Photo Note Cards – Morning Visitor

Morning Visitor………..”Not all those who wander, are lost”…

Photography by me, designed and printed on my home computer. Quality, glossy photo paper…4 1/4 x 5 1/2 finished product. A quote is printed on the back of each card. (See Above..”Not ll those who wander, are lost”..) Envelope included.. Photography is my hobby. A life time resident of Northern Michigan, I’ve found many photo opportunities to share. This little doe found the bird bath in my front yard one summer morning… USPS Forever Stamp included..(United States orders only).. (54-1)

$2.53

Note Card Deer at Birdbath

Photo and card by me..Envelope and Forever Stamp included..

$2.53

It was just another church meeting. We talked about lots of things and one of those things was “Stewardship”…

You probably will have a hard time believing this, but on my way home I was surprised to see a little mouse sitting on the dashboard of my car. He seemed to be a friendly sort and he began to chat with me. I wondered if he’d been at the meeting I’d just left because he seemed to know a lot about one of the discussions the committee had.

Read on…then tell me what you think.

Stewardship or Steward’s Ship?

His conversation began something like this….

I’m not just a church mouse and I’m not your ordinary field mouse.

My name is Jonathan Steward.

I am an ex-tra ordinary Church Mouse.  

 One day, a long time ago, I happened upon this lovely ‘God’s Church ‘in Friendly Town by Beautiful Blue Lake. I knew right away it was exactly the place I wanted to live. And so, I began to make my home there.

I’m not living there by accident, mind you.  I looked for a church, searching far and wide, at least a hundred feet ,in all directions.

I was looking for just the right church to call my home.

It’s a very special privilege to live in God’s Church; it’s hard to keep from boasting about it at mouse reunions, and mouse conventions, and other mouse gatherings that only a mouse like me ever hears about.

I know all about God.  You see, I am a CMK.  For those of you who’ve never heard of a CMK, I’ll be happy to explain. There’s really nuthin’ to it. My Daddy was a Church Mouse, Granddaddy was a Church Mouse so it sort of runs in our family. I’m just your average “C”hurch “M”ouse “K”id.

I love every square inch of my church home;  like the wastebasket in the kitchen. There are all sorts of lovely crumbs there for me to snack upon.  I enjoy the wastebasket in the Sunday school room too. Sometimes there are special pieces of paper with paste. They help to line my nest.  I especially enjoy the loose corner of the carpet at the back of the sanctuary where I’ve made my nest. I often lie there and listen to the pastor’s sermon on Sunday morning.

There are a lot of special places in my church home, like the hole in the plaster near the front door.  (Someone pounded a nail to hang a wreath at the Christmas season.) Plaster crumbs make a sturdy floor in a mouse nest, you know.

One day, as I was resting behind the water fountain in the hallway, I saw Mr. Green carefully filling the nail hole with putty.  He sanded it and painted over it so it looked just like the rest of the wall. Mr. Green, you see, is a trustee and he fixes things around God’s Church all the time. I know that Mr. Green calls God’s Church his church home too, but  I can’t quite figure it out, after all Mr. Green doesn’t “live” here like I do. Nevertheless..It’s plain to see that Mr. Green cares for the church building and wants to do his part in taking care of it.

One of my favorite days at God’s Church is Thursday, the day the children’s choir comes to practice their songs.  I get so excited as time for their practice draws near that I fly to the back door, race to the front door, scurry to the piano, then out to the kitchen and back to the front door again. The children soon arrive but I’m so tired I just go to my lovely warm nest in the back of the church, where the carpet is turned up, and  listen to the children sing about God.

Oh what joy! What a heavenly sound! I feel good all over knowing how much the children like to sing about God, in God’s Church, on Thursday afternoon.

Sometimes, as I listen to the joyful music of the children’s choir,

I close my eyes and dream my favorite dream;

about a boat.

It isn’t a houseboat. It isn’t a sail boat. It’s an extra-ordinary Mouse Boat! (You might even call it a Ship.) I want to sail in my very own ship on beautiful Blue Lake near God’s Church.

In case you haven’t noticed, I love God very, very much. Since I am a church mouse, I know what it’s like to be able to live in God’s house. People like to come to God’s Church on Sunday morning and sing songs about God, and listen to the pastor talk about God, and pray to God with their eyes shut.  I’m very interested in the ways of PEOPLE. I’ve noticed not all people pray with their eyes shut! But, being a church mouse, I know God hears prayers whether eyes are closed or open.

Back to my dream….

I remember, from reading the Mouse Translation (MT) of my Bible, that Jesus was very interested in boats.  Many times he came to be with his disciples when they were riding in boats and fishing in boats and doing all the things that people do in boats.

In my dream, Jesus comes to sail with me on my boat as we drift from shore to shore on beautiful Blue Lake.  I know how wonderful it would be to be very, very close to him. My dream of sailing with Jesus on my very own boat brings real pleasure to me. (In case you haven’t noticed, I spend a lot of time dreaming.)

Except…

When my dreams are interrupted by PEOPLE. People come to God’s Church to DO things, like putting on DINNERS and having SUNDAY SCHOOL classes, and YOUTH meetings, and PRAYER meetings, and more meetings like FINANCE, and MISSIONS, and WORSHIP COMMITTEE, and CHOIR PRACTICE, and FINANCE MEETINGS. (Whatever “finance” is, there it is again.) And TRUSTEE meetings…and..

Oh my!

I can scarcely find time to dream at all with the meetings to attend and classes to attend, and dinners to attend. (I especially like the after dinner clean up time.)  Then there is painting to do and lawns to mow and FINANCE??? Well… I am so busy attending meetings and dinners and choir practice and more,  I hardly have time to dream about my ship and a closer friendship with Jesus while drifting from shore to shore on beautiful Blue Lake not far from God’s Church.

Be that as it may, I am a very happy, very warm, very lively, and yes even lovely (if I do say so myself,) church mouse.

My dream, even though I don’t have much time to dream it any more, gives me something to think about when I’m not busy doing things for God’s Church.

AND THEN IT HAPPENED!

You aren’t going to believe this, but it really happened.  It was on a sunny Sunday morning and the announcements were being read.  I was in my nest at the back of the sanctuary where the carpet is curled up. I was watching the people praying with their eyes shut. Then I heard it!

THERE WILL BE A MEETING ON MONDAY NIGHT..THAT’S TOMORROW. IT WOULD BE NICE IF YOU ALL COULD ATTEND.  WE WILL DISCUSS…STEWARDSHIP.

I stood frozen on my favorite piece of carpet.  My ears were quivering. A series of loops totally out of my control appeared in my tail. My eyes filled with tears.

God’s people were going to have a meeting about Steward’s Ship.

I didn’t think I could wait until Monday.

The meeting on Monday began promptly at 8 p.m. .    There were only 10 people attending. I was astonished at such a small number of people attending such an important church meeting in which I, personally, had a tremendous interest.  Hadn’t the minister invited ALL the people to attend? Maybe, just maybe, ALL the people weren’t interested in Steward’s Ship.  There was one thing for sure,  I would be forever grateful if the 10 people who came to the meeting, could help to make my dream come true.

Jonathan Steward’s Ship… I would have my very own ship to sail on lovely Blue Lake,

with Jesus beside me.

This would definitely be one of the most important evenings I had ever spent in God’s Church.  Ten wonderful people were going to spend the entire meeting talking about Steward’s Ship.

Suddenly I perked up my ears!

Mr. Smith was talking about the need to have more people come to the Sunday worship service.

What had that to do with my ship?

 Mr. Green was saying something about the need to fix a hole in the church roof.

My stars, I thought, couldn’t anyone stay on the subject at hand?

Mrs. Jones, sitting on the edge of her chair, said, “We certainly need to encourage more people who like to sing to join our choir.”

 And then, Mr. Black, the chairman, said…

“Maybe we should concentrate on getting to know each other and enjoying a closer personal friendship with God, and getting to know Him better and learn how to serve Him in God’s Church and out of God’s Church and…. ” Whew”, I said to myself, as I whisked perspiration from my forehead, “now they’re getting back to the subject at hand.” My dream ship was just the place for me to get closer to God.

AND…

I live in God’s Church and spending time on my dream ship would get me out of God’s Church and through this meeting at God’s Church I was about to have my dream come true.

I crossed my ears at what I heard next.

“Of course”, the Steward’s Ship committee chairman was saying, “we have to realize  that many people here in God’s Church don’t really know what Steward’s Ship is and it’s our place to explain it to them.”

I simply could not take it any more. This meeting had gotten out of hand.  Of course, everyone knew what Steward’s Ship was.  Well, didn’t they? This very meeting had been called to discuss it. Hadn’t it?

“One of the best things we could do,” (the committee chairman was still speaking), “would be to make sure our members and friends here at God’s Church understand all the many ways there are for Christians to offer stewardship to God through the church.

They want to offer my ship to God?

I felt a lump in my little mouse throat and a warm tear slowly tumbled down my tiny mouse nose. But, wait a minute. It didn’t seem to me that the chairman was talking about MY ship.  It didn’t seem possible, it couldn’t be possible there was another kind of

Steward’s Ship.

Until now, I had been sitting very, very still and listening very, very closely and leaning comfortably against the leg of Mrs. Jones’ chair.

OFFER STEWARD’S SHIP TO GOD?

“And”, the chairman was saying, “everyone in God’s church is a STEWARD.

THAT DID IT!

I couldn’t help myself. I jumped straight up into the air from the special place I had been listening, right beside Mrs. Jones’ leg.

My long grey tail…oh dear…brushed against…oh my..Mrs. Jones’ leg!

Mrs. Jones, oh my, well to put it mildly…Mrs. Jones EXCLAIMED LOUDLY!

I was startled to say the very least, and upset to say more than the very least.  I headed straight to my lovely warm nest in the back of the church to recover my composure. I’m sure the entire committee on Steward’s Ship and Mrs. Jones, also attempted to regain their composure.

I began to think back on the events of the evening and the meeting about Steward’s Ship.

 Feeling calmer, I very quietly crept back to the door of the committee room. (Not the inside of the door, mind you, but the outside.) I very carefully tucked my long grey tail beneath me. (I certainly didn’t want to upset anyone again. ) 

I really needed to hear more about their meaning of Steward’s Ship.

The members of the committee had now regained their composure.  As I listened intently, Mr. Brown spoke. “We should tell people about all the things that are part of Steward’s Ship”, he said. “Like mowing the lawn and fixing holes in the plaster, working on dinners and serving on committees such as the Worship Committee and the Education Committee.

I was amazed.

Apparently there was quite a bit about their kind of Steward’s Ship that I hadn’t heard. I already knew about all those things Mr. Brown was speaking about.

What I didn’t know was that PEOPLE called the doing of those things STEWARDSHIP.

I was beginning to get a joyful feeling again. Yes I was feeling joy, for sure.

Mrs. Jones was saying, “We must tell God’s Church people that the doing of these things helps to bring them into a closer relationship to God”.

I was stunned! Yes I was. I was stunned!

 A closer relationship with God was exactly what I was looking for and was sure it would be found on my own little ship, Steward’s Ship, while sailing around on the lovely blue lake close by.

I began to wonder if it was possible the very thing I was hoping for could be found right here in God’s Church? It could be found in my very own church home?

“And”, the chairman was saying, “We need to explain to God’s Church people about finance”. (There was that word again, FINANCE.) What did FINANCE have to do with stewardship for heaven’s sake? I edged closer because I was determined to find out once and for all about this FINANCE thing.

We have to let the people know that the finance of the church, the people’s offering of their money for God’s use, is the most important part of stewardship.

MONEY??

I felt myself breathing a sigh of relief. Money was one thing a mouse doesn’t have to worry about. But, as I listened, I began to realize that money and the offering of it to God’s Church is part of what God expects from His people. I began to realize, with a bit of surprise, that the giving of a portion of a person’s money to God’s Church brings people into a closer relationship with God.

I began to realize something else. My dream ship wasn’t lost.  it wasn’t lost at all.

My dream was real.

I could get closer to God right here in my own church home by working and serving and helping and giving of my mousetime..my mouse abilities and mouse knowledge,

especially on church mouse problems.

I knew without a doubt, that even though we church mice don’t have money, once God’s people learned what stewardship is, they would give their time, their money and their abilities to the church.

Because of their giving, God’s people would have a closer relationship to God.

I felt good. I felt warm and joyful again and all happy inside.

I returned to my lovely warm nest at the back of the sanctuary feeling safe in the knowledge that I was very, very close to God.

“Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

http://www.thatremindsme.net

copyright@2020

CUSTOMS OR HABITS..Choose one.

Are your habits serving you well?

“He went to the synagogue, as was His custom”…

One day, when I was seventeen, my sister asked me to baby-sit with her infant son while they went out for the evening. I loved the little boy dearly.

The baby was suffering from a slight cold; my sister’s instructions were to give him a spoon full of cough medicine from a bottle which she had left on the counter in the kitchen. When the time came to administer the cough syrup, I picked up the bottle, poured the medicine into a spoon and offered it to the baby.

As was my habit, I didn’t bother to turn on the light in the kitchen.

The child immediately began to cough and cry, as he choked and spit out most of the medicine on his pajamas. This was not really an unusual response to bad tasting medicine, or so I thought. I turned on the light in the kitchen to assess the situation.

There was another small bottle on the counter. Upon checking, I saw that it contained the cough medicine.

The liquid I had poured into the spoon, was Tincture of Benzoin Compound, a substance used in vaporizers to help in easing breathing problems. Two bottles sat on the counter; without the light to show the names on the labels, I had chosen the wrong one.

I was devastated. This child who I dearly loved had nearly been poisoned by my irresponsible action. The little boy was fine. He suffered no ill effects from my carelessness, since most of the liquid had fallen on his pajamas.

Because of that experience, I have adopted a discipline; never administer or take a medication without first carefully checking the directions in the light.

This has become my custom and it has served me, and others, well.

I was reading an explanation of a “parable”, recently. The reference said Jesus often used parables for his listeners to quickly understand the point he was making. What idea would come into a person’s mind when they heard the story he told them?

The article went on to say, the best thing to do to help a person, is to get them to think for themselves.

Is a “habit” the same as a “custom”?

When the habit of attending church becomes a custom to us, we are ready to live; to worship and praise, to love and be loved, to listen and share His word within the congregation of Christ on Sunday morning.

We are no longer burdened with a weekly decision; should I go or should I stay home? It’s no longer a habit…it is now our custom.

Our study group with other Christians has now become our custom. Whether we join together on Sunday morning or another time during the week, we place ourselves in a position to grow and incorporate the meaning of His Word into our lives.

It has become, our custom to listen, to learn, and to share.

Jesus, once again, has given us the example of His own life. “He went to the synagogue, as was His custom.

Are your habits serving you well? Would you like to turn them into customs? Your answer may be a life saver.

(Lord; ” Teach us Your ways. Help us to develop customs that will allow us to be used by You in Your ministries.” Amen)

***Note-The “child” is now in his seventies; in good health.

http://www.thatremindsme.net

A MOMENT IN TIME

I began to think of the way we are linked together
 through His creation. The markings of the geese are specific,
  always the same for a particular breed.

 

AT THE END OF THE DAY

1995-2021

We were enjoying the end of a pleasant day.     during the late August evening,
 the readily identifiable sounds of a flight of geese
 could be heard as they flew over our home.

The trees in our front yard formed a thick canopy over the place where we sat on our porch swing.  We could hear the geese, yet couldn’t see them clearly.

 One glimpse through the leaves,
  told us there were five.

Our farm has twenty acres, eight of which are hay fields. Geese often head toward them at the end of a late summer day to feed and rest before starting the long journey south for the winter.

As the five flew over our yard, 
a fluffy white feather floated quietly to the ground.

 What were the chances that a tiny feather
 could find its way
 through those thick leafy trees,
 coming to rest on the grass before us?

I began to think of the way we are linked together
 through His creation. 

The markings of the geese are specific,
  always the same for a particular breed.

Our family has now lived on this aging farm 
for 60 years. This was an August evening.
 We had decided to rest 
on the porch swing 
 enjoying a quiet time.

At that moment,
 our Maker placed us together, in a unique way,
 with other creatures of His creation.

 He is the One
 who all the oceans placed,
 set the world in space 
and created… “us”.

 Now, 
He chose to join His creations together 
for a special moment in time.

A coincidence? Perhaps…

* * * *

Winging low across the evening sky,
with necks outstretched,
the five in line responded to imprinted flight
formed countless centuries ago. 
A canopy of leaves formed overhead,
blocking them from view.
Gliding lower, wings now set,
the five flew toward feeding fields at dusk. 
How quickly they had come into our solitude,
then disappeared into the evening shadows. 
Now out of sight, ghostly silhouettes,
markings meticulously ordained when time began.
A snow white feather drifted slowly to the ground. 
Now cradled in the grass, 
The evening dew its bed. 
Binding our lives with theirs, 
All, now ever changed.
The great creative plan of One
who set the world in space,
the oceans placed, species defined,
now paused with us for a moment in time. 
We were one with Him.
It was the end of the day.
copyright©2020
Photographs By Mary Anne Tuck
   

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

WHERE THERE IS SADNESS, JOY

She began to talk to me of times of JOY. She spoke of happy things and times and places. 
Upon leaving, I said,
”See you when you come home”.
“Ok honey”, she said

Always Generous, Gracious and Giving

She was my joy.   Now she’s gone…
I asked her, only hours after Grandma died;
“How does it make you feel?”
“Like an orphan”, was her answer. 
“But Mother”, I responded, “You have us.”
“I know honey”, she said. “But this is different.”
Carrying our second child,
I was filled with the joy of life; annoyed at having to deal with death. 
I wanted Mother to tell me it wasn’t so bad.
Grandma was old. Eighty years was a long full life.
In a coma, Grandma hadn’t suffered. 
I wanted Mother to move on to lighter talk and future plans.
  I wanted her to ask how I was feeling today,
resuming our daily ritual.
She was always the giver. I was always the taker.
Years passed and now Mother was in her eighties. 
She shared with me the ominous news
that she had found a lump in her breast. 
“Mother” I said, “I am absolutely sure that it will not be malignant.”
When the report came back, Mother said,
“Well, you were wrong. It is malignant and the involvement is extensive”.
Now, I who never wanted to deal with anything uncomfortable,
was required to face the unimaginable.  
Mother was  going to die. 
Try as I would, I couldn’t get my mind around that fact.
A friend said to me,
“It’s part of life, although it’s not the best part.”
I was angry with my friend
for her crude and thoughtless remark. 
How could she be so matter of fact in the face of my devastation?
My friend offered.  I refused.

In the days and months to come,
Mother calmly accepted the diagnosis;  
Always generous, always caring, always gracious and giving.
She was ever accepting. I was ever refusing.
The following January,
a friend and I vacationed for two weeks in Florida.
Upon our return I learned that Mother had suffered a heart attack
a few days earlier.
She didn’t want me to be told about it
because she wanted me to enjoy my vacation.
I could learn of it when I returned home.
She was always protecting.  I was always accepting.
I visited Mother in the hospital the day after returning home from vacation. As she lay in her bed she was cheerful
and as usual,  interested in me.  
“Maybe it wasn’t so serious after all”, I said.
  She answered “No, something very serious is going on.” 
She began to talk to me of times of joy.  Speaking of happy things and times and places. 
Upon leaving, I said,
”See you when you come home”.
“Ok honey”, she said,
for she was due to come home on Monday.
This was Saturday; she would be in the hospital one more day.
Early Monday morning, before leaving the hospital,  she died.
Mother always gave me her love. I always accepted it.
 
She was gone.
I felt smothered by a blanket of grief.
Mother was as much a part of my life as my heart and soul.
Now she was gone.
Her belongings were still here; her clothes hung in the closet.
Pictures she had painted hung on the wall.
They were only “things”.
Weeks passed and my seemingly endless river of tears
began to subside.
On a stark February night, I visited my friend
who is a shepherd.
It was lambing time,
and it was required for her to make frequent visits to the barn
 checking on the well being of the ewes.
I found her there
and we began to talk.
Surrounded by the rumblings of her flock
and the sweet smell of freshly scattered straw,
the rawness of my grief began to pour out.
 
With gentle encouragement
my friend shared her own journey
through the painful loss of both parents
during the preceding years. 
With deep compassion she shared her healed grief. 
I knew that with her consoling love,
I too would be healed through this journey of grieving.
My friend offered. I accepted.

Next morning as I prepared my morning coffee,
my glance fell upon a plaque hanging on my kitchen wall.
Reading it as if for the first time,
I understood the message of St. Francis of Assisi.
Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace;
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.
Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled
as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love;
for it is in the giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Dear Lord
Thank you for the loving, giving people you have placed in my life.
Help me to be the consoling,  understanding, loving and giving instrument of your peace
which has so graciously been given to me.
Amen
copyright©2020
 
Printed May 2017 at Sunlight Press
          Photographs By Mary Anne Tuck

Monday Morning At The Coffee Shop…

The Pharisees are investigating the healing of the blind man. (John 9:13-34)

pinestmp junction coffee

Pharisee One – “That jerk that just came in says he was blind but now he can see”.

Pharisee Two – “Nothing is that simple.”

Pharisee One – “Well, ya know what they say.  If it seems too good to be true, it probably isn’t.”

Pharisee Two – ” The guy must have done something really bad to be blind in the first place.”

Pharisee One – “Probably his father was blind.  They say the apple never falls far from the tree.”

Jesus (Sitting at the Counter) – “I just healed the man as my Father led me.”

Pharisee One -“Well that was quite a lucky break for the guy, you healing him.  Just who do you think you are anyway?”

Jesus – “You’ll have to take my word for who I am.”

Pharisee Two – “Hey mister! Who’s responsible for healing your blindness?”

Former Blind Man – “A man called Jesus.”

Pharisee One –  So where is this guy now?”

Former Blind Man – “He’s sitting right over there at the counter.”

Pharissee Two – “Let’s just let the law handle it.”

Lawman to Former Blind Man – “Buddy, you’ve been traveling on a restricted license because of your blindness.  You haven’t been wearing your seatbelt either. You’d better come clean about this cured blindness. What’s going on here?”

Former Blind Man – “All I know for sure is that I was blind and he helped me to see.”

Pharisee One – “So what is he, a doctor?”

Pharisee Two – “Call the guy’s parents.”

Blind Man’s Dad – “He’s ours alright.  But he’s a big boy so he can speak for himself.”

Pharisee One – “If that Jesus guy is a doctor, I’d call him a quack!”

Former Blind Man -“For a couple of guys with so many questions, you sure don’t have many answers. When I tell you what happened, you don’t listen to me.”

Pharisee Two – “Hit the road buddy. Your kind never changes.”

Pharisee One – “How much do we owe ya for the coffee, lady?

 *  *  *

Photograph by Mary Anne Whitchurch Tuck

http://www.treasuresbymaryanne.com

copyright©2018
Photograph Location Somewhere in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, U.S.A.
(Scripture Version MAWT)  Mary Anne Whitchurch Tuck)

ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE

“What this adds up to, then, is this.  No more lies, no more pretense.  Tell your neighbor the truth.  In Christ’s body we are all connected to each other, after all.  When you lie to others, you end up lying to yourself.”

All Things Are Possible

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

“What this adds up to, then, is this.  No more lies, no more pretense.  Tell your neighbor the truth.  In Christ’s body we are all connected to each other, after all.  When you lie to others, you end up lying to yourself.”
"Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents."(The Message)
The question is, am I a part of the body of Christ?
 I attend church somewhat regularly. I pray sometimes but maybe not as often as I could or should.  I joined the church.  I sing songs in the church.  I give some of my money to the church.  I’ve been baptized.  Do these things I have done make me a part of the body of Christ?
 Are my sins forgiven?  How do I know if I have the Holy Spirit?
 These were the questions the gathered brothers asked Peter in the book of Acts.2:37.  So now what do we do?  
Peter said, “Change your life.  Turn to God and be baptized.  Do this each of you in the name of Jesus Christ, so your sins are forgiven.  Receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  The promise is targeted to you and your children. (The Message)

I admit there are times when I’m tired of being me.  I’m tired of experiencing defeat.  I’m tired of feeling guilty and alone.  I wonder if I’ll ever reach the point of trusting Jesus Christ so much that I want Him to take control of me?  Am I ready to live that kind of life?  If I am ready, what happens then?

  "I must know Jesus Christ as my lord and Savior before His teaching has any meaning for me.  Other than that (it's just) a lofty ideal which only leads to despair.  But when I am born again by the Holy Spirit of God, I know that Jesus Christ did not come only to teach.  He came to make me what he teaches me to be.  Jesus says..."Then you're in a wonderful place, let me show you how it's done". (My Utmost For His Highest-Oswald Chambers

 

 It is good to work against racism even if one should fail.  It is good to work against poverty even though the poor will always be with us.  These things are so because a moral choice and moral actions reflecting God’s nature are good in themselves, whether or not they are successful.
"No one can make himself pure by obeying laws.  Jesus Christ does not give us rules and regulations.  He gives us His teachings, which are truths that can only be interpreted by His nature, which He places within us.  This comes from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit." Chambers continues; "The great wonder of Jesus Christ's salvation is that He changes our heredity.  he does not change our human nature.  He changes its source.  He doesn't change our natural instincts.  He replaces them. Our new instincts come from Him.  And with these new instincts He changes our motives as well." (My Utmost For His Highest-Oswald Chambers)

 When we’ve accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, the source becomes the Holy Spirit within us.

 "Beware of thinking of our Lord as only a teacher.  If Jesus Christ is only a teacher, then all He can do is frustrate me by setting a standard before me I cannot attain.  What is the point of presenting me with such a lofty ideal if I cannot possible come close to reaching it? (My Utmost For His Highest-Oswald Chambers)
 The answer is, I must commit my life to Him and receive His Spirit.
 Chambers reminds us; "There is only one master of the human heart. God.  Not religion. (My Utmost For His Highest)
 Have we ever considered the business of being religious might get in our way of having a relationship with God?  In a way, religion can become our God.  Who or perhaps what, is the master of my heart?
 In Matthew 6:24, Jesus reminded us of this.  “You cannot serve two gods at once.  Loving one god, you’ll end up hating the other”. (The Message)
 This isn’t the end of my quest.  It doesn’t end with asking Jesus Christ to become my own personal Lord and Savior.  It doesn’t end with the repenting of my sins and the committing of my life to Christ.  It doesn’t end at all.

 It begins.

 Who, or perhaps what, is the master of my heart?  So what’s the point?  We have not arrived at this place solely to develop a spiritual life of our own. We are here to take part and to be a part in the building of Christ’s body, the church.  We are joined to one another in Him.  As the scripture reminds us, we are all connected to each other.

 One step at a time and one day at a time, God reveals to us His purpose for each of us in His Body.  Absolute obedience to His spirit is required.  We are to be used to complete His plan, His purpose, and not our own.  In the process, the fruits of our obedience will be revealed within his perfect plan.

 God has given us free will.  We can choose to be obedient or we can choose to follow our own inclinations and desires.  In effect, we can choose to be our own God.

 In Mark 8, Jesus says; ” Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead.  You’re not in the driver’s seat, I am.  What good would it do to get everything you want and lose (yourself), the real you?  What could you ever trade your soul for?” (The Message)
We are quite familiar with the concept of obedience.  We’ve known since childhood the results of both obedience and disobedience.  We are familiar with the rules and regulations of the highway, the state, and the country.  We know the price to be paid for disobedience to those rules and regulations.  In America, we are free to challenge our government’s laws.
 We can appeal the decisions of the courts when we disagree with their judgements.  Sometimes we can get a law changed. We can question the meaning of our laws and hire an attorney to argue our position for us if necessary.
 It is the duty of the Court to interpret the meaning of the laws which the founders had in mind when they penned the Constitution of the United States.
 Currently there are many questions revolving around our government’s constitution and its original intent.

 Was the United States of America founded on Christian principles? Were the writers of the constitution Christians?  Was the United States of America founded as a Christian state?  If it was, does that mean all other religions were to  be excluded?

I suggest to you the Holy Spirit, which abides in us, will lead us through the discourses of today as well as the discourses of the scriptures.

 The Bible is a living book with revelations of life on every page waiting for us to discover its meanings to us and to our world.  The Spirit is our guide.

 The sermon on the mount dealt with all aspects of living the Christian life.  Among them were being and doing. Matthew 7: (The Message)  “Don’t look for shortcuts to God.  The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time.”
 “Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do…..The way of life to God is vigorous and requires total attention.”
“Be wary of false preachers who smile a lot, dripping with practiced sincerity.  Chances are they are out to rip you off some way or other.  Don’t be impressed with charisma, look for character.  Who preachers are is the main thing, not what they say.  A genuine leader will never exploit your emotions or your pocketbook.”
 “These diseased trees with their bad apples are going to be chopped down and burned.  Knowing the correct password and saying Master Master, for instance, isn’t going to get you anywhere with God.  What is required is serious obedience, doing what my Father wills.”
 “I can see it now at the final judgment.  Thousands will be strutting up to me and saying, Master we preached the message, we bashed the demons, our God sponsored projects had everyone talking.  And do you know what I am going to say?  You missed the boat.  All you did was use me to make yourselves important.  You don’t impress me one bit.”
 “These words I speak to you are not incidental additions to your life.  They are not homeowner improvements to your standard of living.  You’re out of here.  These are foundational words to build a life on.”
  “If you work these words into your life, you’re like a smart carpenter who built his house on a solid Rock.  Rain poured down, the river flooded, a tornado hit.  But nothing moved that house.  It was fixed to the rock.  But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a stupid carpenter who built his house on the sandy beach.  When a storm rolled in and the waves came up it collapsed like a house of cards.”
 Continuing Matthew 5:33-37 (The Message)..“And don’t say anything you don’t mean.  This counsel is embedded deep in our traditions.  You only make things worse when you lay down a smoke screen of pious talk, saying “I’ll pray for you,” and never doing it.  Or saying, “God be with you” and not meaning it.”
  You don’t make your words true by embellishing them with religious lace.  In making your speech sound more religious it becomes less true.  When you manipulate words to get your own way, you go wrong.”
 And again in Matthew“Be especially careful when you’re trying to be good so that you don’t make a performance out of it.  It might be good theater, but the God who made you won’t be applauding.  And when you come before God, don’t turn that into a theatrical production either.  All these people making a regular show out of their prayers, are hoping for stardom.”
 “Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth.  If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness?  You’ve lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.  Here’s another way to put it.  You’re here to be light, bringing out the God colors in the world.  God is not a secret to be kept.”  (The Message)

You and I are here to BE the body of Christ.

 John Wesley put it quite simply, “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.”

  Watching what God does and trying to do the same is a full time endeavor.  Through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, through the church the body of Christ, all things are possible.

Photography By Mary Anne Whitchurch Tuck

http://www.thatremindsme.net

____________________________________________________________________________________________

Scripture taken from THE MESSAGE, by Eugene H. Peterson-The Bible in contemporary language.

Copyright 1993, 1994,1995,1996,2000,2001,2002 – “Used by permission of NavPress Publishing group”

Eugene Peterson is a longtime pastor and teacher, and the guy who paraphrased this Bible from Greek and Hebrew (The languages in which the Bible was originally written) into contemporary language that sounds a lot like the language that we use on a daily basis.

MY UTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST by Oswald Chambers (1874-1917)-First published in 1935. Copyright renewed 1963

THE RESCUE

My husband and I were standing at our living room window, watching a man walking down the distant road. The man lived nearby in a broken down house.  Every day he walked two miles to a neighborhood bar where he spent his time.

“Night fell, darkness hid the two from sight”
He worked at walking.
Stumbling,
                                             weaving,
                                                                               tumbling,
                                                                                                                falling…
Each night at dusk he turned for home, deaf to traffic sounds.  Reeling into roadside ditch, he lay upon the ground in bleak half-conscious stupor.
With effort, he crawled to the ditch’s edge, then worked at walking
once again.  
The man continued through his nightly ritual.
 My friend approached the sodden hulk.  Bending down, he knelt beside the fallen man;  with strong and steady arms, he began “The Rescue”….
 My friend was not a hero.  I was only an observer.  Though years have passed, the vivid scene remains.
 Whose life was changed?  Whose journey reached a crossroad?  Whose path was interrupted by a chance encounter?  
Was it the man?  Was it the friend?  Was it me?
 What are you thinking now?
 Night fell. Darkness hid the two from sight.
 “The Rescue” had begun.
 copyright@2020
It has been many years since this incident took place.
 We were standing at our living room window, watching a man walking down the distant road. He lived nearby in a broken down house.  Every day he walked two miles to a neighborhood bar where he spent the long hours.
 We didn’t always see him traveling on the way to his daily destination. Nor did we see him when he was going home.  
But this day, we saw him walking toward his home.  
He staggered and stumbled, repeatedly falling into the deep ditch
beside the road.
For moments he was out of sight.  Then, once more, we saw him crawling up from the ditch and struggling to his feet.  Walking a few steps, he fell once more. Again he crawled up the side of the ditch on his hands and knees and attempted to stand.
 I became aware my husband had left my side.
Now, in his truck, he was driving down our driveway toward the distant road.  Stopping at the place where the man was lying beside the ditch, my husband got out of his truck and approached the figure.
 Taking him by the arm, he helped the man to his feet.
 He later told me he had intended to help him into the cab of the truck, but the man protested.  “I’m not clean enough to sit in your truck.  Help me into the back.  I’ll ride home there.”
 As this scene unfolded before my eyes, I was surely not aware it would remain in my memory and my heart, many years later.
 How many of us, including me, would leave the comfort of home to help a drunken, smelly man get safely to his home?
 This was a side of my husband about which I wasn’t aware at the time.  Yes, he was kind, gentle and caring.  The scene I watched was more than that.
 The experience changed me.  Maybe it has changed you.
 At this stage of life it has become clear to me, we all need to be rescued.
Our Friend is on His way.
————–
 As time passed,  we discussed the incident; facts revealed themselves about the man who was rescued.
 He was a veteran from World War 2.
 We have since become aware of the experiences our soldiers endured during that time which were too horrible for them to remember.
 We now call it PTSD.
 It has been found, for some of the veterans, it is easier to drink away the memories than to relive them in their minds.
 In our village, there were three World War 2 veterans who spent their days at the same local bar.  
The world called them drunks. Should we have called them heroes?
 How do you feel about it?

http://www.thatremindsme.net

A Wish Organization for Senior Veterans

“Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

Mary Anne Whitchurch Tuck

The SHEPHERD CALLED THEM HOME

The Shepherd’s Barn

The Shepherd Called Them Home

 The quaint old man in knee high boots prepared to call them in…. 
“Get behind the barn,” he said. “If they see you they won’t come.”
“How many sheep?” I asked.  
‘Bout 300, lambs ‘n all,” he replied.  
Now, gesturing toward distant fields, no movement was revealed.
Obligingly, I took my place behind the aging barn.
 Waiting, watching as I hid, chuckling as I did his bidding.
Toward a crumbling fence he moved, following a trampled path.
Now he stood near leaning gate and I began my wait.
With steady steps, he called and walked.
No words escaped his weathered lips, just eerie, high toned wailing sounds known only to his flock.
Behind the barn I waited…
 and peeked toward leaning gate.
 All I saw were endless fields.
He stood alone to wait.
Suddenly a far off hill was filled with moving masses. 
Now, out of sight, no movement seen.
 A quiet moment passes.
At the crest and nearer, all racing through the fields
toward Him,
who waited, calm and still.
 His presence did not yield.
Three hundred creatures fell in line
behind the One whose voice they knew.  
Now through the gate, into the fold, now safe at last.
The Shepherd brought them home.

copyright©2020

Photography by Mary Anne Whitchurch Tuck

 

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"Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."(Matt:6:21)

Mary Anne Whitchurch Tuck

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