Monday, August 30, 2010

The Fire, the Cloud, and the Aroma

This morning as I was searching the Scriptures I decided to consult a commentary. By the way, if you are not familiar with I highly recommend this resource for a wealth of good solid commentaries available online. Don’t automatically fly to a commentary though. If you haven’t read and re-read the text, prayed for insight, and done some preliminary work on your own you won’t have the discernment you need to assess whether the commentator is on track.

I knew the correlation between God appearing to Abram as a smoking oven and a flaming torch as they cut covenant in Genesis 15, and God appearing to his descendents as a pillar of cloud by day and fire by night that guided His children out of Egypt. However, my understanding was deepened by these wonderful insights by Alexander Maclaren. “These two symbols, the fire and the cloud point to the double aspect of God’s nature, that “He can never be completely known; He is never completely hid.” But also, “It speaks of that twofold aspect of the divine nature, by which to hearts that love He is gladsome light, and to unloving ones He is threatening darkness. As to the Israelites the pillar was light, and the Egyptians darkness and terror, so the same God is joy to some, and dread to others.” (Expositions of Holy Scripture [Baker], 1:109).

As I pondered this wonderful insight 2 Corinthians 2:15-16 came to mind. “For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. And who is adequate for these things?” The very same principle Macclaren was describing will be played out in our lives too. Even if we are representing our Lord well, there will be those who love darkness and will dread the light that is in us. It is an awesome thing to carry the Presence. As Paul asks, “Who is adequate?” Read these words in the NKJV 2 Corinthians 2:14 “Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses (poured forth) the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.”

May it be so Lord.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Catching Up

August has been a wild ride. Well, for some adrenaline junkies and those who like to live at a fast pace my life would seem pretty tame, but for me...not so much. I live in the mountains where life has a totally different cadence. We don’t have malls, traffic jams, or an abundance of restaurants or theaters. Some of you may find it strange that it’s not unusual for us to cross state lines just to see a movie. What we do have is family scattered all over creation, and since we love them and seek opportunities to see each other, it involves a lot of travel, phone calls, and the ability to Skype.

I also have spent a lot of time encouraging, consoling, and just listening to friends and loved ones who are going through or have loved ones going through really tough times. Just yesterday I had the surreal experience of helping to plan a prayer vigil for the safe return of a friend’s 26 year old cousin who has been missing for almost a week. In my own extended family we’ve had a potentially life threatening motorcycle accident, open heart surgery, and in a couple of days, my niece will have a melanoma removed from her leg.

On a much lighter note… in the family realm I had the delight of flying to Wisconsin for my great-niece’s wedding. Ariel Taylor married Robert Jank. Ariel is the daughter of my nephew Scott Taylor who is a missionary in the Philippines. It was a quick trip, but so worth it to see love ones that I so rarely get to see. I’m something of an airport connoisseur (probably the 7 years I spent as a stewardess) and I loved the Milwaukee airport. Good thing because I had to spend several hours there. I had chosen Lost Horizon off my bookshelf to read and used a gift card to treat myself to Starbucks so it was all good. I’m including some pictures of the lobby. It was bustling because the PGA had a tournament nearby. Lots of men with plaid pants. The atmosphere was really wonderful.

On the home and garden front I hate to admit it, but my husband and I made a real rookie mistake this year. We overplanted two of our raised beds and didn’t thin them out. You’ve heard that “he who sows sparingly will reap sparingly?” I have something to add, “she who sows abundantly and doesn’t thin out the seedlings will have a lot of frustration and waste.” We were gone two weeks during prime garden time which didn’t help. My cucumbers leaves were so thick and abundant that I couldn’t find the cucumbers until they were near watermelon size. The delight of growing your own is to pick them when they are small and crisp with tiny seeds, but they couldn’t be found in the jungle. My bush beans were the same way. They were crammed in side by side and loaded. We ate a lot of green beans and I shared with my neighbor, but I dreaded picking them. Next year I will probably overreact and have one plant every 3 feet.…balance Carol, balance.

Our little Pomeranian/Chihuahua mix 14 year old dog, Taz, is now on medicine for a heart murmur. He gave us a real scare by almost passing out. Fortunately he was scheduled for an appointment with the vet that very day. He is the most compliant and laid back dog. I had to throw that in because of the mix of his breed you may be picturing a high strung yipper. That is so not Taz. He has been a delightful companion to us. Nothing makes him happier than to see his bed go into the backseat of our car or truck. He knows he gets to go on an adventure. He curls up and snoozes with one eye open so he won’t miss any opportunity to roam and find new trees and bushes to mark. He doesn’t want to miss out on any food being passed around either. If there were pictures to illustrate words in a dictionary Taz’s would be next to optimist. We do NOT feed him from the table, but that’s where you will find him at every meal. Maybe he’s waiting for a stray morsel to escape, but only when the grandkids are here does that plan bring a return. Since they live SO far away, it’s a long wait.

September beckons with a varied and full schedule. My husband is going to visit the grandkids without me. He and one of our granddaughters have birthdays close together. She wanted her grandparents there and I can't make it so as his birthday present he gets to go alone. Now he doesn't have to shamelessly vie to be the favorite. I can't believe I am missing out, but I will try to benefit spiritually from the solitude. The night I came face to face with the claims of the Lord Jesus Christ, His word to me was, "Be still and know that I am God." I still need to allow that truth to reign in my heart and life. On September 1st I get to be part of a new online ministry A Martha Heart — Sitting at His Feet I feel so privileged to be asked, but more privileged to work with and get to know some wonderful women. The 9th of September my husband will begin facilitating a men's Bible study and I will be there to serve and help him in any way I can. On the 11th some friends and I will be providing the wedding reception for a wonderful young couple. On the 13th I will be launching a new Bible study group in our community with some young women who are stepping out in faith to reach their circle of influence. In all of this I would desire your prayers. I want to do what I do out of the overflow of my relationship with Him. I want to abide in Him and His word in me so that I bear fruit and exhibit a gentle and quiet spirit that is precious in His sight.
Hopefully, I will still have time to come here and share lessons learned as I journey with Him.

Wishing you joy in the journey,