Thursday

Contentment

    I was recently talking with one of my close friends, and we were talking about being content, particularly in the area of ministry.  So often, it is easy for us to look at another’s God-given “ministry,” and think that it is so much greater than the ministry that God has entrusted to us!  But if your ministry is something that God has given to you, than there is nothing greater that you could ever do than to obey!  Romans 12:4-8 puts it this way, "For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office:  so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.  Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;  or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching;  or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness."  The Bible tells us that our gifts are different, but that they are "according to the grace that is given to us,"  God has given each one of His children specific gifts to accomplish specific tasks; and you are the only one who can accomplish what God has given you to accomplish, because you are the only one that God has given the gifts needed to accomplish those tasks!

    Before our family traveled in a bus, one of my siblings made the following statement- “I would NEVER get tired of traveling in a bus!”  Well, lets just say that we have never let her forget that statement!  In her defense, bus life looked really glamorous- I mean, what could be better than touring the US and even Canada, and doing it in a home on wheels?  But once we started living in a bus, the "rubber met the road."  (No pun intended)  For example, just imagine sitting innocently on your living room couch (which in our case is also located in the dining room and the kitchen) reading a book; when one of your sisters opens a cupboard (which is located above your head) to look for a hairbrush.  But the contents of the cupboard have shifted due to the railroad tracks that the bus bounced over ten minutes earlier, so when the cupboard door is opened, the curling iron jumps out and bops you on the head.  At which point you  1- Resist the urge to act in an un-Godly manner  2- Wonder why you chose to read at such an un-peaceful place as the living room, and 3- Wonder WHY anyone EVER invented curling irons?  Oh, and the afore-mentioned hairbrush wasn't even in the cupboard, but on the bathroom counter where your sister left it!  Sigh.  But here is the point- if I can’t learn to be content serving God where He has placed me, then I will never be content serving Him elsewhere, either. 

    “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”  Philippians 4:11


Totally unrelated to the post, but here is a picture of me holding Gideon Fikes.  I love little children!  (Just don't tell Gid that I called him "little"- it may be the truth, but he would be highly offended!)

Friday

Six Month Recap

   Well, it's been awhile since I've posted, so here is a recap of what I've been doing since a made my last appearance here.

1.  Construction.  In August and September, I worked for a friend who is a carpenter.  We were building a new house for someone, so I got to learn about quite a few from different aspects of construction!  I'm thankful for what I was able to learn, and also for being able to work with a Godly friend, but I still like farming better!

2.  Manure Hauling.  (WARNING- If you get grossed out easily, you may not want to  read the following section- at least not during dinner!)  I know this sounds gross to a lot of people, but be thankful someone does the dirty jobs, or else you wouldn't be eating bacon and ham and sausage!  Basically, for about two months I spent nearly ever day (as long as the fields weren't too wet) in a tractor, injecting hog manure in the fertile fields of Iowa.  In case you are interested (and even if you aren't), here is the rundown of a typical autumn week for me-

   I would awake between 1 and 5 Monday morning, get in our farm truck with my brother Carson, and head to the job.  Some of our jobs were within fifteen or twenty minutes of our house; others were much farther away, in which case we would just pack a bunch of food and get a motel for the week.  (Actually, it would be more accurate to say that our dear mother and sisters packed most of the food!)  Cutting to the chase, a good week was 90 to 95 hours, but that was only if we didn't get rain and the equipment didn't break down!  Simply put, I love this job- that is, until I roll out of bed at five o-clock on Saturday morning after getting about five and a half hours of sleep for the sixth night in a row, eating a hurried breakfast, and arriving on the job site to set up in the dark, with the temperature below freezing and the wind howling..... then after getting everything set up, climbing in the tractor cab, only to realize, about the time the cab is actually warm and cozy, that something on the tank has broken, or that one of the lines that the manure flows through is plugged!  Working with cold metal in  cold temperatures (while exposed to the wind), is not my first love!  Neither is unplugging manure hoses!  (Sigh)  Anyone want to trade jobs?!

3.  Christmas play.  Our church puts on a Live Animal Christmas Play every December.  There are six showings over a three day period, but many, many hours of rehearsels, set-building, and preperation leading up to the weekend of the play.  But it was definitely worth every minute and every dollar, as many souls were saved, and many lives were blessed!

4.  Family life.  Our family made many great memories together over the past six months, capped off with the Christmas season.  I love Christmas, and I love spending time with family and friends!

       So there is a recap of the last while!  And here are some pictures to go along with it-

Monopoly and home-made donuts!

Take-one

We had the privilege of baby-sitting for thirteen children one day!  It was great!

Christmas Eve

Nothing like driving tractor at night!  I mean, what's better than driving a tractor with really, really powerful lights, eating snacks (technically to stay awake, but also because I love eating!), listening to music or radio, and getting paid to do it!  Well, it's fun until the clock strikes one, then two, then three, then four...  anyway, it makes for good memories!


Manure hauling


Christmas Play



    "Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest."  John 4:35

Wednesday

Hello!

       Wow!  It's been a long time since I have posted anything here!  So, just what have I been doing this summer?  Well, since returning from Arkansas in early June, I have spent several weeks on the farm, and over three weeks on the road singing with my family.  I have really enjoyed getting reacquainted with my family, after being away from them for a month!  Family is something that we tend to take for granted, until we are without it!  

       Anyway, I probably won't be posting much in the next two months- between working construction for a friend, spending time with my family in the evenings, and spending time with relatives and company on weekends, I will be fairly busy until September.  September contains Labor Day weekend, family camp, and a couple of trips.  Then come October and November, with long days in the field.  Also, practice for our church's Christmas play starts in November.  And December..... well, I'm sure I can find things to occupy my time then, too!  (Wow, I am becoming a pro at making excuses!  And that's not a good thing to be good at!)   

       Suffice to say, I probably won't be doing a post every day (or even every week) from now until the end of the year!  But I will try to post some pictures from time to time, in case you want to see what I'm up to!  May the Lord bless ya'll!

"Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen."  (Eph. 3:20-21)



Friday

Photos and Thoughts From the Ozarks

       Yesterday, Pastor Stanley and his wife took a group of us young people to the Ozark Folk Center in Mountain View, Arkansas.  We had a blast touring the different old-time shops, and seeing all kinds of neat things.  Pictured below are some highlights from the day.

The candle-shop

Trying out the different hats!

The print shop

A donkey-powered merry-go-round!

Phillip Robinson and I (Micah Robinson in the background)

I soooooo want one of these for my doorbell someday!  (P.S. The springs aren't connected, so it is totally safe!)

After leaving the Folk Center, we stopped at a country store; the pictures below were taken there.

 Baby "rattlers?"  Maybe baby "rattles" would be more accurate!

Here are the baby "rattlers"!

Man-Eating Chicken?

It turns out, the box contained a picture of a man who was eating chicken!  LOL!!!  (Sorry about the side-ways picture; I didn't think about the angle at the time!)
 
Playing and singing a song at the country store.


       These two pictures are from the pottery shop at the Folk Center.  I saved them for last because of what they reminded me of.  (It's kind of amazing, but I did manage to have a serious thought in the midst of all the fun and laughter we shared!)  As I stood there watching this lady form something beautiful from a lump of clay, I was reminded of the spiritual analogy; Christ is the potter, we are the clay.  

       Before the potter picks up the clay, the clay is worthless.  Paul says in Romans 7:18, "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not."  Before Christ picks someone up, they are worthless.  Don't let the world deceive you by telling you what a good person you are; we are all filthy, rotten sinners on our own!  Ah, but when the Master Potter picks up the clay, regardless of what that clay looks like, it is valuable to Him.  Hey, when Jesus Christ saves a sinner, they may look worthless to the world, but they are precious to Him!  However, He doesn't want to leave the clay as He found it; He want's to create a beautiful vessel!  

       Now, we all want Christ to mold us into a beautiful vessel, but are we willing to endure the process that is required in order to become what He wants us to be?  Are we willing to, like the clay, be spun in circles and molded on a wheel?  Are we willing to go through the fire?  Are we willing to be painted or glazed just how the Potter wants?  Are we willing to then go through the fire again?

       It's very easy to pray, "Lord, please use me."  What we ought rather to pray is, "Lord, please make me useable.  Many Christians are unfit for the Master's use because they won't allow Him to make them useable.  Remember, God isn't looking for talented people.  Rather, He is looking for empty vessels- people who are willing to surrender ALL to Him so He can mold them into something that He can use.

"But now, O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.  (Isaiah 64:8)

Thursday

Photos From Sunday Evening

       Last Sunday, after the afternoon church service, I went to someone's house for their son's first birthday party.  Here are some pictures-

Playing volleyball

Watching the flight of the ball.

Jonathan Stanley, hitting the ball.

Michael Stanley preparing for a hit.

Me preparing to hit.

Cheering after a play.  (Either a good one on our team's part, or a bad one on the other team's part.  Either way, it was a good play!)

Is that ball ever coming down?

Here are some of the little tykes with Ivan, the birthday boy, who is trying out his new wheels!

 It looks like Ivan enjoyed his cake!  (And in more ways than one, if you know what I mean!)

       In addition to playing volleyball, we played catch with a football.  (It was more physical, though, than just "catch"!)  Plus, we roasted hotdogs and marsh-mellows.  I had a great time; everyone here at Friendship Baptist Church has been so friendly, and I am going to miss them a lot when I head home next week!

Wednesday

Memorial Day Photos

       Here are some pictures from Memorial Day-

       
The man in the wheel-chair is Mr. Richard Manning, a veteran of WWII.  In this picture, Mr. Manning is explaining to us what his medals signify; the second one from the left is a Purple Heart. 


I do not remember this gentleman's name, but he is also a WWII vet.  Meeting him and Mr. Manning has given me a greater appreciation for what our veterans have done; they were simply ordinary men, who chose to take a stand and to fight for the right.  These men, along with all of our troops today, are heroes; they deserve our respect and honor.

Standing next to this tank gave me more respect than ever for our troops.  War is no game; it's real and awful.  And yet, throughout our country's history, the American soldier has chosen to put his own life in danger, so that his fellow countrymen could live in peace and freedom.  That, folks, is sacrifice.



Here I am, shooting (or rather, attempting to shoot) clay pigeons.  I never did hit any!

Aaron Nyitrai, showing us how it is done.  He used to shoot clays at competitions, so he rarely misses!

Tuesday

Psalm 145

Psalm 145       
I will extol thee, my God, O king;
and I will bless thy name for ever and ever.
2 Every day will I bless thee;
and I will praise thy name for ever and ever.
3 Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;
and his greatness is unsearchable.
4 One generation shall praise thy works to another,
and shall declare thy mighty acts.
5 I will speak of the glorious honour of thy majesty,
and of thy wondrous works.
6 And men shall speak of the might of thy terrible acts:
and I will declare thy greatness.
7 They shall abundantly utter the memory of thy great goodness,
and shall sing of thy righteousness.
8 The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion;
slow to anger, and of great mercy.
9 The Lord is good to all:
and his tender mercies are over all his works.
10 All thy works shall praise thee, O Lord;
and thy saints shall bless thee.
11 They shall speak of the glory of thy kingdom,
and talk of thy power;
12 to make known to the sons of men his mighty acts,
and the glorious majesty of his kingdom.
13 Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
and thy dominion endureth throughout all generations.
14 The Lord upholdeth all that fall,
and raiseth up all those that be bowed down.
15 The eyes of all wait upon thee;
and thou givest them their meat in due season.
16 Thou openest thine hand,
and satisfiest the desire of every living thing.
17 The Lord is righteous in all his ways,
and holy in all his works.
18 The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him,
to all that call upon him in truth.
19 He will fulfil the desire of them that fear him:
he also will hear their cry, and will save them.
20 The Lord preserveth all them that love him:
but all the wicked will he destroy.
21 My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord:
and let all flesh bless his holy name for ever and ever.

May this be the prayer of all of our hearts; may we praise the Lord continually for His grace and goodness to us; truly, His "greatness is unsearchable."