Monthly Archives: July 2012

Sunday’s Musings 7/29

Sunday’s musings: my way of staying awake in church, namely by collecting blog worthy thoughts from whoever happens to be speaking at the moment and at the church that I happen to be at that particular Sunday morning.

 

Yesterday, while the majority of Ohio’s conservative youth were at the Youth Fellowship Meetings in Antrim, I was in Minerva. Don’t you just like it when the song leader springs one on the congregation? Like, when he is trying to appear humble and asks for 2 selections. I tend to think of 2 things. One, he’s looking to engage the audience or 2, he was late in getting to church and, in appearing to being needy, reaches out to people to help him out. Well, this particular song leader did this very act and I know for a certainty that he wasn’t running late so maybe it was the former that prompted him to ask for 2 selections. After the 3rd song, the majority of us in the pews, actually make that all of us, put our books in the rack and began to settle down for the devotional. HE PULLS THE 4TH SONG ON US!! Cruel and unusual, it was. It upset our sense of normalcy. But to his credit, he chose one of the better, short hymns that have been penned.

“Dear Lord and Father of mankind, forgive our foolish ways. Reclothe us in our rightful mind, in purer lives they service find, in deeper reverence praise.”

“Drop thy still dews of quietness, till all our strivings cease. Take from our souls the strain and stress and let our ordered lives confess, the beauty of the peace.”

Sheer poetry!

The devotional was taken out of the first ten verses of Ephesians 2 and touched on 3 points.

1: 1-3 – Who we were/are without Christ.

2: 4-7 – What we become after we are saved.

3: 8-10 – The process of salvation and what we are called unto, i.e, the perfecting of our salvation.

 

All in all, a edifying service. I was blessed but beyond church, I was again blessed…by friends.

EJ

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True Masculinity

Today was a lovely, lazy Saturday and the weather lent itself to that mindset. It rained when it felt like raining and we did what we felt like doing. Such days are necessary every now and then.

In this mindset and as I’m often wont to do, I picked up a monthly periodical and browsed it. The editors of this periodical had included a poem which appealed to me. I’m a avowed proponent of true masculinity. A brief explanation might be necessary to describe what I think of as true masculinity.

It’s a code of conduct that recognizes and fully embraces the male character with all of it’s failings, foibles and glowing strengths. It’s a recognition that all of this expresses God. It’s a realization that without the atoning power of Christ, this maleness will dominate and exert it’s power over Creation. True masculinity, then, is the living out of this. A unabashed form of life that recognizes the strengths and weaknesses of men and appeals to Christ to live it out in a practical daily way.

It’s not a piece of polished poetry. Not like Longfellow or Poe but it captures the confusion of today’s world and the desire to learn more of true masculinity.

True Masculinity

Sovereign Lord, You had a specific plan,

When you brought me into this world as a man.

But in a society so confused about gender roles,

Sometimes I struggle in the depths of my soul.

Is it possible to function today as a godly male,

And fulfill Your perfect design without fail?

 

If so, please teach me how:

To love with passionate intensity, but always in absolute purity.

To boldly take a biblical stance, without an attitude of arrogance

To exercise the authority of my position, without using force or manipulation.

To submit myself to those over me, yet never override Your divine authority.

To accept every race, age, class, and gender, without a hint of condescension whatsoever.

To laugh, cry and get emotional, but never to the point of being irrational.

To be always circumspectly judicious, without being unnecessarily suspicious.

To exert my physical and spiritual powers, without intimidating my sisters and brothers.

To enjoy life’s pleasures while on earth, but no indulge in them to seek my worth.

To rejoice in my eternal salvation, without a falsely religious ostentation.

 

I feel the burden of manhood on me is tough,

And oftentimes I am not sure if I have enough,

Of what it takes to face the great task at hand,

Especially with today’s many pressing demands.

Nevertheless, it is my privilege in this generation,

To dignify masculinity by Christ-like dedication.

 

For now, that’s all.

EJ

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Lessons from the Street

Tonight, after talking with a acquaintance from long ago, I was made again to realize that the biggest need (notice it’s a need; not a want or a desire but a need; a hole that if not filled will mess up a person’s life) of a person’s well-being, both mentally and physically, is selfless, sacrificial, unconditional, unmerited (ok, you get the point) love. A love that doesn’t demand to be returned. A love that is there to encourage and inspire. A love that believes and doesn’t tear down. In short, a love that gives like it was shown to us. God help me to give like I’ve been given.

Also, in returning to my car, I met a cook for a local night spot in my county seat. Since he was seated on the curb right in front of my car, I made myself approach him, with the intent to witness and share the Good News. Not 2 minutes into the conversation, he lit a cigarette. Eventually, we got to talking about spiritual matters. My Anabaptistical steeped mindset slightly revolted against thinking of this person as a child of the King. Shame on my professed version of Christianity! But, he was a smoker, had studs in his ears, was fluent in sailor’s language and was missing a couple of front teeth. And against my backdrop of squeaky clean Christianity, I was tempted to hold him at arm’s length. He professed a belief in God and said that he prays every day and most mornings. I asked him if he reads the Bible as well. Oh yeah, oh yeah, he replied. I further inquired if he knows Jesus Christ as more than a swear word. This he affirmed as well. Well, I told him, on practical issues we don’t see things eye to eye and wishing him a blessed evening, got into my car and drove away.

Now, although he confessed to needing to work on Sunday to make child payments, something about this guy blessed me. Whether or not he was sincere or knew the right answers to give me, I don’t know. If he was sincere, he had a different brand of Christianity. If he was giving the right answers, at least he knows that much and if this is true, I pray that those seeds would eventually sprout. While driving home, I noticed that my hand smelled like cigarette smoke from having shaken his hand. I just smiled.

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Sunday’s Musings 7/22

Today was a weird Sunday morning service. Primarily, I was blessed by being present at my home church. But today was the first time I can remember having a dual line of thinking throughout the message but being challenged and crying out to God on both fronts. Weird…amazing…and so blessed.

Anyway, here’s this week’s Sunday notes. In the devotional, out of Psalm 46 came this verse and it’s very true for the modern world today. “God is our refuge and strength in time of trial and trouble; A VERY PRESENT help in time of trouble”. So true and so humbling to think that the Almighty would stoop so low to help frail mankind.

Quotes from the message:

You don’t demand respect or reputation…you earn it. This is one I’ve believed for years but hearing it preached just sorta validates it.

It’s not so much that you lead out perfectly…but that you lead out. This was directed to the men and I agree with it whole heartedly.

The message was on killing the giants in our lives and the text was taken from 1Samuel 17. The super well-known account of David killing Goliath, it contains practical lessons for today.

1: Plug into the source of true Power. David recognized it was God in him that would succeed, not David in David.

2: Choosing the right weapons.

3: Keeping your focus. It’s true…we become what we focus on. Therefore, we ought to be picky with our focus.

4: Seize the God moments in our lives. Experience life fully and look for God in the small things helps to keep our focus where it out to be during the difficult times.

5: Finally, cut the giant’s head off. When victory has been gained over a temptation, don’t give it any chance of coming back and haunting you. Do what it takes to destroy it.

And lastly, a line from one of the hymns we sang this morning,

O hear my earnest prayer, dear Lord, and make me stronger day by day…Increase my faith, dear Lord, I pray.

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We associate all the fun …

We associate all the fun and excitement and neon coolness of life with the world and leave God all the boring, discipline-flavored moments. He’s like eating broccoli. We know it’s good for us, but it’s still broccoli. But that can’t be right. God is wild/ He’s constantly saying, “Let’s go find cliffs to jump off of, ” and, “I know exactly what you need, because, guess what, I put that need there.” He created my heart and the deepest desires I have, and there’s no yacht or nightclub on the planet that can access those spots of me like God can.

from “Stuff Christians Like” by Jonathan Acuff

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Sunday’s Musings 7/15

Another week is behind us and I have had a blessed Sunday morning. For starters, the Garments of Praise quartet were in our church and gave a inspirational program. It’s been awhile since I’ve heard them sing but their unique style and dedication to their Master are still contagious. All in all, very inspirational.

One thing I’ve noticed in our Sunday morning services is that someone almost without fail will mention something to this effect. “Our reason for being here is because of Him.  It doesn’t matter what we have, the job we hold, the church we go to, the family we were born in, the friends we have, how much money we have, etc. etc., we’re here this morning because of Him”. It’s not that this statement isn’t true. It is. But this repetitiousness caught my attention this morning.

The thrust of the message was on coming out in order to enter in. More following but the text verse was Deuteronomy 23:6

“He brought us out from thence….to bring us in…”

Moses was writing and here he references God’s delivering the children of Israel from bondage and providing for them while they journeyed to the Promised Land. But they couldn’t experience the freedom of Canaan if they never left Egypt. In a nutshell, this is the salvation message. We need to leave something to experience another thing. In life, doors open and doors close. Opportunities come and go. You can’t go through the door of forgiveness without closing the door on grudges. You leave hate behind when you choose to love. Never will the peace of obedience be experienced if disobedience is obstinately clung to. Cursing can be turned into blessing. Strife and stress are left behind when we leave those things that cause them and trust to God to replace them with peace. Satan wants to destroy us as Christians because, simply put, we have said no to his way of life and chosen the way of the Cross. To experience the cleansing Christ offers, we need to come out and leave our own filthiness.

Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. Isaiah 1:18 

Isaiah writes of God speaking to Israel. God pleads for people to repent and turn to Him. He is imploring them to come out from their sins and He will then bring them into His rest.

John 3:16 shows the same idea,

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life

Those who believe, won’t perish but….gain life everlasting.  There is no blessed peace if we insist on keeping a’hold of our grudges and continue to live our own life. It comes down to a personal choice whether or not we will enter into the Promised Land, or Heaven, or if we will remain in abject servitude in the land of bondage.  It takes faith to let go. Faith to go higher. So, will we step out in faith and by faith, enter in?

EJ

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informal family portrait

so, we as a collective Beachy family continue to maintain our state of constant flux. this is a good thing. at the same time, it is rather regrettable. so we try to treasure each time together. my youngest brother, Neil, was a day away from leaving for Oregon, where he is currently working for the next 7 weeks. another one of my brothers is dating….nuff said. I just found out that my application for studies at Faith Builders has been accepted and anticipate leaving in about a month for another 2 years away. so, for us, life is on the verge of scattering us hither and thither across the green acres of this globe called Earth. thus, we decided to capture the family together before these changes occur. it’s been over 2 1/2 years since the last full family portrait was done, so yes, it was about time.

so, here we is! I feel blessed. on any given night of the week, sans those evenings where duty obligates me elsewhere, my choice is with this group.

127054092-EditPSrsz

this is the informal picture. later this fall, the formal(s) will be taken.

EJ

Categories: About life, Just me | 1 Comment

Praise Polishes

Iron sharpens iron but a soft cloth polishes gold. Praise is that soft cloth.
From “Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends”. Written by Sarah, Stephen and Grace Mally

Categories: Praise, Quotes, Rants and Randomness | 3 Comments

Thoughts From July 8th

Another week is past and Sunday was here. Church too often becomes a boring act of fulfilling duty. I hope to change that for myself. Sundays shouldn’t be boring. From each message, Christians should take away something inspiring and be challenged to live higher and reach new heights in their individual spiritual journeys.

One of my married friends was visiting the area this weekend and I invited him over to share the noon meal with my family. He’s 2 months younger than myself and already is a dad to a rambunctious 1 1/2 year old little boy. So, yes, there are some differences between us. But we had a good visit. However, this post is not about that friend. Only a side note on a interesting weekend

Note taking is a discipline. You need to remember two things to begin to become a note taker. One, something to write on and secondly, something to write with. It’s simple, really. The third part is staying awake and alert enough to take notes. This is the challenge. For with out alertness, the rest is vain.

So, what did I glean from today’s service? The devotional was on Paul glorying in his infirmities. Paul had come to the point where he realized that his sufferings and tribulations are for his personal betterment. That in these, he would learn more of God, that he would rely more on God than on his own strength and by consequence discover new strength to face new trials. He mentions some of these: hunger, thirst, nakedness, persecution, distresses and anguish. In these he gloried but we as 21st century Christians often pray for their removal. By default, we are saying that we don’t want to become better. God protect us from that attitude!

The message was inspiring. I had had a hint of what it was to be about, thanks to yesterday’s visit at the preacher’s place. He used Genesis 24 for his text. It’s all part of a series of messages from the book of Genesis and chapter 24 is the story of Isaac and Rebekah. It’s a story of love and of faith and the message was entitled “God Leads His People”. A great message; but with my current state of personal affairs, I would have preferred a different text. However, I understand that this was all part of a systematic study of the book of Genesis.

One highlight from the message:

Verse 27 Abraham’s servant is speaking and says, “I being in the way, the Lord led me”. Now, it’s not written to give this sense but it’s good to know that God can work, even when we get in the way. And He sure can use us when we are in His way.

Looking at some of the characters in this story. First we see Abraham. This point of the story finds him advanced in years and grieving the loss of his wife. But in his father heart, he still had a concern for his son Isaac. It apparently was something he wanted to see before he died. This, the Promised Child, married before he died. He was a blessed man, both in material wealth and spiritually. How many of us would want to have the close walk that Abraham enjoyed with God? I would! Another admirable trait was he willingly delegated this task to his trusted servant

The servant, commonly thought to be Eleazar, was loyal. He was 2nd only to Abraham. He explicitly obeyed Abraham regarding his wishes. He showed wisdom in his search for a wife for Isaac. He didn’t just go looking anywhere but want to a place and at a time that he knew he would find ‘people’. He was a man of prayer. Where did he learn that? Was it from watching Abraham? Possibly. The Bible doesn’t say. He respected his master even though he was a good distance from him. We see that he was focused. He displays a persistence and purpose that would not allow him to eat until he told Rebekah’s family what his purpose was.

Now, Rebekah. She was fair but more than physical beauty, was a inward beauty as well. She was courteous and industrious. She drew enough water to water 10 camels. One camel can drink about 30 gallons of water when it is thirsty. Times 10 is about 300 gallons. I don’t know how big her container was that she was drawing water with but it couldn’t have been 300 gallons. This means she took multiple trips to water those thirsty beasts. That’s dedication. That’s servant-hood!

We look now at Laban. We don’t learn much in the way of his conduct being a spiritual help for us today but rather of how not to be. Not much is said of him in this chapter but even here, we see his materialistic bent. He had a eye for profit, loved riches and took advantage of people. All of which are misplaced priorities. When he saw the jewels that Abraham’s servant gave to Rebekah, to him, that clinched it.

Isaac plays a part in this story as well. Was he frustrated that Dad hadn’t found him a wife yet? From what we see, he was a man of deep thought. When we first see him in this chapter, he’s out in the field, meditating. On what? God? His future wife? But he sees the camels coming and accepts God’s choice for him.

So, does God still direct our steps today? Let’s revisit these characters and see how God still leads today.

1: Abraham was faithful. He lived and acted in faith. And today, when we do so, God will honor our faith in Him.

2: The servant prayed. He prayed for a specific sign. These, God still uses today. They aren’t always necessary but it’s beautiful when signs happen to confirm God’s leading. But as humans, we tempt God by a lack of faith or by continuing to demand a sign when we already know the answer.

3: Rebekah found direction through others. Her family supported her. Proverbs says, “in the multitude of counselors there is safety”.

4: Laban shows us how we can hinder God’s work in our lives. Covetous, greedy and thinking about himself, he shows us how we can possibly hinder God revealing His plan to us. These characteristics come from a mentality that thinks too much too often of ourselves.

5. Isaac demonstrates his close connection with God. God promises to us that we can have a close connection with Him through the Holy Spirit. Through this, God leads

So, the question comes to us. Is God leading us? In searching for a church, needing wisdom to make a decision, at work or in the home, He is willing and eager to lead us. If we allow Him. And ultimately, we should. His goal is to bring us home to Him. That is the final destination for the Christian. The perfect escape from this world.

EJ

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Glorious Truth

“So, Jesus died for for me. Why?”

“You want to know why?”, I asked her.

“Yeah”, was the response.

Looking her full in the face and knowing I was about to utter sacred and precious truth, I answered her. “Because He loves you”.

This took a second or two to sink in. When it did, it was noticeable. Her face crinkled and her voice took on a quieter, more reflective tone. “Aw”, she said, “that’s sweet”.

Amen ma’am, I wanted to shout. This is the best news you can ever hear. It’s life changing, life giving and is the purpose and drive for a Christian. Unfortunately, this young woman wasn’t .

To give the setting a little, I had had plans to go to Pennsylvania last weekend. There was a number of stuff I wanted to do and people I had wanted to see. The main reason for going was a Paraguayan reunion. The plans for the reunion changed in the 11th hour and the event was moved to Virginia. Since I had a handful of things that I had wanted to do in Pennsylvania, I kept with those plans and began my weekend there. Friday night found me with a friend that I hadn’t seen in 2 years. John Beiler is from Port Royal and ever since Bible school about 4 years ago, we’ve been good friends. He’s someone whom I respect and listen to when he gives advice. Given the closeness of our friendship and the amount of time that has elapsed since our last chat, yes, I had a great desire to royally gab the hours away.

We were sitting there, about 200 yards away from the McDonalds where we had purchased our drinks. It had been a glorious evening of riding the mountain roads in his brother’s jeep and chatting all the while. The chatting had kept up underneath the spreading branches. of a friendly elm. We had just gotten well started when a car pulls up 2 spaces over. We ignored them; after all, it was a McDonalds and the public is in and out the whole time. After sitting there for about 10 minute, the female driver called out.

“Hey…whatcha doing?”. Her tone implied that she had other things on her mind

“Nuthin”, said John, “Just hanging out. What are you up to?”.

Her response was identical to John’s. “Nuthin. Just, you know, hanging out. Where you guys from?”

“I’m from around here and he’s”, jerking his head my direction, “from Ohio”.

“Ohio, really? Like Cleveland from (here I forget what TV show she quoted)?”

"I don’t know,” says I, “I don’t watch television”.

This aroused her. “Not watch television?!” astonishment showing in her voice, “What are you, Amish or something?”

“No, we’re not Amish” was John’s response.

“Then Mennonite, right?”

“Right”.

She gets out of her car and walked closer. She appeared to be in her mid-twenties. I looked at John and he looks at me. We’re thinking the same thing, “Heaven help us”. Her name was Sara and she was a local who was out trolling. According to her, she was a dealer in weed as well as a mild alcoholic. She was with her current boyfriend but confidentially told us that when she moves to Kansas, she’ll conveniently ditch him. She kept going on giving such information in hopes of what? Picking one of us up? Getting some money out of us for a mythical need? I don’t know. The conversation became interesting when she told us…

“I’ve wanted to become Amish”.

“Really? Why?”

“Well, not Amish. Just get married to a Amish guy. I think he’d be more stable and less likely to cheat on me.” Ooh, interesting. That piece of information ‘bout sent John and I spinning. Then she kept going. “He’d be a good person…like you guys.”

This we latched onto and hijacked the conversation. We explained to her that we aren’t naturally good. That of ourselves, we are nothing. It’s Christ living in us that gives us the power and freedom to live above our natural desires. She knew some spiritual information but we couldn’t take any scrap of information for granted. In talking to her, everything needed to be laid out and explained. Only after we talked about God as the ultimate supreme and good being could we proceed with the Garden of Eden and man’s depravity. From there, we went to the Cross. And that’s where we got to, what was for me, the highlight of the evening. Watching the knowledge of truth hit home and her response to it, I knew that we had gotten somewhere with her. It was priceless and a moment I’ll not forget for awhile. Shortly after this, she hurriedly left with her boyfriend, who by this time was getting antsy about the amount of time that we had spent in conversation.

They say a person on average hears the Good News about 7 times before coming to the point of commitment. I don’t know where Sara was but she got closer to it last Friday night. Nor do I know what she really wanted out of 2 guys who were enjoying their drinks and each other’s company. All I know is that she got a whole lot more than what she was looking for. She got Truth!

 

EJ

Categories: Paraguayan Parables | Leave a comment

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