Cool Beans

I am daily encouraged watching God move mountains in others’ hearts. This weekend was tough, but yet another testament to God’s faithfulness. This is one of those times where the details aren’t mine to share, but I was amazed to finally see forbearance in action; people who had a loved one not following after God never spoke ill of them, but loved in actions and word in Christ until that individual came around. Wow.

On a semi-related note, I have seen God work through some very simple acts of service and Spirit-placed words I couldn’t have contrived. He truly makes everything beautiful in its time.

In other news, I have an interview for a tutoring place tomorrow (later today), my wedding wedges came in the mail this weekend, and I’m going to get back into journaling. I’ve found writing out my prayers slows down my thinking enough to listen to God, and often He answers before I can finish writing the question. I love it when that does happen.

Real post sometime this week.

Like this song:

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The Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5:9)

This past weekend I had the pleasure of celebrating two wonderful friends becoming one in marriage. It was up in Minneapolis and, despite my best efforts, I got terribly lost and missed the wedding completely. My wonderful brother was kind enough to direct me via cell phone and internet, so I eventually made it… after a trip out to stillwater and a couple of scenic loops through Minneapolis.

I ended up watching the recording online last night. But despite missing the wedding, I was challenged by the groom’s father. He is a retired pastor from Puerto Rico who emanates wisdom and compassion. Not very many people have this quality; it is something of a strong gaze that seems to bore right into you, see you exactly as you are, and not flinch whatsoever. He spent some time talking with Chris topher who was in the wedding party and spent half of last week helping everyone get ready.

The challenge he gave Chris was one he gave his oldest son; read Matthew 5 (the Sermon on the Mount) every day for two weeks. Now I know I’m not Chris topher, but when a retired pastor suggests a challenge like that, I can’t help but want to try it myself because there has to be a lot of merit to it. The man really leaves an impression that leaves one thinking.

As a result, this is day two of the challenge for me. I’m reading it in my HCS study Bible and loving a new look at a familiar passage. I’m going to try and post what I’m getting from the passage as it speaks to me. As much as this bothers my linear/chronological organization, I feel that it would be neglecting the Spirit to ignore what stuck out to me and stick to order. I will, however, try to make sure I cover all the verses at some point.

“The peacemakers are blessed, for they will be called sons of God.”

Peacemaker. It’s a simple enough word etymology that an English novice could pick it up. A peacemaker is someone who makes peace with others. Now, as much as we could think of our lives and consider those we talk to on a regular basis as being peaceful relations, I don’t think that’s the aim here.

Think of the people you actually have to work at making peace with. Is it a co-worker? A socially obnoxious friend? A family member? A roommate? Someone you are trying to minister to?

What makes peace with them difficult? Lately, I’ve been disturbed by my response to a situation involving someone with whom I have very fragile peace at best. Their attitude and actions make me angry. It makes me sick thinking about the kind of person they have demonstrated themselves to be. I can try to justify my feelings, but there’s no way around it; being angry toward someone is a sin.

The notes in the HCSB are also incredibly helpful for getting me to think a little more beyond the text. Here’s a little bit of the footnotes:

“The ministry of peacemaking involves resolving conflict by making prompt apologies and acts of restitution, refusing to seek revenge, and humbly loving and serving one’s enemies (5:21-26, 38-41, 43-48). The promise that peacemakers will be called sons of God probably means that Jesus’ authentic disciples emulate God by undertaking the ministry of reconciliation. Thus at the final judgment they shall be accepted as the sons (and daughters) of God.”

Prompt apologies, acts of restitution, refusing to seek revenge, humbly loving and serving one’s enemies.

Is this how you treat those who have hurt you or seem to be your enemies?

Is there anyone in your life with whom you refuse to make peace?

I keep thinking of later in the passage, verses 43-46, “You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward will you have? Don’t even the tax collectors [AKA non-Christ followers/average joes/anyone really] do the same?”

If it is in your power at all, make peace with everyone (think Romans 12:18-21).

Reject what your instinct is, and love as you have been loved. And if you have not experienced the kind of love that is big enough to make others’ offenses seem small, then I pray you will ask God to show you His love and seek it through prayer and studying the Bible.

God, please grant me the grace to love others even when I am struggling with it. Help me to see people the way that You see people. I pray that I will never harden my heart against others, but will actively seek Your power to enable me to overcome the hurtful thoughts and behavior I so often desire. I love You. Thank you for all You have given me.

On the Roadside

A Tale of ordinary angels

Saturday morning was a really golden fall day. The air was sweet and cool like apple cider, and it was sunny. It was a pleasant day for a drive home. Chris and I piled in the car, after filling our matching travel mugs with freshly brewed tea, and headed out of town. We were past the outlying town of our college city, when a bolt on the caliper decided to take an impromptu vacation and fall off the literal and proverbial band wagon (a.k.a my mid-sized car). It started making an awful noise, which makes sense since it was the bolt that held part of the bracket for the brakes in place, so I pulled over.

Chris got out the jack and instructed me to look for the bolt. He was concerned and felt partially responsible and annoyed with himself since he had just replaced my brakes a month ago. I was surprisingly unalarmed, and started walking back the way we came on the side of the highway. I tried to not look overly concerned for fear that those passing on the roadway would get the idea that I was fleeing my vehicle and significant other on foot. I smiled to myself and praised God that it was neither raining nor snowing. My toms would not have survived that. I continued on my way. A mile was about how far I walked before somebody stopped. It was this sweet older middle-aged couple. The woman seemed very concerned and said, “Are you okay? Can we give you a ride somewhere, sweetheart?” I told her I was okay- just looking for a bolt from my car, but that my fiance was down the road assessing the situation and that they could stop and ask him how it was going if they’d like. They stopped.

I began walking back to the car, scanning the roadsides and wondering how long it would be before we called friends and had them drive out. It was not looking like we’d make it home today. Before I reached the car, the woman was already walking back toward me.

“It’s like looking for a needle in a haystack, huh?” I agreed and smiled wryly.

“I’m Rachel.” I said, extending my hand.

She clasped it and responded, “I’m Teresa.”

Her husband was watching as Chris topher examined the wheel well. We would need another bolt to get going. Again, Teresa and her husband offered to give us a ride. They were from the next town, having traveled from the same place we had started. Chris topher told them what we needed and that if they could get us back to town, we could find a bolt and he could get his car.

They didn’t give us a ride back home; they gave us a ride to the outlying town we had just passed, and took us to not one, but two different hardware stores in order to get what we needed. Teresa was so kind, and spent the time we had waiting on the men to wander through the parts section to talk about life, her daughter, their work, and a lot of her life history. I hardly noticed the time passing and enjoyed talking with someone new. I could not believe how caring and unhurried they were. Even though there were plenty of things they could have been doing with their time, they invested a couple of hours in helping others.

Thankfully, it only cost about $10 to get our supplies and get back on the road. Our unexpected good samaritans stayed until they saw we were successfully on our way, and I even exchanged phone numbers with Teresa just in case we needed to get in touch. She insisted that we call if we needed anything else. She even texted the next day.

When Chris topher said goodbye, he thanked them profusely, and I could tell that he was genuinely moved. Our ordinary angels just said, “We believe what goes around comes around and that we would want others to help us when we’re in the same position.”

As we got in the car and drove away, I noticed how contemplative Chris topher was.
“Are you okay?”

“Yes, I just really wasn’t expecting that. What they did was incredibly kind.”

“You’ve never had anyone stop and help you like that?”

“No.”

I had never recognized it before, but I have been extremely blessed in God’s provision of strangers and helpers in my times of need. I thought about the totaled cars I was in with my mother, the should-have-wrecked-but-didn’t situations, and all those times I have dealt with dead batteries or other travel complications. God has simply always always ALWAYS kept an eye on me, particularly in travel. I reflected a moment more, and smiled.

“Then I’m glad you finally got the chance to experience that. Maybe we don’t get to go home today, but I think this day is still well worth it.”

Skunked dogs, Rahab, and the Non-End of the World

THROWBACK: One of the never finished posts from May 22. I did like this though, so I’m going to attempt to revise the end. I’ll asterisk * where I have picked it up today.

I went to Creston this past weekend and spent some time with one of my favorite families. They have a few dogs, one of which happens to believe he is invincible. M.J. walked straight at my car as I was pulling in and I wasn’t sure he was going to stop. He actually got distracted and looked the other way while still walking toward my moving vehicle. He also thinks he’s a cow-dog, and frequently likes to chase the cows next door.

He happens to be a tiny black terrier.

Over the couple of days I was there, I found out he also had broken his jaw with an encounter with a neighboring horse a while ago and had to have surgery, but still chases cattle of Goliath-proportions to himself on a daily basis. Last week he got sprayed by a skunk. He keeps going back and smelling the area where he was sprayed, getting new stinky oil on his face, despite his owners attempts at cleaning the area with hydrogen peroxide. Needless to say, he’s not the world’s brightest dog, but you have to wonder what’s going through his head. All I could think of was Proverbs 26:11: “As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his foolishness.”

I thought about some people in my life who seem to keep repeating foolishness, and I considered my own foolish behavior. I can be so frustrated when I see people I love trading the opportunity for growth and new dependence on God for things that they already know, more specifically, things they already know don’t work and are not beneficial to them spiritually and otherwise. Ok, so I know I’m a go-getter, and I tend to proverbially just “jump” into new circumstances, and that not everyone’s personality is like that, but I have to wonder, where is the boundary between personality and pride? I don’t really think it’s a “personality difference” to choose to return to sin; it’s a matter of the condition of one’s heart.

As a daughter of God whose wandering tendencies have literally been stopped or corrected by God’s intervention and grace alone, I’m pretty sure that where our personalities stray from God’s Will for us is sin. In this particular context of willfully returning to sin, consider what biblical examples we have of what God says about sin. More specifically, look at those who have been great sinners, becoming even greater proponents of faith.

This morning’s message was about Joshua 2, and one such woman named Rahab. * Rahab was not Hebrew. In fact, even in Jericho she had a low standing due to her profession, so it is once again evidence of how God obliterates our ideas and vain standards of what people God uses should be like. Although she was a prostitute, she was industrious, making cords and probably other similar textiles in her spare time. She had no man to provide for her, and in fact, I’m surprised she was not bitter about her life, or at the very least, unwilling to help two men. But instead, she saw God simply, placing her faith on the bit of Him she knew; His power. That faith is what led her to risk her own well-being by hiding spies who represented those who wanted to overtake her city, and it was faith that kept her in her house in the wall, while God delivered her but took stone off of stone to the foundations all around her.

I admire her discernment and courage. I love her for being redeemed by God and living by faith. I see myself in her, and I am thankful for God in His knowledge reminding us that He is after our hearts, which leads to giving our lives. Even three months after originally pondering this, I am still processing the implications of how God works and loves. I want more of it.

And I am also glad the world did not end so I have more opportunity to grow and share love. May you also grow in knowledge of who He is.

God is so good.

Well dear, internets and random readers, I’m working 40 hours a week and studying like crazy. It doesn’t leave a lot of time for reflection, and I think I’m getting older and antisocial or something… or maybe just plain tired.

This week has been a week of the unexpected. I just got back from driving a friend home due to a family emergency and was reminded how awesome and startling it is at times to recognize how in control of our lives God really is. I’m grateful that it was a day for recovery, healing, and perhaps the beginning of a positive change for my friend and their family. But God is so good. He doesn’t change.

On my own home front, my little sister just graduated from high school last weekend 🙂 It’s hard to believe that she is 19 and I’m 22 now. I remember so many things about her from our childhood even though we are three years and four grades apart, and I am so thankful to have a sister who is:

1)a girl who loves God.

2) not one of those girls who has a bunch of boyfriends or feels the need to chase after guys

3) a sweetheart whom I am consistently complimented for

4)someone I admire and value for being different from me because I can learn a lot from her

5)someone who doesn’t care what people think yet examines herself and proposes change she thinks will be beneficial and healthy. What a wonderful sister! She has grown so much since we were little girls together.

A random Christmas card photo probably at ages 4 and 1 respectively

The older I get, the more I cherish my family. I am so blessed!