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Summer Is Waning – by guest blogger

As summer begins to wane here, there is a new feel in the air as thoughts shift and activities focus on the changing season. The cycle of hot days and storms is slowing, although the cool touch of dew in the evenings through the mornings continues to refresh the ground (and bare feet!). The hum of lawn mowers, kids playing outdoors, and voices of those out and about in various summer activities will also continue for a short while. School has already started back for some teachers and students and buses rumble past in their journey to further the education of their charges.

For some, there is anticipation of cooler temperatures and new beginnings and for others there is perhaps a small sigh and a determination to enjoy the last of this season as long as possible. Isn’t that so like all of our lives?

I am reminded of life’s ebbs and flows, like the seasons of the year and waxing and waning of the moon. Difficult times, changing times, happy times, and growing times are all part of our own experience. The familiar passage in Ecclesiastes 3 says it so well, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens…”

What will we do with our own seasons – as we move from warmth to cool, to freshening or to dryness, to relaxation or hard work, or from trials to celebration – in an ever-moving rhythm? For good or bad, we hold on to some things and never fully experience or enjoy other things.

Struggling through the waning of things we hold dear is hard! Waiting, letting go, and wrestling with churning emotions is unsettling, a difficult or uncomfortable place to be!
Will the light grow again? Will happiness come? … But I don’t want to say “good-bye”! Even moving through new and positive seasons can be a challenge. It’s so easy to miss the goodness in the sometimes-mad rush of life!

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve made a resolve to intentionally enjoy those positive times, to catch myself in those moments. It has taken some practice! Perhaps it is a satisfying opportunity to help someone else… a new word spoken by a child I’m working with… encouragement or a positive comment from a friend… time to rest and relax after a long day of work… or moments with my family.

There’s so much to be thankful for, whether the season is ending, beginning, or even in the difficult waiting and changing times between them! We can be assured of God’s presence in them all… as we are looking back, looking forward, and taking time for the now.

My prayer for us today is that we will know God’s presence through all of our seasons and find comfort and joy in Him.

Charlotte-Anne Allen — Still Small Voice – For Just a Weed

*Ecclesiastes 3:1-13, Psalm 23

Treasure Principle: 4 Words

Impossible Colors.RG

During a Sunday school class on the sacrifice of giving, I wrote down four words: home, anticipate, influence, reward. These Randy Alcorn covered in his lesson on the third key to the treasure principle: “Heaven, not earth, is our true home.” Since we cannot take it with us, how do we spend our money? We want to send it on to our true home.

In Alcorn’s novel, Safely Home, the setting is China and the persecution of Christians. One of the two main characters, Li Quan, is in prison being tortured. He concentrates his attention on his heavenly home and seizes opportunities to witness to other prisoners.

Anticipate is a view to the future, and often in my upbringing I was kept from appreciating this idea, knowing what could happen next. My mother did not allow us kids to anticipate a friend’s birthday until the day of the party. Then during an Emmaus Walk weekend our leaders told us, “Do not anticipate.” Why? They drilled in the benefit of the moment of now. Good, but what about looking ahead with hope?

For Pam Tebow’s message at the Life Center benefit dinner, she chose to share her life of purpose and influence. She instilled in her children the importance of developing good character with the purpose of influencing others. That’s the reason I’m working on getting Bill’s sermons in print – to continue his influence that began as a high school senior when God called him to preach. God developed his skills and tools while receiving a solid education and then he taught what he learned from lessons in Scripture and experience.

Too often we shun, in the guise of humility, the reward God has for His children. It’s our Father’s pleasure to reward us. And the greatest reward is Himself, His presence. God delights in His creation, for He made us in His own image. Jesus is our love gift from the Father. Rejoice!

There and Back Again

TaylorConf.Beth & Me

Thanks to everyone who prayed for Beth and me while we attended the Writers Conference at Taylor University. When I returned Paul asked me to rate the conference from 1 to 10. I told him that for my friend Beth it was a 10+ and for me it was a 9.

For Beth, it meant a handshake (in place of a contract to come soon) agreement with Hartline Literary Agency. Beth has completed three chapters of her Bible study on Philippians with the theme of friendship, designed for women.

For me, it meant encouragement for getting Bill’s messages in print, but with independent publishers. I met with an editorial advisor with ACW Press and he gave me some figures for that route. I pitched our book on The Church being transcribed by my blogger friend. It could be about 200 pages. So I’m to send the book proposal.

I also met with an author to ask questions about the process I’ve begun with Sermon to Book for Bill’s series on the 10 Commandments. She set my mind at ease about the editors structuring the chapters. She also advised me to request transcripts in order to compare their editing with Bill’s original messages. Michael has begun converting the cassette tapes into digital audio format. I have an hour phone call scheduled with STB next Monday 8/12. So I’m getting questions and topics ready.

The keynote speakers gave inspiring talks; class sessions we attended will benefit our writing; faculty and student staff helped us. We stayed on campus, and our dorm room happened to be the one where Stephen stayed during his freshman year. We enjoyed mealtime conversations with other conferees. A good conference all around, and I’m grateful for Beth driving and our sharing on the way there and back. At the conference she kept a lookout for me, for I tend to be where she is not.

Off on an Adventure

Hobbit Home.Wales

I leave tomorrow for two days at Taylor University’s Professional Writers Conference. I have Beth Summitt to thank for driving and sharing this adventure of writing. From Bible studies she’s led at her church, she’s written a book on biblical friendship found in Paul’s letter to the Philippians. Beth and I attended Taylor’s conference last year and each pitched our book proposals.

This year my pitch is for one of Bill’s proposed books gleaned from his sermons on the Church. It’s not one of his usual series but a collection of sermons preached throughout his years at World Gospel Church, Terre Haute, Indiana. My new writer/blogger friend, Callie Daruk, is in the process of transcribing these sermons from cassette tapes, masters received after Bill retired. I edit the transcriptions from speaking to reading voice, and Callie and I have appreciated Bill’s teaching during the process.

Now it’s time to wind up for the pitch to get an agent and/or publisher interested in this book. That’s the adventure for writers who attend conferences where we get some one-on-one time with an agent, author, or publisher’s assistant, in addition to attending classes.

On my return I’ll post the “there and back again” follow-up of this adventure. Pray for us.

Opportunity

Today Bill went with me as I had several errands to run. He patiently waited while I got my hair cut. Later as I shopped for a casual top at Walmart, he followed me around the numerous display racks and shelves. No complaints. In an unfamiliar route he helps me look for street names and checks to see if cars are coming when we’re getting out of a parking space or waiting at a stop sign. I also look, for his right eye doesn’t have good vision.

We ate lunch at Chicago’s Pizza and Bill especially liked the sweet slice on the buffet. This stop was his favorite of all our errands. He likes to eat, paying attention to the clock, telling me it’s past 12 noon and we could have lunch. I think his eating is only to keep from being bored.

At the bank he stayed in the car while I cashed a check. Somehow the subject of marriage came up and the teller asked me how long we’d been married. When I said 62 years next month, she replied that I must have found a good man. I agreed. Then she asked me to tell another teller, a newlywed, what our secret is. I told them, “It’s commitment – to the Lord and to each other.” When I got back to the car I relayed the conversation to Bill, emphasizing the part about his being a good man, a keeper. I wish I had told the girls at the bank that Bill was in the car, that he now has Alzheimer’s disease, and that while we’ve changed, our commitment has not changed. It’s new every day.

Recuperating 003

This is Bill in August of 2010 when he got out of the hospital after a bout with Legionnaire’s Disease. He was always cold then. He’s cold now & turns on a space heater under his desk. That’s why I reached for this photo.

Journaling

Books.tied

Journaling continues to be a good thing for me – a creative exercise, a way to express myself and reflect on what I’ve read, done or thought.

To whom I’m writing is still up for grabs. Sometimes my entries are prayers or close to that, and at times I sense I’m writing to another person who may read these in the future. More often than not, I’m writing for my own self, for my benefit. Putting it down on paper helps me sort out my thoughts, evaluate my actions and attitudes, and give the subject a chance to expand and connect.

Connections are a big part of what I write, especially as I connect two or more passages of Scripture or as I connect my life with God and His Word. Through my journaling I seek to connect my words with God’s Word.

I find in journaling a means of expressing – of relating to myself and of talking to God, of connecting Scripture with life situations, bringing the past and present together and even speaking to the future. I can express myself better on paper than speaking. Maybe it’s because writing is a slower medium and it gives me time to think.

As I write I reflect and set patterns, make decisions, and see how my faith works. It’s an expression of love and hope, but also of fear and doubt. I can be honest on a blank page, and I can be a positive influence even on myself. Journaling brings my life into proper focus.

Samples of what I’ve written as I’ve started new journals:

I begin a new journal, a fresh page, yet continue reading some of the same books.

I want in this last half of the year to be more loving and more hopeful – toward myself and others.

Today seems topsy-turvy, getting to my readings late. Unless I am changed, my experience is of no value. I must bear the mark of the disposition of Christ – following the example of servanthood. I am to be His epistle, not just say or teach His Word.

Grandkids gave me a beautifully bound journal, and I’m tempted to put it aside. But this is the year for my 80th birthday, so I decide to use it. Someday I’ll be happy I did.

In Whose Image?

denarius coindenarius

When the Pharisees asked Jesus if they should pay tax to Caesar, Jesus had them look at a coin: “Whose image is this?” (Matt. 22:20, NIV). Dutifully they answered that Caesar’s image was imprinted on the denarius. So, yes, he gets the imperial tax. “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s” (v. 21). We generally stop at the first half of that verse for proof that paying taxes is right, expected of us. After all, the emperor’s image is on the coin.

Jesus’ answer was twofold. So what bears the image of God? What belongs to God? It’s who. We go back to the creation story. Of all the creatures God made, only the humans did God create in His image: “In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Gen. 2:27, NIV).

This is basic to the pro-life message. Because we are created in God’s image, we do not abort unborn human children. God spoke through Isaiah about “children, the work of my hands” (Isa. 29:23, NIV). From the moment of conception, we are all stamped with the image of God. Life matters. We are precious in God’s sight, for He created us and we belong to Him. We defend the rights of the unborn, because we speak the truth of ownership, the right to live in His world.

The message of bearing the image of God goes further; because we belong to God, we make ourselves available to Him, His plans and purposes. In a way, we accept that image upon ourselves, into our daily living, honoring God and proclaiming His Word to others. We want the truth to be known in our family, neighborhood, nation, and around the world. We live out the image of God. We cannot say to the One who formed us, “You did not make me” (Isa. 29:16, NIV). God did. Therefore, we represent Him in all we say and do. That’s image-bearing.