Tuesday, May 31, 2016

I Thought I would post the Children's Church study. I apologize in advance if it doesn't translate well. We have begun a new study in the Fruits of the Spirit. I hope to post them each week.

Children’s Church
Dexter First Presbyterian Church
May 29, 2016

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 One
Who is My Neighbor?

We find the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians. The Apostle Paul, writing to the church in Galatia, speaks of it in chapter 5 distinguishing between the fruit, or product of the flesh, that is to say ourselves and our own undisciplined appetites, and the product of the Holy Spirit living in us.

Here’s a fruity song for our study
Papaya Song (I Like Bananas)
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!)

Thanks DLTK for the lyricsThanks DLTK for the Lyrics

Paul begins the discussion with this observation from chapter 5: 13-15
13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.

Paul echoes Jesus from Matthew 22: 34-39
34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
Who is our neighbor?
If we consider our nation, our neighbors are Mexico and Canada. What about our state? Texas, Colorado, and Arizona are our neighbors. Who are your neighbors near your house? What about when you play baseball or football? Who are your neighbors on the field? Now let’s consider a sticky problem. What about someone you consider an enemy? Could they be your neighbors? Should we pray for them?

The Prayer of St. Francis
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is dispair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we re born to eternal life.

Prayer of St. Francis of Assis

We pray these things in Jesus’ name Who taught us to pray saying:
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.”
Let us look at one last Scripture from Colossians 3: 12-17
12 Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

A Song about the Love of God
The love of God is greater far
  Than tongue or pen can ever tell.
It goes beyond the highest star
  And reaches to the lowest hell.
The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
  God gave His Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled
  And pardoned from his sin.
 O love of God, how rich and pure!
  How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure—
    The saints’ and angels’ song.

When hoary time shall pass away,
  And earthly thrones and kingdoms fall;
When men who here refuse to pray,
  On rocks and hills and mountains call;
God’s love, so sure, shall still endure,
  All measureless and strong;
Redeeming grace to Adam’s race—
  The saints’ and angels’ song.

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
  And were the skies of parchment made;
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
  And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above
  Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
  Though stretched from sky to sky.

Than you Hymnal.net
Final prayer
Lord may we be Your children. May we love our neighbors. Thank you for our parents, teachers and care givers. Thank you for our country. Bless this Memorial Day. Amen.

Monday, May 30, 2016

When the Mockingbird Sings, by Billy Coffey, 2013 Thomas Nelson
I purchased this book from a list of you-may-also-likes in an online retail browser. I bought it because it was one of the few Christian fiction releases I could also find in an audio-book. This review is based on first listening to the book and then reviewing the hardcopy. It is the first book I have read by this author. Hints William Faulkner’s terse characterizations, tastes of Mark Twain’s dialects, and the distance of Flannery O’Connor couple in When the Mockingbird Sings to suggest a Southern literary narrative voice.
The tells of Leah who sees and speaks to the Rainbow-man. She first sees him on her ninth birthday when the whole town is invited to the Leah’s house scarcely months after their father had moved the family from Camden to a dilapidated old Victorian mansion in the rural south. Another nine-year-old befriends shy, stuttering Leah and though no one else can see the Rainbow-Man, this friend, Allie, struggles to believe in the vision and likens him to Jesus, going so far as to Baptize the un-washed Leah in in an inflatable pool in Leah’s backyard late one summer night. It was one of the most charming scenes of the book and caused me to appreciate this author’s boldness and wit in a new light.
The Rainbow-Man coaches Leah to paint beautiful renderings far beyond her talent that illustrate glory, and then, warn Mattingly of a terrible fate. One of the paintings magically bears the winning lottery numbers which ultimately disappear from the painting. A former town patron who is under extreme financial strain, plays the numbers and wins, but the money will not save is dying wife. The ruckus further divides the town.
I have a weakness for well-defined setting where a town or community takes on a character. In this novel, Coffey turns the rural community of Mattingly into a single body, a flawed congregation with strict attention to doctrinal recipes, lovable in a way that a stubborn warrior is lovable when he cannot win but clings intractably to a bit of high ground – the cow standing on the manure pile. Mattingly shines as an allegory for the church and I couldn’t help but love her as the main character of this book, human scared and undiscerning.
Coffey also draws vivid characters and does not force them into a personal agenda. The characters speak for themselves, each an ‘everyman’ with a recognizable traits and troubles. While the characters show their fears and weaknesses, the author’s hand is never so heavy as to mock his own creations.
I’ve rated this book three stars because it is good, but just shy of an absolute keeper, meaning I probably won’t re-read it. While the language is occasionally poetic, the narrative voice is too harsh and the poetry is insufficient for this reader to make me we want to return to it. Overall the individual characters are so removed that I had trouble establishing a bond with anyone in the book. Most strongly I felt little for Rainbow-Man whom I so wanted to walk with.
This brings me to my final point, that of the Rainbow-Man as Jesus. Rainbow-Man is so enigmatic and cryptic that I couldn’t relate. I never grasped the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in any character in the book and certainly never in the character of Mattingly the town. I understand the concept of prophetic vision and God’s sovereign use of the weakest among us in enacting His plans. The author seems to suggest that Leah is such a prophet, but I never quite reached the same conclusion. I would add that the cryptic portrayal of Rainbow-Man did cause me several hours of contemplation on how much we take for granted in our Sovereign, and how we often choose to dwell on His capacity as Comforter and Perfect Father rather than His almighty power.  
Pick up When the Mockingbird Sings for a refreshed take on corporate character in the town of Mattingly. Delve into it for an engaging story.

Thank you for reading, Bev.