Saturday, June 24, 2017

Lessons Chronicled

If someone were to ask me one of my favorite books in the Bible, I doubt I would have mentioned 1 Chronicles as one of my top choices.  But after reading this Old Testament book in my Bible readings these past few weeks, I realized that God has used this book to teach me some profound life lessons.

In the summer of 2001, Larry and I went a doctor’s appointment to find out the results of my blood work, spinal tap, and MRIs.  We both somewhat suspected the results to conclude that I did in fact have MS.  You sometimes hear of people reading a scripture that is so appropriate for the day.  I was somewhat puzzled that the morning’s chapters in 1 Chronicles were lists of name after name.  I remember praying and asking the significance of me reading all those names.  It wasn’t even verses that talked about what the people did.
LESSON:  My worth does not come from what I do, say, or whether I have a disease or not.  I’m valuable because God created me, knows me, and calls me by name.  It’s who I belong to that makes the difference.

Even as a young teenager I was troubled by the account in 1 Chronicles 13.  The ark had been placed on a new cart and David and the Israelites were celebrating and rejoicing as the ark was being moved to its new resting place.  When they came to the threshing floor of Kidon, Uzzah reached out his hand to steady the ark, because the oxen stumbled. The LORD’s anger burned against Uzzah, and he struck him down because he had put his hand on the ark. So he died there before God.”  (I Chronicles 13:9-10)  God had instructed the Israelites on the proper way to move the ark.  The Levites were to be in charge and it was to be moved by priests carrying the ark by the poles inserted in the rings on the side, not on a cart.
LESSON:  God is serious about obedience and following His instructions.  Obedience brings blessings and there are consequences and a price to pay when I choose to disobey.

As David and the Israelites brought the ark home, there was much celebration. “So all Israel brought up the ark and the covenant of the LORD with shouts, with the sounding of rams’ horns and trumpets, and of cymbals, and the playing of lyres and harps. As the ark of the covenant of the LORD was entering the city of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David dancing and celebrating, she despised him in her heart.” (I Chronicles 15:28-29)
LESSON:  Worship is a matter of the heart.  Man looks on the outside, but God looks at our heart.  Worship takes place when our mind’s attention and heart’s affection are on God.  Therefore, He is the audience and not me.  I need to make sure my worship is appropriate and acceptable and allow others to worship in the way they choose.

Against God’s wishes, David ordered a census of Israel.  Because of his disobedience, the LORD spoke through Gad to give David one of three choices:  three years of famine, three months of being swept away before your enemies, with their swords overtaking you, or three days of the sword of the LORD – days of plague in the land, with the angel of the LORD ravaging every part of Israel.”  (I Chronicles 21:12)  David chose and the LORD sent the plague and 70,000 men died.  Then David pleaded with the LORD not to destroy any more men since it was his fault that he ordered the census.  The LORD instructed Gad to have David build an altar on the threshing floor.  King David approached Araunah to buy the threshing floor.  Araunah insisted that he give the King the threshing floor, oxen for the burnt oxen, sledges for the wood, and grain for the grain offering.   But King David replied to Araunah, ‘No, I insist on paying the full price. I will not take for the LORD what is yours, or sacrifice a burnt offering that costs me nothing.’”  (1 Chronicles 21:24)  This was the threshing floor where the Temple was later built.
LESSON:  God can bring beauty, blessing, and restoration out of repentance, obedience, and the right heart attitude.  This scripture is one that I held close when Scott told us about his decision to move to Turkey as well as other matters.  My family is what I hold dearest.  I wanted my heart to be a willing offering to God in choosing to support Scott in his decision to go as well as a blessing to Scott in the process.

King David desired to build a permanent Temple for God.  Because he lived in a time of war and had shed so much blood, God said that it was to be David’s son Solomon that would build the Temple.  Even though David would not be the one to build the Temple, he still encouraged the people to give the materials, gathered their offerings, and gave an abundance of his own wealth.  Then David charged Solomon to build a house for the name of the LORD.  He also ordered the leaders to work with Solomon.  Now devote your heart and soul to seeking the LORD your God, so that you may bring the ark of the covenant of the LORD and the sacred articles belonging to God into the temple that will be built for the Name of the LORD.”  (1 Chronicles 22:19)
LESSON:  Even if I do not live to see the fruits or results, it’s what I invest in others and God’s Kingdom work that will last after I am gone.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Oh, Be Careful!

This was the week of Vacation Bible School at Tallowood.  The children heard Bible stories, learned Bible verses, sang and practiced hand motions to songs, and were taught that God, the creator of the universe, loves them.  There are so many adults and young people who invested time, energy, love, and patience to model being like Jesus to the kids. 

Amazingly, the kids picked up the words and actions to the songs quickly.  They practiced the songs at home and sang as they went down the sidewalks at church.  Because they are memorizing and practicing the songs and scriptures, hopefully they will be able to recall them for a lifetime.

Many ages ago, when I was in Vacation Bible School, we learned a song that I thought about this past week.

“Oh Be Careful Little Eyes”

Oh, be careful little eyes what you see
Oh, be careful little eyes what you see
For the Father up above
Is looking down in love
So, be careful little eyes what you see.

Oh, be careful little ears what you hear…
Oh, be careful little hands what you do…
Oh, be careful little feet where you go…
Oh, be careful little mouth what you say…
Oh, be careful little mind what you think…
Oh, be careful little heart what you love…

With six grandchildren, I so want to carefully model what I see, what I choose to hear, what my hands choose to do, where my feet take me, and what my mouth speaks.  Two of our younger grandchildren are two years old.  They are in the process of learning and repeating what they hear at any given time.  When a new song is sung or new story told they want it repeated over and over again.  It is a reminder that I need to be on notice at all times to make sure the words I speak, my actions, what I choose to do, where I choose to go are in line with God’s truth and love. 

Last week I was reading Mary and Daniel a book.  There was a critter that was part of the story.  After reading one of the pages, I exclaimed, “Gross!”  A second later I heard a little voice repeat, “Gross!  Gross!  Gross!”   Daniel repeated the word with the same intonation and feeling that I had said it.  What an instant reminder of how important it is to have words, actions, and deeds that are worthy of being copied and repeated since our Father up above is looking down in love and little eyes are watching and little ears are hearing, too.

Jesus said, “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.”
John 13:15

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.
Psalm 19:14

Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge.
Proverbs 23:12

In everything set them an example by doing what is good.  In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.
Titus 2:7-8

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Gracious Encouragement

Composer John Williams has contributed to some of the most popular movies in the history of cinema including Star Wars, Jaws, E.T. the Extra Terrestrial, Superman, Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park, Schindler’s List, Home Alone, Harry Potter as well as numerous others.  He has been awarded 5 Academy Awards, 6 Emmy Awards, 25 Golden Glove Awards, 67 Grammy Awards, and 7 British Academy Film Awards.  All of this to state: John Williams is a very accomplished musician and composer.

In July of 2016, trumpeter Bryce Hayashi, 13 years of age, and his mentor flugel player Mickle Miller stood on the sidewalk in front of John Williams’ home in Los Angeles, California, set up a music stand, and began to play the Star Wars theme song.  Someone saw what was happening and began to record the 2 musicians.  The young men were not aware that about half way through the song, the door opened and Williams listened from his front porch.  Afterwards, he came walking down the sidewalk and met the two young men.  He told a neighbor, referring to the high notes, “Hello!  I thought to myself that they would never make it, and they did!”  When he found out that young Bryce was the one who had been able to play the high notes he shook his hand and said, “Fantastic!”  That encounter is one that Bryce and Mickle will remember and be encouraged by for years to come.  How wonderful that someone took the initiative to record it.

In May of 2017, John Williams attended the graduation ceremony for Harvard University where he was given an honorary doctorate in music for his contributions to the motion picture arts.  As part of the ceremony, Williams was further honored by Harvard’s 15 member all-male a cappella group, Din and Tonics, performing a five minute medley of some of his most memorable music themes from Star Wars, Harry Potter, Indiana Jones, ET:  The Extra Terrestrial, Superman and others.  The audience responded with claps, laughter, and cheers as the music to each theme song began.  Along with being talented musicians, the men were also delightful entertainers.  Throughout the music, the camera people focused on John Williams' face as the group sang and the audience enthusiastically responded.  He was constantly smiling, laughing, and enjoying the music, harmony, and reactions to his music.  After the musical tribute, the graduates were instantly on their feet with a standing ovation.  They were joined in the ovation by John Williams who held out outstretched arms of appreciation and gave the young men two thumbs up for their performance.  What a fitting tribute to John Williams and a gracious encouragement for the singers.

John Williams could very easily be content with what he has accomplished and keep to himself or choose carefully where he wants to go and what he wants to do.  How encouraging that he graciously chose to leave the comfort of his home to compliment a young thirteen year old and his mentor and also took advantage of the opportunity to acknowledge and appreciate the creativity of 15 young college students at Harvard’s commencement.

I wonder who’s is need of an encouraging word or deed from us this week?  It could make a difference for a lifetime.arva

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
I Thessalonians 5:11

When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.
Acts 11:23

Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up.
Romans 15:2

May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.
2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
Ephesians 4:29

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Without Fanfare

After the deadly concert bombing in Manchester, England, Queen Elizabeth II visited victims of the attack at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital.  Queen Elizabeth chose for her visit to be unannounced so that the patients and their families were the priority.  While talking with 14 year old Evie Mills and her parents, the Queen expressed, “It’s dreadful.  Very wicked, to target that sort of thing.”

During President Trump’s visit to Israel, Noam Cappon wrote of a touching moment when Nechama Rivlin, President Rivlin’s wife, met First Lady Melania Trump at the door of the home of President Rivin.  Before entering, Mrs. Rivin whispered to Mrs. Trump that she would try to keep up with the walking pace, but due to her medical condition, which required her to carry an oxygen tank,  she might be slow.  Melania Trump reached over, took Nechama Rivin’s hand and told her: “We’ll walk at any pace you choose.”  According to Cappon, “And so they walked, slowly, gracefully and proudly, hand in hand.”

He continued, “That is the moment I chose to cherish.  That silent gesture has neither any political significance nor any colorful tone to it, but it is everything.

It is the hope we yearn for when we speak of peace.
It is the kindness we wish to protect when we speak of defeating terror;
It is the dignity we want to teach when we speak of stopping hate;
It is the friendship we pray for when we speak of our unbreakable bond.

In other words, this gesture encompasses everything that is good, kind and human.”

What a wonderful world it would be if we each chose to do the right, honorable, and kind action in love, whether anyone was watching or not.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.
Philippians 2:3-4

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me-put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
Philippians 4:8-9

A new command I give you: Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
John 13: 34-35