Sunday, September 30, 2012

Song for Sunday: Wonderful Grace of Jesus

I have been refiecting on grace lately so perhaps it is not so strange that this hymn from this morning's service caught my attention. I hope it offers you some joy!

Wonderful Grace of Jesus

Wonderful grace of Jesus, greater than all my sin;
How shall my tongue describe it, where shall its praise begin?
Taking away my burden, setting my spirit free,
For the wonderful grace of Jesus reaches me!

Wonderful the matchless grace of Jesus,
Deeper than the mighty rolling sea;
Higher than the mountain, sparkling like a fountain,
All-sufficient grace for even me;
Broader than the scope of my transgressions,
Greater far than all my sin and shame;
O magnify the precious name of Jesus, praise His name!

Wonderful grace of Jesus, reaching to all the lost,
By it I have been pardoned, saved to the uttermost;
Chains have been torn asunder, giving me liberty,
For the wonderful grace of Jesus reaches me!

Wonderful the matchless grace of Jesus,
Deeper than the mighty rolling sea;
Higher than the mountain, sparkling like a fountain,
All-sufficient grace for even me;
Broader than the scope of my transgressions,
Greater far than all my sin and shame;
O magnify the precious name of Jesus, praise His name!

Wonderful grace of Jesus, reaching the most defiled,
By its transforming power, making him God’s dear child.
Purchasing peace and heaven for all eternity;
And the wonderful grace of Jesus reaches me!

Wonderful the matchless grace of Jesus,
Deeper than the mighty rolling sea;
Higher than the mountain, sparkling like a fountain,
All-sufficient grace for even me;
Broader than the scope of my transgressions,
Greater far than all my sin and shame;
O magnify the precious name of Jesus, praise His name!

—Haldor Lillenas (1885-1959)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A Prayer for the Sinful and the Judgemental

This prayer is a follow-up to my previous post "A Reflection on Jesus and a Caught Woman"

Dear God,

When I want to judge, remind me of your words:

                                           "Let the one who is without sin cast the first stone."

Let me remember that, you have said:

                          “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others,
                           you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."

Help me to know that I am far from perfect and that by your yardstick, if I call someone a fool, I am in danger of hell.

Help me to know your grace as well, for myself and for others. Remind me that you do not condemn me (or any who follow you) but you do require that we leave sin behind.

Guide us and teach us, oh Lord.

May your grace and love abound.

In Jesus name,

What is your prayer right now?

Friday, September 21, 2012

A Reflection on Jesus and a Caught Woman.

"Let he who is without sin cast the first stone."

Jesus words form the  familiar, and powerful, story of the woman caught in adultery.

(You can read it here ......John 8:1-11.)

A caution to all of us to be careful about judging others. None of us is perfect. We could all be placed in the center of that circle.

"Ah", some say, "be careful there. You can go too far and excuse anything. Don't forget that Jesus also said, 'Go and sin no more'."

Yes, he did. That wasn't the whole sentence, though. Addressing the woman after determining no one was left, he said: "Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more."

Do you hear that?  What a powerful thing! Jesus, the perfect, sinless one chooses not to cast a stone. This woman's sin affects him deeply -- he is soon to give sweat, blood, death because of it-- and he lets her go. It's....unfathomable. And get this -- he'll do the same for us, does do the same for us.

Of course, he did also give an admonition to leave the life of sin and that's important, too.

As we read this story, we need to consider our own position.

When we are, like the men who took the women to Jesus, tempted to judge we need to focus on "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." Not always the easiest, thing, but what we are called to do.

When we are the ones sinning we need to remember, "Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more." The grace is there, and the admonition. We need to heed both.

Personally, I find myself in each of these situations multiple times a day.  Wrestling with all  this is tough, but the growth is worth it.

What grabs you in this story?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Bible, the BMX track and Physics...

I wasn't expecting to teach physics yesterday. Or this month for that matter.

But Jordan's Bible lesson yesterday morning including a definition of energy. It lead us into a discussion about potential and kinetic energy. Who knew that would happen?

Then, we decided to spend our physical education hour at the BMX bike track in town. Jordan decided to figure out how far he could go with out pedaling if he started on a downward slope. He then began pedaling different distances, stopping, and seeing how far he could coast. I pointed out that he was experimenting with potential and kinetic energy.

He snarled, but he got the idea.

So we got an extra lesson.

I love homeschooling for a million reasons, but one of them is this element of serendipity in learning. We have fun, we make connections, we grow -- often in unexpected ways.

What kind of serendipity have you found lately?

Friday, September 14, 2012

When will I ever learn?

I had to come to school late tonight. Missed a yummy dinner and a chance to be social with my classmates.


Because I procrastinated. Didn't get my homework done on time. Had to go to the copy center and print it out when I should have been driving and drive when I should have been eating.

Ah, well.

I suppose I am busy. I taught a chemistry unit this week that had been pushed up from the end of the month because of a family visit. So instead of doing my homework, I was exploding coke bottles with mentos.  :)

But if I had been properly disciplined I could have done both.

But I didn't.

So I missed out on the fun part of school and I doubt the final product was my absolute best.

I guess I should figure this out before school goes much farther.

Anyone have any ideas for me?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Explosions, fizzles and lab reports

So I am teaching chemistry this week to three children in my homeschool.

We've learned what happens when you wet a mixture of baking soda and citric acid. We've watched raisins dance in seltzer water. We've popped a cork off of a coke bottle. Of course, we had a few failed experiments, too. Actually, more than a few... The kids have done some independent experimenting, too. Or at least playing with the materials.

Oh, and we've learned to write lab reports and balance chemical equations.

Tomorrow, we do work sheets.

Well, when we are not blowing  up marshmallows, filtering food coloring out of water and separating salt from pepper after they are mixed together. (I'm a mean teacher, sometimes.)

I am hoping the kids more and more excited about science. I think one of them will actually pursue it as a career.

In the meantime...

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Christians, Muslims, 9/11

It's the 11th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and Flight 93. The attacks on America.

I am taking a class on Muslim beliefs that is designed for Christians, to promote understanding. I discovered that there are still mainstream people (there will always be people on the fringes) who believe that all Muslims supported those attacks, that Muslims are more militant than Christians, that Muslims want to take over the U.S.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

I didn't think it needed to be said anymore, but most Muslims think that Al Qeada and the Taliban are crazy. Just as most Christians think that extremists who promote violence in the name of Jesus are crazy.

I think of:

The Muslim girls who disappeared from the school I was teaching in back in 2001. The boys didn't wear anything special so they blended in and stayed. The girls, with their headscarves, were recognizable and their parents feared for their safety and kept them home. I prayed for a way to reach out to those girls. 
God answered that prayer by sending me Morsal. She was a tiny girl with Down Syndrome who lived across the street from the school. Her parents didn't realize that she could attend school in America, but we found her and her parents soon enrolled her in my Life Skills class. She was very excited to learn and her parents were pleased to give her the opportunity. 
Being new to the country, Morsal did not speak English. As the Muslim girls returned to school, I sought help from some from her country. They came to translate and help her learn about lockers and lunch time. I got to interact with them and learn of their hopes and fears. Morsal also gave them a way to reach out and helped them, and all of us, heal. 
I also think of:

The Muslim Mom in our homeschool group. She homeschools so her kids will have a better education, so that she can spend more time with them, and so that she can share her faith and values more easily. Basically, for the same reasons I homeschool. Her kids are bright and friendly and have a variety of interests.
One time my son and her son were bouncing on a trampoline. They got to arguing about who Jesus is. Eventually, they decided they would stick to their own religions and be friends. Perhaps an idea for all of us to consider?

Not that we shouldn't evangelize. We are supposed to share the gospel. Both Christianity and Islam are outreaching religions.  In America, that's allowed -- thanks be to God.

But we can live in peace with our neighbors, love our neighbors, whether we agree or not.

What do you think?

Monday, September 10, 2012

World Suicide Prevention Awareness Day

September 10, 2012 is World Suicide Prevention Day.

I am no expert on suicide or how to deal with it.

I do see suicide -- in all its forms -- as a tragedy. I am going to commit to educate myself a little more on this difficult topic.

Here's a link that provides information on what to do if someone you know needs help because they are feeling suicidal. It also provides links to a wealth of other information.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

One thing to keep in mind is this:

Always take threats of suicide seriously. Always seek help.

Suicide is completed by people of a variety of ages (including children) and in a variety of circumstances. Remember that people who look like they are doing well might actually not be.

And, remember, prayer is always a good idea.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Song for Sunday: Joyful, Joyful

This has always been one of my favorite hymns, but right now it's been going through my head a lot. The words are by Henry van Dyke and it is sung to a simplified version of Beethoven's Ode to Joy.

Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee, God of glory, Lord of love;
Hearts unfold like flowers before Thee, opening to the sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness; drive the dark of doubt away;
Giver of immortal gladness, fill us with the light of day!

All Thy works with joy surround Thee, earth and heaven reflect Thy rays,
Stars and angels sing around Thee, center of unbroken praise.
Field and forest, vale and mountain, flowery meadow, flashing sea,
Singing bird and flowing fountain call us to rejoice in Thee.

Thou art giving and forgiving, ever blessing, ever blessed,
Wellspring of the joy of living, ocean depth of happy rest!
Thou our Father, Christ our Brother, all who live in love are Thine;
Teach us how to love each other, lift us to the joy divine.

Mortals, join the happy chorus, which the morning stars began;
Father love is reigning o’er us, brother love binds man to man.
Ever singing, march we onward, victors in the midst of strife,
Joyful music leads us Sunward in the triumph song of life.

The parts that have been coming to mind most are

"Thou our Father, Christ our Brother, all who live in love are Thine;
Teach us how to love each other, lift us to the joy divine."


"Mortals, join the happy chorus, which the morning stars began;
Father love is reigning o’er us, brother love binds man to man."

Hmmm....seems to be a theme here.  Something to think about.

What songs are resonating with you just now?

Friday, September 7, 2012

Rhubarb-Raisin Pie

My husband really likes rhubarb. And raisins. And pie.

I decided to combine the three and came up with this recipe.

Per usual all amounts are approximate and should be varied to taste.

Cut six stalks of rhubarb (throw leaves away, they are poisonous) into small pieces and add to a cup and a half of boiling water in a medium saucepan. Add a cup of sugar. Simmer until soft, about 30 minutes.

Remove from heat. Let stand about 10 minutes, to thicken. Add a 1/4 cup of raisins and a 1/2 cup of white flour.

Pour into a pie shell and bake at 375 for 20 minutes.

Good served warm, but quite a soupy pie. Bowls might be good. I might add two eggs next time to act as a binder.

What new recipes have you tried lately?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

First Day of School

Originally, I had planned to start school yesterday, the Wednesday after Labor Day, which is when I used to start school as a child and when our town opens the public schools. But, my husband teaches in a district that starts today, so Jordan convinced me to do the same.

So what do homeschoolers do on the first day of school? Approximately 1,972,433 different things. Actually, some of the 1,972,433 don't acknowledge a "first day of school". They just keep going with their usual activities, which include education.

I can tell you what we did at our house.....

Jordan knew I would wake him up at 7:15 for a 7:30 school start, so he got up at 6:00 to do his "own stuff" which included reading, drawing and a computer game.

We each did our own Bible lesson at 7:30 and then moved right on to our history reading.

After our breakfast break we rode our bikes down to the BMX track and Jordan took a few stabs at beating his fastest time.

Back at home we dissected a seed pod, studied a little French and learned about graphs in math.

We finished up at 10:30 and Jordan went into his self-directed educational hours. After a little baseball, he rode down to the library to make a bar graph related to his family tree and check his email. The email had some information that he added to the tree. Genealogy is his current special interest.

Next is lunch and chores and more self-directed educational time, followed by 4H.

Doesn't seem very exciting --- but it is :) I am very grateful for the freedom to follow our own schedule and interests and I love the extra time with my son.

How was your first day of school?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Scriptures on Love and Sin.... A Follow Up Post

My last post was on love, sin and Westboro Baptist Church. To read it go here.

Today, I am just going to put some scripture to what I said last time, so you all know I am not making this up. :)

On God's authority to send us to Hell....

"But I'll tell you whom to fear. Fear God, who has the power to kill you and then throw you into hell. Yes, he's the one to fear." Luke 13:5

"If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.  Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?  For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”[ and again, “The Lord will judge his people.”[  It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." Hebrews 10: 26-31

On us all being sinners and God's loving us in spite of it:

"for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" Romans 3:23

"Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die.  But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:7-9

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 1 John 4:10
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

On Loving Our Enemies...

But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." Matthew 5:44

“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you." Luke 6:27

And one final thought:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

When Westboro Baptist Church announced that they were going to protest the funeral of a soldier last Saturday the soldier's church and community united around the family. Something good came of something potentially horrible. Apparently, in the end, there was no sign that Westboro even showed up. God is indeed good.

Have a blessed day!!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Westboro Baptist Church

They're at it again.

Westboro Baptist Church is protesting at the funeral of another fallen soldier. This time, it is at a church just a few hours from me that is a member of the same region as my church. I know the pastor slightly and have friends who will attend the funeral to help form a shield between it and the protesters. The family has also invited the Patriots' Guard Riders to be present as an honor guard.

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog article on a bumper sticker I saw that read "Remember: Jesus Loves All the People You Hate." Westboro Baptist Church needs to get that message, learn that lesson. Their constant, explicit  message of hate is absolutely contradictory to God's word.

Think about it. The idea that God hates people because of sin is downright ridiculous. I mean, sure, he hates sin. However, if he hated people because of sin he would have sent the whole lot of us -- not just people who commit one particular sin or another but all of us straight to Hell with no questions asked. He has the authority to do that.

The authority, but not the will. So instead of sending us to Hell, He died for us. All of us. Any of us who follows Him gets to be with Him. Because He loves us. Period.

But, um, there is more to this...

......because if Jesus loves everyone we hate,

then Jesus loves...

                the people of Westboro Baptist Church

and we are supposed to do that, too.

Argh. I don't want to. I mean, have you heard what these people do? This whole thing just boggles my mind.

In a previous post about them, I wrote that we should not hate Westboro Baptist Church because that would be sinking to their level. I think I can manage that.

But there is a world of difference between not hating and actually loving them. I don't even know what that would look like or how to go about it. The idea kinda freaks me out, but it is commanded:

"Love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you."

*Sigh* -- I am not even in the hardest position -- I have never been personally, directly affected by the actions of Westboro Baptist Church, but I srill can't get my mind around this.

How does it work? Any ideas?

I think I will begin by praying for them... and see where to go from there.


I began attending Youth Conference 34 years ago in 1979. Back then, the conference bumped Labor Day weekend so that yesterday would have been the last day. I still think of this as when the conference should end.

Now, though, conference is “early.” It actually ended two weeks ago today. We held our Graduation service, a barbecue and the traditional closing circle on Saturday, August 18.

This was my last Graduation Service as Academic Dean of the Conference, so this coming year will be a different one for me. For the first time in nearly two decades, I will not be part of the Planning Committee. I also know that I will most probably not be at conference next August.

I am definitely feeling a sense of loss in all this. I have been at 30 conferences in the 34 years since I started. I’m not worried – the conference is in good hands—but I am sad that I will not be a part of it. I think of all the first and second year students who I worked this year and last year – I’ll be missing out on watching their growth. But whatever year I moved on, that would be the case. There are always more special kids, more deep connections.

Graduation was emotional at points. The Third Year class was amazing – they brought energy to the service, they showed that they had really bonded, and they seemed to have fun. I nearly lost it when, after it was announced that I my term was up, they sang to me and then to the Dean who was also moving on. (Actually, everyone sang to us, but they started it.) That’s something I will carry with me into the next year. I feel like I made a difference to someone.

Hopefully, I’ll be back to CYC sometime soon. For now, I remember…

When have you moved on from something that was important? How have you worked through the emotions?