Sunday Morning Coffee: Give Thanks

Since it IS November, I thought today would be a good day to talk about what we have for which to be thankful.

In no particular order of importance, but just as tings come to mind:

Beautiful weather. It’s another blue-sky fall day, with color in the trees. Now and then a flock of birds swoops down into one of those trees, and in just a few minutes they all take off again. I don’t know what they’re chatting about while they sit there, but they sure are chirping up a storm!

Improvement in my pain levels: The physical therapy is helping, along with the insoles I bought from a place called barefootscience.com. If you have plantar fasciitis, you should go online and look at their product. A friend told me about it, and the change is amazing! My back is holding up well since my last round of steroid injection 6 weeks back, maybe a little longer. I am beyond thankful for that treatment. I know the condition can’t be cured, but it certainly can be relieved!

Dying is gain: I just heard about the homegoing of one of our old saints. I know she was past 90, but I’m not sure how far past 90 she was. Doesn’t matter now, because, as Paul said, “For me to live is Christ, but to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21). She is home with the Lord, and I’m happy for her. Her husband is in the hospital struggling with Covid, so we’re still praying for him.

Christmas music: I haven’t had it on all day, although I could have because Terry was gone most of the day. But I treated myself to one song this afternoon, from Handel’s Messiah–the Hallelujah Chorus. I could hear that one every day of the year and never get tired of it.

Shopping online:I will not spend hours and hours in crowded stores. I don’t like to shop, never have. My mother did. She loved browsing through all kinds of things, but it bored me to death. I want to go in to a store, find what I want, pay, and leave. Boom. Done. You can do that online. I finished my Christmas shopping today :). And by the way, Black Friday should be banned forever from the face of the earth. I will NEVER get up in the dark to save money on something. EVER. Fighting hoards of people who all want the same whateverispopularthisyear. Ick.

Good food: I know, this one seems kind of “out there,” but I took a corned beef out of the freezer this morning and put it in my crockpot. We’ll have potatoes and veggies with it. It smells delicious, and it will give us maybe three meals. There are people around the world who have never eaten as well as we will in about half an hour. We are blessed.

My Bible, Prayer, My Church: did you think I would overlook those things? Not likely :). Without my Bible I would not be able to enjoy the time I spend daily reading the Word of God. Prayer keeps me connected to Him; and my church keeps me connected to other like-minded believers.

And that’s my short list for today. I hope. you, too, have much for which to be thankful today.

Sunday Morning Coffee: Sneak Attack

I’m home this morning. Didn’t want to be, or expect to be. Got up from my chair last night to toddle off to bed, and found that I could just barely toddle. Couldn’t stand upright. The pain was surprising, unexpected, sharp and persistent. Terry had to help me get into bed. My wonderful, magical adjustable bed that allowed me a fairly comfortable night’s sleep. But I’ve been up for a bit, and I already know that going back to bed is my best option.

I looked for an image of a sneak attack, and this is the only one I found that isn’t just completely weird. I’m far removed from the kinds of comics and video games out there for kids these days, and they are certainly not the cute, innocent, fun cartoons of my childhood. Apparently “Sneak Attack” is a very popular comic or game or book–something. The illustrations are weird. I didn’t take the time to look closely, because it wasn’t at all what I was looking for. I just wanted a funny guy in a black mask tip-toeing up behind his unsuspecting victim, like Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd 🙂

Well, I found the two guys above, and that says what I wanted it to. Complete surprise attack.

Okay, Linda, so how are you going to make a spiritual application today?

I have to admit, I’ve had to struggle withe the WHY ME, WHY NOW. The answers are not easy to accept. What I really want is for the pain to just go away and not come back. That’s not likely to happen in this life, unless someone comes up with some amazing new surgical procedure that replaces my crumbly bones and fixes my osteoporosis and degenerative bone disease/stenosis. It’s a nasty little cocktail of pain, and I’d much rather not have it.

But God. But God is one of my favorite phrases in the Bible. It shows up quite often. Usually when the situation is dire, and there’s nothing else to do but turn to Him. It is the moment in which we acknowledge our own inability and humbly ask Him to intervene. Sometimes it’s just “Help, Lord!” And sometimes, His answer is as clear as, “Be still. You know what to do. Go take your pain medication, your muscle relaxer, and your anti-inflammatory. Rub in some of that topical pain relief you use, and go to bed. Allow yourself to relax. Use the vibration feature on your mattress. Terry will help you. Claim all the verses you’ve memorized about fear, trust, and how to think biblically. Then allow the music in your head to relax you so you can sleep. We’ve been through this before. You know what to do!”

As I listened to that still, small voice and my spirit calmed, I did grab my go-to verses, like Psalm 119:165. There are many more. If you’ve been with me for any length of time, you know that there’s always music in my head appropriate for the situation.

The first song that came to mind last night was one I hadn’t though of in many, many years. It is a song my mother loved:

Sunday Morning Coffee: Weariness of the Spirit

“Good grief,” you may be thinking. This one sounds like a downer!”

I’ll try not to make it that way.

Haven’t there been times when it was just hard for you to consider one more day, one more hour, one more minute? When you’ve wanted to head for the hills, build a shelter invisible from the world, and just hide there alone with an endless stack of good books and your choice of coffee, tea, or water?

Honestly, I’m feeling a little bit like that right this minute. I didn’t even scan my Facebook newsfeed yet, because I’m tired of politics and I know there will be some. I’m tired of Covid and “get the shots-don’t get the shots.” I’m just tired of man’s unkindness to man, even in Christian circles where we ought to know better.

Truth is, it’s just about impossible to hide forever in this world if techno-spying. Sometimes I feel like this funny guy:

But there is a hiding place! Tons of music floods my mind when I think about hiding in the loving arms of God, the best place I know to find shelter, peace, refuge, rest, restoration, and spiritual renewal.

If you, like me, are feeling a need for a safe haven, take heart. Jesus is just a prayer away. And maybe you do need to just check out of life for an hour, or a day, or whatever you can manage. Even Jesus had to get away from the people, go up into a high mountain or across to the other side of the lake, or take a nap in a boat during a wild storm. He understands.

Sunday Morning Coffee: Music

Yesterday I just needed to hear some of the wonderful old hymns I grew up singing, and still know by heart. So I found A Gaither Homecoming Video that was an old-fashioned hymn sing, and I sang right along with it until my creaky cracky old voice gave out.

What a wonderful lift of the spirit it was! Brings me to tears every single time. Wonderful memories, especially when I could still sing for hours and never wear out. I learned to harmonize when I was very young and didn’t really know what I was doing, just following what my ear told me to do, liking the way it sounded.

One of the things I enjoyed about the video I watched was that all the old people who have gone on to heaven are in it. They sang with such joy! Of course, I also love the gospel-style piano. There are so many incredibly gifted pianist who play for the various groups, and I could listen all day.

I’m so thankful for music. It lifts my mood, blesses my heart, gets my mind off all the political mess going on out there. It turns my heart back to the Creator of music instead of the creators of the mess we’re in, and that’s always a good change 🙂 Enjoy the video, please. There are lots more available on You Tube.

Sunday Morning Coffee: Back to Church!

There are some who have continued to attend church during the lockdown. Kudos to them! One of the pleasures of living in America is that we have the right to choose, isn’t it? A church in California chose to meet on Easter Sunday, but some neighbors found that offensive and frightening, thinking there may be a spread of COVID 19. So they burned the church to the ground, As far as I know, no one was in the building. Still, it is disturbing to me that such an action would be taken in this land of the free and home of the brave.

I have many other thoughts concerning the violence and hatred we have witnessed over the past several days. It breaks my heart. There is so much more going on than we know. But you can read about all that on conservative websites that give coverage to issues the mainstreamers ignore. But that’s not my point in this post.

Our church will have a morning service today for the first time since early March. We have “done church” (where did that expression come from, anyway?) via the internet, and we’re thankful for the encouraging music and messages we heard over the past few weeks.

It’s just not the same, though, as meeting together in person with other believers who share our faith, and have become dear friends. One of the reasons we go to church, after all, is for fellowship and encouragement. We bless each other with our mutual love of the Lord and the Word of God. The music we sing together also brings us together. The harmony is more than just in the notes. There is a harmony of spirit. I’m looking forward to it.

Sunday Morning Coffee: Changes

We have a dogwood tree in our front yard that I can see from “my” chair in the living room. Its leaves have almost all changed from green to orange just in this past week. When we drive to church this morning I know we’ll see evidence of the coming season all along the way. I keep hanging onto the fact that we have about a week until summer is officially over, but the blending of one season into another is undeniable.

I do love fall. Here in my corner of PA, it’s almost always temperate. The humidity in the air goes away, and we are left with crystalline color that simply takes one’s breath away. The mosquitoes turn tail and fly to warmer places; I hope they die there before they can reproduce 🙂 Warm days, cool nights, great for cuddling under a puffy comforter.

People are starting to talk about pumpkin spice lattes, although I have to say they’re not my personal favorite. Too sweet. But the roadside farm market stands are chock full of corn, tomatoes, and pumpkins already.

Friends posted pictures of going apple-picking yesterday, so there will be lots of applesauce, apple butter, and apple pie in kitchens all over this area. The bounty of the harvest is always exciting. Out in Amish country, you can stop at just about every farm and sample the delicious apple cider; fruits and vegetables overflow the market tables.

Fall lasts a long time here. We don’t have winter really setting in until after the New Year, usually. Growing up, I was disappointed if it hadn’t snowed by Thanksgiving. Now, I’m thankful that it almost never snows that early 🙂

Something else we see in abundance: Yard sales, garage sales, neighborhood sales. We seem inclined to get rid of stuff, maybe in anticipation of the glut of Christmas that the stores are already promoting. If you love yard sales, you’d love living here right now!

Looking at all of it brings music to my mind. No surprise there–I almost always have music running in my head. This morning? “Come, Ye Thankful People, Come!”

Sunday Morning Coffee:Christmas has Begun

I officially played my first Christmas CD this afternoon.  I know, I know. CD’s are old school. That’s okay, I have a very nice collection and I  just don’t have it in me to upload all of them so I can play them over my computer.

Anyway, I always wait until Thanksgiving is over before I get out my Christmas music.  I look forward to that every year.  Terry surprised me by bringing our Christmas tree up from the basement.  It’s waiting for the decorations now, which we’re planning to do Thursday evening when my daughter and her family come up to help us. I’m looking forward to that.

This is the same tree, with a lot of the same decorations, that our family has used for over 25 years. Some of the decorations go all the way back to our first Christmas, nearly 50 years ago. And some are new, only a year old, given to us by a relative of my daughter-in-law Maria.  After nearly fifty years of marriage, that’s what you have–a beloved collection of the old and the new.

I love the Christmas story in Luke 2.  Hearing it repeatedly over the years has not made it dull, but more wonderful each year.

Luke 2

 

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.

(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.

18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

Actually, I have it by memory.  I remember learning it for a church Christmas program when I was eight. I think it’s one of the most beautiful passages in God’s Word. Like our decorations, this passage takes on a patina over time, and just becomes more precious as the years go by.

I want you to know that, even if you’ve never commented on a post here, your faithfulness in reading for over six years has been a huge blessing to me.  Some of you have become Facebook friends, and we’ve gotten to know each other a little that way.

I won’t be in church tomorrow, because of the increasing pain in my back. I get the next injection this Thursday.  Please pray with me that this one will act like a booster to strengthen the first one.  It would be so nice if this holiday season could be free of pain.

So–best wishes to all of you as we begin this Christmas season.  May it be the best ever. If you would like to share a prayer request or blessing here in the comments, please feel free to do so this month.  Please keep them brief. We don’t need lots of detail.  Just give us your first name, and a short summary of the problem or the blessing.  I’d love to hear from you.

Wisdom

Proverbs 12:8

A man shall be commended according to his wisdom: but he that is of a perverse heart shall be despised.

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Image result for He that is of a perverse heart shall be despised

Notice that the first part of this verse says a man will be praised, honored, respected not because of his IQ or his store of knowledge, but according to his wisdom.  The book of Proverbs has a lot to say about the importance of wisdom. So, if it’s not intelligence, then what is it?

Proverbs 14:1 says,  “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.”  It is not wise to reject God.  It is, in fact, foolish, showing a lack of understanding and a spirit that is perverse.  In fact, the man who disclaims God  is corrupt, having done abominable works. There is no one that does good apart from God.

The acknowledgement of God is the beginning of wisdom  (Psalm 111:10).

But the person who has a perverse heart will be despised, scorned, rejected.

Perverse: Turned away from what is right or good.   A person with a perverse heart, a perverse spirit, is one who lacks wisdom.  He is obstinate:  Not open to reproof, hard-hearted, stubborn and unyielding.

The perverse person is reprobate: From Latin reprobat- ‘disapproved,’ from the verb reprobare, from re- (expressing reversal) + probare ‘approve.’  He is reversed from approval–that is, he has turned his back on that which is good, right, moral, godly.

He  does not care who is hurt by his hard heart, his stubborn attitude.  He cares only about getting what he wants, the way he wants it.

Finally, Proverbs 13:15 says, “Good understanding giveth favour: but the way of transgressors is hard.”

Good understanding is wisdom.  The wise person will gain favor.  But the way, or path, of the transgressor is difficult, rocky, thorny, full of pitfalls.

Wisdom comes with godliness.  Godliness comes with humility, teachability, and obedience to God.

Stay in the Word.  Gain wisdom.

 

Sunday Morning Coffee: Back to Normal

Well, things have gone back to normal for a while.  Mike and family left to visit relatives in Mifflinburg on Thursday morning.  We spent Independence Day with them along with another couple who have been friends for years.  Great fellowship, great food, and the beginning of my eighth decade of life 🙂  Being born on the Fourth of July is pretty cool, actually.

Toward the end of the day we spent some time around the piano. Mike wanted to record a song, and I played for him. If you’d like to see it, you have to follow this link:  You have to click on the words “Watch on Facebook-Learn More.” You may need to double-click. If it doesn’t work, you can try going to my Facebook page.

Anyway, we sang for nearly an hour.  I don’t play the piano much these days, but we had a good time in spite of my rusty fingers. I love singing in harmony.  Mikes wife has a pretty soprano voice, but is also comfortable as an alto.  Margie, the other member of our impromptu quartet, can also sing just about any part.  Lots of fun.

The music that brings us together is sacred music, some from a hymnal and some from our memories.  I used to sing in a trio with Margie years ago, so we’re very comfortable singing together.  I’ve also sung with Mike and Janan. It was fun  to  get into that groove again.

The music we all love tends to have a Southern gospel feel to it.  Not  honky-tonk, but  classic gospel. Songs we’ve sung for years and years. They’re songs about God, about His love for us, about His mercy and grace.

I’m so thankful for the music in my life that dwells on  my Savior.  There is always music in my head, and usually it’s music that reflects my faith journey.  Music can be a great comfort, a source of enjoyment and relaxation, a call to service, or a call to prayer. I’m looking forward to the music at church tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

Sunday Morning Coffee: Music

Christmas before last, my daughter and son-in-law gave me an Amazon Echo Dot for Christmas.  I had no idea what I was looking at–they had to tell me 🙂

Some weeks later, a friend told me about Abiding Faith radio, which I could get with an app on my smart phone called “Tune-in.”  I could connect the app to my Echo and play beautiful sacred music all day, with no advertisements.

Right now I’m listening to some violins lifting up my heart with the old song “It is Well With My Soul.”  I’ve decided I want Wentley Phipps to sing it at my funeral 🙂  And I want someone to sing “Just Think of Stepping on Shore and Finding it Heaven.”

I can’t think of anything better than to be carried into heaven on waves of beautiful music. One of the things I look forward to most is the heavenly music I’ll be able to take part in.  My hands won’t be stiff with age and arthritis.  My voice will be clear and strong again. It’s going to be SO much fun!

I believe God is a musical being.  He created music, after all.  He created our vocal chords.  He gave us the gifts of singing, of playing instruments, of hearing harmonies and joining our voices together in song.  He created the morning stars that all sing together (Job 38:7). He tells us in Ephesians 5 that we are to sing psalms, and hymns and spiritual songs, making music in our hearts.  I can’t wait to hear God sing. The very idea brings tears to my eyes. What a day that will be!