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Musings 19, Grace

Grace – The love of God for mankind – and – the state of mind and spirit that is pleasing to God.

Life without grace? What a waste! We are saved by grace, not because we deserve saving. Grace is free, unearned, and available. Grace connects the spirit to infinity. It is given by God and returned to him.

“I’ll say grace,” said mother before Sunday dinner, and we bowed our heads dutifully, scarcely paying attention to the words. Grace is more than a quick thank you to God, a prayer. Even with a heart full of gratitude, that prayer is insufficient for the grace we receive from God. Grace is an attitude of love and acceptance as our widowed mother bravely carried on the responsibility of family. Perhaps we didn’t have much, but we had each other, and she knew God provided for widows and children.

I look at the antithesis of grace at Berkeley where students storm at each other, break windows and burn buildings. Can grace find a way into those hearts? Grace can’t be taught: it can only be modeled. We appreciate what we have and trust God to give us what we need. Grace enhances the giver. Life without grace would be sorry indeed.

(Psalm 19: 8-9) The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger, and of great mercy.
(Lamentations 3: 23-24) The love of the Lord never ends. His mercies never cease.

(Ephesians 2: 8) For by grace we are saved, through faith and not of yourselves. It is the gift of God.

(Romans 8: 11) When the spirit of God is in you, he that raised Jesus from the dead shall quicken your mortal bodies. That spirit dwells in you.



Musings18, Dodging the Bullet

Wind and wildfires, a deadly combination like assault weapons, destroy life and property. It is good to wake up and find my neighbors and I have dodged the bullet this time. My neighbor is off to work. There’s a scent of smoke in the air, and pavements are covered with cinders and ash, but the fires have been mainly contained by brave firemen.

I wonder with amazement why we have been spared, while others have lost everything. The pastor claims the fires and all our troubles are the work of the devil, not of God. We need to suppress that devil. All things are possible with God. Let’s pray on it.

Morning stars look down. The quarter moon recedes behind the trees as the sun lightens the horizon. We have dodged the bullet.

(Psalm 28: 7) The Lord is my strength and my shield. I trust him with all my heart. My heart is filled with awe.

(Psalm 18: 1-2) I love the Lord. He is my strength, my fortress, and my savior. He is the shield that saves me and my place of safety.

(Isaiah 55: 9) The Lord says, “My ways are far beyond anything you  can imagine. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than yours, and my thoughts are higher than yours.”

Musings 17, Trouble Shooting

Look for trouble and you will find it. Close your eyes, and it will find you. Boy-Girl Scouts are warned to be prepared. Trouble is around us, swirling like the Santa Ana Winds, and hovering like smoke from the fires they bring. Trouble shooters get ahead of potential problems, and our magnificent firefighters have bravely extinguished the wind-blown fires, pursuing the embers here in the Canyon 2 area. We are grateful.

Realizing that we are vulnerable, we can all be trouble shooters. We can call on the faith we have developed. Reassured, we can proceed with caution. We look to neighbors, relishing their proximity. We pray for those who did not escape, and thank God for those who did. We are prepared.

(Acts 10: 43) Jesus is the one the prophets testified about, saying that all who believe in him will have their sins forgiven.

(2 Corinthians 10: 5) We destroy every obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We teach them to know Christ.

(Hebrews 3: 1) Think about Jesus, whom we declare to be the messenger from God. He was faithful and served God (and mankind).

Musings 16, Ziggy

The cartoon character, Ziggy, often has words of wisdom to provoke thought. Drawn by writer Tom Wilson, this egg shaped character ponders over a stack of books. “Ah-ha,” he breathes, “The search for knowledge is never-ending. For, the more I learn, the more I know: the more I know, the more I learn how little I actually know.”

That’s a heap of learning. In that paper I learned a study of fruit flies may produce a cure for insomnia, and a medical alert system will give me peace of mind, but probably won’t cure insomnia… I wonder as I wander through the news of the day.

How do we know what we should learn? One of the problems that a teacher has is to convince her students that what she is teaching is valuable to learn. We are short-sighted. I remember trying to teach grammar. When I discovered I could call it a “construction tool” and we could use it to build sentences, grammar became a game and became more “teachable.”

What we know today may be obsolete tomorrow, for each generation adds more to our store of knowledge. Solomon said that knowledge and wisdom begin with the fear of God. I am more apt to believe loving God is more conducive to the growth and development of humanity. Love the Lord and trust his tenets as we acquire knowledge.

(Romans 11: 33) O the depth of the riches, both of wisdom and knowledge, of God. How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways are past knowing.

(Psalm 90: 13) Teach us to realize the brevity of life, that we may grow in wisdom.

(John 1: 14) The word became flesh and lived among us. He was full of love and faithfulness.

(Matthew 5: 17) And Jesus began to preach. Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the kingdom of heaven is near. (23) Jesus traveled throughout the region of Galilee, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News.


Musings 15, Roger and Out

Sister and I sometimes played together nicely. We got two empty cardboard toilet-tissue rolls and held them up to our ears to pretend they were walkie-talkies. With an empty space between us, we’d talk to each other, moving the cardboard from ear to mouth, but always ending with the statements we must have heard on the radio, “Roger and out”, and “Roger.” Telecommunication was in its infancy, and we meant, “I’m finished and I’m leaving,”  and the response meant, “I heard you, and I’m out too.”

Where did roger go? Was it a dream?

I was a child in the age before everyone had a telephone, but we knew people who did. Mrs. Taylor, who owned the convenience store up the hill and around the corner, had one. In an emergency our grandmother had to walk up the hill to use the store’s telephone. Sometimes, if she remembered to take a dish, she brought back a dish of ice cream, three scoops.

It was a glorious day when we got a telephone in the house. The four party line seemed to be in continual use. Our signal that the call was to be answered by us was three short rings. We could be interrupted by another party on the line, usually in an emergency that prompted immediate cessation of conversation. By then, sister and I were old enough to be trusted to carry the dish up to Mrs. Taylor for ice cream.

What would today’s children do without a telephone in their pockets? How would they ever text or twitter? How would parents know where they were? Whatever happened to roger?

Roger and out.

(Philippians 4: 8) Think about those things that are good, pure and honest. If there be any virtue and praise, think on these things.

(Lamentations 11: 23) It is good for people at an early age to submit to the yoke of God’s discipline.

(Psalm 133: 1) How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers and sisters live together in harmony. (3) Harmony is as refreshing as dew on a mountain (or ice cream).


Musings 14, A Safety Net

I think back 16 years – to September 11, 2001. I saved the page from my Quotes For The Day calendar. A court jester approaches a superior, bowing gracefully. It must be Iago who speaks the words from Othello, Act 1, Scene l. “We cannot all be masters,” he says. We remember that Iago is devious, a scoundrel who comes between Othello, a Moor, and his white wife, Desdemona, causing murder and mayhem. Four hundred years ago, William Shakespeare wrote the play, and murder and mayhem persist, even magnified today.

Scoundrels accomplished evil deeds that September morning. On that Tuesday, three thousand miles away, Californians watched as evil  men crashed stolen planes into the World Trade Center, and the buildings came down in dust and debris, littering the ground with small pieces and broken bodies. The world gasped in horror. They broke our hearts, but not our will. There seemed to be no safety net to protect us from the wicked intentions of our enemies.

The site has been rebuilt, a testimony to human endeavor that flourishes under the auspices of a merciful God. Mistaken beliefs tore at the fabric of safety. We need to continue efforts to rebuild mistaken minds and hearts. The earth can be a dangerous home, but goodness prevails. Jesus said, “Love God and love your neighbor.” That should be our safety net.

(1 Peter 1: 3-4) Through Jesus there is hope in an inheritance that waits for us in heaven.

(Psalm 71: 16) I live in the strength of he Lord. I will speak of his righteousness.

(1 Peter 5: 8) Be sober and vigilant. Your adversary is the devil seeking to devour you.

(John 16: 33) In Jesus there is peace. In this world is tribulation. Be of good cheer. Jesus has overcome the world.


Musings 13, Slow Growth

Railroad crossings — mean go slow.

That old cow — is some cow’s beau.

Use Burma Shave!

The advertisement was posted on a series of five signs a short distance apart, and mother was driving the car slowly enough on the rural road that my sister and I could read them and giggle. We never questioned what Burma Shave had to do with running into a cow at a railroad crossing. The world of advertising was as foreign to us then as it is now. “When are we going to get there?” we would ask.

But the “go slow” part has intensified in meaning. How much do we miss because we are in a hurry? How many mistakes do we make by not slowing enough to check our work? Does haste make waste? Who said, “Darn the torpedoes. Full speed ahead.”

Taking time is a good sign. Savor the journey. Enjoy the trip. Relax. Don’t ask the driver, “When are we going to get there?” Find the joy in the moment.

(Psalm 143: 8) Cause me to hear thy loving kindness in the morning, for in thee do I trust.  Cause me to know the way I should travel.

(Hebrews 1: 1-2) God who in times past spoke to our fathers by the prophets in different ways, in these days he speaks to us in the son. (Listen!)

(Psalm 46: 10) Be  still and know that I am God.