Sunday, July 31, 2016

Children's Church and Day Five Scripture Challenge

Today in Children's church I had prepared 2 Samuel 9:1-7 for the fruit of the Spirit covering kindness, but when we went to the chapel with only two youngsters, one bearing a beautiful bag stuffed with coloring books, I couldn't help myself. I decided to play on the floor coloring and drawing. Payton and Stella were the best and the kindness Stella showed to share her lovely books was a far better example that I could pull from a dry talk. The best part was that the kindness of both young women was shown to me.
In the prepared passage, King David, coming back from a remarkable victory, does the unthinkable. He searches out his opponent's grandson son and shows kindness by promising to restore the lands of his father and grant this grandson a permanent place at the King's table.
I read a book recently that used a southern vernacular in dialogue, often stating that 'it would be a great kindness,' or, 'you would show me a true kindness' by allowing a particular turn of events. It led me to consider the difference between tolerance and kindness. Tolerance requires little of a person. You may simply tune out another who disagrees with you allowing them to go their own way, but with kindness, we must interact. It is a gift, one to another. You may disagree fervently and still demonstrate kindness.
Here are my beautiful drawings from Payton and Stella. Thank you both for your kindness to me.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Something Lost, Bible Challenge Day 4

Peter Pan's Lost Boys from Disney Studios
This week my son lost his wallet. Happily there wasn't much in it, but we had to replace his driver's license. Then, last night I lost a diamond earring. It is replaceable, but I have been musing on those people and things that aren't replaceable. Jesus tells three parables of loss in Luke 15, the lost sheep, the lost coin, the lost son. The first two speak of rejoicing over the sinner who repents. The parable of the lost son, rejoices over the son returned, but moves on to instruct the one who stayed behind.
I don't like losing things, but I also don't like taking risks. This limits God's miracles in my life. I've got the bases covered, so to speak, and I can rest easy, but, in today's world we are all at risk, from terrorists to malignant souls who seek to destroy another's peace simply because the don't have the same. How much simpler to find peace and rest in God's word and in prayer than to not take risks.
Thanks for reading. BEV

Friday, July 29, 2016

Hagerman Bible Study, Priscilla Shirer, The Gift

Monday we listened to Priscilla Shirer's message entitled the Gift. She spoke from Luke 9:1-2,10-16, and the feeding of the five-thousand. This fit beautifully with Stephen's message on the feeding the five-thousand from John.
Shirer began her message with thanksgiving for those who taught her Scripture, who illuminated it for her when she was young. How delightful to be so praised. I was taught by so many, beginning with my parents and childhood friends and still today to our church and the many ministries available on the internet and in books. I am thankful that we can worship freely in this country.
She went on to marvel at the fact that there were five-thousand heads of household, but we have no idea how many children and wives were also fed. What we do know is that Jesus blessed the bread and broke it and the fish and all were fed, moreover they were satisfied.
Illustrating satisfaction, Shirer spoke of her son and the tooth fairy, how he received a gift of gummy bears and five dollars for a tooth one year. She wasn't exactly happy with the money. It was too much. A quarter or a couple of dimes would have been sufficient, but then she learned that the five dollars had come from her son's birthday money which his father had stashed away. She delighted in the turn of events, not least because, something her son had not cared about had become a new treasure. She asked how often do we stash away God's gifts without consideration, only to find later we are abundantly blessed?
Entering a segue in the message, she spoke of how the disciples were tired and seeking rest, that Jesus knew this and called them to Him for that purpose, but they ended up in a multitude with what they perceived as scarce resources. They wanted to turn the crowds away. They wanted to try and find resources in town. She asked how often we do the same with opportunities for God to show His love and generosity. We turn from difficulty and wish away the multitude. The feeding of the five-thousand was not only about the five-thousand, but more clearly about the disciples.
She said that we should endeavor to give our figurative five loaves and two fish to God so that He could magnify His blessing and our ability. She spoke to my heart when she said we never want to face a Red Sea, nevertheless, God calls us into the deep water with Him. We accept that, in our hands, the five loaves and two fish are not enough, but in God's it is all sufficient according to His purposes.
As I said in my last post, how big is our God?
Thank you for reading. BEV

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Sunday's Message Thursday, The fragrance of Jesus

Preaching Sunday from John 6:1-13 and from 2 Corinthians 9:6-5, Stephen opened with a great image; that of a baby being passed around. I remembered one such dinner not long after my son was born, our family celebrated my niece's graduation. My son was handed from aunt to aunt to grandmother. When he returned I could smell several fragrances pleasantly clinging to his Onesie. Similarly, Stephen explained, we ought to have the fragrance of Jesus. We would be close to Him, and we would be held by Him in order to share his scent.
One of the fragrances of God is generosity, Stephen went on to say. I can see how this is true. The word implies magnanimity and abundance. God is abundant in grace and love. The question I ask myself is; am I generous in any form? What does that look like? How do I share the fragrance of Jesus?
A similar word, charity is listed as a fruit of the Spirit in some translations of the Bible. In charity I think of willingness to give, and a heart for God. My father used to say of me that I wasn't just frugal, I was hermetically sealed. He meant it as a compliment and I still see it that way, but perish the thought of having a Spirit that is hermetically sealed. It would shortly wither and die.
Continuing the theme of generosity and abundance, Stephen spoke of John 6 and the feeding of the five-thousand. He noted how Jesus tested the disciples by asking where are we to buy bread that these people may eat. I was struck with the notion of a twinkle in Jesus' eye as He asked the question. Where indeed? The disciples turned to town for the answer, not pausing to consider Jesus. I wonder how often I turn to town in need. When I'm spiritually hungry or tired, I seek solace in a story or entertainment. It begs the question, how big is my God?

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Hagerman Bible Study, Priscilla Shrirer, The Armor of God

 This week in Bible Study we listened to  Priscilla Shirer's the Armor of God. She began with prayer, acknowledging that the God of the universe would let us hear from Him. She went on to tell of a black woman entering a convenience store in Dallas after the recent violence killed five police officers in that city. In the front of the store, two white male officers chatted with a white female clerk. Their conversation stopped when the black woman walked in. Eventually, one of the police officers asked how the customer was doing. She replied that she was fine, but the officer looked closely at the woman and asked, "no really, how are you?" She responded that she was tired. He said that he was tired also, then went on to remark that he guessed it wasn't easy being either of them. Then he hugged her. The woman was moved enough to post the incident.
As I listened to Priscilla Shirer, I thought how true that must be for so many of us. When I visited Dallas last week I noticed faces, black, white and Hispanic. As a older, tall, white woman with a face so wholesome it could possibly sell bread and not much else, I was nervous, not wanting to stand out. I was worried for the city, and wanted so strongly to reach out tired hands if just to hold another's. But I noticed in the city, a calm peace. People spoke. Not everyone was friendly, but guards were down. People met each other, not so much in difference, but in awe of their lives. It was Texas after all.
Shirer spoke about the invisible enemy, the one we can't see who is banking on us forgetting him. We concern ourselves with what we can see, the tangible hurts and fears. We strike out against what we know, forgetting our anger and fear are tools of the enemy. She said our culture and country are under attack, but so are our homes and businesses and that while we turn our attention to the tangible, we waste all of our time and energy offering the wrong solutions in the wrong places. I couldn't help but think how often my anger stems from old hurts that I want to fix. I want revenge or to put things right, but especially to put things, and even people, in their place. I forget God, that I am loved by Him, I am forgiven and held safe in His hold.
She went on to say that God has given us His armor for the war against His enemy. Speaking from Ephesians 6:10-18, Shirer talked about the whole armor of God that we, the Church, can stand firm as gate keepers, not by our strength, but by God's power. She spoke of how Paul spends the first chapters of Ephesians telling us who we are in the eyes of God, of His bigness in choosing us so that later in Ephesians we can stand strong wearing the armor of God. She goes through the pieces of armor, the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the Gospel of peace on your feet, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. She added also prayer, because that is how we may live in the abundance of our God.
Referencing Isaiah 59:15-17, she spoke of God's armor and how God used it against an unfaithful Israel, and that we are like Israel. We live in an unrepentant culture that wants to replace lies for truth and take our focus from God in order that we may live according to our standards rather than His. But God gave us His very armor, that sin and deceit will not win. She said God doesn't ride on the backs of donkeys or elephants, pointing to the current political battle. She said, "God did not come to take sides. He came to take over." She spoke of the Bible as the compass for your life, that it's not always a popular stand, but it is the only stand.
This message spoke to my heart. Thank you Priscilla Shirer.
Thank you for reading. More later. BEV

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Children's Church, PEACE, Session 4 of the Fruit of the Spirit

The Fruit of the Spirit
Galatians 5: 22-23But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self‑control; against such things there is no law.
Session Four
Let's open in song

I like bananas, I know that mangoes are sweet
I like papayas (PAPAYAS!), but nothing can beat
The sweet love of God

I was walking round in circles five miles an hour
Tryin' to find my way back to the Heavenly Father
The world tasted sweet, but soon it turned sour
And then I asked Him in and received His power (1,2,3!)

You can search for the tropics to find a fruit that's new
You can swim in the ocean, until your face turns blue
But look no further, I'll tell you what to do
Just open your bible to Galatians 5:22

The fruit of the spirit, from love to self‑control
If you plant it in your heart it'll strengthen your soul
So guard your fruit for also we are told
That you fruit will rot if it's left out in the cold (1,2,3!)
CHORUS Thank you DLTK for the song

Philippians 4:4-9 begins rejoice in the the Lord always.
What things keep you from rejoicing? How can we switch our focus from those things to the list Paul gives us: true, right, noble, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy? Can you give any examples of these?
Let's pray
Dear God most high, hear and bless
Thy beasts and singing birds
And guard with tenderness
Small things that have no words.
Let's sing 

Final prayer

Lord may we be Your children. May we know the joy of Your salvation. Thank you for our parents, teachers and care givers. Thank you for our country. Be with us this week. Amen.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Book Review, The Abbey by James Martin, SJ

The Abbey is James Martin's first work of fiction, and it's my first time reading his books. One reviewer suggested an actual story was missing. I chuckled. I enjoyed the book even without much story.
Martin switches points of view between three protagonists, a divorced single mom struggling with the death of her young son, a former architect whose career is in shambles, and the Abbot of Saint Philip and James, otherwise known as PB & J. The book reads more as three intertwined short stories of faith and healing. The characters interact to weave a story that the reader pieces together without the characters much realizing the whole.
Set in an abbey, the PB & J Abbey that rightly makes jam, reading the descriptions and following the author through the halls, placed me firmly in the location, a location reserved for prayer study, work and devotion. The monks make jam. I like jam. The monks work hard and pray harder. This delights me even as I write.
The villain of the book is scarcely actualized. He/she/it comes from within each character. For the single mom, it's her own grief that turned to bitterness, for the young architect it's his appetites, and for the Abbot it's occasional regrets and nostalgia for the outside world.
While The Abbey might be more accurately described as a novella I enjoyed it mostly for the love Martin clearly demonstrated for his fictional flock. He doesn't force them into a sudden acceptance of Christ. Instead he nudges, suggests prays and they do what people do, they muddle around, get lost, rage, stumble, pray and wonder.
Read this book for the setting. Read this book for an experience of being part of a cherished flock.
Thank you for reading. BEV
Also posted at and Goodreads and reblogged to 

Friday, July 8, 2016

Hagerman Bible Study, Prayer Hats Prayer Hearts

I tell the kiddos in Children's Church to make prayer hats and prayer hearts before we pray. It serves to settle their attention, at least sometimes. We form our prayer hands over our heads as a hat pointing to Heaven, then settle them at our hearts, focusing our love on God. As I listened to Bill Hybels message from Luke 11 and Matthew 6, I couldn't help, but think about young ones praying with their hats and hearts and why older ones stop the practice.
When I was very young, I prayed for simple problems to be fixed, often unconcerned with the outcome as my world changed from day to day. I prayed memorized-prayers at night and before meals and turned every difficulty over to God. As I grew older, I looked for results and usually found them, but my prayer life slowly diminished over time until I married and had a son. That's when I learned a new meaning of prayer.
Hybel's message began with the disciples asking the Lord to teach them how to pray. They saw something they wanted in watching Jesus relate to The Father. I too have prayed with people who have a strong, active prayer life. I come away touched, moved to strengthen my own relationship to God.
Hybel gave several reasons why our prayer life might diminish: lack of consistency, clinging to sin, and disillusionment with God. He says that life gets in the way, or maybe we don't want to confront our disobedience, or maybe we've prayed for something we believe God would want, but it hasn't happened. The example he used was of a mother finally accepting Christ after twenty years of prayers from a daughter for it to happen. The daughter almost gave up more than once.
Hybel interspersed the sermon with several ways to keep our prayer-lives from suffering with the highs and lows of day to day. He says to pick a time, a place, pray in private, and be honest with God avoiding vain repetitions.
I'll close here with one of Hybel's statements that took my breath away. "You have no idea how much your conversation means to God. ... Every time we pray it's the same thing. God says, 'Before you go any further, it's great just to hear your voice.'"
Our prayers go out today to the Dallas Police Department and the City of Dallas.
Thank you for reading. Thank you for praying.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Sunday's Message by Thursday, Small Rivers, Big Requests

Jordan River courtesy of
Sunday, Stephen spoke from 2 Kings 5:1-14. In this passage, the powerful Syrian military commander, Naaman, seeks healing from leprosy. He takes a letter from his king to the King of Israel along with gold and silver. The King of Israel thinks Naaman is looking for an argument and Israel's king despairs, only Elisha the prophet sends word that Naaman should come to Elisha so that he will know there is a prophet in Israel.
Elisha tells Naaman to bathe seven times in the Jordon. He doesn't even meet with the powerful commander, but sends a messenger.
Naaman pitches a fit. I'm not sure if I would have reacted any differently. I'd want to meet this prophet and see how he'd worked. Lights, clouds of smoke, big wind, none of that happens, just a message to take a certain simple action.
As I listened to this passage again, it struck me, not so much what I would have done, but how I obey any instruction. The first thing I do is question the instruction, and anyone in this day and age is probably wise to do so. Does it make sense? Can I take this action? I don't believe God asks us not to question, but I do know He asks us to test our actions against the prompting of the Holy Spirit, and when we doubt our ability to discern the Holy Spirit, we have Scripture, the full word of God.
Stephen paired the passage in 2 Kings to Psalm 23, which gives us confidence as we walk with the Spirit.
Here are some final few words. I was struck not at Naaman's fit, but at his willingness to first seek healing from another nation and then to obey someone he hadn't even met. He had to have opened his heart. He had to have listened for God. I hope that I too, listen for God.
Let me sign off with this passage from Isaiah 1:16-20. Thanks for reading.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Book Review, Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine

The sequel to Ink and Bone titled, Paper and Fire, comes out this week, so I thought a review might be timely.
Some have likened Ink and Bone to Harry Potter meets the Book Thief and even Hunger Games. I see the similarities, but I’m not quite there. I think Ink and Bone stands as a fresh approach, but lacking Rowling’s whimsy and magic or Zusak’s narrative voice, or Collins’ terse strength. I haven’t finished reading the Book Thief yet, so I may revise these comments later. I read some reviews of Ink and Bone that didn’t care for the opening, but I thought it dropped me into Rachel Caine’s novel in a compelling way and led me straight to the pivotal scene with the ink licker.
Usually, I quibble with a book about books, but this one worked well. It is a ‘what if’ fantasy that asks what if the Library of Alexandria never burned. What if the knowledge contained in the library served as the world’s currency and ownership of books containing that knowledge was forbidden? The world’s law and government are ordered through the Library and the Library watches and records every person’s life through electronic journals. Those who choose to abandon their journals and fight against the control of the library are branded heretics and burners often electing to set themselves and their journals on fire in a bid for the ultimate freedom of death.
The main character, Jess Brightwell, is the son of a book smuggler. Due to his father’s business, Jess has held and read many rare books and has an uncanny sense about them. Rather than follow in the family trade, Jess successfully tests and receives a berth at the Library’s training facility in Alexandria. Enter the school setting and the similarities with Harry Potter and a thousand other fantasies. This school tests many skills while imagining Alexandria in 2025 as the seat of global power with its library still intact and the people of the Library: Scholars, Guarda and Obscurists as legislators, law enforcement, imprisoned magical minorities who preserve absolute dominion of the Library.
I agree with one reviewer who noted that the story breaks down when we learn that all people have access to all books through their electronic journal. I did wonder what difference it would make if all written work was available electronically to all mankind. Only a single study was banned and removed from access; that being the repeated invention of the printing press. I liked the idea, but a more in depth look, something beyond the nature of light YA science-fiction fantasy, would probably ruin the story making it too cumbersome.

This brings me to my final pint (oh oops, perish the thought of a final pint) point. Rachel Caine does go the extra mile, so to speak in studying the effects of the printing press through the historical notes at the beginning of the chapter. These are rightly called Ephemera from the Greek meaning not intended to last the day, something not meant to be retained or preserved and definitely not preserved in the codex. In these we learn backstory and history and family connections. We read coded messages and learn the history of the resolute printing press, and its connection to major characters in the book, we also read of the corruptible nature of power in the twisted logic of the Library’s elite. Because of the Ephemera, I consider the book a bigger work and would re-read it. These notes in the front of the chapters cause me to think of politics over lives, worldly treasures over love, and re-writing history over truth. It’s a keeper. 
Thank you for reading and thank you, Rachel Caine, for writing.
Also posted on, Goodreads and writingroguesrant.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Hagerman Bible Study, Waiting on God

Monday we listened to John Ortberg's Waiting on God. He first spoke about people not liking to wait. We don't like waiting in line at a tollbooth. We don't like waiting at a doctors office.
Using Romans 8:23-24 Ortberg went on to develop the theme of waiting as the destiny of Christians and the hardest work of hope.
The nation of Israel waited for the Messiah, but few recognized Him. Anna and Simeon in Luke 2:25-38 identified Jesus as the Messiah, Simeon even remarking, “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace.”
Ortberg establishes that waiting is part of the process of becoming what God wants us to be, and that Biblical waiting is active rather than passive. It requires three things: patient trust, confident humility, and inextinguishable hope.
We talked among ourselves about being frantic and worrying. Amy mentioned that God is never frantic. I've reflected on this many times throughout the week. As a worrier, this understanding helps me discern God's voice from a host of chatter.
Ortberg finished with a discussion of Isaiah 40:30-31 speaking directly to me it seemed. He said some of us who wait on the Lord will soar, some of us will run and not grow weary, but some of us will simply walk and not be faint. Today I walk. Maybe tomorrow I will run, but today I walk.