Winter Clearance and “Tulips in the Snow”

It’s hard to believe the difference less than a month makes in the landscape. I’m going to share some pictures I took less than a month ago …

Today is May 4th, the birds are all singing, the grass is visible, the temperature is in the low 80’s, and I just felt a warm breeze … a warm breeze …

It’s hard not to get “giddy” this time of year. After a long, hard Winter, which fell on much of the country, we can finally, finally say that Spring has arrived. The groundhog was, of course, right again: He came out of his den on February 2nd … did not see his shadow (it was cloudy that day-not unusual for early February) … and, there would be 6 weeks elapse before Spring … a quick check of the calendar proves that Spring does come 6 weeks later …

Which begs the question, “How many of us would be so glad to have only 6 more weeks of Winter after the first week of February?” This year seemed to be especially brutal for so much of the United States. But, Spring has arrived.

I wanted to write something about Winter finally being gone, but needed to wait until all of the snow was gone from the yard. We had our last snow about 2 weeks ago, and the temperatures have slowly, slowly been going up-at night! As I look at the 10-day forecast, only tomorrow night is predicted to be in the 30’s. You have to understand how big that is. Today is Monday, and we finally shut the pellet stove down this past Saturday. When that happens, Winter is officially over. I wait to shut the heat down until we don’t have any night coming up in the 30’s. Tomorrow night is a surprise, but on Saturday, for the first time in several months, there wasn’t an overnight low in the 30’s predicted, and we would see 70’s on some days in the near future. That’s the signal we wait for … and, so, after about 8 tons of pellets (that’s 16,000 pounds of pellets), we “shut ‘er down.” Spring has officially arrived.

It is still hard to not stop on the way upstairs from the garage, upon arriving home, to not reach for a bag of pellets. After all, since November, every time I’ve climbed those stairs, I’ve grabbed a bag of pellets to carry with me. It seems odd to not have to stop, drop everything, and tend to the stove before I do anything else in the house … Which brings to mind this:

“Even good takes time to get used to.”
Richard. Vincent. Rose.

I have, for some time now, wanted to have a “final Winter post,’ and put my “left-over” Snow poems in to share. Looks like that will wait until next year. No pellet stove … no heat at all going … that takes some getting used to.

Today is May 4th, and the last of the snow has now melted. I mean, literally, today, as we still had a small amount of snow/ice in the yard yesterday. I worked out in the yard on Friday night, the first time in months, and, as I walked around the yard, I felt like a prisoner which had just been released. I’m serious. That’s how I felt. In a way, we are “kept prisoner” by the snow and cold and snow and cold of our Winters, just like many of you. Being able to walk around, outside, without tall boots and layers and layers and layers of clothing … it was, like, being released out into the world … a world you haven’t been able to “walk around in” for several months … At least I don’t make it dramatic …

We are able to park the vehicles outside. This makes it official. No more nights with frost.
Today … we used our clothesline … we actually have clothes outside … and, they will dry. Not just that … but, we dried towels on the line!!! You just have “to be here” to understand how big that is.

I am wearing shorts (this may be TMI, but, remember, this is an “event” up here). For the last 3 days, I’ve been able to wear a t-shirt outside-without layers and layers and layers … Today, for the first time in so many months … I am barefoot, and walking outside … Again, you just have to “be here” to understand how big that is …

It was one month ago, yes, it was Easter weekend, and we traveled through the snow … to visit the Tropics … I mean, leave “the ‘notches” and travel South … to Connecticut … As predicted, it was a snowstorm here (remember, it was only early, early April), and, as we drove out of Franconia Notch … the sky opened up … the sun was out … and, each mile we traveled diminished the amount of snow on the roadsides … We still had between 1-2 feet of snow in the yard at this time, and the snow was piled up, still, close to the roof of the garage … but, as we traveled south, visions of sunshine danced in our heads, and, with each stop along the way, more and more layers came off …

Connecticut, as a whole, got more snow than we did this Winter. This doesn’t mean we didn’t get any, just that they got a lot, lot of snow. It was one of the coldest, most severe Winters on record there, and in a lot of other places. The whole Spring growing season was thrown off, even in Connecticut. At Easter, we usually see flowers up, many blooming, etc. But, this year, this was not the case. While the snow was gone, the effects of the long, long Winter were evident in the lack of new growth.

We were given, as a gift (and an encouragement), a pot of tulips … in bloom … Good ‘ol grocery store! We returned home from the Tropics of Connecticut with a tank full of anti-freeze, and a flower pot full of tulips! So, in early April, as we arrived home to even more snow, and more snow and cold to come … at least we had flowers in bloom …Granted, this is the only way you get flowers in bloom up here in early April … but, we’ll take them! I could not resist the temptation to take pictures, and they turned out pretty good … almost have a surreal look to them.

I placed the flower pot out on the railing of our front deck, and snapped a couple of pictures. This was less than a month ago, and you can see the snow-covered spruce trees behind, and the road covered with snow. And, it was cold! But, up here, in early April, we’ll take flowers any way we can get them … even imported from the Tropics!!!

I am reminded of the verse in Genesis (one of my Mom’s favorite verses) where God promises that as long as the earth remains, there will be seasons …

I am reminded how symbolic this “Winter into Spring” transformation is … how, because of the “new birth,” old things “are passed away, and all things become new.”

I also think of this: How just a couple of days, even a few precious moments, wipes away several months, even years, of frustration.

So, maybe our Spring arrives late … but, boy! Do we appreciate its arrival!
I’m thinking … Which do we anticipate more … appreciate more?
The end of Winter? Or, the arrival of Spring?
I’d say both.
Thank God for the promise of Springtime.
It’s here!
So are His promises.

Here’s the photos:

"While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease"( Genesis 8:22).

“While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease” ( Genesis 8:22).

"While the earth remaineth ... cold and heat, and summer and winter ... shall not cease" ( Genesis 8:22).

“While the earth remaineth … cold and heat, and summer and winter … shall not cease”
( Genesis 8:22).

"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (2 Corinthians 5:17).

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

"old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (2 Corinthians 5:17)

“old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Blessings,
Richard. Vincent. Rose.
friends poem

 

 

Some “Best Books” and Special Video: “Best Friends”

Recently, we featured a story and video about Jane Goodall, and I was pleasantly surprised at the response we got … As a Teacher/Librarian, we know how much children love stories which include animals, but, let’s face it: So do we grownups!

I was recently looking for a video to pair with my reading one of the great “Children’s” stories written by Natalie Kinsey-Warnock, a Vermont writer (who lives on a farm which has been in her family for generations) who writes such great stories about her family’s past … in an effort to encourage young and old alike to discover their own family histories …
The book I was sharing was “The Bear Who Heard Crying,” a true story, and I think, one of the greatest tales ever told … Here’s Natalie’s description from her website: “which is an amazing story of my great-great-great-great-great-aunt who was lost in the woods in 1783, when she was three years old, and a bear that took care of her.”
The story actually happened here in New Hampshire. If you get a chance, I can’t recommend a story more (or her stories like “When Spring Comes” or “The Canada Geese Quilt,” among a long list) … Here’s a link to Natalie Kinsey-Warnock’s own website:

http://www.kinsey-warnock.com/index.php

So, to go with this story, and in keeping with a year-long theme we’ve had with books shared with our students all year, “Friends,” I found this video … About a man whose best friend, Brutus, is a Grizzly Bear … I hope you find this as remarkable as we did …

 

 

Wealth Stored for the Righteous-Part 2

Last time, we spoke of those who, while living ungodly lives, seem to be “rewarded” by everything they do. All they do seems to prosper … while here we are, born-again Christians, serving God, doing His will … yet, we just can’t seem to “make ends meet.”

My first response to that thinking is, yet again, worry about your relationship with God, not someone else’s. It’s just not “your time” yet. Will “your time” ever come? Yes … it will. God is using every circumstance in your life (both good and bad) to further your training … to conform you into His image … not your neighbors’ image. Please allow me to be completely honest:
Would you rather receive your reward now … or later?
Is the “underlying” (there’s that phrase again) question really about your faith? Do you really believe that God will help you … that He can help you … Do you really believe that God will “get you out of this?” I know, I know … you do believe that God can … but … do you believe that He will? Do you really believe that God will work this out, and things will be better-especially you will get better?

The rewards of a Christian life far, far, far outweigh the rewards of a non-Christian life. It’s just that we really don’t get our reward until later. Sometimes, much later. Look where we end up … and look where they end up. I’m not being mean or unloving by saying this, but, let’s face the facts: Would you rather receive your “reward” now, on earth … or receive your reward … personally, from Jesus … in Heaven? I know that there are people who must know that they aren’t going to Heaven … so they grab all they can, while they can … That may seem a terrible thing to say, but we know it’s true. I can remember when the standard answer to this question, “Hey! Where ‘ya going?” was, “To Hell if I don’t change my ways …” I know people toss phrases like this around, just like they toss the name of Jesus around, in a joking way, but I think people who talk like that are just giving evidence of what they lack … or just don’t want. Yes, we must pray, pray, pray for these people, just like someone (or a lot of someones) prayed for us when we talked and acted that way …

Here’s what Jesus said:
“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal” (Matthew 6:19-20).
Later in the book of Matthew, Jesus would say this about worldly treasure: “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field” (Matthew 13:44).
Sadly … many of us just are willing to give up “our stuff” in order to “buy that field.”
One of my favorite verses about this fact that our reward will come, howbeit later, is this:
“But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first” (Matthew 19:30; also found in Mark 10:31).

Funny, when our children want something (birthday, Christmas, etc.), we have no problem at all extolling (praising, glorifying) the virtues of having to wait … to wait until “the time” … with a strong finish of “good things come to those who wait” (another phrase I’ll have to look into) or another saying we so strongly agree with … yet … when we have to wait for God … when we have to wait … it’s quite a different story, isn’t it?

It strikes me now, how so many of us save, invest “for our future,” for our retirement, save all we can, now, to have more later … yet … we don’t understand this concept of “laying up/storing up treasures in Heaven.”

At some point, I must mention that God knows what He is doing, and if He gave us everything we wanted … especially something that someone else already has … it would ruin us … certainly ruin our testimony, and, probably our lives.

I promised I wouldn’t look at the current or recent news headlines to make the point that money can’t buy happiness and fulfillment … regardless of how rich, or famous, you may be … so, I won’t. Why not? Because I need to spend more time looking at me and what I am doing with my money, or stuff, or things, rather than looking at someone else’s. One thing for certain: Money, or fame, can’t buy happiness. Or, love. Or, forgiveness. I do know this: People who have more seem to always want more. And, they seem to live in fear that they’ll lose what they have.

I only need to look at the story we are all familiar with. How the wealthy young man came to Jesus, asking what he needed to do to gain eternal life. He even called Jesus, “Master.” Here’s what Jesus told him, and his resulting answer: “Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions” (Matthew 19:21-22). This same story is also told in Mark, chapter 20.

I am reminded of a bumper sticker I once saw: “Let go. Let God.”

We’ll close with highlights from this parable, found in Luke 12:16-32:
“The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully … But God said unto him, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God. Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on … your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things … But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you. Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”

Blessings,
Richard. Vincent. Rose.
star witness plaque

Guest Bible Study: Gregory Dickow: God’s “Will”

I have been enjoying Pastor Gregory Dickow’s latest “Fast From Wrong Thinking” series, which is a series of individual Bible studies to help change the way we think, and the way we “view things.”
His first series was a “40 Day Fast From Wrong Thinking,” and, so far, this latest series is on “Day 95.” It has helped me a lot, and I have used this as part of my daily Bible study since its start. Really Good!

So, if it helps and blesses me, then I trust it will do the same for you.

I wanted to share this particular “day” with you, as it seems to go so well with our own short series, “Wealth Stored for the Righteous.” Basically, to be thankful for what you ALREADY HAVE!!!

At the end, I put a direct link, if you’d like to sign up. I love the way the study moves through, and includes promises and verses, from all over the Bible … so, it’s a great way to start the day …

1. Put first things first. God’s will is His Word. (Testament means will.) It’s not a mystery. If you left a will for your loved ones, it would focus on what you are doing for them, rather than what they need to do for you. FOCUS ON WHAT GOD HAS DONE. Read the will or the testament, as if it were listing what NOW belongs to you, since Jesus died and rose again (Hebrews 9:14–20.)

2. The will of God begins with a state of being, not a state of doing. Our focus should be on what God said we ARE and what God said we HAVE. Then that will produce what God wants us to DO. When you know you ARE what God says you are, and you HAVE what God says you have, then you will DO the will of God. The right decisions will be the by-product of the right thinking.

3. As you fill your heart up with the Word of God, He will lead you safely into His will! Psalm 119:9–11 says, “I have hidden your Word in my heart that I might not SIN against Thee.” Sin = missing the mark. You won’t MISS the will, or the mark, when you hide the Word in your heart!

4. The “will” of God is activated in our life through the giving of thanks. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “In everything give thanks, for this is the WILL OF GOD for you, in Christ Jesus.” Notice, He doesn’t say, “Give thanks FOR everything,” but rather, “give thanks IN everything.” No matter what you are facing right now, the will of God is to give thanks IN the midst of it.

5. The will of God is bigger and broader than most people think. At a large airport, there are several runways that a plane can safely land on. Get rid of the mind-set that there’s only one runway, and you might miss it and crash! There are several runways in the will of God, and therefore many options that are equally acceptable to God, based on His Word.

THINK IT AND SAY IT
I am not going to miss God’s will for my life! His Word is His will, and I accept and embrace His Word as the cornerstone of my life.
I AM what God’s Word says I am, and I HAVE what God’s Word says I have. He will keep me in His Will, as I keep His Word in my heart.
I choose a life of thanks and praise, which puts me in the middle of God’s will AND brings God’s will into the middle of my situation, in Jesus’ Name!

Here’s a direct link to Gregory Dickow’s online ministry, and the “Fast From Wrong Thinking” Series:
What happens is this: If you sign up for the series, you will get an individual study for each day, to “attack/change” a certain mind-set. One of the things I like is that I get the series, and nothing more … when I view “today’s” lesson, it has the lesson only … and not a group of links … Please allow this study to help you!

Fast From Wrong Thinking Bible Study Series

Wealth Stored for the Righteous-Part One

I was recently doing a Bible study, and the fact that “God is storing up wealth for the righteous” came up. This got me to thinking … and thinking … that I should look into this fact, and to discover what God wanted me to learn about it. And then, to write about it. So … here goes …

Remember that, as a hearer of the Word, we have a responsibility. Yes, to respond to it, no doubt. But, we should, as diligent students of God’s Word, “find out for ourselves” if what we have heard is true … if the Bible does, in fact, “really say that.” Please note that I am not discounting in any way the God-inspired preaching of God’s Word … it’s just that you can’t “cover it all” in a sermon … the sermon or Bible study should do what it is meant to do: Make you want to go home … open the Bible for yourself … and, “see for yourself.” Oh … by the way … this only works when you take notes during the preaching or Bible study … which you should do … so that you can then go home and study further into the Word!!! If the preacher is being led by God, then God will give the preacher exactly what is needed for the congregation that particular day … and this also means a visiting preacher.

So … this idea that wealth is being stored up for the righteous …
First of all … where does it say that?
Proverbs 13:22: “… the wealth of the sinner is laid up (stored up) for the just (righteous).”
The Bible says it.
I believe it. Because it’s true.
The book of Proverbs … what a wonderful, profound, instructional book! By the way, just before this verse, it says, “Evil pursueth sinners: but to the righteous good shall be returned” (verse 21).

Let’s face it. We are all human, and, whether we want to or not … we act and feel human sometimes. What I am getting at here is something that came up during the Bible study, and I think we may all feel this way sometimes: Here we are, living Godly lives as best we can, yet struggling to make ends meet (I’ll have to find out where that phrase came from), really having a hard time. But, we are living Christian lives, centered on Christ and what He wants for us, doing all we can to follow Him. We see others, whether friends, associates, or family, not living Godly lives, yet they seem to “have everything,” no financial or other worries, everything they touch seems to turn to gold. If we are not careful, we can become discouraged. Which is exactly the reason I think God wants me to write about this. To encourage you, and us. 

Be careful not to fall into this trap! It is a great weapon of the enemy to get us to look at others … and, not ourselves. The old statement is so true: If we spent half the time looking at ourselves, examining ourselves, worrying about ourselves, that we spend looking at, examining, worrying about others, our lives would be much better-and, happier. Ouch! It is so important to pray and study God’s Word. The most important relationship in your life-and the most “rewarding”-will always be your relationship with Jesus. We’ll say it again: How can you have a relationship with someone you don’t know? And, how can you know someone unless you spend time with them?
I know I am writing this on a “social network” platform … but … here goes … if we spent half the time in prayer and Bible study that we spend on “social networks” … Ouch!

If things aren’t going well … what a great opportunity … to “seek God!” I mentioned in the last paragraph that the most “rewarding” relationship you will ever have is with Jesus. Remember that God is a “Rewarder!” Hebrews 11: 6 says that God “is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Make no mistake: It does take effort to live a Christian life. Here in Hebrews, we see the key words “diligently” and “seek.” Both are action words! Let me say that again: It takes effort … diligent effort … If we look at the definition of “diligent,” it means, “characterized by steady, earnest, and energetic effort; painstaking effort.” If we look at the word “seek,” we find this to mean “to search for (someone or something); to try to find (someone or something); to ask for (help, advice, etc.).” Haven’t we all known people whom we can say about, or to, “I hope you find what you are looking for” or “You seem to be looking for something you haven’t found.” I think we just discovered what all are looking for … they just don’t know it: They are seeking to find what God placed inside of them … a genuine desire to know Him … someone just hasn’t led them to “what they are seeking.” Peace, success, happiness, it all resides, dwells within a close relationship to God. That’s what everyone, really deep-down inside, is looking for. And … let’s face it … until they find what God has placed inside of them to find … desires for them to find … they will never, ever be happy.

By the way, Hebrews 11:6 … the first part of that verse is “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believer that he is …” and then, the part about God being a rewarder comes in … So, to please God, we must, first, have faith in Him … I find that I want to please God, to be pleasing to Him … this is so important to me … yet, I find myself letting Him down so often … Yet, He never leaves me … because I always get back up, and seek Him again.

By the way … “faith” is an action word, too! Here’s another action word: “Walk.” Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5: 7 that “we walk by faith, not by sight.” I like the definition of “sight,” which means “to move with; to go with (someone).” I like to say that “When I act on faith, I’m not acting.” It’s because I have seen, experienced God do so many wonderful things in my life, and in the lives of others.  

We must be careful to not become discouraged, as this may actually underlie (that’s another interesting word) a lack of faith in God … thinking that God has forgotten or forsaken you … that He doesn’t care … Nothing could be farther from the truth! God loves you, and there is nothing He wants more than to have a close, personal relationship with you. Jesus said, simply, in Mark 11:22, “Have faith in God.” Think about this, from Romans 8:32: “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” That’s right, it’s not over yet. We’ll talk about patience along the way. But, let’s not forget what we already have … what God has already given us.

There are just so many Scriptures which detail what we already have, what God has already blessed us with … As if He, Himself, actually living inside of us isn’t enough, coupled with eternal life … There are so many things God has given us, which He wants us to be thankful for … like this: “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). That’s a lot!

It seems like, underneath (between the lines), I am really saying that it should be God we are trying to please … not our neighbors … it is Jesus we should be trying to copy … not that person in the newspapers or magazines at checkout … I’m serious when I say that I saw this first written on a shower curtain somewhere: “When a man is right, his world will be right.” 

An amazing thought about having to write this today: As I searched my favorite online source for word definitions, which is merriam-webster.com, I see that here is the “Word of the Day.”
And, I’m not making this up:
The Word of the Day is
Omnipotent:
“having unlimited authority or influence” 

That’s Who we have living inside of us!

I think God wants us to get to know Him more … and to be thankful for what we already have.

Blessings,
Richard. Vincent. Rose.

Rejoice Always

From Pastor Appreciation Gifts: New Designs/Sizes for “John 3:16” Plaque

Hi Friends:

We’d like to share with you the new designs of our popular “John 3:16 Personalized Plaques,” over at Pastor Appreciation Gifts.

We have made this available in 6 different designs, and 4 different sizes.

The Plaques feature the words of John 3:16 with the name of a special loved-one added, to make this a most unique, deeply personal gift, in recognition of the greatest Gift ever given!

A personal gift.
A personal Savior.

Here’s a look at the new Plaques.
If you’d like more information, each picture will have a link to that page over at our online store.

This is the Glossy Mahogany, with Gold Plate (Silver Plate also available)

This is the Glossy Mahogany, with Gold Plate (Silver Plate also available)

Cherry Finish with Black Plate

Cherry Finish with Black Plate

I love her too! This is Cherry Finish w/Gold Plate.

I love her too! This is Cherry Finish w/Gold Plate.

This the Cherry Finish W/Silver Plate.

This the Cherry Finish W/Silver Plate.

Here is the Glossy Mahogany Finish W/Black Plate

Here is the Glossy Mahogany Finish W/Black Plate

Blessings,
Pastor Appreciation Gifts

Quote: A Warning From Abraham Lincoln

“At what point shall we expect the approach of danger? … Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant to step the ocean and crush us at a blow? Never! All the armies of Europe, Asia, and Africa combined … could not by force take a drink from the Ohio or make a track on the Blue Ridge in a trial of a thousand years. At what point, then, is the approach of danger to be expected?" (Photo of President Lincoln at Gettysburg Before his Address)

“At what point shall we expect the approach of danger? … Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant to step the ocean and crush us at a blow? Never! All the armies of Europe, Asia, and Africa combined … could not by force take a drink from the Ohio or make a track on the Blue Ridge in a trial of a thousand years. At what point, then, is the approach of danger to be expected?”
(Photo of President Lincoln at Gettysburg Before his Address)

Continuing Same Quote: ..."I answer, if it ever reach us it must spring up amongst us; it cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen we must live through all time, or die by suicide.” (Photo of President Lincoln as He Delivers His Second Inauguration Address)

Continuing Same Quote:
…”I answer, if it ever reach us it must spring up amongst us; it cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen we must live through all time, or die by suicide.”
(Photo of President Lincoln as He Delivers His Second Inauguration Address)