Friday, July 19, 2013

"Thank you" can never be enough!!!

This morning I was told my last remaining grandfather died.  It instantly brings to mind an old song "Thank You" by Ray Boltz.  While I do not agree with Mr. Boltz's current lifestyle/views, his song still is the perfect tribute to a life well-lived for the Lord!  "Thank You" talks of a person's entry into Heaven.   I know my grandfather's story so I know he is there as I type this.  Born to a farmer turned Baptist preacher but in his later teens it was his best friend's father who led him to the saving grace of Jesus.

Even knowing where Grandpa is,  it still is hard!  I have been blessed beyond measure by having that man in my life!  Growing up all I ever wanted was to be on the farm.  Stories of how it had been passed through the generations and even at a very young age I intended to manage it when I grew up.  Anywhere Grandpa was you could usually find fact when out at the local feed mill he would proudly introduce me as his 'hired hand'.  When I was 7 we moved an hour away for my Dad's new principal/teaching job.  Our family made great friends and a great life there.  However to me it was not the same as the farm!  It never was home!   I would go home to the farm every weekend I could.  As I got into my preteens I often asked my grandparents to move in with them.  This was not at all because of conflict with my parents like one might think, rather it was a case of homesickness. After several months of my asking, Grandpa devised a sure fire plan to remedy the situation.  He informed my dad that he could not maintain the farm anymore by himself and was going to sell it.  "By himself" were the trigger words because he knew my Dad felt the same way I did about the farm and also knew what his response would be at the mention of "selling" the family farm.  Yes, we packed up and moved back!  That was in the late 70's and thankfully Dad was willing to sacrifice his time to drive 2 hours a day for his education job while coming home to work more hours each night at his love, the family farm.  I am convinced that God prompted this plan because it is also what allowed us to keep our farm during our nation's 1980's Farm Crisis.  I owe everything I am to my grandfather(and my father's sacrifice) for it is this one incident that I can pinpoint which could have made my life go a totally different direction!

There are countless other ways he impacted my life and others.  I learned some of my best life lessons by his life.  Lessons that were not just spoken but lived out every day! 
  • Grandpa valued education highly so much that four of his children went to college and ended up becoming teachers.  He also gave his grandchildren money for college whenever possible. 
  • All the grandchildren laughed as he insisted it is truly a privilege to have a job...we would be heard stating "I have to go to_____" and he would restate it "No, you GET to go to ____".   In today's uncertain economic times I often hear that conversation played out in my mind anytime I am about to grumble about summer commencing and a new school year starting....he was right then but as an adult who acknowledges God's control I see it better now!  
  • It really is better to give than to receive!  Not only was he a great provider for his family but Grandpa would give as much as possible to see others provided for too.  His coworkers(upon one hailstorm that wiped out a crop, Grandpa took a job at the local Pottery plant so he could pay the farm bills and he continued there until his late 70's) once gave him an award and the plaque read "give the shirt off your back" award.  We only saw glimpses of this because Grandpa was an extremely generous man but VERY humble man. He never talked about his role in other's provision.  Twenty years ago I was in the hospital when an employee came in to ask me if I was related to him.  In that brief conversation I found out that not only did he provide her with a car so she could continue her schooling and leave factory work but she had several other instances of his money used to buy coworkers medicines, food, and college expenses.  So many "thank you's" that his ears have heard!
  • God is faithful and provides!  With that came the lessons of differences between a need and a want.   His stance was always "God will provide everything we need and often He will bless our wants too".   I see the fruit of that wisdom today!  Exodus 17:14...."rehearse it in their ears".....the purpose for that is training the generations to trust in God and building their faith.  I only pray that I can do this as well as many of their generation did!
But mostly I  thank him for being the perfect model of God's love which pointed everyone he came in contact with to the truth of the redeeming love of Christ.  For it was Christ in him that radically changed his life and provided us with a living testimony!   For Christ and Grandpa my heartfelt "thank you" can never be enough!!! 

Grandpa, until we meet again....

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

What's in a name?

Wow!!!  We are having a scorcher of a day even in the shade!  However I am still outside enjoying my almond milk iced mocha and English muffin with orange marmalade.  My poor puppy wants to be out but she is a air conditioned diva so she will go in sooner than I.  Life is good and God is great!

I have switched up my Bible reading plan this year.  For several years I have used various styles of 'read through in one year' plans.  While they are great plans, for me it was becoming more of a check-off on my list to do.  I wanted something that would allow me to go deeper and study things out.  So I found a great one that is a chapter a day which is estimated to take about 2-3 years.  It delivered!

Often in the Bible we see God changing people's name throughout time.  I had never noticed that early in Exodus He changes His own name!   Originally, Genesis 17:1, the Isrealites knew Him as El Shaddai which translates to God Almighty.   In Hebrew it also means "God, the mountain one".   As God was preparing them for deliverance out of Egyptian bondage in Exodus 6:3, He introduces himself as Yahweh meaning dependable, faithful, or 'He is'.  Back in chapter 3:14-15 the study notes refer to "I AM" and Yahweh being the same name but the use depends on the speaker.  If God is referring to himself than 'I AM' is used but if we are speaking of God than Yahweh or 'He is' needs to be used.  This was the name He wished to be known as...faithful, dependable.

That has had me thinking for over a month!  Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob all had specific memorable encounters with God as El Shaddai....much like our 'mountaintop experiences' today.  However just as in Exodus, today God still prefers to be known as Yahweh.  The name that suggests true relationship...'He is' with us always!  He was trying to make the Isrealites ready for a long walk with a daily reliance on Him.  That brings to mind our daily walk with Him.  Sometimes my walk is hot and dusty while other times it is cool and refreshing.  Nonetheless He is always there and providing....even when I am too parched to notice and/or appreciate it!

A daily walk is not promised to be easy!  In fact the middle section of Ephesians 6 depicts for us that life is a also instructs us how to prepare ourselves not only to fight but also to win!   Any person in any kind of lasting relationship will tell you it was the hard times that made it grow deeper.  I know personally that is true of my relationships and especially of my relationship with God!   It will be work but it will produce a depth and a joy beyond what you can imagine!

So which name do you know God by?   El Shaddai or Yahweh?