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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Life's Expectations

In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation. Psalm 5:3

This verse began a mental excursion on the path of Expectations. Yes, we have many expectations in this life. Our 'hand' is always out. But what does God expect of us? He also has expectations. Are we aware of Him? Does our heart sing Revelation 4:8? "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come."

Expectations can be unrealistic. I grew up on a series of fairy tales, carefully chosen by the worn covers and the number of quotation marks in the book (my expectations). I understood from these books that every fair maiden will have a Knight astride a white horse who will swoop the fair maiden off her feet and they would ride off into the sunset and into the Forever Happy.

When I met my Knight, I recognized him right away, he rode a horse, although it wasn't white. Then reality shattered my fragile expectations of girlhood. I learned that the 'Forever Happy' was filled with expectations of my Knight for me. Coming together through the birth of four children in rapid succession created a happy time with fulfilling the expectations of four little ones. It was an investment. Now the 'Forever Happy' kicks in with the love of grandchildren and great grandchildren compounded many times over.

When I think of expectations I think of my mother. At her death, two of the ministers she knew, commented on her 'look'. I knew it well but didn't know she shared it with others. That 'look' could make me re-think my behavior and direction. When I was 65 years old, I got that look. And then Mother suggested I read this verse:

" - Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful." Colossians 3:12-15

Mother was right. No matter where I am in this life, her expectations, aligned with God's expectations of me, echo in my heart. They guide my life's path and nudge me back on the straight and narrow when I begin to wander away.

When Mother was five years old, 1912, her family moved into 'castle' farm house. (Castle to her young eyes.) Her mother, with the help of her two daughters, papered the upstairs southeast bedroom. The room had a large south window where they could watch the birds and the sun warmed the room as the cool central Kansas breeze fanned the room. Her mother added the picture that comforted Mom through the years...a guardian angel that God sent. It taught her God's care. Her trust in God's wisdom grew through the years. Discerning right from wrong was her second sight. In her last years her daughter-in-law and I found a copy of the picture and hung it in her bedroom.

Searching for more meaning of the word expectation, I learned that in the synonym list were the words - anticipation, hope and trust. I learned in Colossians 3:12-15, God's expectations of me - and His expectations are living holy - even as He is holy. Where I falter, the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus, covers me.

If we but ask, He will give us much more than we expect or could anticipate. This requires hope and trust on our part - dependence upon Him.

In the past few years I have learned a bit about painting. My friend and I discovered Donna Dewberry method. By coating the brush with several colors of paint - the result is always astounding. It is much more than expected and creates depth of light and shadow. Watching His creation on earth, the depth, the colors, the variety of creativity continues to astound me. Just as He created non-ending beauty with His hands here on earth, when we trust Him and are sensitive to His Look and Touch, He forms in us His expectation of beauty of holy living.

Always we remember the verse that gives us hope and anticipation of eternal life - "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." Acts 4:12.

This is our ultimate expectation of our relationship with Jesus Christ - Salvation - Eternal Life.

In this season of Thanksgiving, let us remember the expectation of God from Colossians 3 - "And be thankful." I Thessalonians 5:18 - "give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

"Thanking God helps us to see Him more clearly in our lives!"

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Psalm 23 in Hymns

The LORD.....

  • Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee, How great Thou art, how great Thou art. my shepherd,

  • Gentle Shepherd, come and lead us. For we need You to help us find our way.....
  • Shepherd of love, You knew I had lost my way. Shepherd of love, You cared that I'd gone astray...

I shall not be in want.

  • I need Thee ev'ry hour, Most gracious Lord.....I need Thee, O, I need Thee. Every hour I need Thee! O bless me now, my savior, I come to Thee.

He makes me lie down in green pastures, 

  • Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father. There is no shadow of turning with Thee; Thou changest not, Thy compassions they fail not; As Thou hast been Thou forever will be.

he leads me beside quiet waters,

  • He leadeth me, He leadeth me, By His own hand He leadeth me. His faithful follower I would be, For by His hand He leadeth me.

.....he restores my soul. 

  • When peace like a river attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll, What ever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, "It is well, it is well with my soul."

He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

  • Guide me, O Thou great Jehovah, Pilgrims through this barren land. I am weak, but Thou art mighty, Hold me with Thy powerful hand......

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

  • Precious Lord, take my hand, Lead me on, help me stand, I am tired, I am weak, I am worn; Through the storm, through the night, Lead me on to the light....Take my hand, precious Lord, lead me home!

I will fear no evil for you are with me; 

  • Our Father, which art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is, in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive our debts as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, For Thine is the Kingdom, and the Power and the Glory forever.

your rod and your staff, 
they comfort me.

  • Under His wings, I am safely abiding. Though the night deepens and tempests are wild. Still I can trust Him, I know He will keep; me. He has redeemed me and I am His child.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. 

  • He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock - That shadows a dry, thirsty land. He hideth my life in the depths of His love, And covers me there with His hand, and covers me there with His hand.

You anoint my head with oil; 

  • Grace, grace, God's grace; Grace that will pardon and cleanse within. Grace, grace, God's grace. Grace that is greater than all our sin. cup overflows.

  • Fill my cup, Lord - I lift it up, Lord! Come and quench this thirsting of my soul. Bread of heaven, feed me til I want no more...Fill my cup, fill it up and make me whole.

Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, 

  • There's a sweet, sweet Spirit in this place, And I know that it's the Spirit of the Lord....Sweet Holy Spirit, Sweet heavenly Dove. Stay right here with us. Filling us with Your love. And for these blessings We lift our hearts in praise: Without a doubt we'll know that we have been revived, When we shall leave this place.

.....and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

  • Beyond the sunset, O blissful morning, When with our Savior heaven is begun. Earth's toiling ended, O glorious dawning, Beyond the sunset, when day is done.
  • In the sweet by and by, We shall meet on that beautiful shore; In the sweet by and by, We shall meet on that beautiful shore.

This is a tribute to 'those who have gone before' and are experiencing the Forever! Especially to
my Grandpa Gerhard Wiens Suderman. I remember rehearsing the song based on the 23rd Psalm I would sing the next day (March 12, 1950) on Grandpa and Grandma Suderman's anniversary. Grandpa sat in a rocking chair nearby, and listened quietly. After I finished, I heard him say, "Beside the still waters, that is where I want to be...." Mother (Anna Daisy) wrote in her book, "The Lines are Fallen". Three days after this day my Grandpa received the desire of his heart.......and dwells with the Lord Jesus Christ.

Going home, going home. I'm a goin' home. Quiet like, some still day, I'm just going home. It's not far, just close by. Through an open door; Work all done, care laid by, Going to fear no more. Mother's there, 'specting me. Father's waiting, too. Lots of folk gathered there, All the friends I knew. All the friends I knew. Home, home, I'm goin' home! (Fisher and Dvorak)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What is a Promise?

A promise can be a noun or a verb, a vow or a hope. It is a vow or a bond, or a giving his word as affirming, assenting. It is a relationship built on trust.
A kept promise in this day and age has lost its truth a
nd intenseness. A man is as good as his word...a promise. There is no deviousness, no ulterior motive or words spoken for the purpose of manipulation or ulterior motive.

As a child I remember giving my word and
saying, "Cross my heart and hope to die." I often wished I were a boy, so that I could say "Scout's honor", too, while holding up two fingers. A promise is not given lightly. A promise is a 'cross my heart' statement.

I recall my father-in-law saying that in West Texas, "A man's bond is as good as his word!" This is when he wanted to buy mules with no money. He was told by the rancher to take the mules home and when the crop in, then he could pay him, the early nineteen hundreds. When Rufus Edgar Combs told his Uncle about the business transaction, his comment was...."If a man’s word ain’t no good, and his name ain’t good, what’s the use of wasting all the paper (for an agreement of purchase)?" (More of the memories of Rufus Edgar Combs)

He knew that an honorable reputation is built on kept promises, not broken promises. He knew that a kept promises result in hope and trust.

I return to my first question - "What is a promise?"

We have an extraordinary fall, that crawls into mid-November. Yesterday I was greeted by the sun, a soft chorus of birds, the rustling of walking through leaves - and knew the promise-kiss of a new day. The robins, confused, extend their time with us. The New Day! I thanked God for His blessing and I knew that each day in His Love is like Spring.

Ask the young bride and groom as they exchange wedding vows 'until death do them part'. As I looked into the eyes of my prospective son-in-law, Brent, I saw the adoration in his eyes as he gazed at Anna, I saw the promise of the fruition of their love. The kind of relationship that lasts at least 50 years and beyond.

Ask the young mother, who gazes into the face of her newborn and sees the promise of this life to be nourished an
d grow. When we moved to Howard, Kansas, and I looked at my three young sons at the breakfast table, waiting like little birds trusting to be fed, I was overwhelmed. I felt the responsibility for their well-being, I knew that only through God's help, could I care for these children.

Ask those who are in search of freedom in this country and have enjoyed it for more than one hundred years. Freedom that is built in the Constitution of United States of America. It was a promise, and still a promise for those who uphold the tenets of the constitution under God. It is not just a manuscript on parchment, but the heart's cry for freedom.

What is promise? A promise is hope for the hopeless. A promise is a possibility of encouragement, a glorious outlook on life that motivates and provides understanding of God's Promises.

Matthew 23:16 gives the importance of a promise, no matter where or when it was made.
A promise is a promise. What difference does it make if you make your promise inside or outside a house of worship? A promise is a promise. God is present, watching and holding you to account regardless.

A promise, lightly given, is still a promise "until death do us part". Proverbs 30:5 - The believer replied, "Every promise of God proves true; He protects everyone who runs to Him for help. So don't second-guess Him; He might take you to task and show up your lies."

Believing a promise that demands faith. From the beginning God has promised eternal life on the basis of faith of all his children in Him. Genesis 9:12 - I'm putting my rainbow in the clouds, a sign of the covenant between me and the Earth. From now on, when I form a cloud over the Earth and the rainbowappears in the cloud, I'll remember my covenant between me and you and everything living, that never again will floodwaters destroy all life. When the rainbow appears in the cloud, I'll see it and remember the eternal covenant between God and everything living, every last living creature on Earth."

When is that gift coming for God's children? The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. Ii Peter 3:9

A promise is a promise! A promise is an unpaid debt. A promise is a statement laden with God-import. "I am clinging to the promise of a lifetime" (

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Peace is a Person

Growing up during the Great Depression could have been frightening. My world, as a child, centered in a small house, one living room, one bedroom and one kitchen/dining area. If you stood at the front door, you could see through to the back door. When my little brother, Gene, was born, Dad made a trundle bed that fit underneath Dad and Mom's bed for Jim and me that was pulled out each night as part of the bedtime routine.

A Singer sewing machine sat in the bedroom that Mom used to sew clothes for her family and others. I don't know how she managed, listening for baby Gene with Jim hanging on one side of her and me on the other side. The upright piano stood in the living room overshadowing anything else in the room. There were two wooden rockers that were mobile - determining which room they were to be used.

The kitchen contained a tall metal cabinet. The gas stove stood by the metal cabinet and across from that was the table. A bench was placed behind where Jim and Gene sat. Two wooden chairs were there for Dad and Mom and my place wa
s on the flour barrel. It was just right.

Outside, bordering the driveway were a row of poplar trees. I pretended they were giants and protected our home. They were watered with wash (laundry) water once a week. It was here I felt peace. I knew peace. I knew I secure and protected. Discipline gave us boundaries of behavior and added to the security. Mom tried to spank me once once when I was about four. I ran away. She pronounced the grim words, "When Dad comes home, he will do it."

I cried. I went to the bathroom just off the kitchen and grabbed the razor strap and began whipping myself. Then I didn't feel peace. I felt fear for I knew if Mom said, I would have a spanking. She didn't listen to my tears, or accept my self-punishment. I suffered more. When I disobeyed in rebellion and torment stormed my mind, I tried to punish myself. I dreaded Dad's home-coming and then facing Dad. I don't remember the spanking. I only remember the shame for my actions, and knew that disobedience wasn't worth it. I learned that lesson over and over....

I wondered if my ancestors had peace in their hearts. The genealogy tells the story of births and deaths, but accepting Jesus is not always included. This spiritual 'birth'day gives peace for an eternity. As I read some of the happenings in the family, I wonder about their source of peace:
  • When the Grandparents Leppke decided to leave for America, their friend and neighbors tried to discourage them with tales of crossing the Mississippi River that Indians would rob them, burn their homes and possibly scalp them. Grandfather Leppke said that God protected Daniel in the lion's den, and He could protect them as well.
  • Jacob Loewen was born in Russia on October 5, 1844 and grew to manhood on the Ukrainian steppes. When their religious and political freedoms were threatened, he, his parents, two sisters and three brothers plus a host of Mennonite friends and relatives migrated to America in 1874, settling in Marion County, Kansas.
  • Jacob Suderman was born December 28, 1841 in Ladekopp, Molotschna Colony, Russia. His father died soon after he was born, leaving his mother to raise six children. He married Aganetha Wiens November 27, 1862. Aganetha's family migrated from West Prussia to the Molotschna Colony. In 1870, the Mennonites lost their military exemption in Russia. In 1878, according to information from a Santa Fe Railroad brochure, they knew they must leave. Major expenses were ship passage, train fares, and $80 per family. They left on the long trip to America in 1878 with their five children.
  • Jacob Siemens II, born in West Prussia, 26 December 1795, died in Kansas, September 28, 1881, after living in America for seven years. He came to this country, via Russia. The passenger list included Jacob Siemens II - 79 years, Jacob Siemens II - 49 years, Wife Elisabeth - age 45 years, Jacob Siemens IV - 25 years and wife Anna - 20 years and infant daughter. Anna Siemens - 22 years, Elisabeth Siemens - 19 years, Johan Siemens - 16 years, Abraham Siemens - 14 years, David - 11 years, Agatha Siemens - 4 years, and Heinrich Siemens - 1 year.
  • Emilie Brunn was born in Norka, Saratov Russia, in 1867. When she was 16 she came to this country, leaving her parents (1883). She worked for her sister in America for 5 years to pay for the passage ticket. She never learned English but always spoke low German/Dutch. We loved to talk in our own languages and were able to comprehend the meanings. A small woman, with big brown eyes, black hair combed into a bun on the back of her head, who later married Jacob Siemens V, and bore six children.
These ancestors lived a lifetime on this earth and questions arise. What kept their families together? What gave them hope as they traveled so far? When I think of the preparations and planning that it took to leave their homes, I am overwhelmed. How were they able to know what to pack? Young parents today fill the car with baby belongings to transport themselves for several hours, and it is overwhelming to think of the anxiety they may have felt....and yet their faith in Jesus remained steadfast.

If we had to uproot our lives as we know them it would be so difficult. The cost alone plus the fear of not being able to find a place to live for their families takes a great deal of faith and trust.

As they traveled by train and by boat for weeks, as they dealt with sickness and discomfort, did they know peace? In other writing of the Siemens family, I read, "We must know where we come from, if we want to know where we are going." The underlying faith is in the person of Jesus Christ.

Who is this Jesus Christ that He gives hope and peace (Peace that passes understanding.) Only the presence of Jesus will give us true peace even in the midst of turmoil. For peace is not the absence of is the eternal hope to hold on to.

Peace is a Person? Yes. Ephesians 4:12-14a - remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. For He himself is our Peace!

The path to Peace, the Person, is a process and an ongoing learning in our lives. May He be the Cornerstone of our Lives. John 14:6 - Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

As these people from long ago believed in Jesus and it gave them hope in overwhelming odds, I pray that my faith is strong in Jesus. Not only for my life, but as a testament to my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Prince of Peace by Michael W Smith.....
He is Lord of Lords
He is King of Kings
He is mighty God
Lord of everything

He's Emmanuel
He's the great "I AM"
He's my Prince of Peace
Who is the Lamb

He's the living God
He's my saving grace
He will reign forever
He is ancient of days

He's the Alpha, Omega, Beginning and End
He's my Savior, Messiah, Redeemer, and friend
He's my Prince of Peace and I will live my life for you.