"Welcome to my blog space. I believe that God has carefully placed gems in our paths to fill our days with joy. The challenge for us is to take the time to notice them. My desire is to share the gems in my life so that, hopefully, you will see the ones He's placed in yours. I hope what you read here will be worth your time and you'll want to return often." - Cathy

Saturday, January 19, 2013

For the Greater Good?

In 1809, a boy was born to a leather worker and horse tack maker in France. By the time the boy was two, he was following his father to the workshop, playing while his father worked. Although warned many times not to touch his father’s tools, the boy was fascinated with them. At age three, the boy was playing with an awl, trying to make a hole in a piece of scrap leather, when a freak accident caused the awl to glance off the hard leather and into his eye.
Though taken to the best surgeon in Paris, nothing could be done to save his eye. He suffered for weeks as a severe infection moved from the affected eye to his good eye. He managed to survive the ordeal, but by age five, was totally blind.
Trying for normalcy, his parents sent him to school with his siblings. At age ten his teachers suggested his parents allow him to seek higher education. He went to Paris to live at and attend the National Institute for Blind Youth. He was passionate about learning. He devoured the few books available at the school and was left wanting more.
            This was the beginning of a story I heard during Teaching Time at the Community Bible Study I attend. The sixteenth lesson of a thirty lesson study on the book of Revelation brought us to Chapter 13, verses 1-10 this week (see below). Three themes emerged from these verses:
1)     Be alert to the schemes of satan.
2)     Recognize that sometimes God does allow suffering if it accomplishes a greater purpose.
3)     Endure hardship, trusting in God’s faithfulness to believers.
And now, the rest of the story.  This young man had a propensity for music, becoming an accomplished cellist and organist. He wanted to write music, but puzzled over how a blind man could do that. He yearned for two-way communication between the blind and the sighted.
He had heard of a system used by the French Army called “Night Writing.”This approach allowed soldiers to “talk” to one another without uttering a sound and tipping the enemy off to their location. Captain Charles Barbier willingly shared his system of dots and dashes with Louis, but it was too complicated for daily use. Louis began to experiment with Barbier’s system, adding ideas of his own. He designed a plan using a series of raised symbols to represent letters.
You have probably guessed by now the young man in the story is Louis Braille, founder of the Braille System which allows the blind to read and communicate.
But there’s more to this story. On a visit home, Louis went to his father’s shop to look for a tool that would make the perfect sized dots on the paper. Have you guessed yet that it was the awl? The object that crippled Louis Braille was used to enhance the lives of millions of people. By 1824, he had published a book on the Braille system. His second edition, printed in 1829, featured enhancements that brought it up to the system still in use today. His Braille music notation allows the blind to write music.
What is your awl? What is the thing that is crippling you, keeping you from accomplishing your purpose? Give it to God and allow Him to take it and use it for your good or the good of others.
Going out with joy today-

Revelation 13:1-10 ESV
 13 And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems on its horns and blasphemous names on its heads. 2 And the beast that I saw was like a leopard; its feet were like a bear's, and its mouth was like a lion's mouth. And to it the dragon gave his power and his throne and great authority. 3 One of its heads seemed to have a mortal wound, but its mortal wound was healed, and the whole earth marveled as they followed the beast. 4 And they worshiped the dragon, for he had given his authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?”
5 And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months. 6 It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven. 7 Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation, 8 and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain. 9 If anyone has an ear, let him hear:
10 If anyone is to be taken captive,
to captivity he goes;
if anyone is to be slain with the sword,
with the sword must he be slain.
Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Were You Changed by Christmas?

Christmas 2012 has come and gone. Decorations and lights are in hibernation until next year. Thank you’s have been said and gifts have found a home in the toy box, on a shelf, in a closet. Rest has brought welcome relief from the weariness Christmas often brings. We’ve witnessed the advent of the year 2013. The hectic pace of Christmas and New Year celebrations has faded into normal routines. The holidays are over and a new year has started. Now what?
My brother posts a prayer on Facebook each day. They are interactions between him and God, but if you want to listen in, he doesn’t mind. I am always touched by them, sometimes to tears. With his permission I am sharing the one from December 26th with you:
The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them. (Luke 2:20)
“Lord Christ, You are the same yesterday, today, and forever. At Christmastime the diamond is touted as the gift that never stops giving. Only You can fulfill that kind of promise. Your faithfulness knows no end; Your love is unrelenting. The joy of Christmas is for every day of the year!
Thank You for promising me strength for whatever comes in the passing moments of every hour of the New Year. Knowing this, I plan to live each moment to the fullest. You have banished worry about tomorrow; now the future is a friend.
Like the shepherds who went back to work as different people because of beholding Your glory in the manger, I want to go back to my daily routines as a different person because of Christmas. I accept the gift that changes everything. With Christmas love, joy, hope, and peace, I can go back to old relationships, pressing responsibilities, the troubled world, and those problems I set aside until after the holidays. Nothing has changed, and yet everything is different. The difference is inside of me. Nothing can ever be the same again! You have recruited me to be a Christmas angel, a messenger, to the world around me. Some people will be disappointed that Christmas made so little difference. Today help me to communicate to burned out, demoralized, done-in people what it means to receive Your strength each moment. Amen.”  Tommy John, December 26, 2012

               How did spending time with Jesus on His birthday this year change you? Have you got your marching orders for 2013? As the year rolls on, will your call to ministry become reality?
Praying blessings of joy, peace, love and hope over you for 2013-

P.S. If you enjoyed Tommy’s prayer, join him on Facebook so you can get his renderings every day. Tell him you’re my friend when you ask to be his.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Advent-Week Four

I must begin this post with an apology to my faithful readers. Like most of us do, I got caught up in the Christmas hubbub and missed two posting days. Please forgive me. This is a perfect example to show why Advent traditions are so important to keeping us centered during the busyness of the season. Thanks much for joining me as we finish out the Advent series.
So far, we have spent time focusing on HOPE, PEACE and JOY. During Week Four our thoughts were of LOVE. The candle we light on the Advent wreath is the Angel’s Candle. The four scriptures used for Week IV are printed below.
Our Youth Christmas play at church this year included a song asking the question, “What’s a Savior like You doin’ in a place like this?” I’m a visual person, so in my mind’s eye, I saw this scene play out in Heaven:
Jesus: “Father, look out through time with me. Do you see her? Do you see my Cathy? (You can insert your name here, because He did the same for you.) She needs a Savior. Please, Father, let me go to earth so I can help her. It’s time for us to put our plan of salvation into action.”
God: “I can’t send you into the world, Son. I love you so much and I know how they will treat you down there.”

Angels Attending the
Birth of Jesus
Jesus: “Please, Dad. Let me go. Cathy is precious to me. She needs my help to get through the trials of life.”
God: “Son, you know they will mock you, spit on you, ridicule you, beat you, shame you, reject you. You know the devil will do everything he can to keep your message from getting to Cathy. You know in the end, you will suffer an unspeakably cruel death on the cross.”
Jesus: “I know, Father, but she’s worth it.”
“And she brought forth her first-born son and she wrapped him in strips of cloth (the same kind used for burial) and laid him in a manger.” His end was forecast at His birth, but because of His great LOVE for me, and for you, He came.
Joyful, joyful, I adore you, my Father, my Savior, my King, my Friend-

 A Collect/Prayer for Advent-Week Four
Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation, that your Son Jesus Christ, at his coming, may find in us a mansion prepared for himself; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Micah 5:2-5a

But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah,
who are one of the little clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
one who is to rule in Israel,
whose origin is from of old,
from ancient days.
Therefore he shall give them up until the time
when she who is in labor has brought forth;
then the rest of his kindred shall return
to the people of Israel.
And he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the LORD,
in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God.
And they shall live secure, for now he shall be great
to the ends of the earth;
and he shall be the one of peace.

Psalm 80:1-7

Hear, O Shepherd of Israel, leading Joseph like a flock;
shine forth, you that are enthroned upon the cherubim.

In the presence of Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh,
stir up your strength and come to help us.
Restore us, O God of hosts;
show the light of your countenance, and we shall be saved.
O LORD God of hosts,
how long will you be angered
despite the prayers of your people?
You have fed them with the bread of tears;
you have given them bowls of tears to drink.
You have made us the derision of our neighbors,
and our enemies laugh us to scorn.  
Restore us, O God of hosts;
show the light of your countenance, and we shall be saved.

Hebrews 10:5-10

Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said,

"Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,
but a body you have prepared for me;
in burnt offerings and sin offerings
you have taken no pleasure.
Then I said, 'See, God, I have come to do your will, O God'
(in the scroll of the book it is written of me)."
When he said above, "You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings" (these are offered according to the law), then he added, "See, I have come to do your will." He abolishes the first in order to establish the second. And it is by God's will that we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Luke 1:39-45(46-55)

In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord."

And Mary said,

"My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever."