Archives for posts with tag: life

Water is essential for life.  Simple and obvious statement, right?  Without drinking water, our bodies will only  survive about three to four days.

And water provides us with so much enjoyment as well.  Swimming pools, fishing ponds or lakes, ocean fishing, even little fountains in our gardens which make beautiful sounds to help us relax.  Then, the practical side of being able to cook pasta or boil eggs and take a shower or bath, wash our clothes, make our coffee and tea.  And on and on.

water

But water in the WRONG place is awful.  Right?

This past spring and summer, Iowa had waaaaay too much water.  Flash floods, river flooding.  Then much of Colorado was destroyed by floods (after burning with forest fires in early spring). Yuck!

You might have had water issues in your basement, too.  Sump pumps working over time.  Or water breaking through foundations.

Water overflowing drain spouts and leaking into the basement.  Ruining our carpet, furniture, drywall, etc.  Ruining all the work we did bringing in good stuff to enjoy.

What can we do?

Well, the only way to stop water being where we do not want it is to prepare and prevent.  Cleaning out gutters regularly–that most mucky and dreaded of jobs at least for those of us who hate ladders–is vital.  And to tell the truth, it’s a job that gets put off until the first downpour, right?  At which time it may be too late to keep the water from seeping in.

Why do we put off something that we know has to be done?

Out of sight, out of mind, huh?  Maybe that’s the simple answer.  If we don’t have to face what we really hate to do every day, it just falls to the back of our “to do” list and maybe falls off the paper altogether!  But, when the forecast is dire, we scramble to find the ladder and then find ourselves on the stupid thing as the first drops of rain fall.  Double yuck!

Well, I’m thinking the gutters of our spiritual life sometimes need to be cleaned out, too.  All sorts of riffraff coated with worry, fear, frustration and disbelief floats through the air and falls into our minds.  They can easily overflow with all that junk, until it starts to seep into our soul and ruin the “good stuff” we have. The good stuff we worked so diligently to build up in our spiritual life.

Keeping tabs on what falls into our “gutters of life” will help.  We can’t stop everything, but we can pay more attention, more often…before the massive storms come and flood us out.  We need to keep a check on what we let fill our minds and hearts.

Water is good.  Water is life.

Just be sure to keep it in its place.

by Cindy Best

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Bread. The word itself alone can bring many images to mind. Bread is the most basic of foods used to sustain our physical bodies.

The Bible has many references to bread. In the Old Testament, bread was the source of the Israelites’ survival and when disobedient, God would threaten to break the Israelites’ “staff of bread” (Leviticus 26:26).  He would also send the “bread of adversity” (Isaiah 30:20) or the “bread of tears” (Psalm 80:5).

In Numbers 14:9, we read: “And do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us; their protection is removed from them, and the LORD is with us; do not fear them.” On the other hand, when God promised “a land where you may eat bread without scarcity” (Deut. 8:9), He was offering them life. In Exodus, God feeds his people manna, saying, “Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions.” (Ex. 16:4)

Bread conjures up images of coziness and warmth. It’s impossible not to take a deep breath upon entering a warm kitchen with the smell of freshly baked bread. “Breaking bread together” is the community and fellowship of sharing meals. Acts 2 describes the early church – “Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts” (Acts 2:46).

Cheese Braid

We break bread together in observance of the Lord’s supper.  “For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.  (I Corinthians 11:23-24). In Matthew 4:3, the devil challenged Jesus to turn the stones into bread during Jesus’ temptation (Matt. 4: 3) and finally in the Lord’s Prayer we are taught to pray for our “daily bread.”

The promise of Jesus is this “Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. (John 6:35). “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and this bread, which I will offer so the world may live, is my flesh.” (John 6:51)

Bread and the breaking of bread together is more than just a food and more than just a meal. Breaking bread around the table of fellow believers is a time for shared experiences, a time of intimacy, a time for celebrating our love for life.

by Linda Tigges

Spanish Coffeecake (a quick bread)

5 cups of flour

2 cups of brown sugar

1-1/2 cups of white sugar

Scant 1-1/2 cups vegetable oil

1 teaspoon of salt

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

Mix the ingredients together. Set aside 1 cup for topping. To the remainder add:

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 cups of buttermilk

2 eggs

Mix together for 4 minutes and pour into 3 loaf pans.

Mix 1 cup of nuts (optional) into the reserved topping and sprinkle the mixture over the batter in the loaf pans. Bake at 350 for 50 minutes.

Recently I watched a show on public television about time.  As the physicists explained what science can tell us about the past, present, and future, I began to wonder if Henry David Thoreau didn’t have it right when he wrote, “Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in” around 150 years ago.  He went on: “I drink at it; but while I drink I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is. Its thin current slides away, but eternity remains” (Walden; or, Life in the Woods).  I like the image of mercurial time flowing across immutable eternity.

To me it’s strange to think that while we humans are subject to time, God is not.  For God, there is no past or future (those physicists might argue that the future does not even exist or is, at best, only theoretical).  In eternity, everything is in the present because time doesn’t exist.  Once I read somewhere that it’s as if everything that has ever happened or will ever happen is in a book, and although we experience the book one page at a time, in order, from beginning to end, God can open the book and turn to whatever page he likes because it is all under his authority.  We can remember the events of the past, but we cannot relive them; we can speculate about the future, but we cannot go there.  We must experience life one day—one moment—at a time.

Living in the present is difficult.  There are things we might regret saying or doing, but they are in the past and we can’t change them.  There are things that haven’t happened yet that we might be anxious about, but they are in the future and we can’t control them.  Why is it so hard to anchor ourselves to the here and now?  I think such a thing requires discipline.  Whenever I realize I am drifting away, either backward or forward, I need to focus on the moment I’m living, right now.  This requires that I become mindful of where my thoughts are taking me and that I have the desire to experience life anew, not just relive what I’ve already done or imagine what I might do.  Such a thing also requires courage.  We don’t know what will happen as a result of our actions or decisions, so we do the best we can with what we do know, and we leave the rest up to God.  So such a thing also requires faith.  We have to be confident that whatever comes next, whether we are directly or indirectly responsible for it, we will be able to accept it and move on.  We also need to be able to believe that if something bad happens, in some way we can benefit from the experience, even if only by surviving it.

We are more than the choices we make, but those choices are significant.  We might look back and wonder how we could have been so wrong about decisions we’ve made.  But we need to remember that we are constantly being shaped by the moments we live, so that person who made a certain choice in the past might make a very different choice now.  When we try to look forward, to imagine all the possible outcomes of a decision, there are many scenarios; when we look backward, there is only one. We have to be gentle with ourselves and forgive ourselves for what have turned out to be bad decisions made with good intentions.  Regret is a powerful force that tries to keep us in the past.

That doesn’t mean we have to forget the past or ignore the future.  The past is not our enemy but our teacher.  We all need to recall yesterday so we can enjoy the pleasant memories and learn from our mistakes, and we need to plan for tomorrow with the expectation that we will continue our journey.  But the time to actually live our lives is today, this moment, because now is the only time we have.

Our Tuesday morning WOW group is currently studying the book “The Good and Beautiful Life: Putting on the Character of Christ” by James Bryan Smith. In one of our readings, Mr. Smith writes “The question is not, What will I have to give up to follow Jesus? What will I never get to experience if I choose not to follow Jesus? The answer is clear: we will forfeit the chance to live a good and beautiful life.”

Mark and I along with some friends recently took a trip to Estes Park and I spent the first two days hiking in the mountains of Rocky Mountains National Park. It was pretty difficult hiking for me and I found myself needing to stop to catch my breath and feeling muscles I had forgotten I had. Often the trail was rocky and getting good footing was somewhat difficult. However, as we climbed higher, the view became more spectacular until we reached our goal, a beautiful lake surrounded by mountains.  I was reminded that if I don’t do the hike, I don’t get the view. In the same way, if I don’t follow Christ, I don’t get the abundant life He promises to his followers.

Matthew 7:14 tells us “For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” Sometimes following Jesus is hard. Perhaps He asks us to do things that we don’t want to do. He may want us to go talk with someone and actually, we don’t even really like that person. But just like my hikes that were difficult, once I reached the top of that mountain, I almost wanted to go further. Almost. Perhaps someday I will go back and take a more difficult hike and go even higher, but for now, I am going to remember the reward from choosing to take the hikes I took and the enjoy the wonderful life experiences I get by choosing to follow Jesus.

by Linda

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