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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

"On Purpose" Living

How much time is consumed by the process of laying blame for something that happened in the past. My two brothers and I spent hours trying to ascertain whether the action on the part of one of us was accidental, accidentally on purpose, or horrors - ON PURPOSE. Accidental could be forgiven. Accidentally on purpose meant an unspoken probation. But on purpose deserved swift retaliation.

Only through the guidance of our Mom did we learn that even 'on purpose' demanded forgiveness, not retaliation. God would take care of that.

This morning I read one of my sons' twitters - I spent all day thinking about it and concluded the shadow on a sundial does go clockwise but only goes half way round. I wondered if this was on purpose which led me to think of God, in all his wisdom, created the earth 'on purpose'. He created the colors of the blue sky, the grey to fleecy clouds. He created the green of the grass and leaves on the trees. The birds of lustrous color to the drab every day color. As I walked a black butterfly flitted through the air before me. Suddenly I wondered what color I would have painted the sky 'on purpose', or the trees, the grass and the flowers. Suddenly I thought about the huge space above us, and the patterns of contrails left by planes. A 'What If'' scampered through my brain - what if birds, bees, butterflies and all manner of flying creatures left a 'contrail' of different colors. I tried to imagine what the air would look like, a tapestry? What if those 'contrails' had a pleasant odors that provided different deodorizers to earth.

'On purpose', I stopped my flight of fanciful thought....and thought of our 'On Purpose' God. The verse that declares that "God's voice thunders in marvelous ways; He does great things beyond our understanding." Job 37:5.

My daughter, Anna, in her blog ( used the intriguing poem,

Between the Lines

The time I have is only mine
Because you give it to me, Lord
As I make a list of things to do,
Please place Your hand on mine.

Between the lines,
Write those things
You would have me do.
The things I don’t even know about yet
That will make today worth living.

by Nancy Parker Brummett
'On Purpose' living is being in submission to our 'On Purpose' God. Letting Him guide us to be holy and submit to Him. His will is supreme, for how can we hope to live 'On Purposely' when we want our will to supercede His? Who is God? Reading Job 38 shows who God is. It contains a list of questions that God asks Job. These questions show the infinity of wisdom and far thinking of God's 'On Purpose' actions in creation are:
  • Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation?
  • Who marked off its dimensions?
  • Who stretched a measuring line across it?
  • Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb?
  • Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place?
  • Have you journeyed to the springs of the sea or walked in the recesses of the deep?
  • Have the gates of death been shown to you?
  • Have you seen the gates of the shadow of death?
  • What is the way to the abode of light? And where does darkness reside?
  • Have you entered the storehouses of the snow or seen the storehouses of the hail
  • What is the way to the place where the lightning is dispersed?
  • Do you send the lightning bolts on their way? Do they report to you, 'Here we are'?
  • Who endowed the heart with wisdom or gave understanding to the mind?
Is it any wonder that those with wisdom belong to the most wise God? How often did our grandfathers make decisions in the fields by 'reading' the seasons and the sky to know when to plant and to harvest? How often did our ancestors give plentiful thanks to God for what He gave them to eat, to clothe themselves, to provide for their families. When my grandmother was small -- she possessed two homemade dresses -- one for everyday and one for Sunday. The idea of wearing a brand name clothing was not even considered. My favorite 'mind' picture of Grandma Suderman shows her in a house dress and an apron. Her work-worn hands hidden underneath the apron, the breeze riffling through her grey curly hair, her blue eyes crinkled in a sweet smile. God's 'on purpose' love showed through her thoughts, her caring for family and others, her gentle words and her gentleness.

In His 'On Purpose' plan, He sent Jesus to be the sacrifice, once and for all, for our sins. 'On Purpose', Jesus gave his life for us. Luke 19:10 says, For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.

Our decision to live 'On Purpose' is a thoughtful response to our Lord Jesus.

'On Purpose' living is encapsulated in this verse for me in 2 Timothy 2:22-25:
Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth.

Picture from Gwen Smith.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Encouragement for the Future

Recently the word 'encouragement' or 'encourage' began a drum beat on my heart. I wonder why I have set Tuesday aside to write thoughts. Where do I find the encouragement and the motivation? Then I realize that I am encouraged in my walk each day by the words written by my Grandmother and Mom and their testimonies of living for Jesus Christ, and the memories of family in the past.
Encouragement from the past provides encouragement for the future.

In the Grandmother Suderman (Anna Loewen Suderman), I read about her faith that embodied trust and acceptance of the Lord's way through sickness and death. Throughout her life, God received her first fruits.

I read these words - "We started out (March 8, 1900) without worldly goods or rather we had very little of them, but we had hearts filled with love and looking forward to a wonderful life. Then soon little bundles from heaven came to us. How sweet they were. We loved them dearly. But sickness and even death did not bypass us. But we were together, sharing joys and sorrows. It hurt very deeply to give up our little loved ones (Gerhard, Daniel, Paul and Hilda), but God kept us and gave us comfort so that we could bear it."

When the first census taker, Jacob Penner, came in 1900, Grandmother gave an account of their belongings, "2 horses, 1 cow, 1 top buggy, 1 plow, and a few other implements." Mr. Penner responded - "Do you want to farm this way?"

In her usual positive demeanor, Grandmother responded, "Why yes, we will borrow a horse from father, we have a good wheat crop, and then we will buy a few things. We will be all right!" The journal continues, "And it was, the wheat crop turned out good, even if it rained a lot during the threshing. The moisture made the price of the wheat lower. We were able to buy three cows, a farrow and a new stove."

It is no wonder that our grandparents raised six children who encouraged their children and children's children to be faithful, to trust and to hope. Not living in the past, but in God's future. What is a family for? It is to pray together, to love each other and from the heart encourage each other.

Some people wonder why God allows bad things to happen to good people. Grandmother, on the death of her daughter-in-law, said, " God's thoughts are not our thoughts, and God's ways are not our ways." Her acceptance of the death of her four children helped her family in the death of the little ones later.

Grandmother lived the verses in James 1:2-4. Adversary is a learning time, it is a trusting time, it is a time to breathe in God's grace. Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds,because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

As my Mother, Anna Daisy Siemens, remembered and was encouraged by her Mother's faith in her last days. She wrote this poem to her mother:

When all the evening chores were done, I heard my Mother read God's Word before she said,
"Be sure to say your prayers and go to sleep." I head my Mother softly sing to me of angels winging by to keep their watch
When God turned out the light on on more day.

I saw my Mother weep when children hurt, and watched her dry their tears. I saw her kneel in prayer
because of my rebellious heart. I saw her hand knead dough to keep us fed and water garden flowers to feed her soul. I saw how God blessed her and that blessed me.

I felt my mother's pride with conflicts won, but when I never tried, her disappointment weighed a ton.
I often felt her arms about me when I needed guiding help. I felt secure and safe within her love
through her, somehow, I felt in touch with God.

I sensed my Mother's stubbornness when hills she had to climb were steep and temper flared.
Although at times humanity raged on. I sensed a sweet submission. God's way won.
She found His peace serenely leading her across the golden shores when days was done.

And as for me, I praise my Mother's God until my final faltering breath has ceased.
This earth may keep my lumpy piece of clay when angels wing my soul toward heaven's home.

Colossians 2:2 - My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ.


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Happy Birth-Day is Discovery

Happy Birthday to You, Happy Birthday to You!

What is it about the birth of a new baby that so captures our hearts? The newness? The adventure? The discoveries? One only has to watch a baby discover his hand, his toes, laughter, and how to elicit a respo
nse, to know that each succeeding birthday is an adventure of discovery. The nine months is a preparation for the mother through the stages of: Really? A baby? - Am I eating right? - I need to have a crib and diapers - When, how much longer?

A new mother is filled with determination and the desire to care for her baby, not realizing that each birthday of her child will present new perceptions of motherhood and joy. Even during those sleepless nights as the mother longs for sleep, and her baby has other ideas, she is making the discovery of a mother's sacrifice. She must guard her child and nurture her child - until one day her child becomes a person discovering a world beyond Mother. Just a hug and a change of the diaper is no longer sufficient.

The many decisions the child must make - life decisions - can become overwhelming without a firm foundation of faith and strength and family support.

As our four children, born between 1952 - 1956, grew older we learned together that each child was an individual. The days when my hugs weren't enough to comfort or solve problems. Recently, going through the papers I came across a homemade birthday card - presented by Dan, Paul, Tim and Anna. Imagine my surprise in finding this faded penciled card inscribed with names and the message:
In times like these When you can't say please
And walk back in time like a door You just might find
You're having a better time Than you ever did before.
(turn) - Burma Shave

The rose was drawn by Paul and the Burma Shave can by Dan. I'm not sure who drew the teens. As I read it, I realized the effort that it took for these children, then teenagers, to make this card. I treasure this find. The Burma Shave reference reminded me of long drive
s in a 1935 Ford, sitting in the back seat reading the Burma Shave signs, always wondering who wrote them, and how they came up with so many ideas.

In preparation for my 81st birthday, I pondered on the characteristics of a birthday. Discovery. There are changes thrust upon us - changes in economy, physical condition, environment - but that element of discovery is always there. Learning to skate, ride a bicycle, read, play the piano, cook, garden, sew and many other activities. We discover through our senses. Each achievement or discovery fills us with joy. Just as a small child discovers the world about him, I continue to revel in the discoveries in my life - God, family, writing and learning.

Discovery was first nurtured by my mother in the circle of her arms. I continued to learn all the things children learn and my world enlarged. One summer my brothers left for their summer jobs, and I learned to do their chores - milk the cow and take care of Jim's pig. Spraying water on the pig on a hot summer day as she turned around was not my idea of joyous time then. As I grew, Mother taught me about boundaries. As long as I stayed in those boundaries, my life was joyous. When I made decisions that took me outside of the boundaries I learned about consequences, outward and inward.

I continue to discover - part of the joy of discovery is the ability to do so. One discovery I made today, is that a birthday is a time of spiritual discovery. I accepted Jesus as my personal Savior when I was eight - I was nurtured in His love. My parents and grandparents and great grandparents set up expectations and an environment that helped me grow and mature.

Imagine my surprise when I learned that there is more than "Thou Shalt Not's". It was there all along, but I needed to grow in Him to learn it, That is when I discovered there is a true relationship of freedom in Christ Jesus. There is a sense of peace, wonder and anticipation, not dread, for each day.

A vivid picture comes back to me in the year of 1946, as my Grandfather Gerhard Suderman sat at our breakfast table reading the Bible. The wonder in his face and voice after he finished comes back to me often...."No matter how many times I read His Word, there is always something new for me." The man who endured the loss of four children, a crippled hand saw reason for thanksgiving and a joy in reading God's Word.

The words of my children's birthday card 40 years ago holds true, I am having a better time than I ever did before....

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13


Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Look up at the heavens and see...

Look up at the heavens and see; gaze at the clouds so high above you. Job 35:5

June 7th, 2010, stands out in my mind as the people in Northwest Arkansas gazed in wonder at the clouds in the skies. Never have I ever seen the wonder of clouds with such awe.

From the time I was a child, my parents taught me the joy of laying on my back in the grass watching the canvas of the sky create fleecy white shapes of the familiar things. Through their teaching clouds were adorned with thoughts of God, our Creator

One evening, two years ago, I saw a sunset in the rearview mirror. The clouds were etched in sunset shades of brilliance. Then one dark cloud shielded a brilliance that became a metallic halo of silver and gold. As the car sped on, down a hill, the striking scene disappeared from my view but not my mind. Just as striking moments in my life appear for a short time - moments I will never forget, yet they fade, leaving a trail of wonder and amazement.

Will yesterday's moment fade as well? As I drove toward the west watching the sky's astonishing swirls of sea-like motion. It was as if God Himself held a paint brush and painted the sky with burgeoning grey-blue droplets of mist. I watched the ever-changing sky-storm of clouds. One young woman at the mall stopped to take phone-pictures of the sky - saying, "The clouds are like the waves in the ocean."

I knew that the calm sense of science would describe these clouds with reason. It did. "A storm system moving across the Ozarks on Monday morning produced widespread interest for more than just the thunder and rainfall it produced. As the system moved across the region, the balance of instability aloft and a relatively stable low level airmass helped to produce what was likely a potentially new form of clouds now under review by the World Meteorological Society or WMO. The cloud type in question has been named, "Undulatus asperatus".

Yet there is more. The day before, our church family sang a praise song that gripped my heart in worship of our Lord. I couldn't sing, I felt joy filling my soul as the singing rose about me - Above All The words reverberated in my heart and mind.....
Above all powers Above all kings Above all nature
And all created things Above all wisdom And all the ways of man
You were here Before the world began
Crucified Laid behind a stone
You lived to die Rejected and alone
Like a rose Trampled on the ground
You took the fall And thought of me .... Above all
Returning from my errand, the words sang themselves in my heart as I watched the sky. I praised God for His mightiness and glory. And remembered the verse: "At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near." Luke 26:27-28.
Psalm 19:1 - The heavens declare the glory of God;the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
There are 163 references to cloud or clouds ( communicates through the clouds - promising that he will not destroy the earth - I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Genesis 9:13.

God uses the clouds as a guide - By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. Exodus 13:21

God uses the clouds as the promise of rain. Standing in line at the grocery store, I heard the clerk say - "I can't believe this rain, it didn't say anything in the paper." I couldn't resist saying, "I wonder if Noah said the same thing as he stood on the ark!" Long ago, before we kept our eyes on the TV, Ipod, internet, people kept their eyes on the sky.

God uses clouds as a conveyance and as a covering. He announced His Presence to the people of Israel - On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Exodus 19:16-17.
Psalm 18:9-13 - He parted the heavens and came down; dark clouds were under his feet. He mounted the cherubim and flew; he soared on the wings of the wind. He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him—the dark rain clouds of the sky. Out of the brightness of his presence clouds advanced, with hailstones and bolts of lightning. The LORD thundered from heaven; the voice of the Most High resounded.
Is it any wonder that these words of praise came to me ....
Great is the Lord....
Open my ears to hear as you speak to me, oh God.
Open my eyes to see as you show me your presence
Open my mouth to speak, Give me your Words to say
Open my heart to feel - Let me know your peace.
Fill my being with your truth That I may know....
It is well with my soul!

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Searching for Truth

A young girl, 7 years, was given permission to go visit with her friend, Betty Creech in 1936. The permission was given with the stipulation that the young girl return home by 5 pm. Two girls were in the midst of another bout of giggles when the young girl asked what time it was. 5:15 pm. Horrors. Betty took matters in her own hands, "Tell your Dad that the clock stopped, and you didn't realize the time and you are sorry." The young girl said, "Do you think he will believe that?" The young girl was reassured by Betty.

The young girl went home and her Dad demanded to know why she was late after she promised to be home by 5 pm. The girl parroted the words her friend gave her. Then the young girl's Dad smiled, and said, "Just don't let it happen again."

The young girl returned the smile and said, "Betty told me you would believe that story!"

That was my first adventure into the realm of truth and lies. To think my Dad believed me, gave me a sense of power and a thrill. Those feelings soon evaporated when my Dad did not trust me. The bond that we enjoyed had a small hairline fracture. I knew that lying is not a game - that it is living honesty and truth in all dealings with others. It is the 'Cross my heart and hope to die" part of life.

To promise something and not keep that promise is also a lie. Be it in a relationship, a business deal, or between us and our God. Truth is truth, the naked truth, the honest truth. Cross my heart and hope to die - truth.

While I grew up, Dad often said, "I don't have a lot of a money for you to inherit, but you have my good name, with a good reputation for truth and dependability." He told the truth. Money does not last, but a good reputation does.

Relationships rise on truth and fall in lies.

A teacher co-worker often dealt with lies after recess. Inevitably one of the 6th graders misbehaved on the playground. An inquisition trying to ascertain the truth ensued. I marveled at her 'Perry Mason' ability to re-construct the 'crime' and determine who was transgressor. When I tried to follow the questioning and the intricate curves of the story. My head was a-swirl with many stories and how she pinpointed the truth escaped me. It seemed to me that asking and accepting truth would short-circuited a great deal of 'teaching time'.

It seemed to me that lies create heart-deep betrayal - suspicion - loss of trust - fear - disrespect.
Truth creates an openness - sunshine - light - trust - dependable - respect.

Charles Swindoll once wrote - Honesty has a beautiful and refreshing simplicity about it. No ulterior motives. No hidden meanings. An absence of hypocrisy, duplicity, political games, and verbal superficiality. As honesty and real integrity characterize our lives, there will be no need to manipulate others.

Mark Twain said, Always tell the truth. That way you don't have to remember what you said

How do we know what is true? Many scholars spend their lives searching for truth, for surely, Truth shall make us free.....

Who tells the truth. To my amazement, I read the phrase, uttered by Jesus, "I tell you the truth," 27 times in the Gospels - Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

John 14:6 - Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

Although Diogenes never found an honest man, he may have found men who were forgiven. Why is it that little ones are so precious? What draws us to them? When I saw the faces of three small children and see the innocence in their eyes, I simply want to love them. When Jesus said that He is the truth, And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:3

Truth fears no questions.