Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Subscribing via email

For those of you who have tried to subscribe to our blog but found no
email subscription option, I've added that to the bottom of the blog
page (in addition to the RSS/Atom subscription option that was already
there). Now, all you need is an email account and you can be notified
when our blog has a new post. When you enter your email address, you
will receive a one-time confirmation email with a link you must click to
activate the email subscription.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Gratitude

This is the time of year we all think about feeling grateful for what we have. It's hard to get get excited about the same clich├ęd "things we were thankful for" that we talk about every year. Yet, I am grateful for all of those things. Family is very dear to me. I wish I could see all of you, but that just isn't possible this year. Besides travel difficulties (it was near impossible for Warren to make it for his Grandma's funeral), as I write I think of those who wouldn't be there even if I could go. I still have much to be grateful for.

All my girls are growing spiritually. Sara is enjoying recorded prophecy lectures, Abby is singing a lot, and Miriam is learning to pray. I definitely know a lot more about what spirituality is than I did five years ago, when I had no idea how much growing I had to do or how to do it.

I love being here in Selawik. I wish I had pictures of the breath-taking sunsets of this last week and the frost cover on everything. We are slowly becoming closer to the people here. It is such a blessing to be able to devote ourselves to eternal matters.

So I am also thanking God for all of you. I know that there are thank-you notes I have neglected to write for the ways you have helped us last summer. I did not make a list of them as I should have and so I forgot what they are before we got home. So please forgive us if you did not receive a note. It seems our monthly donations are going up, we have received $300 a month for the last two months. We do not have the names of those who are sharing with us, but we wish you to know we are very grateful. It helps so much.

Blessings to you all,
Verity

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Passing of a Generation

Nine years ago, my grandfather (on my Dad's side), born in 1903, breathed his last. Today, my grandmother (on my Mom's side), passed to her rest. She had been suffering with bone cancer, so her death was expected in a way. I am glad that I took the time last week to call her and talk with her before it was too late. I'm glad she is no longer suffering. Nevertheless, there is a loss at her passing. One by one, our elders, a source of wisdom we should not neglect, are passing off the scene of life.

We were not meant to suffer death, or loss of loved ones. The sorrow we feel demonstrates that fact. Nevertheless, we look forward to eternal life in heaven, when there will be no more death, pain or suffering.

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. [Revelation 21:4]
May we all be ready for that day.

Warren

Poem: The Church and the World

A good friend of mine posted this old poem (Circa 1890 or earlier, see note #75) on his blog. I was curious who the author was, and in a Google search found it most often attributed to "Unknown", second most often to Matilda C. Edwards, but also to Winkie Pratney and H Jahnke). While searching for the author, I ran across several variations of the ending, which show interesting differences of how hopeful the future of the church may be.

In any case, I found it spoke to me. Read it and contemplate its message for your life.

Warren

The Church and the World

The Church and the World walked far apart
On the changing shore of Time;
The World was singing a giddy song,
And the Church a hymn sublime.
"Come, give me your hand," cried the merry World,
"And walk with me this way;"
But the good Church hid her snowy hands,
And solemnly answered, "Nay;
I will not give you my hand at all,
And I will not walk with you;
Your way is the way of endless death;
Your words are all untrue."

"Nay, walk with me but a little space,"
Said the World with a kindly air;
"The road I walk is a pleasant road,
And the sun shines always there.
Your path is thorny, and rough, and rude,
And mine is broad and plain;
My road is paved with flowers and dews
And yours with tears and pain.
The sky above me is always blue;
No want, no toil, I know;
The sky above you is always dark,
Your lot is a lot of woe.
My path, you see, is a broad, fair one
And my gate is high and wide;
There is room enough for you and for me
To travel side by side."

Half shyly the Church approached the World,
And gave him her hand of snow;
The old World quick grasped it and walked along,
Saying in accents low,
"Your dress is too simple to please my taste;
I will give you pearls to wear,
Rich velvets and silks for your graceful form,
And diamonds to deck your hair."
The Church looked down at her plain white robes
And then at the dazzling World,
And blushed as she saw his handsome lip
With a smile contemptuous curled.
"I will change my dress for a costlier one,"
Said the Church with a smile of grace:
Then the pure white garments drifted away,
And the World gave in their place
Beautiful silks and shining satins,
And roses and gems and pearls,
And over her forehead her bright hair fell,
Crisped in a thousand curls.

"Your house is too plain," said the proud old World;
"I'll build you one like mine
Carpets of Brussels, and curtains of lace,
And furniture ever so fine."
So he built her a costly and beautiful house,
Splendid it was to behold;
Her sons and her beautiful daughters dwelt there,
Gleaming in purple and gold;
And fairs and shows in the halls were held,
And the World and his children were there;
And laughter and music and feasts were heard
In the place that was meant for prayer.
She had cushioned pews for the rich and great
To sit in their pomp and pride;
While the poor folk, clad in their shabby suits,
Sat meekly down outside.

The Angel of Mercy flew over the Church,
And whispered, "I know thy sin":
Then the Church looked back with a sigh and longed
To gather her children in;
But some were off a the midnight ball,
And some were off at the play,
And some were drinking in gay saloons,
So she quietly went her way.
Then the sly World gallantly said to her:
"Your children mean no harm,
Merely indulging in innocent sports";
So she leaned on his proffered arm
And smiled and chatted and gathered flowers
As she walked along with the World;
While millions and millions of sorrowing souls
To eternal death were hurled.

"Your preachers are all too old and plain,"
Said the World to the Church with a sneer.
"They frighten my children with dreadful tales,
Which I like not for them to hear.
They talk of brimstone and fire and pain
And the night of an endless death;
They talk of a place which may only be
Mentioned with bated breath.
I will send you some of the better stamp
Brilliant and gay and fast
Who will tell them that people may live as they choose
And go to heaven at last.
The Father is merciful, great, and good,
Tender and true and kind;
Do you think He would take one child to heaven,
And leave the other behind?"
So he filled her house with gay divines
Gifted and great and learned
And the plain old men that preached the cross
Were out of her pulpits turned.

"You give too much to the poor," said the World,
"Far more than you ought to do;
If the poor need shelter and food and clothes,
Why need it trouble you?
Go, take your money and buy rich robes,
And horses and carriages fine,
And pearls and jewels and dainty foods,
And the rarest and costliest wine!
My children, they dote on all such things;
And if you their love would win,
You must do as they do and walk in the ways
That they are walking in."
Then the Church held tightly the strings of her purse
And gracefully lowered her head,
And whispered, "I've given too much away;
I'll do, sir, as you have said."
So the poor were turned from her door in scorn,
And she drew her robes aside
As the windows went weeping on their way,
With all their needs denied.
And the sons of the World and the sons of the Church
Walked closely hand and heart,
And only the Master who knoweth all
Could tell the two apart.

Then the Church sat down at her ease, and said,
"I am rich, and with goods increased;
I have need of nothing, and naught to do
But to laugh and dance and feast."
And the sly World heard her and laughed up his sleeve,
And mockingly said aside:
"The Church is fallen, the beautiful Church,
And her shame is her boast and pride."
The angel drew near to the mercy-seat,
And whispered in sighs her name,
And the saints their anthems of rapture hushed,
And covered their heads in shame.

Then a voice came down through the hush of heaven
From Him who sat on the throne:
"I know thy works, and how thou hast said,
'I am rich,' and hast not known
That thou art naked, and poor, and blind,
And wretched before my face.
Unless thou repent I will cast thee out
And blot thy name from its place.
I counsel thee to buy of me
The gold that will make you rich;
And anoint your eyes with the heavenly salve
To discern your Maker's wish."

Then the awakened Church with deep regret
From her worldly course returned;
She opened her heart to the knock of Christ
As His love in her bosom burned.
And gave her robes and forgave her sins,
And together they sat and supped;
His proffered throne He shared with her
For whom He had suffered much.

O Church of Christ, hear the Spirit's voice
As He calls through the world today.
Would that every church throughout the realm
Would turn from the world away.
The world will be lost in eternal night,
But the penitent saved for aye.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Do you believe? Seize the Day!

What does it mean to believe Jesus is coming again very soon? Many Seventh-day Adventists and other Christians have felt a special urgency because of 9/11 and the changes in the world since then. But does believing that Jesus' return is very soon just mean becoming enthusiastic about the latest signs? I think not.

"The time is short just means the time is now." We are free to simplify our lives. We can downsize instead of supersizing. We can choose not get a bigger house, expand more than ample wardrobes, or upgrade the couch. It seems to me that most of us who are not currently retired will not retire on earth, so why worry about our retirement plan? Is our faith dead or is it alive, active, and moving? We need to spend more time making new friends to come with us and encouraging our current friends and family to be ready.

Maybe you think I am just being critical of those who haven't taken the radical step our family has. But we are still working on simplifying our lives. This week we cleaned out two large boxes of videos and CD's that we no longer feel we need. I must confess I have been dealing with a lust for travel, since my sister offered to help us come visit her in Europe and fulfill our childhood dream of visiting our grandfather's birthplace in Sweden. Recently it has been brought to my mind how strong the feeling that "heaven is better" was expressed by those have seen it in vision. If this world is that dark and dreary compared with heaven and the things God has planned for us, how can I spend that much time planning a visit to part of it?

If we believe, now is not the time to spend most of our precious time and money on the things that will soon be fuel for the fire. I miss opportunities like everyone. I think of Angela who disappeared last summer. I never met her, but we lived in the same village for more than a year. I think of Kenneth who visited last week, but I was too tired to give him the attention I could have. Every day needs to be filled with becoming closer to God and each other. I want to remember that better.

"Everybody I know says they need just one thing, and what they really mean is they need just one thing more". What is your one thing?

Seize the Day!
Verity (quotes are Rich Mullins)