I Saw Jesus on a Garbage Heap! Mood:
happy Topic: The Purple Files
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36
I went for a walk the other day through a neighborhood that I wasn't familiar with. You would think that after all of these years I would know every part of my small town, but there was one section that I always avoided. That day, however, something compelled me to walk that way. I didn't know what it was at the time. Only that there was a reason why I had to go. So I did.
It was the kind of street that your mother always warns you about. An area where you really shouldn't walk alone. However, as I walked, I felt peace. As if it was where I should be at that moment. It was an inner peace. It had to be, because there was nothing on the outside that would convey peace at all. The houses were shabby and rundown. The lawns unkempt. It didn't get any better as I walked. The houses, if that's what you could call them, became mere shacks, and the shacks became mere boxes, hardly even livable. Junk filled the yards. Graffiti filled the walls. Still, I felt comfort. There was a voice within that said I should be there.
I walked on until there were no structures at all. Only junk. And then I saw it. The mound - no, the hill - no, the mountain of garbage. Stinking, filthy, trash everywhere. But there was something different about this trash. Something I couldn't quite put my finger on at first until it finally dawned on me what it was. It was the trash itself. This wasn't ordinary refuse that you would see on a regular garbage heap. This was different. There were no soup cans or soda bottles or cereal boxes. Instead I saw a can of discouragement, a bottle of depression, and a box of rejection. To my right there was a package of worry and a bag of fear. On my left there were scraps of disobedience.
As far as my eye could see there were large pieces and small pieces but each had the same type of label. Some labels were disgusting to my eyes - murder, pornography, abuse. Others weren't as repulsive - gossip, lies, hurtful words. All, however, were pieces of garbage. Worthless piles of waste.
I stood wondering what it all meant. Why was I there? Why was I so driven within that I had to walk that way and see that horrible site? I didn't belong there. I wasn't any of those things.
Then, something caught my eye. Was something moving? What was it? There was no wind - not even a breeze. It wasn't something moved by the air. At first I thought it was my imagination, but then I saw it again. Something, indeed, was moving slowly through the pile of trash. My curiosity got the best of me and I walked closer to see what it was. It was a person. In fact, as I came nearer to him, I recognized who it was immediately. It was Jesus!
Jesus was on the top of that garbage heap! Why was he there? Why would Jesus be in the middle of a dump? And what was he doing? At first I couldn't tell but then, finally, I saw. He reached down to pick up a piece of trash. I saw clearly what it was, it was a jar of guilt. Then, the most amazing thing happened. As he grabbed that filthy jar it became a hand. And as he picked it up, it ceased to become a piece of trash, but became a young women. And then, as she stood, she was no longer filthy, but beautiful. Not with an outward beauty, however. It was an inward beauty. A beauty that I had never seen before. A radiant beauty that could only be given by Jesus himself. Next, he reached down for a box that said anger. Soon, there was a young father standing before Jesus, just as radiant and shining as the young women.
I watched in awe as one by one Jesus reached for garbage but instead pulled up beautiful human beings. A bottle of rejection became a young boy. A package of addiction became a teenage girl. An elderly woman came from chunks of fear and a middle aged man came from pieces of uselessness. All were as shining and beautiful as the young women and young father were.
Then they began to run. I watched until they disappeared but there was no more wonder in my mind. I knew what had happened. I knew why they ran. They were free. Free from the bondage of sin to which they had been shackled. Free from being trash in a garbage heap.
I watched with joy. I cheered them on. It was a glorious site. Until my happiness turned to tears. You see, I was still standing there. I was not running with them. Then I realized why I was there. I belonged there. I belonged in that pile of trash. As I looked at myself I was no longer me. I was a piece of filth. I could see myself and I didn't have just one label, I had many. Dishonesty, unfaithfulness, and worry were there. Guilt, selfishness and rejection were included. My list went on and on. Indeed I was nothing but garbage. Filthy, stinking garbage. There was no hope for me. I would never run. I would never be free. I felt so small. So all alone. So unworthy.
Then, it happened. He walked my way. He saw me. He saw me with all of my sins. With all of my labels. With all of my baggage. And...he looked beyond it all and he touched me. He grabbed my hand. He pulled me up. And he looked at me. He took my face and he looked at me. There was that force. The force that I had been feeling this whole time. The force that drew me to this place. It was Jesus. Jesus had called me here. Jesus had called me to himself, and, then, Jesus had picked me up and set me free. I now had the joy. I now had the hope. I now had the radiance that I had seen and so longed for in the others. I began to run. I began to run like they had. Because, now I was free. The Son had set me free, and I was free indeed.
I was doing my daily Bible reading today and the following verses from Psalms really spoke to me. There are often times when I cry out to the Lord. There are times when I have asked God to "restore the sparkle to my eyes". In this day of troubles and strife all around us, it's sometimes good to remember that God is still here. He hasn't left us. Here are the verses:
For the choir director: A psalm of David.
1 O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way?
2 How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day? How long will my enemy have the upper hand?
3 Turn and answer me, O Lord my God! Restore the sparkle to my eyes, or I will die.
4 Don’t let my enemies gloat, saying, “We have defeated him!” Don’t let them rejoice at my downfall.
5 But I trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me.
6 I will sing to the Lord because he is good to me.
Is this What Getting Old is? Mood:
chillin' Topic: Family
No this isn't me, but don't I wish! No gray hair...no flab!
I blogged a couple of weeks ago about my shoulder problems. Well, I have to say that my shoulder is getting better little by little. It has its good days and its bad days but the good days are starting to get the upper hand. Thanks for all of the prayers. Please keep praying.
After I first posted about my shoulder, a good friend of mine wrote and said "It's old age, Tim". I thought, "Thanks a lot, Jan!" Really, we have known Jan and her family for years, and love and appreciate their friendship even though we don't see each other much.
Anyway, I began thinking about it. Is this really what old age feels like? I was really aching! Do you just get used to it? I don't remember my grandparents ever complaining that much. Oh, they didn't move as quickly as young people did, and they got up slowly from their chairs sometimes, but I don't recall that much fuss about aches and pains. Do you get used to it after a while? Does God grant you grace and relief?
I don't think I ever had a real mid-life crises - at least not in my forties when I was supposed to have one. Now I wonder if I'm going through one now. I find myself wondering if I really am getting old. I ask myself what I have really accomplished in life. I try to uplift myself by thinking that most of my relatives lived into their 90's, so I have a good 40 years ahead of me at least. Then I think about the last 50 yeas and how quickly they've gone by. The next 40 will be over before I know it.
But is it really that bad? God will continue to use me just like he has used me all of my life. Even through my weaknesses, he continues to bless me. Even through my sinfulness he keeps forgiving me. And what's going to happen when this life is over anyway? I'm going to Heaven! I'm not even promised the next minute let alone 40 more years, so why concern myself over it.
It's really not that bad. I just need to take one day at a time and continue to thank God for each day. I need to enjoy my wife and my children. I need to keep on keeping on for the Lord. Forget the shoulder! Forget the old age! With God's help I'll be okay. Thanks for letting me vent! And, thanks again for the prayers.
God Gave Us the World - A First Wild Card Blog Tour Book Mood:
a-ok Topic: Book Reviews
No, I'm not going to usually have two First Wild Card books featured so closely together, but The Dragon and the Turtle Go on Safari and this great children's book God Gave Us the World are both by published by Waterbrook Press and so the two tours are close together. The more I see about Waterbrook Press the more I like the company. The two books that I have reviewed by them have both been hits with our family.
God Gave Us the World is part of the "God Gave Us..." series written by Lisa Tawn Bergren and illustrated by Laura J. Bryant. This series focuses on The Polar Bear family - especially Little Cub who has tons of questions. In this book, the family goes to the Bear Museum and Little Cub finds that her world is bigger than she thought. She didn't realize that their were a lot of different kinds of bears that lived in different parts of the world, ate different things, acted differently and even looked a little different. Throughout the book, Mama gently answers all of Little Cub's questions and explains that it doesn't matter where we live, what we eat or what we look like. God made us all and we are all special.
I really liked this book, and our Joshua, just as Little Cub did, had lots of questions while I was reading it. I'm looking forward to buying some of the other books in this series. Below you can find more information about God Gave Us the World. This book, along with all of the books in the series can be purchased from www.RandomHouse.com or from any major book retailer.
It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
***Special thanks to Staci Carmichael, Marketing and Publicity Coordinator, Doubleday Religion / Waterbrook Multnomah / Divisions of Random House, Inc. for sending me a review copy.***
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Lisa Tawn Bergren is the award-winning author of nearly thirty titles, totaling more than 1.5 million books in print. She writes in a broad range of genres, from adult fiction to devotional. God Gave Us Love follows in Lisa’s classic tradition of the best-selling God Gave Us You. She makes her home in Colorado, with her husband, Tim, and their children, Olivia, Emma, and Jack.
Laura J. Bryant studied painting, printmaking, and sculpture at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore. She has illustrated numerous award-winning children’s books, including God Gave Us You, Smudge Bunny, and If You Were My Baby. Laura lives in Asheville, North Carolina.
What Have We Been Reading? Mood:
a-ok Topic: Family
Well, it's been over a month and I thought I would check in to see how everyone was doing with their reading. I took a break from my traditional history books the kids took a break from school, so some of the books that I mentioned we were reading we still are reading. But, we have also read some interesting books in between, so here goes.
Tim - Do you remember the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics this last year? Well, they featured the different regions of Canada and during the "Prairie" performance, they had a short reading from a book called "Who Has Seen the Wind" by W. O. Mitchell. The short reading was beautiful and is sounded like just the kind of book that I would like to read. After some research I found out that W. O. Mitchell is a famous Canadian author and Who Has Seen the Wind is considered a classic in Canada. Try as I may, however, I could not find that book in any one of the places that I usually buy books from. It seems that "Who Has Seen the Wind" may be a classic in Canada, but the book and it's author aren't well known in the U. S. A. So, I finally ordered it from Amazon.
I was right. The book was right down my alley. I loved it! I won't go into a lot of detail here, because this isn't a book review it's a "what are we reading" post. I will tell you, though, that I would highly recommend the book, but not for everyone. I wouldn't let my kids read it, at least yet. As many "classics" do, it has some language. Not terribly horrible language, but it has it. The book, however, I feel has a pretty good moral to it. I'd love to hear what some Canadians (or others) who have read the book feel about it. Anyone?
Other than that, I'm presently reading Jesus in the Present Tense by Warren Wiersbe for First Wild Card and I love it. Warren Wiersbe is a great author and this is a great book, but I'll save my final say for the end of the month when I post my review.
John Allen - John Allen finished The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare and said that it was the best book that he has ever read. I didn't have to ask him to read it, he picked it up and read it himself. He has read a lot of great books over the past couple of years so for him to make that claim, it must be good.
Now he's finally finishing The Cat of Bubastus by G. A. Henty. It's not that he didn't have the desire to finish it, mind you. It's just that we didn't bring it with us on our travels during Christmas, and other things got in the way. Just tonight he said that he was going to hate for it to end and that it was right up there with The Bronze Bow. Two great books within a couple of months - that's not bad!
Joshua - Joshua is still in his football phase. Maybe I should say his "football craze"! He loves anything football and he loves the Mannings. Peyton, Eli and Archie! He got a Peyton Manning jersey for Christmas, and we even found a great little book called "Family Huddle" written by the Manning brothers and their dad. Joshua loves it. It has a good story, great pictures and even some football plays. Great for your young football fans.
Now it's back to school and, yes, back to Ben Franklin. It's not that he dislikes the book, it's just that it's...well...school! He is doing quite well in school, though, and is enjoying it. So I know he will continue to enjoy the biography of Ben Franklin that we are reading.
Jacob - I have been very blessed to get a couple of books to review from First Wild Card that Jacob has really enjoyed. One, The Dragon and the Turtle Go On Safari, I reviewed yesterday, and the other, God Gave Us the World, I'm going to review tomorrow. The reviews will tell you all about these great books.
Don't bother asking me about Sarah. Who knows what she has been/is reading. She reads all of the time and I can't keep up.
Sorry, no pictures of all of the books this time. Maybe I'll come back and add some later. I've added all of the above mentioned books on my Amazon sidebar, though. If you click on them, it will take you right to the Amazon page for that book. Now, in order to be open, I am an Amazon affiliate, so if you end up buying the book after you click on the link from this page, I will get a percentage of the profit (hey it's an easy way to support a poor struggling missionary family ). Really, no pressure. Please buy the book anywhere if you are really interested in it. I'm only trying to encourage everyone to read!
So, what have you been reading lately? Leave me a comment tell us all about it. Inquiring minds want to know!