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September 2005 Archives

Printable Issue 624  Today is Thursday, September 1st, 2005; Karen's Korner #624
This is a daily devotional which I received a short time ago from Jeff White who is a minister in Illinois. I don't know the guy, but someone I know.........knows someone.....who knows someone.....
 
And I like what he writes, so I hang on to some of them:
 
The blood of Jesus, God's Son, cleanses us from every sin. 
     1 John 1:7

     John tells us, "We are being cleansed from every sin by the blood of
Jesus." In other words, we are always being cleansed. The cleansing is not a
promise for the future but a reality in the present. Let a speck of dust
fall on the soul of a saint, and it is washed away. Let a spot of filth land
on the heart of God's child, and the filth is wiped away..

     Our Savior kneels down and gazes upon the darkest acts of our lives.
But rather than recoil in horror, he reaches out in kindness and says, "I
can clean that if you want." And from the basin of his grace, he scoops a
palm full of mercy and washes away our sin.

      But that's not all he does. Because he lives in us, you and I can do
the same. Because he has forgiven us, we can forgive others.
Printable Issue 625  Today is Friday, September 2nd, 2005; Karen's Korner #625
(Great news for the Welds: last night we learned that we are going to be 'grandparents' again in March of 2006...no, it isn't Tim and Jamie. But our Australian exchange daughter, Karen and her husband Mick who we visited in February. Since our relationship began, Karen has always referred to herself as another daughter, an 'adopted' relationship we have enjoyed...and plan on keeping!!)
 
 
Not long ago a friend and I were on our way to a meeting with people who we do not know well. As we were climbing out of the car, the friend confessed that she was feeling a bit uncomfortable with our pending get-together.
 
I mentioned that I had had similar thoughts and feelings earlier in the day, but I had worked to dismiss them.
 
Why do we do that? Why is it that some unknown settings, sometimes, make us feel vulnerable? We visualize ourselves as not being accepted, maybe not at talented, or maybe with fewer resources.
 
My dictionary describes "vulnerable" as "open to, or easily hurt by, criticism or attack". That would never have happened in this setting, or just about any setting for most of us.
 
Instead, we always need to focus on Jesus and what He says and thinks about us. Another "v" word:  "valuable"; or as my dictionary says: "highly regarded as precious, useful, worthy".
 
Jesus loved us so much that He gave His life for us.....John 3:16!
 
Jesus said, ".........and the very hairs of your head are all-numbered. So don't worry! You are more valuable to Him (God) than many sparrows....." (Matthew 10:30)
Printable Issue 626  Today is Monday, September 5th, 2005; Karen's Korner #626
Happy Labor Day! I liked this "Chicken Soup for the Soul"; another subtitle might be 'sleeping in church':
 
The Ten-Dollar Bill
By J. A. Jance

     After years of tolerating marriage to an alcoholic husband, I finally reached the painful decision that the only way for my two young children and me to survive was to get a divorce.  It wasn't something I wanted to do, but it had to be done.
     However, even after the divorce, problems with my ex-husband continued, and I realized I had no choice but to leave town.  Once again, I didn't really want to, because I liked my house and the neighborhood, but I had to do what was necessary.
     I found a real estate agent, listed my house for sale and made arrangements to transfer my insurance sales job to Seattle, fourteen hundred miles away.  Then I sat back and waited for something to happen.  And waited. And waited.  Nothing happened for months on end. I changed real estate agents twice, but still there were no serious buyers in sight.  And I couldn't afford to leave town until I sold my house.
     The stress of the divorce and the subsequent living in limbo was almost too much for me.  I had difficulty sleeping.  In fact, the only place I could sleep turned out to be church.  I'd go there every week and sink wearily into the third or fourth pew.  I was all right through the early part of the service when we sang hymns, passed the collection plate and listened to the sermon for the children.  But by the time the main sermon started, I would nod off and not wake up until it was over.
     I guessed that Reverend McKinley, the minister, had noticed my somnolence because one day he announced that the title of his sermon was "On Sleeping in Church."  I don't have any idea what was actually in that sermon because, as usual, I slept soundly through the whole thing.  I apologized to the minister that day after church.  He took my hand and shook it warmly.  "Don't worry about it," he said.  "Obviously this is where you're supposed to be."
     Spring came.  More than six months had passed and still my house was not sold.  If my prayer to be shown whether I was right to move to Seattle was being answered, the answer was obviously a resounding no.
     One Sunday, Reverend McKinley called the children to come up for their sermon.  Once they were seated in front of him, he told them all to hold out a single hand.  Reaching into the pocket of his robe, he pulled out a roll of one-dollar bills and placed one in each outstretched hand.  Then he reached into another pocket and pulled out a ten-dollar bill.
     "You can have this," he told the children, who were sitting attentively, clutching their one-dollar bills.  "But in order to take this, you have to let go of what you already have."  He held the ten-dollar bill out at arm's length.
     It was an amusing sight.  Not one of those little children was willing to let go of his one-dollar bill.  Yet they were all old enough to know that ten dollars is better than one.  Eventually, Reverend McKinley put his ten dollars back into his pocket.
     At least that little demonstration kept me awake for a while, before I resumed my customary slumbers.  I didn't even hear what the minister said to the children after that.
     But that night in bed, as I tried to go to sleep, suddenly, the penny dropped.  My eyes opened, and as I stared up in the darkness, I knew exactly what I had been doing wrong - I was clinging on with my little fist to a puny, tattered one-dollar bill!  Of course my house hadn't sold.  I was still so attached to it.  I was so accustomed to moving in the same groove, day in, day out, through each room, attached to the placement of everything like a prisoner who has come to love the familiarity of his own jail cell.  In short, I had loved my house too much.  And I also realized in the same moment that I wasn't confident enough that a "ten-dollar bill" was out there for me in Seattle.  I couldn't see it, I couldn't taste it, I couldn't touch it.  As far as I was concerned, moving out there was a leap in the dark, and I was scared of it.
     As the lesson of the sermon continued to percolate into my suddenly alert midnight brain, I knew I just had to let go.  Strip off the habits of many years.  Make the big leap.  Know that I had a parachute and that I would land safely.
     And that was exactly what I did.  My attitude underwent a 180-degree turn.  I was ready to cast off the old, and I was eager for the new challenge.  I wanted that ten-dollar bill, and I released my one dollar to the four winds.
     Soon after this my house sold, and the children and I moved to our new lives in Seattle.
     Letting go of my "one" set me on a path that allowed me to follow a long-postponed dream of becoming a writer.  It also led to a new husband, three more children and eventually three grandchildren.  My "ten" includes countless blessings that I never could have imagined in my old life, but before I could have any of them, I had to open my hand and release everything I was holding on to.
     And yes, my "ten" also includes staying awake during sermons.

Printable Issue 627  Today is Tuesday, September 6th, 2005; Karen's Korner #627
This is an email that we received yesterday from Murray Wise, a former Clarion resident, who now lives in Florida. A while back, I wrote a Karen's Korner about the Wise family and their interest in, and work with, bringing Russian orphans to America and helping them to be placed in to homes here. Even though the Wise's are beginning their trip through the 50s, they have added two elementary-aged kids to their "family collection".
 
The story below is one written by a friend of theirs; it is heart rendering. There seems to be numerous needs everywhere we look in the world today:
 
MY MAX
 
It was a gray day in April of 1999 when Dmitry Yurievich Demchenko and his little brother Maxim Yurievich Morozov were taken for the last time from the cold little shack which they had known as home.
 
For months they had been left without food, warmth and love fr om anyone except each other and somehow they had survived. Their survival had depended on their own courage and willingness and so they had found food enough “picking through the garbage” and warmth enough clinging to each other. Being four years apart, Dmitry became the provider and today he can very vividly recall what that responsibility entailed.
 
The boys were taken to a temporary asylum (unknown to us) where they slept together and Dmitry again was told to take care of his little brother. He will tell you that it isn’t all fond memories of the months spent there but the cruelest memory that haunts him to this day is “one day I woke up and my Max was gone.”
 
Details of exactly what happened next are a bit sketchy but Dmitry ultimately ended up at the V.P. Stavsky Orphan Boarding School of Nevel which would be his home for the next three years. After two years went by, the offer of a summer camp program put some hope back in to the empty blue eyes. He had been chosen to go to America where he would enjoy American life and culture and unbeknownst to him, meet his forever family.
 
When my husband and I were introduced to Dmitry, it was as if it was always meant to be. He jumped up into my arms as if to say, “I pick you” and we never looked back. That began the one year battle of forms, paperwork and legalities that lead us to a court date in Pskov, Russia in January. A time of year that would scare the fainthearted into rethinking the reality of what was in store. But with enough warm gear for all three of us, we made the journey of a lifetime that would change three people’s lives forever. On that freezing cold day in a toasty warm little courtroom, we stood before the judge and prosecutor and listened while our future was handed down. Dmitry would be our son from that day forward.
 
Dimitry Joseph Mossman took on his American name and his American life as if he had been entitled. The only mention of his former life would come in our goodnight talks when he would cry and say, “why did they have to take my Max away from me?”
 
What a joyous gift it would be to be able to tell our son that Maxim has been found and that they would have the opportunity to re-unite and begin a real relationship of getting to know each other through letters, emails, phone calls and summer holidays together.
Printable Issue 628  Today is Wednesday, September 7th, 2005; Karen's Korner #628
As Americans deal with the reality of the devastation connected with Hurricane Katrina, does anyone but me tire of the name calling on whose fault it is or was?
 
Was it Bush's fault? Or the federal government's and some of its people? The Louisana governer? Or the New Orleans mayor? Black versus white? Rich versus poor? What about the people themselves, shouldn't have they heeded some of the advance warnings of the impending disaster? The name calling and rhetoric makes it hard for me to listen sometimes. Maybe it is because we don't do some of that type of thing at home. But I don't like it!
 
It reminds me of the days more than twenty years ago when I served on our local school board. The school policy at the time was to bring students before the board when all other methods of discipline had failed. Students were asked to bring along at least one parent.
 
Many times the student would tell of a teacher who was picking on him/her. The parents would be angry at the staff or the child. Sometimes the teacher(s) would feel betrayed by the principal or the superintendent for not backing them up properly. As I would listen, I would think to myself and may have said one time, "The student, the teacher, all of the teachers, the prinicipals, the superintendent, the board, and the community, WE have all failed! Otherwise, this kid wouldn't be in trouble today. Now that we have identified who is responsible, let's get to work to get it fixed. This fifteen-year-old is in trouble!"
 
Maybe we are all to blame for what happened in the south....including God!!
 
I read something lately about a minister who had some miraculous thing happen in his 20-plus year ministry. God gently reminded the minister, "I can do in two minutes, what has taken you more than more 20 years to accomplish!" Maybe we (people and governments) will never be able to completely prepare or erase what God can do in two minutes........maybe we aren't that smart or powerful!
 
And maybe God doesn't hesitate to remind us just how powerful He is!
 
~~
 
This is Jeff White's daily devotional e-mail from early last week:
 

 I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that He is able to guard

until that Day what has been entrusted to me. 

-- 2 Timothy. 1:12  

 

     One great benefit can always be received from life's troubles and set-backs, they make us realize our dependence upon divine mercy and power.  I spoke yesterday to a former co-worker.  She was to (or may??) retire today.  She had the Army move all of her belongings into her dream retirement home last Thursday.  Her home is only two miles from the beach and adjoins a wildlife refuge.  One small problem; it was, I repeat was, in Biloxi, Mississippi.  The house and everything she owned is gone.

 

     I called her yesterday morning and her comment was, "I have nothing left, but at least God gave us enough warning to get out with our lives".    Always remember the admonition of Matthew in 6:19-21 "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

 
Printable Issue 629  Today is Thursday, September 8th, 2005; Karen's Korner #629
Earlier this week Jack Burt forwarded an email to me that triggered a couple of childhood memories of a Vacation Bible School which always make me laugh when I think of them or retell the story. Allow me to share them with you:
 
~~
 
My friends and I were in the middle elementary school days and attended a church of less than 100 people on a given Sunday. That year in V.B.S., we were being taught about the 23rd Psalm. Teachers had made a large diorama of a hilly, grassy pastureland with trees and rivers. We had figures of animals and shepherds which we could move around to tell our story to others and to our parents at the closing program.
 
A classmate, Mary Louise Peterson, was supposed to move two dogs through the country side. Their names were Goodness and Mercy.
 
"surely, goodness and mercy will follow you all the days of your life......."  Psalms 23:6
 
She would move one dog -- Shirley (surely); dog #2 - goodness; and then look around for another dog........
 
The teacher would say, "No, not surely, but Goodness and Mercy."
 
And for the second, third or fourth time, she would move the dogs, first - Shirley; and then Goodness and be missing Mercy!
 
It made me laugh then, and it makes me chuckle as I type this today!
 
~~
 
Same V.B.S.  This time we were at the V.B.S. program at the end of our week of learning and activities. The program was on Friday evening. My friends and I were seated in the front row waiting our turn.
 
I turned around and saw Mike Haugen, who was a year older than I was, in his little league baseball uniform. In those days, a uniform was the shirt, pants, leggings like the professionals wear (not tighter fiting like today, sort of baggy).
 
I can remember thinking, "Hmm, I don't remember anyone practicing a baseball portion in our program. I wonder what that will look like?"
 
So the program progressed. Mike got up and sang with the rest of us. Did his part.
 
The program got over and I asked Mike, "How did you happen to wear your baseball uniform tonight?"
 
His reply, "Mom, wasn't home. I was going through my drawers looking for something to wear and I couldn't find anything clean,  so I wore this!"
 
~~
Printable Issue 630  Today is Friday, September 9th, 2005; Karen's Korner #630
Abigail Swartz is 13 years old and an 8th grader in the Eldora-New Providence Schools. She also likes to write poetry and wrote this particular poem after a trip to Washington D.C. and the east coast this past spring.
 
Proud grandma Carol Needham shared this with a group of gals at a meeting a couple of weeks ago. I asked for a copy to share with all of you, in light of the 9/11 anniversary on Sunday:
 
"One for Freedeom"
 
One for freedom
proudly standing high
one for peace
silhouetted against the evening sky
 
Two pillars
the embodiment
of America's power
now twisted and bent
 
and as we watched
those two crumble
some people thoought
America would stumble
 
That all the death
and the destruction
would keep us from
being able to function
 
But they have never
been so wrong in their life
for even though this disaster
cut us like a knife
 
Buildings can be rebuilt
and money re-earned
and we can even fix
what has been burned
 
for American is not
made of material things
not houses or cars
or golden rings
 
These are things
America enjoys
Adults like their work
and children their toys
 
But the thing that makes
America full
isn't the things
No, it's the people
 
It is the people
that make America stand
That show other countries
how to live in a free land
 
Terrorists wanted
to destry our power
so they would rule
and we would cower
 
Though our hearts are heavy
and we grieve what is gone
we will stand together
and we will see a new dawn
 
September eleventh
was just a date on a page
Now it is filled
with sorrow and rage
 
9-11 forever embedded
in America's wind
But we will move on
for strength we will find
 
For America's people
are one nation
under God indivisible
No matter what station
 
For on that day
a bond was felt
Because of this
we can take what we're dealt
 
9-11 didn't ruin us
it made us stronger
because of it
we will last longer
 
Because we are for freedom
opening the gates
We are for peace
GOD BLESS THE UNITED STATES
Printable Issue 631  Today is Monday, September 12th, 2005; Karen's Korner #631
When my nearly 87-year-old mom finds a photo, clipping, saying, or writing that she thinks is good, fun, or funny, she has a tendency to share it with lots of people. I guess I didn't fall far from the tree!
 
"My Pastor" is a poem she mailed to me a couple weeks ago with a note penned at the bottom, "I have had a good time with this!":
 
My Pastor
 
My pastor has a special gift
when imparting gospel news
of approaching our Lord's teaching
from a modern point of view.
 
Writings that are centuries old
appear written yesterday
when he translates them into words
I can understand today.
 
I must, however, state complaint
of a problem that I see:
When my pastor gives his sermons
he directs them right at me.
 
His words cut to my very soul
so I glance at other folks.
Perhaps I'm on "Candid Camera",
this has got to be a joke.
 
But the church overflows with saints
who have paid their Christian dues,
while I wipe the sweat from my brow
and sink lower in my pew.
 
I'd almost bet my life on it
that the times when I'm not there,
my pastor rips his sermon up
and throws it in the air.
 
Then he signals for everyone
to come back another day.
Without me to inspire him
my pastor has nothing to say.
 
~~ J. Taylor Ludwig,
St. Louis, Missouri
Printable Issue 632  Today is Tuesday, September 13th, 2005; Karen's Korner #632

Several short thoughts to jump start your day and mine:

"I am careful not to confuse excellence with perfection.
Excellence, I can reach for;
Perfection is God's business."
    -- Michael J. Fox
 
 
"Our busy schedule many times
is an antiseptic to cover up our
otherwise empty lives."
       -- Author unknown
 
 
"His love for us led Christ to
Gesthemane and to Calvary."
        -- Mother Theresa
 
 
"All we ever need is found in Jesus.
When we accept Him as our Savior,
we are given a new spirit--one empowered
by the Holy Spirit. We can understand
spiritual truth because the Spirit of God
renews our minds."
        -- Charles F. Stanley
Printable Issue 633  Today is Wednesday, September 14th, 2005; Karen's Korner #633
As I picked up a 24-ounce bottle of Coke yesterday, I read these red letters on the yellow band above the even larger familiar COKE words, "It's BIG! For those who thirst for more!"
 
I guess if you are buying that big of bottle, you'd have a big thirst!
 
The Bible talks in several spots about being thirsty, too! Some of the 'thirsty' words are about being 'spiritually thirsty', which seeps over into our physical, emotional, and mental well-beings as well.
 
Matthew 5:6 says, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled."
 
A extra comment in my Women of Destiny Bible says, "To hunger and thirst after righteous is when nothing in the world can fascinate as much as being near to God. : -- Smith Wigglesworth
 
Sounds like that is for any of us who are hungry and thirsty. And the hungrier and thirstier we are, the more of God's blessings we will receive.
 
And like my Coke bottle said yesteday, "It's BIG! For those who thirst for more!"
Printable Issue 634  Today is Thursday, September 15th, 2005; Karen's Korner #634
In John, chapter 15, Jesus talks about Him being "the Vine" and His Father being the "Gardener". Jesus describes us as being "branches on the Vine", connected to Him.
 
Jesus tells about "the Gardener" lopping off every branch that doesn't produce fruit; and pruning the ones that do!
 
If we are those branches, both the lopping and the pruning don't sound like much fun to me! Both might be a bit painful.......and who doesn't want to avoid something that hurts........if at all possible!
 
But we also know that cutting back the extra tangly branches of an apple tree or grapevine, makes the branches that are left, stronger and the fruit that is produced larger and more delicious.
 
It sounds like in life, lots things are going to come our way. Some of them we aren't going to like and we will be exposed to both the possibilities of lopping and pruning.
 
If I have my choice, I'll take pruning. That way I'll have a chance to re-grow and re-produce.
 
Lopping? What can anyone do with dead branches?
Printable Issue 635  Today is Friday, September 16th, 2005; Karen's Korner #635
Jim's cousin from Florida forwarded this writing by Christian writer Max Lucado. It is vintage Lucado. I thought that it was good and very timely, in light of the recent Hurricane Katrina:
 
What Katrina Can Teach Us?
by Max Lucado

Who would have thought we would ever hear this phrase spoken on a radio
news report in America: “Today, about 25,000 refugees were moved from the
Superdome in New Orleans to the Astrodome in Houston.”

For days, we’ve watched the tragedy continue to unfold in Mississippi and
Louisiana and, if you are like me, you’ve wrestled with feelings of shock
and disbelief…feelings that, over the last five years, have become all too
familiar. We were barely into the new millennium when we saw towers
falling in New York City and planes crashing into the Pentagon and the
Pennsylvania farmland. We saw bombs over Baghdad and witnessed the ancient
land of Abraham become a war zone for his ancestors. You’d think we had
seen enough, but then came the tsunami--a roaring wave that sucked life and
innocence out to sea.

And now the fruits of Katrina. A city sitting in twenty feet of water.
Citizens hacking their way onto roofs and helicopters hovering over
neighborhoods. Optimistic rescuers, opportunistic looters, grateful people,
resentful people--we have seen it all.

And many have seen it up close. Katrina came to San Antonio in the form of
12,500 evacuees. Many of you are meeting them, feeding them, writing
checks, and manning shifts. And you, as much as any, have reason to
wonder…What is going on here? 9/11, Iraq, tsunami, Katrina. And I didn’t
mention nor intend to minimize Hurricanes Dennis and Ivan and Emily.

Jesus criticized the leaders of his day for focusing on the weather and
ignoring the signals: “You find it easy enough to forecast the weather--why
can't you read the signs of the times?” Matthew 16:2-3 (MSG).

What are we to learn from all of this? Is God sending us a message? I think
so. And, I think we’d be wise to pay attention. There are some
spiritual lessons that I think God would want us to learn through this
tragedy. The first lesson we see is…


I. The Nature of Possessions: Temporary

As you’ve listened to evacuees and survivors, have you noticed their words?
No one laments a lost plasma television or submerged SUV. No one runs
through the streets yelling, “My cordless drill is missing” or “My golf
clubs have washed away.” If they mourn, it is for people lost. If they
rejoice, it is for people found.

Could Jesus be reminding us that people matter more than possessions? In a
land where we have more malls than high schools, more debt than credit,
more clothes to wear than we can wear, could Christ be saying:

"Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does
not consist in the abundance of his possessions" (Luke 12:15)?

We see an entire riverboat casino washed up three blocks and placed on top
of a house in a neighborhood. You see demolished $40,000 cars that will
never be driven again, hidden in debris. And in the background of our minds
we hear the quiet echoes of Jesus saying, “What good will it be for a man
if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?” (Matthew 16:26).

Raging hurricanes and broken levees have a way of prying our fingers off
the stuff we love. What was once most precious now means little; what we
once ignored is now of eternal significance.

A friend and I attended a worship service at Antioch Baptist Church last
Sunday night. Several African American Church leaders had organized an
assembly to pray for the evacuees that have ended up in San Antonio. Many
of them sat on the front rows…dressed in all the clothing they owned:
t-shirts, jeans. Their faces were weary from the week. But when the music
started and the worship began, they came to their feet and sang with tears
in their eyes.

They were rich. Are you that rich? Were all your possession washed away,
could you still worship? Would you still worship? If not, you are holding
things too tightly: “Tell those rich in this world's wealth to quit being
so full of themselves and so obsessed with money, which is here today and
gone tomorrow. Tell them to go after God, who piles on all the riches we
could ever manage--to do good, to be rich in helping others, to be
extravagantly generous. If they do that, they'll build a treasury that will
last, gaining life that is truly life” (1 Timothy 6:17-19 MSG).
Through Katrina, Christ tells us: stuff doesn’t matter; people do.
Understand the nature of possessions. Be equally clear on:


II. The Nature of People: Sinners and Saints

We see the most incredible servants and stories of selflessness and
sacrifice. We see people of the projects rescuing their neighbors, we see
civil servants risking their lives for people they’ve never seen. My wife Denalyn
and I toured a shelter supervised by one of our neighbors here in San
Antonio. We met a family of some twenty cousins and siblings.

One six-year-old girl told Denalyn about the helicopter man who plucked her
off a third story porch and lifted her to safety.

That child will never know who that man is. He’ll never seek any applause.
He saved her life… all in a day’s work. We saw humanity at its best. And we
saw humanity at its worst.

Looting. Fighting. We heard stories of rapes and robberies. Someone said,
“The heavens declare the glory of God but the streets declare the
sinfulness of man.” The video footage in New Orleans has confirmed the
truthfulness of that quote. Can you imagine not being able to sleep in the
Superdome for fear that someone might try to rape your daughter if she went
to the restroom in the middle of the night?

We are people of both dignity and depravity. The hurricane blew back more
than roofs; it blew the mask off the nature of mankind. The main problem in
the world is not Mother Nature, but human nature. Strip away the police
barricades, blow down the fences, and the real self is revealed. We are
barbaric to the core.

We were born with a me-first mentality. You don’t have to teach your kids
to argue. They don’t have to be trained to demand their way. You don’t have
to show them how to stomp their feet and pout, it is their nature… indeed
it is all of our nature to do so. “All of us have strayed like sheep. We
have left God’s paths to follow our own”(Isaiah 53:6).

God’s chosen word for our fallen condition has three letters- s-I-n. Sin
celebrates the letter in the middle. “I”. Left to our own devices, we lead
a godless, out of control life of “…doing what we felt like doing, when we
felt like doing it” (Ephesians 2:3 MSG).

You don’t have to go to New Orleans to see the chaos. Because of sin, the
husband ignores his wife, grown men seduce the young. The young
proposition the old. When you do what you want and I do what I want,
humanity and civility implodes.

And when the Katrinas of life blown in, our true nature is revealed and our
deepest need is unveiled: a need deeper than food, more permanent than firm
levees. We need, not a new system, but a new nature. We need to be changed
from the inside out. Which takes us to the third message of Katrina:


III. The Nature of God’s Grace: Inside Out

Much discussion revolves around the future of New Orleans. Will the city be
restored? Repaired? How long will it take? Who will pay for it? One thing
is for certain: someone has to clean her up.

No one is suggesting otherwise. Everyone knows, someone has to go in a
clean up the mess. That is what God offers to do with us. He comes into
sin-flooded lives and washes away the old. Paul reflected on his conversion
and he wrote: “He gave us a good bath, and we came out of it new people,
washed inside and out by the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5). Our sins stand no
chance against the fire hoses of God’s grace.

But he does more than cleanse us; he rebuilds us. In the form of his Holy
Spirit, God moves in and starts a complete renovation project. “God can do
anything, you know--far more than you could ever imagine or guess or
request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by
working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.” (Ephesians 3:20
MSG).

And what we can only dream of doing with New Orleans, God has done with
soul after soul, and he will do so with you, if you let him.

The most disturbing stories from the last week are of those who refused to
be rescued. Those who spent their final hours trapped in attics and
rooms regretting the choice they’d made. They could have been saved. They
could have gotten out… but they chose to stay. Many paid a permanent price.

You don’t have to pay that price. What rescuers did for people on the Gulf
Coast, God will do for you. He has entered your world. He has dropped a
rope into your sin-swamped life. He will rescue, you simply need to do what
that little girl did, let him lift you out.

I mentioned my visit to Antioch Baptist Church last Sunday night. A local
minister, Pastor L. A. Williams gave a message on this one verse: “But
Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord…” (Gen. 6:8).

The minister helped us see all the things Noah could not find because of
the flood. He could not find his neighborhood. He could not find his
house. He could not find the comforts of home or the people down the
street--there was much he could not find. But what he could find made all
the difference. Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. Noah found grace
in the eyes of God. If you have everything and no grace, you have nothing.
If you have nothing but grace, you have everything.

Have you found grace? If not, I urge you to do what that little girl told
us she did. When the rescuer appeared on her porch, she grabbed him,
closed her eyes, and held on. That’s all you need to do. And if you never
have, and would like to, I urge you to reach for the hand of your rescuer,
Jesus Christ

Your Redeemer lives, too. This hurricane was his tool to get your
attention. Trust in Him while you still can.
Printable Issue 636  Today is Monday, September 19th, 2005; Karen's Korner #636
Last week we got some photos of Daphne Maxon (now with the last name of Brindle) riding their new horse "Oreo" (amazingly the horse is black and white!). Daphne was a classmate of younger daughter, lived farther south of our farm home, and enjoyed horses and other animals when she was a kid growing up.
 
But she grew up, became a speech pathologist, moved near Seattle, Washington, got married, and is now mom to two kids. She became a "big city" girl. Or so I thought, until the last few months, when I see photos lik Daphne and Oreo, the Brindle family with their goats, or Daphne and husband Phil buying their new dog. When I saw the pictures of Daphne, smiling as she was riding her new horse, I thought, "Daphne didn't leave behind her rural roots and memories, she took them with her!"
 
And that is what I would like to think of us as Christians! When we die, we don't leave behind who we are and what we were like. We take that all with us. We simply relocate!
 
Think about that for people who you and I have loved and aren't here with us any longer! Think about that when you look down the road into your future! We don't change who we are. Like Daphne, we just change our addresses!!
Printable Issue 637  Today is Tuesday, September 20th, 2005; Karen's Korner #637
Another daily devotional I received a week or so ago from Jeff White. I like them because they are short, easy to read, easy to understand, and make a point that is too hard to miss:
 

Be strong in the Lord
and in his great power.

Ephesians 6:10

 

    I stand a few feet from a mirror and see the face of a man who failed, … who failed his Maker. Again. I promised I wouldn’t, but I did. I was quiet when I should have been bold. I took a seat when I should have taken a stand.

If this were the first time, it would be different. But it isn’t. How many times can one fall and expect to be caught? …

Your eyes look in the mirror and see a sinner, a failure, a promise-breaker. But by faith you look in the mirror and see a robed prodigal bearing the ring of grace on your finger and the kiss of your Father on your face.…

Your eyes see your faults. Your faith sees your Savior. 

Your eyes see your guilt. Your faith sees his blood.

Printable Issue 638  Today is Wednesday, September 21st, 2005; Karen's Korner #638
At a Bible study that I was attending last spring, my friend Judy made the statement that she had heard a speaker mention on television the day before "that Americans watch an average of 70 hours of television in two weeks time; and that it would take the average American 70 hours to read the entire Bible through."
 
I thought, "I don't think a person could read the Bible that fast."
 
Not only did I think it, I said it in the class.
 
So I decided to challenge myself to see if it was possible. Beginning the first part of June, I would read 1/2 hour two times a day weekdays; only one 1/2 hour time period on weekends (and several times I would miss or skip!). I didn't study what I was reading. I read Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus like a novel. I didn't read the Bible from front to back, but rather one book at a time, skipping around from John to Joshua; from Psalms to Hebrews. And I finished up the 66 books sometime in August.
 
Guess what? I am not the fastest reader in the world and I finished in about 61 hours! (Don't ask me what is in chapter 2 of Lamentations, because I probably don't know; and like a novel, when I got lists of names of people I couldn't pronounce out loud or in my head.......I sort of skimmed through it, going for the next part of the story).
 
Now that I have tested my theory, I divided the number of hours I read by the number of days in a year. An average reader like me could read the entire Bible each year by simply reading 10 minutes a day.
 
If you have 10 minutes every day, I would encourage you to find one of those listings of "how to read the Bible in a year". I have seen them here and there over the years and thought, "I could never do that!"
 
I was wrong. I could do that, if I just started. And the second thing, I think would be not to let a whole bunch of days pile up to "get back to it".
 
Not many people have hours and hours a day to catch up.
 
But the fun part is: it is do-able!
Printable Issue 639  Today is Thursday, September 22nd, 2005; Karen's Korner #639
Yesterday's Karen's Korner hit a chord with some of you as several responded in various ways. I wrote about reading the Bible in 61 hours and how if a person would divide the hours by the number of days in a year, he/she could read it through by faithfully reading 10 - 15 minutes every day.
 
Some mentioned liking to faithfully do something like that, and they have; several took yesterday's writing as a challenge. One lady said she has tried to do the daily reading of the entire Bible a couple of times, but has never succeeded.
 
A good friend, Florine Swanson, wrote about her husband Ron reading the Bible from front to back the first time he read the Bible through. "Now he reads bits and pieces each morning," she said.  "He has two daily prayer books and each has verses that they recommend that he then reads in the Bible.  At Advent and Lent he adds additional prayer books.  Sometimes if they relate to me, he has them at my place at the table to read. Ron's father read the Bible every morning.  Like father, like son!" She said he began the daily ritual when he was 37 and has kept with it for nearly 30 years.
 
Jan Cruise of Nebraska related this personal note:  "I bought the Living Bible from Guidepost which was called a one year Bible. It sat for several years and then I was challenged after attending a three-day weekend retreat to dig deeper into the Word. I found it and dusted if off. I read it and passed it on to a friend who read it, then my Dad, then another friend and now my sister-in-law. I just ask that they write their name and the year they read it in the front of the Bible. Oh, another huge blessing, my 96-year-old father who is in a nursing home is reading the Bible for the third time. He reads everyday and is right on schedule. Pretty neat!!!!"
 
 
Printable Issue 640  Today is Friday, September 23rd, 2005; Karen's Korner #640
Here's one more story on reading through the Bible. This one is for busy people:  peer Clarion volunteer Sherri O'Brien tells about her husband Pat, who is a husband, dad, school teacher, coach, church leader, and community volunteer. How could he find time to read the Bible?
 
He didn't!  Pat bought the Bible on cassette and challenged himself to complete the listening process. Sherri said, "Every time he mowed lawn, or did outside work he attached his walkman to his belt, put on the headphones and listened to the Bible on tape.  He loved it because he could still do his work and at the same time have a professional actor read to him putting all the different emotions, etc. into the reading.  He completed the whole Bible from spring through fall and met his challenge in a surprisingly short amount of time." 
 
What does reading the Bible make the O'Briens, the Swansons, the Cruise family, or Karen Weld? Cetainly not perfect. I think I would say that it makes us "better". Better than we would be on our own, without having read it.
 
Some verses from Psalms 112: "Praise the Lord! For all who fear God and trust in Him are blessed beyond expression..........when darkness overtakes him, light will come bursting in.......God's constant care of him will make a deep impression on all who see it......he does not fear bad news nor live in dread of what may happen.......for he is settled in his mind that Jehovah will take care of him........."
 
Portions of my Bible commentary on these same verses:  "Many blessings are available to us--honor, prosperity, security, freedom from fear....if you expect God's blessings, you must first reverence Him, believe in His promises, and gladly listen to Him......fear God (in the verse above) means to respect and reverence Him as the Almighty Lord. When we trust God completely to take care of us, we will find that our fears will subside."
 
It makes a difference!
Printable Issue 641  Today is Monday, September 26th, 2005; Karen's Korner #641
A short thought from minister Jeff White:
 
    Everyone who is a child of God conquers the world. And this is the victory
that conquers the world - our faith. 
    -- 1 John 5:4

     Ever wonder what Alexander the Great wanted to be as he grew up?  How
about Napolean?  Do you think they said "When I grow up I intend to conquer
the world"?  Yet they did just that, and at an early age.

     Through faith you too can be a conqueror.  You can conquer death, you
can conquer sin, you can conquer fear, you can conquer Satan.  You can
conquer the world.
Printable Issue 642  Today is Tuesday, September 27th, 2005; Karen's Korner #642
This is a forwarded email from Alice Hiles; hope that you enjoy it:
 
 "TWO JARS"
 
The preacher placed two identical jars on the table next to the
pulpit. He quoted 1 Samuel 16:7 - 'The Lord does not look at the things man
looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the
heart"

These jars came from the same factory, were made of the same materials,
and can hold the same amount. But they are different, he explained.

Then he upset one and it oozed out honey. He turned over the other, and
vinegar spilled out. "When a jar is upset, whatever is in it comes out."

Until the jars were upset, they looked alike. The difference was within,
and could not be seen. When they were upset, their contents were revealed.

Until we are upset, we put on a good front. But when we are upset, we
reveal our innermost thoughts and attitudes, for "out of the abundance of
the heart his mouth speaks". ( Luke 6:45)

What if someone tipped you over today ??
What would flow out ??
Would you reveal the "honey" of grace and patience, or the "vinegar" of
anger and sarcasm ??

"Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude
of sins".  (1 Peter 4:8)
Printable Issue 643  Today is Wednesday, September 28th, 2005; Karen's Korner #643
I haven't shared a "Chicken Soup for the Soul" email for awhile. I think you will like this one!
 
Love and Cheeseburgers
By Kathy Bohannon

     Things have been hard for a friend of mine.  She and her six-year-old son have just moved into their own apartment, a break they needed to get out of a difficult situation.  The responsibilities of having their own home puts pressure on her while she tries to support her son, and once in a while, it gets the best of her.
     The little guy is a typical six-year-old: mischievous, energetic and curious.  His questions deluge her daily as he discovers the world around him.  Most of the time, she takes it all in stride, amazed at how easy it is to please him.  The promise of a simple cheeseburger from his favorite restaurant is enough for him to be on his best behavior for an entire weekend.  His mom is grateful she can give him what he wants, at least for now.
     One evening at the end of a very long day at work, the demands of the day were heavy on her mind.  After picking up her son at after-school care, the two of them went home for dinner.  While going through the motions of preparing his food and looking over his first-grade school papers, the tasks of being a single mom overwhelmed her.  Once she had him bathed and tucked into bed, she sat down in the living room and cried.  Everything hit her suddenly and without warning.  The recent loss of her beloved grandmother, combined with the responsibilities of single-parenting, was just too much.  Wiping tears from her eyes, she looked up to see her son peeking into the living room from the hallway.
     "Mommy, are you okay?"
     "Yes, honey," she replied.  "I'm just a little sad."
     He walked over to her and wrapped his small arms around her neck.  Though she tried to hold them back, her tears fell even more freely, and her son reassured her that everything would be all right.  Hurrying back to his bedroom, he returned quickly, handing his mom a small piece of paper folded into a crumpled square.
     She opened it and read its message: "I love you, Mom."
     She would have reached out at that moment and held him for eternity, but he had gone into the kitchen and was busy making her his special dish.  It's the only thing he can cook, and it took him quite a while to prepare it.
     Finally, he came into the living room with a plate of buttered toast.  It was all he had to give, that and the note.
     While he sat there proudly, she ate every bite, even though the butter was in a huge clump in the middle.
     "That's what love is all about," she later told me.  "He gave me all he had, wrote the words he best knew how to spell, prepared the only food he knew how to prepare.  I'm not nearly as alone as I was feeling that evening.  I have a wonderful son who loves me."
     Sometimes, when you least expect it, a blessing from God shines through your darkest moment.  For my friend, that blessing is with her all the time, in tennis shoes and tiny blue jeans.
     I asked her what in the world a parent could do when a child has given his all.
     She smiled and replied, "The next day, I took him out for a cheeseburger."

Printable Issue 644  Today is Thursday, September 29th, 2005; Karen's Korner #644
Today is a good day for being thankful!
 
Psalms 92:1-5  -- "It is good to say, "Thank you" to the Lord, to sing praises to the God who is above all gods. Every morning tell him, "Thank you for your kindness," and every evening rejoice in all his faithfulness.
    Sing his praises, accompanied by music from the harp and lute and lyre. You have done so much for me, O Lord. No wonder I am glad! I sing for joy. O Lord, what miracles you do! And how deep are your thoughts!
 
Bible Commentary on these verses -- "During the Thanksgiving holiday, we focus on our blessings and express our gratitude to God for them. But thanks should be on our lips daily. We can never say thank you enough to parents, friends, leaders, and especially to God. When thanksgiving becomes an integral part of your life, you will find that your attitude toward life will change. You will become more positive, gracious, loving, and humble.
Printable Issue 645  Today is Friday, September 30th, 2005; Karen's Korner #645

This is an on-line story from the Mason City (Iowa) Globe-Gazette, which was forwarded to me by Kim Lee. When I got it from Kim, the picture didn't forward. I had an X. I wanted it to be included in today's Karen's Korner but it wouldn't work! If you would have gotten the inset, you would have seen a smility eight-year-old with a Harley-Davison cap! Pray for this family........and hug your own! Life in this world is short; and the one to come....very, very long:

Cancer claims the life of a brave 8-year-old

By Peggy Senzarino

The third member of a Britt family stricken with cancer has died. Eight-year-old Charlie Hiscocks, son of Don and Allison Hiscocks, died Tuesday at his home in Britt.

Cancer claimed the life of Charlie's sister Emma, 10, in December 2004. Their mother, Molly, died of cancer in 2001.

"He had the funniest sense of humor," said Allison Hicocks, Charlies' stepmother. Charlie underwen two bone marrrow tranplants this year. "He was just so brave all the way up to the end. He was so brave in his struggle," she said.

She said the family is consoled by the knowledge that Charlie is with his mother and sister in heaven.

Britt Elementary Principal Richard Keith said the news of Charlie's death would be shared with students at the end of the day. "The staff talked dearly of him," Keith said. Counselors, including members of the ministerial association, are ready to help students deal with the loss of their classmate, Keith said.

"At this age, their classroom teacher is almost the best one they can talk to," Keith said. Charlied started the school year, but because of his illness he had attended class on a limited basis recently.

The family's battle with cancer began when Molly Hiscocks underwent a Cesarean section to deliver the couple's third child, Andrew, and doctors discovered a mass in her abdominal cavity. A lump was found in her breast while she was receiving chemotherapy.

By March 2000, she had completed her course of chemotherapy. The family and doctors believed they had beaten the disease. But in August, the cancer returned.

The children were diagnosed with cancer within days of one another in mid-July 2000.

Andrew Hiscocks, 6, is cancer free, according to the family.

Funeral services for Charlie Hiscocks will be held at 10:30 a.m. Friday (today) at West Hancock School in Britt.