Ramblings

Life, family, business


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Baptism

My sermon from Sunday, January 10th.

What is baptism?  A baby comes to mind, all the family and sponsors dressed up and smiling, as the minister drips a little water on his or her head.  The baby usually cries or fusses a little, we all read a liturgy together, pledging to help raise this child in the family of God.  Some churches baptize people as adults instead, plunging them into a tank of water or submerging them in a river. Either way is fine since we only baptize with water, Jesus baptizes us with the Holy Spirit.

The purpose of baptism is to show the world we are accepting Christ as our Savior.  If we baptize a baby, we are welcoming him or her into the family of God.  Baptism itself is simply a ceremony of identification with the Christian church. But the true meaning of baptism is rebirth, being born again in the presence of Jesus, and accepting His resurrection for the life-changing thing that it is.

I remember awhile back, Pastor Brian Dixon gave a sermon on baptism, and during the sermon, he presented a bowl of river rocks and invited each congregant to come up and take a rock to remind each of us of our baptism.  I took a shiny black rock and listened to the rest of the sermon instructing us to use this rock to remind us of our own baptisms.

I kept that rock in my pocket for months.  Each time I felt the rock, or became aware of its existence, I made to sure thank God for something. I was reminded that God is the rock I build my life upon. God is my foundation, and all things come from Him.  I would thank Him for my family, friends, coworkers, and all the blessings He brings into my life.

“Thank you for this beautiful day, God!” I would think as I felt the rock. Sometimes I would hold it in my hands as I prayed and I would thank God for giving me this rock so that I thought of Him more often.  When life would get chaotic and my brain was thinking of a million things at once, all I had to do was hold the rock and I could stop and thank God for any and all things.  The rock became almost like a security blanket.

Then, one day as I got ready for work, I stopped to grab my rock and my lip balm to put them in my pocket, and the rock was gone.  I looked all over, under the couch, in the bathroom, in the laundry room. Where did I put my rock?  I had to go to work without it.

That night I continued searching for my rock, but it was gone. I questioned my husband and children if they had seen it.  But alas, the rock was nowhere to be found.  I told my wise friend that I had lost my rock, and she said to me, “Maybe its because you don’t need it anymore.”

God gives, and God takes away.  I thought about this for awhile.  Its true, I was thinking about God on a regular basis, and every time I noticed my rock was missing from its place, I would still thank God for something.  My thanking God had become a habit.  But a good habit at that!  I may have not had the physical reminder, but I still remembered to thank God for everything in my life.

I realized that I truly didn’t need the rock to have God in my life.  And I realized that the rock helped me become a better person by helping me to remember that God is with me in all things.  When I feel God in my life every day, I am more at peace. I know that God is in me, and I am in God.  I know that God works all things together for my good.  I trust God to take care of me, and in this trust I have learned to have less fear of the world and the circumstances of life.

God tells us to ask Him for everything we need, and He will provide.  I worry less about the future and take the time to experience the present.  I ask God for wisdom and knowledge when I have a problem, and He gives me what I need.

When I strive to see the world through God’s eyes, its an entirely different place.  I tend to look for the good in people instead of the negative.  I see the beauty of nature which is God’s creation.  I understand that God’s will prevails over humankind, and no matter what I do, God loves me the same.  I know how much I love my children, even when they make mistakes, and to think that God loves us more than we love our children is amazing.   I am one of those children, and so are you.  God loves us no matter what we do.  When we place our trust in our Father, He always takes care of us.  He is the ultimate definition of love.  God promises us all these things when we become His children, and so much more.

So if any of you want to become more aware of God in your life, I invite you to find some thing that makes you think of God.  Think of it as continuing your baptism.

 

 

 


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What’s Your Opinion?

I can be a very opinionated person.  I have a very strong belief system and I defend my beliefs.   An opinion is simply a belief or view or judgment formed about something.  We all have them.  Some have more than others.

Every person is entitled to their own opinion about anything.  Here in the United States we have the freedom of speech, and we have the right to voice our opinions.  However, its important to remember that not everyone has the same opinion, and even though you can voice your opinion, I don’t have to listen.

What makes some people feel the need to express their opinion to people they barely know, with no invitation?  What makes these people think that their opinion means anything to people they don’t know?

This is one of the things I’ve been pondering over this Christmas holiday.  It seems like I meet one of these people every year or two.  But what makes a person act like this? I’m not talking about your outspoken friend talking to you, I’m talking about that person who has just met you, or is in your line at the store, or the person behind you in line at the buffet who makes unkind or rude comments about your choice of food.

The one theme I see in people like this is ignorance.  People who don’t take the time to learn about a situation and just try to judge others are very ignorant.  People who try to tell you what they think or believe without being invited into the conversation are rude, discourteous, and lacking manners.

I know I have acted this way as well, especially when I was younger.  Its something I try very hard not to do.  These rules are obviously not for close friends, they are my rules for meeting new people and talking to people you don’t know well:

NEVER insert your opinion where its not wanted. How do you know if it’s wanted?  The person will ask you for it if they want it. If they don’t ask, keep your yap shut.

NEVER criticize other adults for their choices.  Its not your life, you don’t get to choose for anyone except yourself.  If you don’t like the way someone else did it, then don’t do it that way yourself, and keep your yap shut.

And lastly, you can judge people all you want in your head, but keep your yap shut.  Karma is a bitch. You reap what you sow.  Once you start judging others out loud, you will become the target of those who will judge you as harshly as you judge others.

I can tell you from experience that when you try to insert your opinion into someone else’s life, they generally aren’t going to like it, especially if it doesn’t agree with theirs.  When people do any of these things to me, or breaks my rules, it creates an instant dislike of that person.  Is this me judging?  Yes, it is.  As an adult, I get to decide who my friends are, and who I talk to.  There are so many negative people in this world, I try my hardest to make sure I don’t add any of them into my  circle of friends, or even my list of acquaintances.

Since I have started choosing the people I allow into my life more carefully, I have become a much happier person.  I surround myself with people who are also tolerant, loving, and peaceful.  I reject those who are abrasive, self-serving, or disrespectful of my life’s beliefs.  Every one of us gets to choose who we let in; respect yourself and make purposeful choices.


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Wandering

Sometimes I feel like I am drifting through life with no real purpose. I am the wanderer, wandering.

I’ve done the homework, the writing, the thinking, the praying.

What am I meant for?

I can write out sheets and sheets of goals and purposes, but what do they really mean? What are they worth?

I can read book after book, and I have, but still, none of them tell me what I should be doing, what I should be giving back to this world.

I know that, in the sense of the Universe, I’m right where I need to be.  I know how to act, how to be, how to love.

But what can I do to change the world?

What can I do to make some sense out of this crazy place called Earth, full of greed and hate, and apathy?  Full of loneliness, despair, and hurt.  Full of rejection, sadness, and sorrow.

What can I do to make people wake up and realize that this isn’t all there is, there is more!

I want to help. I want to change lives. I want to teach.

But the majority of people don’t want help, they don’t want to change, and they don’t want to learn.

If only I could open their eyes to see!!  There is more than this!!!  There is so much more!!!

So I work on me; my life, changing me, learning new things to help me.  Maybe someday, this will pay off.  But I still pace, wringing my hands, feeling like I should be doing something MORE.  But what?  What can I give? What can I give to this crazy Earth full of love and peace, and compassion? Full of happiness, joy, and kindness?  Full of cooperation, encouragement, and God?

I will breathe in. I will breathe out.  I will breathe in.  I will breathe…and I will wait.


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The Song of Spring

As the sun gains strength and holds its head boldly in the sky,

The sheets of white slowly melt, dripping their nutrients into the soil beneath.

The skeletons of trees form new buds, and tiny fragile shoots sprout forth from the ground.

The beautiful melody of birdsong grows into a glorious choir.

Soft, gentle breezes blow into hurricane force winds,

Bringing the warmth, and blowing away the old,

The dead,

The paper thin husks of last year’s bounty, shriveled into nothing.

Rebirth, the earth renews her fresh bouquet,

Her glamorous green wardrobe that feeds her children.

Such is the entrance of spring-

God’s glorious garden.

We helpers rejoice, wanting nothing more

Than to feel the living soil in our hands.

The seeds that wait patiently under the ground for the sun to shine on them,

And tell them that it’s time,

It’s time to begin anew.

They also rejoice and grow heartily, singing praises to heaven.

The flowers will open, they will bear fruit, and it will be good,

Just as God intended.

For the Earth sings for her Creator, and we are invited

To sing harmony.


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On Being Grateful

Everyday we make the choice to either be happy, or to be something else.  Its easy to be depressed in the world we live in.  There are so many people to compare ourselves to, and so many things others have that we don’t. Too many times, we get lost in our “have-nots” and don’t think about all the things we do have.

Health
Family
Friends
Knowledge

Wealth is nice, and truly I tell you that you are probably a lot wealthier than you believe.  (If you don’t believe that, go visit any third world country.)  But there are so many things that money can’t buy.

You can buy all types of medical procedures, but none of them can truly make you healthy.
You can buy people off with gifts to have friends and family want to be around you, but they will never truly love you just for those material things.
You can buy a college education, but more times than not, it won’t actually make you smart, but it will train you for a better paying job.

God gives us so many great gifts, and love is at the top of that list.  God’s love is what truly makes your heart beat in your chest, and your brain think in your head.  God’s love is contagious, and when it seeps from your pores, it pours out into others.  Do you know anyone who is truly infectious?  Someone you just love to talk to because they always seem happy, and make you feel happy too?  They always have a positive outlook and always seem to lift everyone up?

That’s who we should strive to be, infectious spreaders of God’s love!  It takes some practice, but feeling grateful for everything you have is the first step.  Always think about what you do have, not what you don’t have.  Grateful people tend to get more of the good things, because they rejoice in God’s grace and mercy.

When you focus on good, you receive good.
When you focus on bad, well, most times you receive bad.

God knows what you desire long before you do.  Focus on gratefulness, and let God do the rest.

(This is a repost from my original blog.)


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How To Be Right (Sermon from 2-1-15)

Scripture Reading:  1 Corinthians 8:1-13

Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up. If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. But if anyone loves God, he is known by God.

Therefore, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “an idol has no real existence,” and that “there is no God but one.” For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”— yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.

However, not all possess this knowledge. But some, through former association with idols, eat food as really offered to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? 11 And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died. 12 Thus, sinning against your brothers and wounding their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble. <Biblegateway.com>

How to be Right

“I will never eat meat again.”  I think this is probably one of those passages of the Bible that we read, then wrinkle our forehead in confusion, and then just dismiss.  Why would Paul say he’s not going to eat meat?  Is it bad to eat meat?  It’s not bad to eat meat.

One of the things I really like, is being right.  I study and read and educate myself, and in an argument, I really like to be right.  I think I can say that most of us feel this way.  Being right feels good, it feels smart, and being wrong feels terrible.

This passage of the Bible tells us that it’s more important to love others, than it is to be right.  Paul is talking about eating meat that has been sacrificed to idols.  This meat is then eaten by the pagans, in expectations of receiving some sort of blessing from their false god.  At the time of this letter to the Corinthians, most of that region was in a famine, there wasn’t much food to go around.  Plus, most of the Christians there were converts to Christianity.  They had been brought up worshipping idols, but had received salvation by accepting Jesus as their savior.  They are now children of God.  Some of them thought it was wrong to eat this meat, and some thought it was ok.  The ones who approve of eating the meat know that only God is God, there is no other god, and therefore this meat has been sacrificed to nothing.  There’s no harm in eating it, because there is no other god.  The ones who disapprove think that eating the meat shows some allegiance to these false gods, these idols.

Paul basically says that its true, you can eat the meat, it doesn’t matter.  But here’s where it gets sticky.  So you, in your knowledge of God, go and eat the meat.  You know its ok because there’s no one else but God, eating the meat has no connections to any idols for you.  But if someone with a weaker faith than you sees you eat the meat, and they are confused and eat the meat too, even though they believe it does have connections to the idol, then you have made them stumble in their faith.  You pulled them into sin because they don’t have a mature faith yet.  They are still learning and still studying.  You know the truth, but they don’t understand it yet.

It says knowledge puffs us up, but love builds us up.  We think we are better than others because we know so much.  In this letter, Paul is saying that its good to have knowledge, but its better to help your fellow Christian follow God than to be legally right and cause them to stumble.  If you have a friend who is a recovering alcoholic, then you shouldn’t drink alcohol when they visit you.  You wouldn’t want to tempt them back into addiction.  There’s nothing wrong with you having a drink, but to be a supportive friend, it’s a good idea to abstain while this friend is with you.  And in this same example, Paul says that if you have a friend who doesn’t want to eat this sacrificed meat, you shouldn’t try to push them into doing it.  They feel that it’s wrong, and so to them, it is.  Legally by God’s laws, you are right.  You can eat whatever you want, but they haven’t gotten there yet, so don’t push them in the wrong direction.

Those of us who do study the Bible to become more knowledgeable are actually in a dangerous position.  We know what God did for us by putting Jesus on the cross.  We know that there is nothing we can do that hasn’t already been forgiven. We know that once we accept God, we can never lose our salvation.  God made us free from sin on that cross.  Jesus took every sin ever committed, and every sin that would ever be committed and he bore that heavy weight on the cross.  He died one time for all sin, and in his sacrifice, made us one with God.  He freed us from the slavery of sin.  He freed us from death.  We have God in us.

But there are those people who don’t understand the amazing thing God did for us. They think that they are bad people, they are sinful people, and they have to work hard to get into heaven. There are people who are following all the Jewish laws trying to be good enough to get into heaven.  There are people who condemn others who are different from them, trying to make others follow these laws as well.   I know that there is nothing I can do that will make God love me any more than He already does.  I can’t win His affection by being good because I already have it.  Once Jesus died for our sin, He took all that away, and made us new creations in Himself.  He won’t ever stop loving you, and once you give Him your life, you can’t take it back.

But having this knowledge, I need to share it and to be a good example to those around me.  I need to help others see how good God is so they too can share in His love.  Once you have truly experienced the freedom and peace and joy of God’s love, you want everyone to experience it!  It a joy you can’t contain!  But not everyone is there yet.  And for the weak in faith, if they see you doing something they thing is wrong, they might do it too.  You may know it’s not a sin, and it’s not a sin for you.  But if they think it’s wrong and do it anyway because you did it, then you have helped them stumble.  Stumbling takes us farther away from God.  And if we cause people to stumble, then we aren’t loving people the way God intends for us.  We aren’t loving people the way we need to in order to draw them into the family of God.

Knowledge is a great thing to have, and the more you know the better.  But another thing about knowledge is the potential for it to make you prideful.  If you keep reading in 1 Corinthians, you get to chapter 13, one of my favorite chapters in the whole Bible.  The second verse says “If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.”  You could actually be the smartest person in the world, being able to read the Bible in every one of its original languages, and be able to interpret dreams, and heal people with your faith, and perform miracles.  But if you don’t have love in your heart for your fellow man, you have nothing.  All those amazing things are for nothing.  Without love, we are nothing.  God is love. Without love, we are nothing.  Without God we are nothing.

So instead of being right, or prideful, or getting angry at people who “just don’t get it”, we all need to take a step back, and love like God does.  In spite of our weaknesses, in spite of our differences in theology, in spite of our pride and anger and self-righteousness, we need to love and have love for those around us, no matter what they believe.  For then, we will have love, and love is everything.


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International Peace Garden

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Each year, my husband and I try to go somewhere we haven’t been before.  This year I finally got to go see the Peace Garden.  It truly is a very peaceful place, and you can sit and just listen to nature.  We went on a Sunday, and even though there were quite a few people there, it was quiet and peaceful.

I grew up in the Midwest and surprisingly knew very little about the Peace Garden.  On July 14, 1932, 50,000 people came for the dedication of the garden.  It sits on the border of the United States and Canada, half in each country.  You can see where the border is, and of course I have a picture of it.  The Peace Towers are my favorite, one half in the US and the other half in Canada.   There are so many things to see in this place, and the Peace Chapel is a must visit as well.  I included a picture of the quote by Buddha, but there were so many good ones.  I believe I read them all.

The garden was made to swear an oath made by our two countries.  “To God in His Glory, we two nations dedicate this garden and pledge ourselves that as long as men shall live, we will not take up arms against one another.”  If you ever get the chance to go, its a great place to stop and enjoy the beauty.  I took so many pictures of the plants, the huge succulent collection and the cacti collection, along with the regular gardens and the sunken garden.  I’m a plant person though, so I won’t subject you to all those pictures.  The place is amazing!

You don’t need a passport to get back into the US, but you will need at least a drivers license.  We didn’t have any problems going through customs, in fact we got some fishing pointers that helped out for the rest of our stay at Devils Lake. The fishing was great, the weather was beautiful, and it was a short, but much needed vacation.