Responding to Confusion with the Bible

Through the women’s ministry at our church I have been able to watch some of the G3 conference, streaming live from Georgia. The topic of the conference is the Trinity, and I was pleased to listen to the preachers. All around us there is confusion about who God is, and about what the Bible says.

Bible

Our school district is dealing with confusion over male and female. Parents are holding meetings to find ways to protect the privacy of teenage girls. The federal government has mandated that a student with male anatomy be allowed to use the girl’s locker room, because he claims to be transgender. My children graduated from the high school that received this mandate. I recently wrote about a parent meeting. Click here.

Wheaton College, my daughter’s alma mater, is in the news for firing a tenured political science professor because she claimed that Moslems and Christians worship the same god. The controversy has been reported in the Chicago Tribune and the Wall Street Journal. One article is titled “Are Allah and Jesus the Same God?”

The only way to know the character of God is through the life and work of Jesus and through the words in the Bible. It is tempting to think that we can completely understand God or aptly describe Him in human terms. God is greater, is superior to our knowledge. According to Tim Challies “we are going to the edge of our capacity to understand.” The following Bible verses give us insight.

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” . . . So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. Genesis 1: 26-27

The triune God created the world.

Jesus said to them [Jews questioning him], “Truly, truly I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.

Throughout the Old Testament the term, I am, referred to God.

In John 10: 30 Jesus says, “I and the Father are one.”

When my husband and I were on a tour of Israel we visited the      Temple Mount. The Dome of the Rock is there. Our guide informed us that the mosque has an inscription: God has no son.

Jesus and Allah
Dome of the Rock

The Moslem religion denies the triune nature of God.

Jesus explained the Holy Spirit to the disciples.

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. John 14: 16-17

Tim Challies explained that Father, Son and Holy Spirit are all involved in our salvation. God calls us; Jesus redeems us; the Holy Spirit dwells in us. Once we acknowledge our sin and accept Jesus as savior, we know the Trinity by experience.

As I listened and chewed on the message, I thought about the importance of Bible study. We need to know the Bible and to teach it to our families. We must make time to:

  • Read the Bible. It helps to study with other Christians.
  • The gospel of John is a great place to start. Many passages illuminate Jesus’ relationship with God the Father. John 20:31 gives the reason that the disciple recorded his observations. These are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. John 20:31
  • Memorize scripture. The AWANA program is great for children. Now as an adult it takes more effort to memorize but I am realizing the value of having verses on the tip of my tongue.
  • Teach the truth of the Bible to our families.

I appreciate the focus that Janis has on the Bible at Word of God Speak. Visit her site here.

Also linking with A Little R & R,  Titus 2sday,  So Much at Home,  Soul Survival and Weekend Whispers

The March Goes On Despite the Wind Chill Factor in Chicago

At times the wind chill on Sunday was -11° F in Chicago. Yet, many people turned out for the March for Life.

Chicago March for Life
Federal Plaza

The message was pro-woman, pro-baby, pro-life.

Chicago March for Life

A large group of college students were present.

Chicago March for Life

We were cold but in good spirits.

March for Life _5095

Linking with Sue’s Wordless Wednesday

Christmas Bells Still Ringing — from the Pen of a Poet

 

Christmas Bells

Over the past couple weeks I have encountered Henry Wadsworth Longfellow twice. I picked up a coffee table book at a home I was visiting. The book had beautiful photos, enticing recipes and quotes from famous writers. One of the quotes was from Longfellow and I wrote it down.  I was touched by his words about gardens.  (The quote  will  appear in a future post.)

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Jennifer Chiaverini’s novel,  Christmas Bells, gives vignettes of       Longfellow’s life. He encountered tragedy and lived through the pain and turmoil of the Civil War. Towards the end of the Civil War he wrote the poem, “Christmas Bells”. You may have heard it sung. The first line is “I heard the bells on Christmas Day . . .”

The scenes from Longfellow’s life are paired with the story of a modern day family. It was a little challenging for me to grasp the structure of the story at first. This modern story was composed of one scene viewed from the perspective of about six people. Each sees the events that take place a little differently during a children’s choir rehearsal. They are singing “Christmas Bells” of course.

I was really pleased to read the history behind the poem, “Christmas Bells” and I am inspired to read more of Longfellow’s poetry. Personal tragedy and the war almost drove the poet to despair, but he finished his poem with this stanza.

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead: nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Note: The photo of the bells and the engraving of Longfellow are via Wikimedia Commons and are public domain.

Linking with Friendship Friday,  Literacy Musing MondayBooknificent ThursdayWholehearted Wednesday, A Little R & R, and Hope in Every Season.

Pasties and Pickles for a Complete Meal

Over the Christmas holidays my husband I traveled first to Michigan where we spent Christmas with my mother, sister and brother. After a brief interlude at home we drove to a town west of St. Louis, Missouri. We rented a house near Lake Sherwood and all of our children and grandchildren joined us. We had some great family time during our four days together.

Lake Sherwood

We had time for many conversations, a walk along the road, board games and a day of adventure at the City Museum in St. Louis. We took turns providing meals. I chose to make the family favorite meal, pasties—well, a favorite among the adults. The nice thing about this meal is that I was able to make the pasties ahead of time, freeze them and bring them along as a ready meal. I let them thaw in the refrigerator at our rental and then baked them for 40 minutes to heat them through. To appease the children I left the onions out of the pasties and included dill pickles as a side dish.

Pasties are a traditional meal in Upper Michigan. The copper miners would take these meat & potato filled pies with them for a meal in the mine. The shops in Upper Michigan still sell them. I have posted the recipe before, but here it is again.

Pastry:

3 C. flour
½ tsp. salt
2/3 C. shortening
1 egg yolk
½ C + 2 Tblsp. cold water
1 Tblsp. cider vinegar

Combine flour and salt. Cut in the shortening until it appears as coarse crumbs.

Mix the egg yolk, water and vinegar. Gradually add this to the flour mixture, stirring with a fork. Mix just until it holds together. If needed, add additional water a tablespoon at a time.

Divide the dough into six portions and roll out each portion to a 9” circle.

Filling:

1 lb. round steak, diced or coarsely ground
1 C. rutabaga, chopped
½ C. finely chopped onion
4 large potatoes, peeled and diced
1 rounded tsp. salt
Pepper (optional)

Place a generous cup of filling on half of each dough circle. Fold the other half of dough over the filling and crimp the edges. Place the pasties on a lightly greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for one hour. Serve hot.

Pasty

If you are planning to freeze the pasties and reheat them later, the bake time can be reduced to 50 minutes.

The dill pickles were a hit. I made them using cucumbers from one sister’s garden, garlic from another sister’s garden and dill from my garden. I came across the recipe for a small batch of pickles here.

Linking with From the Farm,  Titus 2sdays,  Tuesdays with a Twist, the Art of Homemaking,  Friendship Friday and Family Friendship & Faith Link-up

A Rose, Love and the Savior are in this Old Carol

Lo, how a rose e'er blooming

The violins, piano and voices of the choir gave a beautiful rendition of an old German carol. I was swept away from the news reports and troubles in our community. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.

Here are the lyrics to this carol, Lo How A Rose:

Low, how a rose e’er blooming
From tender stem hath sprung
Of Jesse’s lineage coming
As saints of old hath sung.

It came a flower bright,
Amid the cold of winter.
When half spent was the night.

Isaiah foretold it.
The rose I have in mind.
With Mary we behold it
The virgins mother kind.

To show God’s love aright
She bore to us a Savior
When half spent was the night,
When half spent was the night.

O Rose, whose fragrance tender
With sweetness fills the air,
Dispel in glorious splendor
The darkness everywhere.

True man, yet very God.
From sin and death now save us
And share our every load.

Alleluia, Alleluia
Alleluia, Alleluia
Sing alleluia

A Rose, Love and A Savior

The apostle Peter knew much about the troubles in this world. He had walked with Jesus and had seen the crucifixion. He saw the empty tomb and the risen Lord. He had shared a meal with Jesus after the resurrection. He was there when Jesus instructed the disciples to make disciples of all nations. Peter had been in prison for his faith and from his experiences he wrote:

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxious cares on him, because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5: 6-7

We have so much to celebrate! Tomorrow night we will go to our grandchildren’s Christmas program. Each year adds new memories. I still remember the Christmas programs that I participated in as a child.  It is a blessing to see the grandchildren singing carols  and     reciting scripture verses.

Linking with Grace & Truth,  Essential Fridays,  Titus 2sday,  Hope in Every Season,  WholeHearted WednesdayA Little R & R,  Tuesdays with a TwistInspire Me Monday,  Soul Survival,  Reflect, the Art of Homemaking and Word of God Speak

The Family is Under Attack

The school board in my town met, and the community was invited. The federal government—specifically the Office of Civil Rights— has demanded that a transgender student be given full access to female locker rooms and restrooms.

School District 211

The meeting place, a high school cafeteria,  was packed.  Seats      extended to the back wall and people were standing at both sides of the room. The meeting was intended for residents of the school district but a large contingent of the LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender) community from the surrounding towns and city of Chicago showed up. They were carrying placards and wearing stickers in support of the transgender student.

Attendees were allowed to sign up for a 3-minute speaking slot, to express their opinion to the school board. When the first three speakers were from the LGBT group a gentleman called for a point of order. He walked toward the front of the room and stated that speakers should be living in the school district. The school board president asked him to sit down or be escorted out of the room.

My heart ached  as  one transgender or adult homosexual partner   after another testified to the pain in their life. And when a teenage girl said that she had just discovered that she was bisexual, she was given a round of applause.

A doctor said that it is impossible to distinguish the gender of an individual from their anatomy. Instead there are some internal markers. Really?

Teenage girls stood up to explain their discomfort and the awkwardness of having a transgender student in the locker room when they shower and change for swimming class.

Fathers spoke up in defense of their daughters. Teenage girls have a right to privacy.

One speaker for the LGBT community said that times have changed. The standards that we once had no longer exist. It is a new age.

The air was heavy and I tried to pray.

An article titled Educating for the Kingdom by Gerhard Cardinal Müller is in the current issue of Plough. Müller writes:

Rather, education is the entrusting of a gift from one generation to the next. The older generation’s accumulated culture, learning and skills are given as an unearned gift to the younger. But this gift also carries a responsibility: the younger generation must make the gift a reality in their own lives.

Overnight I have been wrestling with thoughts about the meeting. Families are breaking down. Divorce and single parent families are common. Children are susceptible to deception. We are experiencing spiritual warfare. Images from the Lord of the Rings come to mind. Remember the black riders? They were trying to get Frodo. In place of Frodo, I could visualize them seeking to destroy the family.

Pray for families.

Pray  for  the teens that are seeing so many distorted versions of    sexuality.

Pray for wisdom, compassion and kindness in sharing the truth of God’s design of the family.   God is good, and His ways are for our   benefit.

First Snowfall

Friday night we had our first snowfall and by Saturday evening up to a foot of snow had fallen in some areas.  We had a family event,          celebrating our son-in-law’s 50th birthday. The roads were open but snow packed and icy in places. The scene was beautiful. Snow coated the trees, making a white wonderland.

First Snowfall

Will the snow last through Thanksgiving? The children would be delighted. The forecast is for warming temperatures this week.

Happy Thanksgiving to friends in the U.S. and best wishes to all!

Linking with Tuesdays with a Twist,  A Little R & R and Sue’s Wordless Wednesday

Thanksgiving and Ancient Questions

 

Thanksgiving

As Thanksgiving approaches, I am aware of so many things to be thankful for—family, church, blogging community and home.

On Thanksgiving my husband and I will have one of our daughters and her family, our son and his wife, at our home.  I have ideas for   activities for the grandchildren and a couple new recipes from fellow bloggers. I am looking forward to this day of celebration.

We will read some Bible verses together.

I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.

I will be glad and exalt in you;  I will sing praise to your name,  O Most High. Psalm 9: 1-2

God’s greatest gift to us is the offer of salvation.

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved.        Ephesians 2: 4-5

In the midst of preparations for Thanksgiving, I am aware of difficulties among extended family and suffering that is happening in many places around the world. Perhaps you see things that prick your heart.

Praise and gratitude is mixed with questions and doubt.

The Psalmist was able to give praise and thanks in one moment. And then later wonder how God allowed some things to happen.

Why, O Lord, do you stand far away? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? Psalm 10:1

There are no answers except the character of God.

The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil. Ecclesiastes 12:13

God is just and righteous.

As I give thanks, I will also pray for mercy and grace, lifting the circumstances beyond my control to the Lord.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Philippians 4: 4-6

Bible

Linking with Essential Fridays,  A Little R & R,  WholeHearted Wednesday,  Titus 2sday,  Words with Winter and Word of God Speak

Country Road with Unknown Destination

When I visit my sister in Michigan, we frequently have an adventure.

Last weekend we had both driven to a community college event.
When we left the event her car wouldn’t start. So we hooked up jumper cables from my car to her car, and after a half hour her car was running. She needed to keep the engine running so I followed her to her place of work. She had to pick up some files. She left her car running while I parked next to her car.

After another half hour we were on our way to her home. Or so
I thought. I followed her car, passing by the expressway
ramp that I thought we should take. My sister was going down
a country road that I did not recognize.

What's Our Destination?
photo credit: pixabay.com

It was a beautiful day. She kept driving and I had no idea where we were going. I thought about pulling out my cell phone, but I’m trying to avoid using the cell phone while driving.

I was a little irritated, but she’s my sister. We are family and so I just followed. We finally stopped at a cider mill. It was worth it. The cider and doughnuts were delicious. Why didn’t she tell me? She had the idea while driving. We used to go to a cider mill with our parents when we were kids.

In the bigger picture, I sometimes don’t understand the path that God has for me. Some things don’t make sense. My brother has had a     tragic struggle with mental illness over the last 47 years. His health is    fragile, and I am his guardian. It is difficult.

My son was just eight years old when he lost his battle with cancer. It doesn’t make sense now. But I believe I will see him again someday. The puzzle pieces of this life will make a complete picture in eternity.

God’s plan of salvation is woven all through the Bible. The prophecies and promises have been fulfilled, are still being fulfilled. I have seen answers to prayer. I have a relationship with Jesus. I have faith in God.

So if I can trust my sister on a puzzling drive down a country road, I can trust God with all that I encounter in this life.

Linking with Word of God SpeakWeekend WhispersThought Provoking Thursday and WholeHearted Wednesday

Hope in Chicago and at Home

For Chicago baseball fans, the Cubs are symbolic of hope. The excitement over the National league playoffs was vibrant this fall. Then four straight losses to the Mets.  Once again the refrain is wait till next year.

Chicago Cubs, Wrigley Field
Wrigley Field: Wikimedia Commons

In my garden I have many opportunities for hope. I have been      struggling with brown rot in my cherry tree. This year showed some improvement. With additional treatment will my cherries ripen      without rot? I’m looking forward to next June with hope.

Hope in the Garden

I transplanted some peonies and raspberries. Will they take well? The bulbs for three purple prince lily trees and some guinevere pink tulips went in the ground this fall. I will wait with anticipation for them to grow, looking forward to the spring.

Tulips for the Garden

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.     Hebrews 11:1

Family circumstances are a challenge. (Perhaps not more of a challenge than hoping the Chicago Cubs will win the World Series! lol)     Illness and problems that we lift in prayer through the years require trust in the Lord to sustain hope.  Maybe God gave us the seasons of the year and the seasons of life to teach us to trust Him, to illustrate hope. God has given us guidance in the Bible.

For whatever was written in former days was written for our      instruction, that through endurance and through encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.     Romans 15: 4, 13

Linking with Words with WinterSunday StillnessWeekend WhispersGrace & Truth and Faith Filled Friday