Thursday, April 22, 2010

Earth Day, Every Day (by Judy)

Earth Day 2010. I have been involved with some wonderful planning at the school where I work. Today 500 children are assisting in the planting of beautiful flowering pear trees and stalwart pines . Earlier in the week a team of art majors from Akron U came and helped the kids silk-screen student-designed logos on recycled t-shirts they brought in. Middle schoolers are heading out to clean up a winter’s debris from the Cuyahoga River banks and National Park trails. Every child has written a poem about nature on a green, leaflike file card which has been affixed to “poet-trees” hanging around the school.

Then this morning I woke up to my favorite Christian radio station where a commentator was troubled about Americans who have made worship of the earth their alternative religion and Earth Day their holiday observance. My heart sank. After all, God has entrusted us with this planet fashioned by His hands: Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth’” (Genesis 1:26).

I guess as always it is a matter of perspective and balance. When I see the beauty of a sunset, the wonder of a galaxy, the intricacy of a spider web, and sweetness of a newborn’s face, I do pause in worship. I worship the Creator who displays all of nature for our pleasure, and who put the capacity to appreciate His masterful works in each of our hearts. In tandem with those gifts from a Lord worthy of worship, I believe that He has presented us with an important task of stewardship which we must handle responsibly. It is way beyond politics or personal preference. It is a holy command. Finally, I believe that God’s awesome presence in the natural world is one of the most compelling arguments for His existence!

We Christians are eyewitnesses, and we are caretakers. I read this line in an article this morning: God underwrites and sponsors Earth Day, every day, and signs his work. If I were fortunate enough to have a painting of a beautiful Provencal landscape signed by Claude Monet, I would do several things. I would protect it, I would enjoy it, and I would share it with others. How can my response to God’s masterpiece be any less?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Shhhhh ( by Carolyn)

This blog came out of no where. I sat down with my computer ready to write about another subject, and suddenly I heard a gentle, "Shhhh." I listened. It was very quiet. I thought about God's whisper to Elijah at Horeb. Elijah had just won a stupendous victory by God's strength over the powerful priests of Baal. As a result,through passionate prayer he saw his beloved Israel turn back to faith in God.

Then Queen Jezebel threatened him and he ran like crazy for an entire day stopping only to pray to die. He traveled 40 days and 40 nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God where he stumbled into a cave. What happened?

Sometimes, after a great spiritual victory the evil one attacks with a ferocity unusual even for him. He knows when we are most vulnerable. He knows when we are exhausted. He knows when we doubt. Did doubts of God's love fill Elijah's soul?

When that word, "doubt" entered my mind it reminded me of the one and only love letter my husband ever gave me. He didn't send it. He gave it to me for Valentine's Day back in 1968. I never looked it up, but I'm pretty certain my husband, who is way more engineer than poet, didn't write it. But...he figured it would work!

Doubt the stars are fire;
Doubt that the sun doth move;
Doubt truth to be a liar;
But never doubt my love

O, dear one I am ill at these numbers
I have not art to reckon my groans;
but I love thee best, O most best, believe it.

I believed it! My dear husband, through these simple verses, and of course, a number of other things, persuaded me of his true love.

And God persuaded Elijah! Poor Elijah. He was at the end of his rope. He was feeling alone and horribly sorry for himself. Did God rebuke him for his lack of faith? No. Did he tell him his doubts were sinful? No. Did he reprimand him for forgetting how much God loved him in the past? No.

He told Elijah, "'Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.' A great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire.. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 'What are you doing here, Elijah?'"

Elijah was not alone! GOD WAS WITH HIM! God spoke to him telling him He would triumph. He gave him Elisha so he would have a brother, friend and companion. He gave Elijah new work to do and told him to get busy!

Never, ever doubt God's love for you. He will always love you. He will triumph through you. He will be with you and you and you and you...always. "Shhhh." Are you listening?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Walk Uphill (by Judy)

A friend’s brother has begun training for an ultramarathon. Though there appears to be no standard length for such a test of endurance, it seems agreed that it is anything longer than a marathon (26.2 miles). Even contemplating such a challenge makes me gasp for breath and have wobbly knees. I asked my friend how his brother could possibly get through, and my friend’s answer was succinct – “Walk up hill.”

That sage counsel took me back a couple of weeks when I joined my hiking group in Sedona for our 15th spring break adventure. Though we five are older of course, we praise God every year for the continuing gift of good health, eager anticipation, and enough cash in our accounts to cover the annual cost. That is, until we were several hours into our first hike. Spirits flagged on this first outing of the trip, which turned out to be a 10-miler over rock-strewn paths and a steady ascents and descents and shrinking water supplies. The car park seemed an infinite distance away. We even considered the possibility that our hiking days were over.

Shame on us! At least on me!! Had I so quickly forgotten my favorite verse in the Bible - a promise from my Father? But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint. I forgot about waiting upon the Lord, and about walking uphill, one step at a time.

In today’s Plain Dealer, thoughtful columnist Regina Brett said it another way: “The headlights on my car shine 350 feet, but even with that much light, I can travel all the way to California. I need to see only enough light to get moving.” That reminds me of another Bible verse, one I learned as a child in the King James version: Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. Nuf said. I am ready to join my friends next spring break, (as my earthly father always said), “God willing and the creek don’t rise!”

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Precious and Few (by Carolyn)

"Precious and few are the moments we two can share.
Quiet and blue like the sky I'm hung over you.
And if I can't find my way back home, just wouldn't be fair
Cause precious and few are the moments we two can share.

Baby it's you on my mind, your love is so rare
Being with you is a feeling I just can't compare
And if I can't hold you in my arms, just wouldn't be fair
Cause precious and few are the moments we two can share."

That popular song of the early 70's by Climax came to mind last week when a friend asked me why I always run home leaving our girlfriend gatherings early. I was caught in an apparent contradiction. When I arrived I expressed frustration that my husband surprised me and came home that night instead of going on a planned, overnight, work related trip. As I tried to explain, they assumed he insisted I be there, but that wasn't true. I wanted to be there with him. I wanted to go home. I realized nobody, but another Christian sister understood. I could see feathers ruffle as friends thought I did my husband's bidding.

My marriage and my husband are very precious to me, as are my friends!

Over the next few days I thought a lot about it. What are my priorities? Have I got them in proper order? What is the proper order and why?

Jesus first. He comes first in my life, but how do I show Him that? When do I show Him? Do I really love Him with "all my heart, all my soul and all my mind"? No. I confess I do not, but I ought! I must trust Him to keep me faithful to Him first, for "He will never leave me, or forsake me." Others, including my husband, may not be with me until the end. Jesus will be, even though I am, at times, unfaithful and unloving. I trust Him to keep me. "And I know Whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able, to keep that which I've committed unto Him against that day!" "Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep." He is the Keeper of my faith, my body and my soul!

This life is fleeting and oh, so temporary. Every moment is precious and altogether too few. So, as Jesus says, "As long as Today is called Today" there is still time to show my love to Him, to my husband, my children, my family, friends and neighbors. May God help me to understand and make the most of the time left. May I make much of Jesus as often as I can and show and share His love as long as I have breath. If I do that, I can trust Him with my priorities!