Tombstones and Testimonies

 

corn-family

This summer we had a unique vacation in Nebraska with our daughter and son-in-law and their four children. We were questioned by several people as to why we would go to this Midwestern state. Our answer was because this is where both my husband and I grew up. Our grandchildren wanted to learn about their Nebraska heritage. Tombstones and testimonies were on our agenda. As I reflect upon our vacation, I discover there are scriptural applications to be made.

Those twelve stones which they had taken from the Jordan, Joshua set up at Gilgal.
He said to the sons of Israel, “When your children ask their fathers in time to come,
saying, ‘What are these stones?’ then you shall inform your children, saying,
‘Israel crossed this Jordan on dry ground.’ “For the LORD your God dried up
the

waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed, just as the LORD your God
had done to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we
had crossed;
that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand
of
the LORD is
mighty, so that you may fear the LORD your God forever.”
Joshua 4:19-24*

Just as the twelve stones were stepping stones to opportunities for the Israelites to share testimonies of the Lord’s faithfulness with their children of future generations, so the tombstones of our family members were stepping stones to opportunities for us to share the testimonies of the Lord’s faithfulness to our descendants. While visiting the cemeteries where family members are buried, our grandchildren made rubbings of the gravestones recording names with birth and death dates of their great grandparents and great great grandparents. These tombstones came alive with the testimonies of their heritage. History was revisited as to how the older generations of our family lived in the early 1900s and why ancestors chose to settle in these communities when they came to America from Sweden and Ireland. Always there was evidence of God’s faithfulness. My husband and I wanted to fulfill I Peter 2:5 that says, “you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” We desired to encourage the current generations of our family to follow the faith of their forefathers.

The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden
to work it and take care of it.
Genesis 2:15*

Farming was always the livelihood of our early Nebraska settlers. The Lord blessed the endeavors of our ancestors as He did Isaac in Genesis 26:12, “Isaac planted crops in that land and the same year reaped a hundredfold, because the LORD blessed him.” Colossians 2:7 NLT says, “Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” This was true for our ancestors regarding both physical andpoppop-and-charity spiritual roots. Our grandkids were amazed as we told stories of how our dads began farming with horses when they were young. Such a contrast to the huge modern machinery used today. When we visited the farm where my husband grew up, one of the highlights was for each of our grandchildren to ride a 1934 John Deere B tractor with PopPop. (My husband’s name of PopPop is very appropriate when considering the pop-pop sound the John Deere tractor!) Even our daughter had to ride with her dad in honor of rides she had taken during her childhood when we visited the farms on vacations!

By wisdom a house is built,
And by understanding it is established;
And by knowledge the rooms are filled
With all precious and pleasant riches.
Proverbs 24:3-4


Family history came alive as we visited the farms of our early descendants. The farm where I grew up was homesteaded by my grandfather over 100 years ago. I am the third generation of our family to own these acres of dirt. Although we now have renters for the land and buildings, the house still technically belongs to me. While going through the variousDSCN1080 rooms of this house, I told my grandchildren stories of memories that stirred within me. Our daughter admired the detailed woodwork in the house and the brick foundation upon which it was built. As Jill pointed out the foundation, I was reminded of I Corinthians 3:11, “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.” We moved from the basement to the attic of this 1913 farm house where our daughter and grandchildren found treasures they claimed as their own historical memorabilia. We even found books given to my grandfather from my great great aunt. The foundation of faith was evident in all of our endeavors of exploration.

He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven
and crops in their seasons; He provides you with
plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.”
Acts 14:17*

Paul shared these words of Acts 14 with the people in Lystra while on his first missionary journey. Now I apply them to our historical heritage in the state of Nebraska. My husband and I have fond memories of the Lord’s provision for our pioneer families and for us as we grew up on these farms. Bountiful crops of grain were produced by our family of farmers because of necessary rain that fell upon the fields. The Lord also provided spiritual rain needed for crops of the Christian faith to be produced within the hearts of our ancestors and ourselves. Joy filled our hearts as we shared our own testimonies as well as the testimonies of the tombstones dating back to the early 1900s. Psalm 119:14 says, “I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, As much as in all riches.” Throughout this vacation, we were richly rewarded as we saw how excited our grandchildren were to learn of their heritage. We were blessed with the joy of our children and grandchildren.

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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*Highlighted words are denoted by this author.

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Cloud Gazing

clouds-1clouds-6I love looking at the various cloud formations in the sky. Today the clouds are revealing the change of seasons while the calendar is marking the beginning of fall. I discern that fall is in the air by the type of clouds that fill the sky. I have been enjoying the summery cumulus clouds that look like an accumulation of cotton balls. However, now more Septemberlike stratus clouds hang in the air like a huge gray blanket covering the sky. My Reader, will you like to join me in some cloud gazing?

At this moment, the clouds are moving rapidly through the upper atmosphere. To me, these clouds look like crowds of chariots racing across the horizon to see which will be the first to triumphantly reach a designated destination. This image reminds me of the last part of Psalm 104:3 that says, “He (God) makes the clouds His chariot and rides on the wings of the wind.” Another scripture that comes to mind is Nahum 1:3 NLT that describes clouds by saying, “The LORD is slow to get angry, but his power is great, and he never lets the guilty go unpunished. He displays his power in the whirlwind and the storm. The billowing clouds are the dust beneath his feet.” Both of these scriptures suggest movement by God whether He be traveling on a cloud or the cloud being dust kicked up by His feet while He was running. So, My Reader, how is God moving in your life? You can be assured that He is actively involved in your life when you hear the chorus of the Christian song God Is on the Move by 7eventh Time Down. The lyrics proclaim, “God is on the move, On the move, Hallelujah! God is on the move In many mighty ways. God is on the move, on the move, Hallelujah! God is on the move On the move today.”

While I observe the various cloud formations, my mind’s eye creates more images than  chariots and dust. Sometimes I discover a cloud that is smiling at me while another cloud may be frowning at me. My mood can influence how I perceive the clouds. These masses of water vapor vary in size and shape and are constantly forming new images. Romans 8:29 says that “For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son” Similar to how the formation of clouds change, the Lord is at work in us to conform us to His nature and character. My Reader, what is God forming in you? Galatians 5:22-23 says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” Maybe the Lord is forming some new fruit in your life.

As I visually I follow the clouds’ movement, one cloud bumps into another. These two become attached and as they continue to move across the sky they collide with other clouds and form an even larger mass. Eventually, this new structure becomes an insurmountable mass of molecules. While the Israelites traveled through the wilderness, Exodus 13:21 says, “By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way. While I imagine that a pillar of a cloud was quite large, I wonder how fast it was moving. My Reader, do you sense that God has placed a cloud over you to protect you and guide you? I like the security of Psalm 91:1, “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” In this verse, I think that a cloud produces the shadow of the Almighty.

Psalm 8:1 begins, “LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens.” The clouds I have observed are an integral portion of God’s creation. They majestically portray the glory and splendor of the Lord. David declares in Psalm 145:5, “They (God’s works) speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty– and I will meditate on your wonderful works. I also like Psalm 19:1 that states, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” Yes, clouds are the result of God’s handiwork in the heavens. However, this verse reminds me of Ephesians 2:10 that begins by saying, “For we are God’s handiwork.” Clouds are spectacular but the Lord also created each of us to reflect His glory. My Reader, do you reflect the glory of God in all you do? Psalm 139:13-14 says, “For you (the Lord) created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” All of the Lord’s creation is wonderful including you and the clouds!

Joyfully,
Cheryl
gold apple new

 

Wind Empowers Windmills

windmill 3wind of HSwindmill 8

I have always been fascinated by windmills. However, they are worthless objects unless the wind empowers them. The blades of the windmills are so graceful as they go around and around under the direction of whirling air. It is amazing how much productive power they generate. According to Wikipedia, the windmill is defined as a mill that converts the energy of the wind into rotational energy by vanes called blades. Centuries ago, windmills usually were used to mill grain or pump water. The majority of modern windmills take the form of wind turbines used to generate electricity, or windpumps used to pump water. Their appearance has changed dramatically over the years and the use of their power has expanded. As my physical eye looks up to see these towers catching the air’s breeze, my spiritual eye looks up to the wind of the Holy Spirit.

windmill 5Focusing upon physical windmills brings back memories of when I grew up on a farm. There was a windmill on almost every farm and it was the source that provided water for our cattle. Our windmill pumped water from deep beneath the ground. However, it could only function when the wind was blowing. Dad made sure to fill our cattle’s watering tank to capacity on a day when the wind was blowing because there was the possibility that tomorrow he would not be able to add water to the tank if the air was still.

windmill 4Today when traveling across the state of Iowa, we see numerous modern windmills. Instead of one windmill per farm, these groupings of structures are called windmill farms. If the wind is blowing, the blades of the windmills will be rotating. If there is no wind, the three blades of the mill are stationery. The windmill can still only operate when there is wind. However, instead of being a source of water, most modern windmills are used as a source of electricity.

wind of HS 2With the structural use of windmills in mind, I now look for a spiritual application. I am the windmill and the Holy Spirit is my wind. Jesus says in John 3:8, “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” In the natural, I cannot see the wind but I can feel it blowing against my face. In the spiritual, I cannot see the Holy Spirit but I am aware of the Spirit’s power and work in my life. Knowing that Pentecost was when the Holy Spirit descended upon the eleven apostles and other followers of Jesus Christ fifty days after His ascension, I think of another scripture. Selected portions of Acts 2:1-4 describe this occasion by saying, “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. … All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit….” Here is wind and here is power! This is what Jesus promised in John 16:7, “But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.” Considering how this affects me today, I look at a couple of scriptures found in letters written by Paul. When Paul says in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength,” he is referring to the power of the Holy Spirit at work within him,  This same power is available to me today. Then in Ephesians 3:16 NLT, Paul says, “I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he (the Father) will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit.” If the wind of the Spirit is blowing upon my life, I am promised the strength to accomplish the Lord’s will and work. Without the help of the Holy Spirit, I will not succeed.

The windmill uses wind power to create rotational energy for the use in mills and pumps and wind turbines. Similarly, I can rely upon the power of the Holy Spirit to give me energy to fulfill the tasks the Lord has for me. I described physical windmills as having a graceful appearance. It is only possible for me to be the person God wants me to be by being “grace full” – full of His grace. This corresponds with the definition of grace that says it is His empowering presence that allows me to be the person He created me to be and to do what He has planned for me to do. Wind and windmills work together just as the Holy Spirit works with me.

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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Weight Lifting by Wait Lifting

weight liftingchild with clouds mf

weightsbibleAlthough I am not a person who goes to the gym or weight room, I know there can be benefits from lifting weights. Personally, I am more likely to find myself in the wait room of the Lord. There are benefits from both rooms. A person lifts weights to increase muscle strength; one increases spiritual strength by lifting up the name of Jesus. Today I am exploring some similarities between my lifting up physical weights and my spiritually lifting up the Lord. There is a wonderful weightiness of the Lord that can only be found while waiting upon Him.

Let’s move into the weight/wait room and build up and strengthen our muscles and faith. Both weight lifting and wait lifting take time and effort. May we take time right now to wait upon the Lord by lifting up some scriptures that have weight within their words.

I admit that I am weak and need strength. What can I do to increase my strength? Lifting bar-bells will give me physical strength. Lifting up the Lord will give me spiritual strength.
For when I am weak, then I am strong.
II Corinthians 12:10 NIV

So, it is time to start weight lifting and wait lifting. Weight lifting requires a person to lift bar-bells. Wait lifting involves lifting up the name of Jesus.
I will lift up my eyes to the hills –
From whence comes my help?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
Psalm 121:1 NKJV

One of the benefits of weight lifting and wait lifting is that it builds up endurance.
But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength:
They shall mount up with wings like eagles.
They shall run and not be weary.
They shall walk and not faint.
Isaiah 40:31 NKJV

Another benefit of lifting is the promise of increased strength.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Philippians 3:13 NIV
And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.
Hebrews 6:15 NIV

I notice a difference between physical strength gained and spiritual strength received. Weight lifting produces strength to the body while wait lifting produces strength to the soul.
On the day I called, You answered me;
You made me bold with strength in my soul.
Psalm 138:3 NASB

My attitude seems to be different towards weight lifting than wait lifting. The phrase “no pain, no gain” is often my experience with weight lifting. In contrast, wait lifting fills me with joy.
The joy of Lord is my strength.
Nehemiah 8:10 NIV

Will people see a difference in me and my appearance, if I invest time in weight lifting and weight lifting? The mass increase of the physical muscles will become visible over time. The Lord works to increase the power of my testimony spiritually and in turn He also increases the area of my influence physically.
Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress.
Psalms 4:1 KJV
Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me
and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me
from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request.
I Chronicles 4:10 NIV

Earlier I pointed out that weakness can be a condition both physically and spiritually. I have explored the options and outcomes of weight lifting and wait lifting. Now, what am I going to do to increase strength?
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
Ephesians 6:10 NIV
Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees.
Hebrews 12:12 NIV
I lift up my eyes to the hills…
my help comes from the Lord
Psalm 121:1-2 NKJV

My Reader, are you ready for some weight lifting and wait lifting? Will you head to the weight room or the wait room?

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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