Sunday, June 22, 2008

Selfless Giving

“My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.” 1 John 3:18

Friday I drove into my driveway after being at our 4H club meetings. There in front of me was a huge surprise. Someone had left a large above ground set-up pool for us. I am still in shock, astonishment, amazement.

The family that did this for us is known for their sacrificial giving in the community. They take seriously the admonition from the Scriptures of James 1:27 that “pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.” They have a reputation of service to widows, to the elderly, and many others. In the years I have known them they have never sought to draw attention to themselves or their labors for Christ.

Their giving us the pool was completely selfless giving of themselves for the glory of God. When I called to thank them, they only wanted us to give thanks unto God. They wanted us to consider it as a gift directly from Him. We all have thanked God for the gift, but we have also thanked God for the givers.

Ours is a faith of deeds. First John tells us quite frankly that ours is a living faith only if it is accompanied by deeds. “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” (James 2:26) We are to do noble deeds, brave deeds, awesome deeds, and bold deeds. We are also to do everyday deeds, simple deeds, mundane deeds, and diligent deeds that go unnoticed. Christ blesses the cup of cold water given in His name. He also tells us that the people who know their God will do exploits, deeds of renown. When God gives us faith, He also gives us grace for actions.

The gift to our family brings us great joy and will continue to be a source of delight to us. But our joy is not just outward, it is also inward in that it reminds us God is still at work in His people to encourage, to bless, to show forth Himself in their deeds that they do unto Him and unto others. Our hearts and lives have been greatly encouraged in the deeds of this family. May God return to those givers a thousand fold what they have done for us in His name.

---posted by Queen Lucy

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Breaking Commitments

In Psalm 15 we have a question, "LORD, who may abide in Your tabernacle? Who may dwell in Your holy hill?" One of the answers is in verse 4, "He who swears to his own hurt and does not change."

Matthew Henry comments on this verse saying that this kind of man "is one that always prefers a good conscience before any secular interest or advantage whatsoever; for, if he has promised upon oath to do any thing, though afterwards it appear much to his damage and prejudice in his worldly estate, yet he adheres to it and changes not...See how weak sighted and short-sighted even wise and good men may be; they may swear to their own hurt, which they were not aware of when they took the oath. But see how strong the obligation of an oath is, that a man must rather suffer loss to himself and his family than wrong his neighbor by breaking his oath. An oath is a sacred thing, which we must not think to play fast and loose with."

Some people distinguish between an oath and giving your word. I am not into discussing this. What I want to point out is that in a Christian society when you give your word to another person, your job is to keep it even if it means suffering loss to your own interests. If you cannot keep your word, do not give it in the first place.

If giving your word is contingent on some secret plan or information that you possess that might make it so that you cannot keep your word, then do not make the commitment in the first place. Or, at the very least, explain your secret plan to the person it would affect so that they can make a decision on whether or not to place their confidence in you.

If an emergency arises, then plead with the person to whom you made the commitment to release you, but explain who is bleeding or dying in the family that would cause you to have to break your word.

Twice in two months time, Christian people who had made a commitment to a member of the caer have broken their word. Both times the Christian had given their word, understanding the effect that their not keeping their word would have on a member of our family. This caer family member had been planning a project important to them for two years. Both Christians had other possibilities in the works that would preclude them from keeping their commitments, and yet they made them anyway. It was all about them and their own advantages. If they had at the very least been forthright and honest and told the caer resident of the potential of not being able to participate, then our family member could have made a wise decision and not included them in their plans. But now, because of these Christians seeking their own things and not considering the things of others, it has damaged one of our clan greatly. This particular clan member is one of the most gracious and trusting of us. Even when warned that there could be problems with trusting one of the Christians, the clan member wanted to give them a chance and has suffered loss because of having a forgiving, gracious nature.

So what is my grief today? Of course it is over the hurt and wrong done to one of my own. But I have a much deeper and greater grief that cannot be healed by someone apologizing or feeling remorse. It is over the obvious and apparent sickness of the Body of Christ. Because this whole issue of breaking commitments is just one symptom of the overall sickness of the Body of Christ. When even unbelievers say that they cannot do business with Christians because they do shoddy work, are unreliable, and are not trustworthy, it is a sad state of affairs.

In a healthy body, for the most part, things work the way they are supposed to work. When the Body is strong and healthy, much is accomplished for the kingdom. But today, the Body of Christ is ill and there is little health left in it. For it is not working the way that it should and we all need God to grant us the gift of repentance before He can even begin to heal this sickness.

Our family is learning so many lessons from these experiences so we know that it is working together for our good. But we are coming to understand exactly what Paul meant when he said, "For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus." (Phil 2:20-21) What is being like-minded? It is letting "this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus...." It is letting "nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interest, but also for the interest of others." Philippians is usually said to be all about "Joy". It really is all about learning the mind of Christ and living it.

---posted by Queen Lucy

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Witch of Blackbird Pond

The Witch of Blackbird Pond is about a girl named Kit who came from the Caribbean Island Barbados. She went to the New World to live with her Aunt Rachel, her stern Uncle Matthew, and her two Cousins, Judith and Mercy. She had to help with the chores even though she thought the chores were slaves’ work, but she learned to do them quickly.

When Kit went to work in the Great Meadow, Judith told her about Hannah. The town’s people called Hannah the Witch of Blackbird Pond because she was a Quaker and the town was Puritan. They thought she was a witch just because she had a different religion.

One day Kit got upset and went to the Great Meadow to cry without anyone seeing her. There she met Hannah and found out that Hannah was just a kind old widow. Kit then started going to see Hannah whenever she had free time. Soon Kit brought Prudence, a poor young girl whose mother treated her like a slave. Prudence’s father did not rule his household well so he would not stand up for Prudence. Kit was teaching Prudence how to read and write. Kit wanted Prudence to meet Hannah because Hannah was very loving and Kit thought she would be good for Prudence.

Later in the story, Mercy and some other townspeople got sick with a horrible fever. The townspeople blamed Hannah and set off to arrest her. Kit helped Hannah to escape on to the ship she arrived on. Nat, the captain’s son, helped her.

Kit was soon accused of being a witch and was taken to court and accused by false witnesses. Prudence defended her and showed the people she really was not a witch and the case was closed. At the end of the book it hinted that Nat and Kit were going to get married.

Posted by Maid Marian