normal.”    The Bible is full of many examples where people want a certain condition to exist. “Have our cake, and eat it too.” The dilemma - get what we want, but don’t change anything. Do we eat the cake, or do we keep the cake uneaten?
    Jesus’ disciples had somewhat the same dilemma. They wanted Jesus to be with them, forever. That’s an understandable feeling. But Jesus knew that the church needed something that would not be available if He stayed with the disciples. John 16:7 relates how Jesus told them that He had to go away, because the Holy Spirit would not come to them unless He went away.
    They had all been with Jesus for several years. That was ‘normal.’ Now Jesus was going to leave them. Jesus observed that they were “filled with grief.” John 16:6
    Jesus was preparing them for a new way of life, and the world for a new covenant, offering up Himself for the salvation of all.
    Normal ceased to exist; normal began on Calvary, and was confirmed at Pentacost.
Scripture:   Jesus said, . . .I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever - the Spirit of Truth. John 14:6,7,  NIV

10/22/00


    This has been the “week of the chicks.” The first chicks arrived courtesy of a hen that spent her three weeks lending her living warmth to a clutch of eggs atop a stack of hay bales. Now she is busy teaching them the facts of life - chicken style. Fresh out of the egg, with just enough time to dry off, they start the routine of pecking and scratching for food, a habit that will serve them for the rest of their lives. Mamma hen protects them, gathering them under her wings and breast feathers. They spend the night in a nest box, enclosed on all sides but the front, warm and safe under mama.
    At the other end of the barn, twenty-five chicks live a high-tech life. Hatched in an incubator, delivered by overnight priority mail, they huddle beneath a box with an electric heater. No mamma to teach them the tricks of chickendom. Just humans to see that they have adequate food and water. The first things we do on taking them out of the shipping box is to dip their beaks in the water fountain. Soon, they are all slaking their thirst, dipping in the water and tilting their heads back to let it run down their throat. Birds have done this as long as there have been birds. And peck at food. No lessons needed; they know what and how to peck.
    Not all birds come out of the egg ready to go! The wren and blue jays that nested in the garage went from setting to one continual hustle, fetching food for their still-bare babes. Only after the youngsters have their flight feathers will the chicks leave the nest.
    Birds, all, but how different! No surprise, perhaps, that most birds that humans have domesticated are like the chickens, ready to feed themselves from day one, able to survive even with surrogate parents (humans) rather than be dependent on parent birds.
    Physically, humans are like the wild, tree-nesting birds. Our babies are born helpless, needing a parent to feed, clean, and protect them for several years.
    Spiritually, we are like the domestic poultry. One of the first words a child will use with conviction is “NO!” “My way, or I’ll wail, whine, and be obnoxious until I get MY way.”
     And, yes, we can get along just fine, thank you, without parental or Godly oversight. Or so we think.
    Meanwhile, as we “peck” at the world’s temptations, our parents, and our Heavenly Father, call us to come, follow.
Scripture:   Jesus said, “. . . how often have I longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.” Matthew 23:37b, NIV

Sep 2000


    One of the buzz-words of our times is stuff. While stuff still means to pack or fill the inside of something, like a pita pocket (how did we oldsters ever grow up without pita pockets or pizza?) I now find the word preceeded with get. As in “Get stuff.”  My handy-dandy Webster’s dictionary leads off with “1. The material out of which anything is or can be made.” Definition number five includes household goods, personal belongings, things and objects.  Number seven, however, probably comes closer to filling the meaning of “get stuff”as an advertising come-on for buying a product to “get stuff” - ie., worthless objects, junk.
    We are in the age of collectors. There is someone somewhere that collects a particular kind of stuff. Pays good money for it, too! Beanie Babies, Baskets, Sports Trading cards, Pokemon. Glassware, barbed wire, beer cans - Stuff. Me? I mostly collect definition No. 7 -   according to some people, at least.  I prefer to really think of my collection fitting definition No. 1 better. Sure, I could traipse into town whenever I need materials for a project I’m building, but it is more satisfying if I can pull the needed items out of my stack of stuff, and use it. Why bury or burn what the Lord gave us to use? Gave us dominion over, to manage and preserve.    It is interesting how different cultures consider stuff. Ownership of real estate, for example. We have a firmly developed concept of exclusive ownership. Deeds and titles establish and declare that this (piece of) land is truly “my land,”  and not “your land,” regardless of what the song may declare. Native Americans, on the other hand, originally held that the land and resources belonged to The Great Spirit, and thus to everyone. Many conflicts came about because of the differing value systems. The new immigrants to the boundless plains and forests not only took what they needed, but took what they wanted, and kept it! “Indian, keep off. This is MY land now.”
    Interesting things to think about....
What will we take into heaven? How much will our earthly collection of stuff matter on our judgement day? The tangible (stuff) must give way to the intangible, things that moth and rust do not destroy, and thieves can not steal.
    For where your stuff is, there your heart will be also.
Scripture:   Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven.  Mt. 6:19,20a, NIV

Oct 2000

    I’m sure we have all heard of the person who “goes by the book.” What we mean is a person who treats every infraction of the rules to the full extent; unyielding, inflexible. For example, the rules against drugs in schools could result in , say, a girl giving a friend an aspirin,  and both of them get suspended for “dealing drugs.”
    We may question if the infraction merits suspension. Indeed, applying rules and laws justly is one of the toughest decisions we have to make in our communal lives.
    We are advised to make not only laws and rules, but to develop ‘ideals.’  We are advised by Biblical writers to “seek perfection.” The point I am raising is that we may at times make an ideal into an idol. That is, we become so consumed in persuing an ideal to extremes that reason and justice are lost. 
    As Christians, Jesus is our ideal, our pattern for life. We are to ask, “What would Jesus do?”  That is not always a clear-cut choice. For example, we set up “churchy” rules to guide dress, manners, forms of showing reverence, etc. Consider this: so did the Pharisees. Read Matthew chapter 23, and you see Jesus sharply criticizing the “teachers of the law and the Pharisees” for setting up ideals that made them appear to be righteous; that is, they were doing all the things that showed physically that they belonged to, and practiced the ideals of, their religious society.  In truth,  their ideals had become their idols. They prided themselves on an ostentatious show of religious observance, but neglected God’s ideal.
    What is God’s ideal? The First Commandment - Love God. And “Like unto it”  - Love your neighbor as yourself.
    The Pharisees had taken the commandments to extremes. Their prohibition against work on the Sabbath precluded healing. It was a direct whack to their ideals when Jesus healed on the Sabbath. They set aside money for the Temple, and used that as an excuse to not help their aged parents - It is ‘Corbin’ and we can’t touch it except for God’s use. What is “God’s use?”
    Jesus said that God is more concerned with mercy and justice, derived out of love for God and concern for God’s people, than with the ideal appearance one should assume to show how religious they are. What does true religion look like?
    Note that Jesus does not condem tithing dill, mint and cummin. (vs. 23)  but makes this ideal secondary to love of God and neighbors.

Scripture:   Jesus said, “Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cummin, and have neglected the weighter matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith.It is these you ought to have practiced without neglecting the others.Matthew 23:23 NRS

Nov 2000


    There are many things in this world that most people find to be beautiful or exciting; things that bring a swell of appreciation or satisfaction. Majestic trees, rolling plains,  and towering snow-topped mountains bring travelers from afar just to view them. Amber waves of grain stir the artist in one way, and the farmer in another. Each has their own, personal emotion and association with the scene spread out before them. The artist thinks in terms of form, color, and texture - the farmer recalls the planting, the weather during the growth stages, and anticipates the harvest.
    Truely, we don’t all like the same things, or see the same meaning in them. As a beekeeper, the sight of a swarm of bees marching into the hive, flowing like a living river, means that they have accepted their new home, and the queen bee is probably safely inside the hive. Opening a hive while a “honey flow” is in progress (the bees have nectar and pollen sources to feed upon)   is a beautiful sight in my opinion. There is an order, a purpose about their actions, as they go about their work. The thrill of seeing white-capped honeycombs means sweetness ahead for the beekeeper, and food for the bees through the harsh winter. Most people, though, see only a stinging insect, best left alone, and honey is to be bought at the store.    Sometimes the beekeeper spots trouble in the hive. The words “queenless” stirs the beekeeper into special action. The queen is the mother of the hive; she is the glue that holds it all together. Without a queen, there will be no young bees, and the colony will soon die out. There is a sense of disunity, a lack of purpose that can be felt by the experienced beekeeper. They are saying by their actions, “We are in trouble here!”
    When they are without a laying queen, and no fresh bee eggs, they are powerless to do anything about it. But I am not a bee; I have resources that they know nothing of. I can do things that are impossible for them. I can restore a new queen for them. By a simple action (for me) I can make the difference between life and death for that colony of bees. All they have to do is accept my gift.
    So, also, can God do things that are impossible for us. He has given us Life Eternal, in His Son Jesus Christ. All we have to do is humbly and earnestly accept that gift.
    Scripture:   Jesus looked at them and said, “With man, this is impossible, but with God all things are possible. Matthew 19:26, NIV

Jul 2000


    Boy! Did Paul ever get it right when he said, “For I have the desire to do what is good, but I can not carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no the evil I do not want to do - this is what I keep on doing.” Romans 7:18a-19.   
    We’ve all been there, in one form or another. Most of us suffer more from sins of omission than commission. That is, many things we should do - and could do - we never get around to doing. Like sending cards, making calls, sharing a good word with someone who needs it. We think too late about what we should have done or said in awkward situations.  We are at our worst where we have a decision to make, perhaps hastily, but a choice, never-the-less. When opportunity strikes, we blink, and the moment is gone - forever!
    Oh! What a gift the Giver has given us! The gift of choice, the opportunity to make decisions for ourselves. Read the first two or three chapters of Genesis. First, God created everything, and then turned the earthly creation over to the man and woman He created “in his own  image.” Whom would you tell, “have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and every living thing that moveth upon the earth. “ Genesis 1:28b.   Who among your acquaintances would you totally trust to manage all of your affairs? You would probably come up with a very short list, because you value your freedom to make decisions. God gave you that right, and you are not about to relinquish it - TO ANYONE!
    And yet, I have observed, people dislike being placed in the position of having to make decisions. What do you say when someone asks your opinion on something, like an article of clothing, or a new hairdo? Especially where it really doesn’t matter to you, and you remark, “It’s OK.”  Betcha’ that’s the wrong answer! Or where you are trapped into  responding that you think that new ‘do looks “Great!”  and you quickly learn that “it’s positively the worst haircut I’ve ever had. I hate it!”  It won’t help matters any to agree that, “You’re right. It is awful.”   No, no, No!
    What to eat, what to wear, what’s IN and what’s OUT - decisions, decisions.  Whom to please, and whom to snub. WE NEED HELP!
    Oh! Yes, what would Jesus do? Unnh, yeah, what would He do??? You know, faced with my decision, right now.
    “How much dominion do I have, Lord? I mean, I’ve got a choice, right?”
 
      And the serpent . . . said to the woman, Did God really say, You must not eat from any tree in the   garden? Genesis 3:1b.

Scripture:   God said, “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it.” Genesis 2:17a, KJV

Aug 2000

atthew 23:23 NRS

Nov 2000



robably don’t do very often. Oh, people are


    Wow! What a fantastic week Dorothy and I had as volunteers for Operation Christmas Child. We left Monday, November 27, with a bus load of other volunteers, including both adults and youth. We all went to Charlotte North Carolina to work, and work we did! Along with hundreds of other people.
    Operation Christmas Child began as an idea of a man at one of the Charlotte area church. Simple enough  . . . Why not fill some shoe boxes with gifts so that children in war-torn countries might have something for Christmas. Like a planted seed, it grew and blossomed, until this year they are expecting to send several million boxes to children all over the world.
    To give you some idea, take the “Gordon Project,” multiply by several-hundred fold, and you have operation Christmas Child!
    No one knows what may be in the boxes that come into the OCC Processing Center. The boxes are first taken out of the shipping cartons, pre-sorted to remove any money (which can not be sent directly to the children) and stacked on pallets by age group. The loaded pallets then go to processing lines handling only that age:   2-4, 5-9, and 10-14.
    There are several categories of items that can not be shipped, including perishables, breakables,  liquids (Shampoos, drinks, etc.) and especially toy weapons and military replicas. These are taken out and donated to local charities to distribute.
    If the box is not full, additional toys and gifts are added. The boxes then go down a long conveyor, where they are separated by whether  the box is for a boy or girl,  secured shut by shipping tape, and packed into shipping cartons. Each carton holds about 16 to 18 shoeboxes, depending on the size of the shoebox (you’ve never seen so many different sizes!) The pallets, loaded with twelve cartons, are moved to trucks and then to airplanes to be flown to some needy child, somewhere.
    Appleton UMC was represented there; our hands and feet were indeed the physical manifestation  of “a loving God reaching a world in need.”  We worked together with several hundred others like us to process nearly 100,000 boxes that week alone. There is a lot of love pouring out of that place!
December 3, 2000



Scripture: Jesus said, “Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field,  . . . shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?” Mt. 6:30, KJV
    I have an iris in bloom! No, not outside in the cold, but inside the house. It was not my intention to bring the flower into bloom. The were impacted, and had a root-spreading grass choking them. So I dug them up, and put them in a tub with the intention of transplanting them. Well, things like a bout with a cold and bronchitis sidelined my good intentions. When the weather turned to subfreezing, I moved the tub into the garage. Later, when I returned to the flowers, lo and behold, there was one with a bloom on it. What to do? Pot it!
    So developed a Seed for Thinking. Quite likely, the trigger that caused the plant to bloom was exposure to the freezing weather before I moved it inside. Many plants and seeds are like that. While we often complain of the cold, freezing weather, we would not have many of the plants, flowers and fruits that have to have that “deep freeze” treatment to properly develop. In fact, if we want to “force” some flowers to bloom out of season, we have to expose them to conditions that are not considered to be normal care. Some need cold, some darkness, and some need dryness. Seems cruel to treat them that way, doesn’t it?
    Perhaps we as people don’t need those conditions to get better in life. But  “Troubles, we have some,”    to quote the words of the song, “On The Wings of A Dove.” The sign of our faith is not that we have troubles, but that we can react to troubles without anger and despair. Think back to when you were a baby. What obstacles faced you? Could you walk, talk, dress yourself? Of course not! But you overcame those “problems” with time, trial, and encouragement. Think of all the things a child accomplishes by the time they enter “school.”
    There are many times of crisis and tribulations along life’s journey. Teenagers are noted for struggles leading to maturity. Marriage, parenthood, and the aging  processes constitute situations for people like the freezing, drying, darkening conditions for plants. Yet they bloom and flourish in spite of - indeed, because of- that shock to their systems.
    “O ye, of little faith, look to the flowers of the field.”
December 10, 2000



Scripture: Jesus said, “I tell you the truth,whatever you did not do for one of the least of these,you did not do for me.”  Mt. 25:45, NIV
    We see the world around us with the attributes of height, width, and depth. We form an estimate of distance and size, which is helpful when moving around, especially if we are driving a vehicle. Even when we look at a picture, we assume that, say, a building has a back and end that we can not see. No, it is not on the other side of the page. This is all that you will know about this Gingerbread House. Nor can you tell what ingredients are used to make it. You can guess about some of them. If you are really serious, you can get the recipe and instructions. Then you will know what ingredients were used, and what the back side looks like.
    Yes, there is a big difference about knowing  from actual experience, and just knowing about something.
    In the book, Uncle Tom’s Cabin (by Harriet Beecher Stowe), Mr. St. Clair is discussing Matthew 25:31-46, with his cousin, Miss Ophelia. He comments, “One should have expected some terrible enormities charged to those who are excluded from heaven, as the reason; but no - they are condemned for not doing positive good, as if that included every possible harm.” “Perhaps,” said Miss Ophelia, “it is impossible for a person who does no good not to do harm.”
    In essence, Jesus is saying that because we know who He is, and are willing to help Him (Jesus) if we saw Him in need, is no better than just looking at the picture of the gingerbread house. Unless you do it, you will have only a picture. You can’t smell it, taste  it, or know the full dimensions of it. As far as being rewarded by the real thing, is there any difference between the expert baker who doesn’t bake, and the person who doesn’t know how to go about it? Both will go equally hungry; both are condemned for doing nothing!
    Putting it another way, doing good and doing harm are like two sides to a coin; you get either one or the other!
*
December  17, 2000



Scripture: Warnings against Folly: “Go to the ant, thou sluggard. Consider her ways, and be wise. Proverbs 6:6
    There are many myths and traditions about animals talking. The Biblical account of Balaam and his talking donkey is given in Numbers 22. The donkey saw the angel of the Lord, which Balaam could not see, and turned aside. Balaam struck him. After this happened three times, the donkey spoke to defend his actions. Then, Balaam’s eyes were opened and he, too, saw the angel with a sword barring his way.
    Aesop wove many of his fables around talking animals, and in the process, taught truths to us supposedly superior humans. Animals, like puppets, allow us to say things that we would like to say, but don’t have the nerve to say in our own personna. Look at the things a ventriloquist can get away with!  (Or a talking mirror.)
    Sometimes people imitate or impersonate animals, but more often, we give the animals human attributes. They are a staple of movie and print cartoons. Look what a talking mouse did for Walt Disney.
    Stories about talking parrots are numerous; many take the form of the pious, old lady who suffers with a parrot who learned to speak by listening to sailors. There is a cartoon in the book Holy Humor, where the parrot is sitting on a pulpit, stating that the pastor has laryngitis, but fortunately, he (the parrot) was listening as the preacher rehearsed his sermon.  . . .    Oh! Wouldn’t this be an interesting world if animals really could talk! Would they lie? I bet it would be more interesting then having little people with big ears and the innocence to tell all they hear around the house.
    There is a tradition, if I remember it correctly, that animals talk on Christmas eve. Such is the story behind the song,  The Friendly Beasts. Each tells what they did for the Christ Child. The cow gave Him her manger for a cradle; the sheep , wool for a blanket. The doves cooed Him to sleep, and the donkey, of course, carried His mother, “up hill and down,” to Bethlehem Town.
    Like the widow, who gave of what she had, the animals, fabled or not, gave of what they had. We have so much: how do we compare?
December 24, 2000

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