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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Seek The Lord

You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.
Jeremiah 29:13

One of my sweetest memories happened in the living room of my Grandpa and Grandma Suderman when I was about seven years old.  It was prayer time. All around the room people went to their knees and began praying according to age.  Grandpa first.  I listened to his tenor voice entreating God for the safety of his family.  Then I just listened to his voice, as he continued to pray, One by one each family member prayed.  Curious, I opened my eyes and found that all were facing away from me, hearts and minds centered on God.  No one was anxious or impatient with the length of the prayers.  I closed my eyes again and tried to be patient.

As time has gone on, I realize that prayer isn’t a quick few words.  It is much more than this.  Our prayers are caught in heaven in “golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.”  Revelation 5:8

In Revelation 8:3-5, And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer, and he was given much incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar before the throne, and the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel.  Then the angel took the censer and filled it with fire from the altar and threw it on the earth, and there were peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake.

We seek God through prayer.  Prayer is not a passive activity.  Eugene Peterson writes in his book, Reversed Thunder:  The sense of smell is associated with prayer. Prayer cannot be practiced in detachment.  Invisible and involving, prayer penetrates and permeates.”

Seeking God is an active pursuit.  With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments!  Psalm 119:10

Seeking God through continual praise requires focus on His Word.  It is difficult to maintain that focus in our search for new ideas.  My Dad and Mother read the Word aloud every day. I thought of them when I read Revelation 1:3 - Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.

My Grandfather Suderman came to visit.  We sat in the dining room around the table.  We children were ready to eat and rush to high school.  Grandpa opened his German Bible slowly and read a portion.  He then read the same portion from the English Bible.  “I have read this scripture many times, but now I have learned something new.”  His mind was focused not on what the day had in store for him, but in the Words that God gave all of us that day. 

Is there an end to ‘seeking’ the Lord?  You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because He trusts in you.  Isaiah 26:3

Seeking God takes wisdom and faith and understanding and humility.  Pride in knowing brings tunnel vision and arrogance.  Humility brings to God a teachable heart and then we become a delight to Him.  Seeking God is a steadfast work that takes a lifetime for each of us, and continues from generation to generation.

For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations. Psalm 100:5

When something is lost to us, we seek for days, depending on the preciousness or need. We gird ourselves with time and the mind-set of the big search. We don’t want to declare defeat. There is nothing more frustrating than to find the object just where we looked before.  We lose our ability to see in our hurried search. Seeking God is the same, for when in a panic, we can’t see Him in all the love-clues He places all around us.  There is a way to know we see Him as He is.
 
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.  If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” John 14:6-7

Seeking God is a blessed way of life that fills us with peace. We become more alive!

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.  Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard.  Psalm 19:1-3

The day I first heard these words, they were sung.  They were true before they were written, and true now, and true forever.  Why is a troubled spirit calmed by flowing rivers?  What is it that we see as we search the sky in anticipation?  Sustenance of rain, the riot of clouds guided by the wind, or the appearance of Jesus the King?  Why is it that artists paint over and over the hills ‘from where our help comes’? Why are we drawn to the complex design and many colored flowers that bloom in their season?  Or the many species of fauna that populates the earth?  Or let us not forget the faithfulness of the sun that traverses the sky creating a new day in a burst of light and a stunning display of color as it says, :goodnight”. What about the velvet night shimmering with stars, from many light years above the earth?  All these ‘Declare the Glory of God!’


“…For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.”  Romans 8:19 

Comments? eacombs@att.net

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Linked

When my life is through,
And the angels ask me to recall
The thrill of them all,
Then I shall tell them
I remember you…..

When I read these lyrics, sung by Nat King Cole, as a love song, I see more in the lyrics.  I see a life nearing the end, living for thrills without answering the great questions we all must face, The Why of Life.

Be still, and know that I am God.  I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”  Psalm 46:10

It is difficult to ‘hear the soft whisper’ of God when the clamor of the world beats a crescendo.  And the clamor reaches a fortissimo of voices, the competing gadgets of technology that eat up time.  I can hear my Mother’s voice as the radio spun another Frank Sinatra song, “Turn that music down.”  As a teen-ager I wondered why.

Now mothers ask their children to ‘unplug’ from video games, wii’s, x-boxes, ipods and ipads.  And I know why.  But unless there is a purpose, the need to escape reality is still there.  We have become a nation of spectators and not a nation of doers.  Our ‘doers’ have become ‘outsourced’ to other nations.

While reading Cold-Case Christianity by K Warner Wallace, I found a time line at the beginning of Anno Domini (nostri Jesu Christi 'the year of our Lord Jesus Christ.’) The time line ended with the Council of Laodicea (AD 350-360).  The author named this Scriptural Custody Links.
·      Jesus – AD 1 (Bethlehem) – 33 (Hill of Golgotha)
·      John – AD 6 – 100 (died at the age of 94, exiled on Isle of Patmos)
·      Ignatius   AD 35-117 (Greek, 2nd Century Bishop of Smyrna)
·      Polycarp – AD 69 – 155 (Disciple of John. Burned at stake, then stabbed)
·      Irenaeus – AD 120 – 202 of Lyons France
·      Hippolytus – AD (Rome) 170 - 236  Sardinia
Jesus taught John, John taught Ignatius and Polycarp. Ignaius and Polycarp taught Irenaeus and Irenaeus taught Hippolytus.  This spanned 236 years.  If one in the list stumbled and fell away, the link would have been broken.

Wallace continues with the links that connected with Paul the Apostle from (AD 5-67) to Linus and Clement of Rome.  Clement passed the truth from Evaristus to Pius.  Pius I and Justin Martyr guarded the accounts of the scripture.  Justin taught Tatian and again, the Council of Laodicea. (AD 350 – 363)   Peter communicated through Mark, who taught Anianus, Avilius, Kedron, Primus and Justus.  Justus passed the truth to Pantaenus who taught Clement of Alexandrai.  Clement of Alexandria taught Origen and Pamphilus of Caesarea adopted Origen’s work.  Pamphilus of Caesarea taught Eusebius (AD 263-339).

Since my grandparents, Jacob and Emilie Siemens and Gerhard and Anna were links through their children Herman and Anna Daisy to me. Will the link continue through me?   I wonder what stories span through the ages so that the Story of Jesus and faith in Jesus remains unbroken.  The time between 1867 – 2013 is in my understanding.  What happened between 363 (Council of Laodicea (AD 350-360) and 1867.

Since my ancestry came from the Mennonites, I found more information from http://pad39a.com/gene/men1.html.   The time began in 1762 and it began a season of travel.
·      1772 – 1763 – Queen Catherine II, Czarina of Russia extended an invitation.
·      1786 – Catherine II extended another invitation promising religious freedom for 100 years.
·      1788 – First Mennonites left West Prussia for Russia
·      1789 – 1833 – Chortitza Colony had difficulty because the land was rocky, but ended with 228 families
·      1803 – The second wave of Mennonites, settling along the Molotschna River
·      1855 – A third colony was established along the Volga River.
·      1874 – A wave of immigrants left Russia between 1874 and 1885 for United States

Siemens                              
·      Jacob I – West Prussia(Germany)  b.1764 – d. 1832
·      Jacob II -  West Prussia b. 1795 – Buhler KS - d 1881
·      Jacob III – West Prussia b. 1823– Buhler KS  - d.1896
·      Jacob IV – Molotschna b. 1849 – Corn OK - d. 1930
·      Jacob B. - Buhler KS b. 1867 – Corn OK - d.  1930
·      Herman B. - Buhler KS b. 1903 – Watonga OK - d. 1979
·      Emily Siemens (Combs) - Hooker OK – b. 1929 – Champaign IL  
Suderman
1.    Daniel – b. about 1784
2.    Heinrich – Prussia – 1806 – South Russia – d-1842
3.    Jacob P. – Molotschna Russia 1841 – Ebenfeld KS d. 1907
4.    Gerhard – Pordenau Russia 1874 – Hillsboro KS d. 1950
5.    Anna Daisy - Hillsboro KS 1907 – Rogers AR d. 1998
6.    Emily Siemens (Combs) – Hooker OK b. 1929 – Champaign IL ?

The question of faithfulness, the question of steadfastness arises.  And I see the crowd of witnesses that came before me.  And I want my life to count for an eternity. 

 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.  I Corinthians 15:58


Who am I passing my link of faith to? When I take my last breath, will Jesus remember me?

Comments? eacombs@att.net

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled....


“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.  In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told   you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place  for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am     you may be also.  And you know the way to where I am going.”  John 14:1-4
Cleaning, shopping, baking...and preparing for a mini family reunion. I remember this scripture.  I wonder, after checking my many lists one more time, how Jesus is preparing for the grandest reunion ever.
Then it is time. The first ones, Abraham and Rebekah arrived, flying into our waiting arms. Soon Rebekah's parents, Paul and Carolyn, drove into the driveway.  The scene was repeated with more hugs and thanksgiving that we were together. Family together brings such joy of remembering. 

A wind brought in a fierce rain that evening.  We prayed for our grandson knowing he was traveling on the highway. What was he facing? God heard our prayers.  We give thanks when Ben came from the darkness to the light and to the safe haven of family. Just as we live through the life's storms and seek direction...on our way to Heaven, to a forever-gathering of eternal life with our Lord.

As more family arrived in a flurry of hugs and laughter, we settled into a  time of remembering. Rebekah found a picture of a family gathering when she was a young girl and the picture was re-created. 'Remember-when'is how nearly every conversation began.  The grandchildren listened to  oft-repeated stories from the childhood of their parents and the good-     natured teasing between their two Dads. 

Will we tell 'remember-when' stories in Heaven?  One granddaughter asked the prospective fiance of Rebekah, 'how did you meet' questions. Thefamily, young and old, listened with expectant smiles on their faces. It is a joyous time of remembering when love flowered between the two.  
As I listened, I was drawn into the on-going circles of life through time.   The preciousness of the moment held memories as I thought about how Mom and Dad would have enjoyed this time with us.Their spirits seemed to be present in the room.  I remembered the family times from long ago.We never tire of reminiscing about growing up. I remember the times when my Siemens Uncles and Dad were together.  The 'remember-when'   stories and laughter ricocheted around the room and down through the   ages.  What is it that makes family always a gift of belonging that continues through love, marriages, births and deaths – but never dying. 

When clocks are stilled and time is set to 'forever', will we again meet as a family?  We will meet together as God's family.  What will it look like?  Will the stories we tell be of when we first believed in Jesus Christ?  As each story is told to a chorus of Amen's and Hallelujah's. Will we rejoice and celebrate how the learning to know Him fully took no less than a life-time on earth?  We can see how we were led to Him and rejoice as we   see how often we were forgiven and we were pulled back to walk with Jesus on earth.

As we prepared to leave each other, we held hands in a circle and were  led in prayer for safe-keeping – physically and spiritually.  We said goodbye for now with hugs and laughter and eyes that were filled with tears    that threatened to overflow.   

Several days later, a sweetness of Jesus-joy fills the air as Dad and I     continue to hear the echo of a loving family, laughter, and seeing how    our children, grandchildren and beyond, grow in grace and nurture of the Lord in all that they do.  
Now it is quiet again, and in that quietness I hear a voice from my child- hood memories of a lady in church singing the words of Jesus with a      deep contralto voice...

 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.  In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told   you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place  for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am      you may be also.  And you know the way to where I am going.”

The promise of Jesus is etched deeply in my heart.  There is a place for us that Jesus is preparing.  He is coming again for us because He wants us and all His children, our children and children's children, with Him. 

When trouble on earth is spelled in capital letters, my heart knows where peace lies and the words continue to sing.....”Let not your heart be troubled”....