Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Nine Reasons the Bible is Important

Dear Friends,

Have you heard California is considering passing a law to make the sale of the Bible illegal because of content related to sexual orientation? To me, that is a frightening thought. Since when do we legislate what people may or may not believe?

A few years ago I heard how some college professors were not to discuss topics that might upset students. At first I thought it was a joke. There are very few issues that don’t upset one person or another. We feel strongly about many issues, and, after all, college is the place to debate and discuss issues. But it was no joke. Talk about putting a damper on free speech!

Now comes an attack on the written Word. If Bibles are forbidden to be sold, how long will it be until just speaking about interpretations of scripture will be prohibited?

The Bible is an important book to Christians. Here’s why:

1. The Bible tells us how life originated and how life will end. Read Genesis and Revelation.

2. The Bible was inspired by the Holy Spirit. Although it consists of 66 books, its message is consistent. Yes, there may be verses we don’t understand. I like Mark Twain’s quote about that: “It ain’t the parts of the Bible I can’t understand that bother me, it’s the parts that I do understand.”

3. The Bible tells us what God is like. He’s a God of love and, yes, He’s a God of judgment. He is with us at all times, in all places. He comforts us, sustains us, provides for us, protects us. He is kind and wise.  We want to know our God better, and we meet Him on the pages of scripture.

4. The Bible prepares us for eternity by introducing us to Jesus, our Savior.

5. The Bible informs us of good and evil. There are moral absolutes. We teach the Ten Commandments to our children.

6. The Bible offers sound advice. Read Proverbs to learn how a young man (or woman) may develop character. Billy Graham read one of the 31 chapters each day of the month. Proverbs should be required reading for teenagers.

7. The Bible prevents us from sinning. If we follow its guidelines regarding right and wrong, life goes better for us. It’s not a barrier to keep us from things we enjoy but a fence to protect us from harm.

8. The Bible includes God’s promises. Read Romans 8:28-29 to learn how God promises that all things will work together for good in the life of a Christian.

9. The Bible was the first book printed mechanically, and more than 13,000 manuscripts of portions of the New Testament exist. It is the world’s best-seller.

I have spent a great deal of time meditating on scripture as I’ve memorized it. And I don’t regret a minute of it. And if ever my state passes a law forbidding the sale of a Bible, I will have a stash of content to fall back on. I encourage you to memorize for the same reason.

Who knows whether illness or persecution will ever prevent you from physically handling a Bible? Having scripture in mind means you always have it with you. And you can always share it with others. This past weekend, I shared John, chapters 1 to 4, with women at a retreat, and they told me they heard things they never noticed by reading scripture. I’ve also memorized Philippians and the book of Ruth.

You can find a video of me presenting the book of Ruth on YouTube. Just copy and paste this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DbVqp5moDcI&t=131s.

Please memorize God’s Word so that no one can ever legislate it away from you.

“Your word is a lamp to my feet, a light on my path.” Psalm 119:105 (NIV)



Upcoming Engagements for Friends of the Heart:

May 14, 6:30 p.m. – Mother/Daughter Banquet, Himmel’s Church, Dornsife, “That Face in the Mirror: Who Do You See?”

May 19 – PowerSurge Women’s Conference, University of Pittsburgh Bradford Campus, “Tea with Mary, Martha and Their Psychologist,” Conference Theme: “It Is Well: Mind, Body, Soul.”

Saturday, March 31, 2018

You Can't Plant Peas and Grow Watermelons

Dear Friends,

It’s a funny thing. We want certain results in this world, but we too often fail to make proper preparation.

A farm girl, I learned to garden. Fortunately, I had two brothers, so my sisters and I rarely worked in the fields. But gardening required the attention of womenfolk.

First you plowed the ground. Well, that was done by the men. Our old John Deere chugged back and forth as the plow blade peeled back rows of soil. Then we raked lumpy furrows smooth in preparation for planting.

Next we dug holes to plant potatoes and dragged hoe prongs to create shallow ditches to sow rows of teeny tiny lettuce and carrot seeds. Tomatoes. Onions. Beans. Peas. Eggplant. We planted them all. Then we watered and waited. If insects attacked, we sprinkled leaves with lime to ward off invaders.

As plants grew, we weeded and hoed to allow water to seep down and seedlings to pop up. This went on until plants matured and grew big enough to produce. Lettuce was first to be harvested, then spring onions. One by one, vegetables were picked and eaten, jarred or frozen. We enjoyed them year-round, thanks to my mother’s hard work.

Well, so it is with raising a family. If we want children to grow into honest, spiritual, faithful, hard-working adults, we must make necessary preparations.

First of all, we birth them and nourish them with milk, then soft foods and finally they sprout teeth for chewing. We appropriately train them to brush those teeth and eat those veggies so their bodies grow straight and strong. When the bugs of sickness invade, we take them to doctors for medicine.

We water them every time we demonstrate honesty when given too much change. We give to Caesar (the IRS) what is due so they learn to be responsible citizens. We take them to Sunday school and church; we don’t send them.

Some parents want their children to develop their own spirituality, and of course they will. But that’s like throwing seeds out the window and expecting a harvest. If a parent expects to raise godly children who share their spiritual values, it requires weeding out bad influences—“No, you can’t see R-rated movies”--and fertilizing their growth with good influences—round table discussions about God and country, faith and family, neighbors and classmates.

Raising godly children requires attention to their growth—mental, social, emotional and spiritual. It requires those uncomfortable moments of discipline. It requires demanding respect and commanding behavior. The children will not always be happy, but they will grow to a healthier maturity for it.

Now I do understand that just as a drought or a storm can devastate a garden, other factors over which we have no control can have a major impact on our hard work as parents and grandparents. But I simply want to encourage you to put the time and effort into child rearing—or whatever other endeavor you undertake—to the best of your ability. Then leave the results in God’s hands.

If you want to eat peas, plant peas. If you want to eat watermelons, plant watermelon seeds. If you want children to turn into responsible adults, plant seeds of faith and integrity. Children must be carefully taught. It requires time and patience, love and discipline. But like a fruitful harvest, the end product will bless your soul.

“First plant your fields; then build your barn.” Proverbs 24:27 (The Message)

Here's a link I just came across that reinforces my post: http://www.intellectualtakeout.org/blog/physician-american-children-immersed-culture-disrespect

Have a blessed Easter as you ponder spring planting.


Upcoming Engagements for Friends of the Heart:

April 14, 9:30 a.m. to 3:50 p.m. - Faithlift Women's Conference, Pittsfield, Massachusetts, "What Every Girl Needs: Refuge, Redemption, Restoration and a Few Good Recipes.
April 21, 9 a.m. - Ladies Brunch, Aldersgate United Methodist Church, Mechanicsburg, "If Our Closets Could Talk."
April 27-29 - Women's Retreat, Best Western Lewisburg, Richfield Life Ministries Church Conference, ""If Our Closets Could Talk."

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Book Review: Same Kind of Different as Me

This is the true story of an unlikely friendship that developed between an illiterate homeless black man and a wealthy art dealer and his wife when their paths crossed at the Union Gospel Mission, Fort Worth, Texas. It’s a saga of forgiveness, mercy and grace that changed their lives forever. Hard to describe without telling the story, and I don’t want to spoil it for you. But this is one of the most inspirational books you’ll ever read.

Ron and Debbie Hall and Denver Moore lived in different worlds. And Moore was more than a little leery of the Halls’ motives in serving at the mission. Moore had been beaten down in life from the time he tried to help a white woman fix a flat tire and three teenagers came along, roped him and dragged him behind their horses. But the Halls proved their friendship, and three lives were forever changed. Yours will be too.

The back of the book offers thought-provoking questions for reflection along with “A Conversation with the Authors.”

Chapters are written in the voices of either Ron Hall or Denver Moore, and only the first two chapters are titled with their names. From then on, you have to figure it out from their voice, which is not hard, since Moore speaks in a typical southern dialect. While Hall is the educated one, Moore offers down-to-earth homespun advice—both practical and spiritual—that can’t be beat.

A great choice for book discussion groups. This is a book every Christian needs to read—and apply.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Book Review: Judah's Wife

The Maccabees lived in the silent years between the Old and New Testaments. Not much is known about them except for commentary in the Apocrapha, which is not part of the canon of Scripture. They were faithful Jews who tried to protect the tenets of their faith in the years leading up to the birth of Christ.

Angela Hunt has done a masterful job of making this time in history come alive. She bases her story on real people—the family of the Maccabees. But she adds supporting figures to develop the struggles these people surely faced. I loved learning more about this important time in history and its impact on a dedicated community of faith.

The back of the book, published by Bethany House in 2018, includes an Epilogue, which explains the true ending of the story. In her Author’s Notes, Angela Hunt explains her approach to writing the novel. There is also a set of Discussion Questions for those leading book clubs.

I appreciated this novel because I knew about the Maccabees but knew little about their day-to-day activities and the thoughts behind their actions. Hunt also does a good job of subtly bringing in the issue of abuse and its surprising long-term impact on families. A good read. And more good news is, this is part of a series.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

A Confession and a Lesson

Dear Friends,

I am a farm girl who does not like animals or chickens. Never have. Don’t suppose I ever will. I just don’t relate well to things that bark and bite, purr, moo and lick. I’m not sure when it all began.

Baby chicks were cute. I loved stroking their fuzzy coats, watching them scramble to eat feed sprinkled on newspapers, watching them drink as bubbles gurgled up through water jars. But then they turned into hens—that pecked my hands when I gathered eggs. No longer cute!

My father bought a dog, Gypsy, when I was maybe five. I was afraid of Gypsy, but we might have gotten better acquainted had she not met a premature end.

Steers were another matter. They broke out of fences, and I had to help my brother round them up and herd them home. Horns. Wild eyes. Hated it.

In more recent times, a son’s family got a dog—Molly, a miniature Schnausser. And we were designated babysitters whenever the family vacationed. That did break the pet ice for me. Molly was cute, although she did bark way too much. One day I found our candy dish lying on its side on an end table—Hershey kisses gone. A pile of crumbled wrappers told the story. I agonized. What if Molly got sick from the chocolate? What if a wrapper lodged in her tummy? Fortunately, Molly—and I—survived.

When Molly passed to doggie heaven, we held a funeral for her, and I wrote parts for the grandchildren to read—a poem, a prayer, a tribute. I kept her picture on my refrigerator for years. Maybe it's still there.

Her place has been taken by Sadie, a soft-haired Wheaton terrier. Sadie is sweet. I do like when she cuddles next to me. They haven’t asked us to babysit. Was it the Hershey kisses? It’s OK, because I’m not sure I’m up to handling dogs in my home anymore.

So that’s my confession. My point is, sometimes people have surprising attitudes. Why would a farm girl be scared of animals? I don’t know. But I appreciate people who respect me and don’t expect me to cuddle their pets—especially if they weigh more than I do. I can see the value of pets. They are companions that offer unconditional love to their owners. I have Bill.

We tend to want others to be as we are. If we’re sports fanatics, we may not understand how someone sits quietly through football games. If we’re cooking fanatics, we can’t understand how someone opens a can of soup and boils a hot dog for supper. If we love the outdoors, we can’t understand when someone begs off a hike.

But how dull the world would be if we were all alike. I enjoy people who are different from me. I like fun-loving friends, outgoing, adventuresome, pet-loving people. God made us all. We’re in this together. And what a fun ride life is—if we respect differences and reject judgments.

“And the most important clothing you must wear is love. Love is what binds us all together in perfect harmony.” Colossians 3:14 (NLT)

If you receive this by email, click down below and leave your confession in the comment box.

Enjoy the journey.


Upcoming Engagements:

March 2-3 - Friends of the Heart with Dixonville Wesleyan Church at Mahaffey Camp and Conference Center, "Just Say Yes--to God!"

March 20, 6:30 p.m. - Friends of the Heart for Women to Women at Grace Community Church, Herndon, "Just Say Yes--to God!"

March 24, 12 noon - Shirley at Guardian Angel Bookstore Tea, Richfield, PA.