Thursday, March 29, 2012

You won't believe the new features on this model!

Isaac, as he waited for the microwave to beep:  "Ten seconds to self-destruct!  Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one, BEEP!  The food is disintegrated!"

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Dam Building 101

We recently spent a day learning about dams -- types, purposes, building materials -- and of course then went out and built some!  It was a wonderfully warm and sunny day, perfect for setting the hose in the alley and messing around in the newly created river.

 Here Luke works on his arch dam.  Okay, the piece of wood didn't really arch, but the idea is that a wide piece of material spans the waterway and latches into notches on either side of the "canyon."

Here, Isaac show his embankment or earthen dam to his brothers.  We used straws to allow water to pass through without out overflowing the lake!

Levi's gravity dam -- held in place by the sheer weight of the dam material -- was probably the most impressive.  It created the largest reservoir anyway.

Elijah's buttress dam is kept from washing down river by -- can you guess? -- buttresses!

It was a totally rocking' way to spend part of the afternoon.  With water, mud and sunshine, how could it not be?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A Backwards Sermon

Every time I read through Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, I am so thankful to live in the time I do and not during the days Jesus walked the earth.  As incredible as it would have been to actually see Jesus and hear these words from his mouth, I think I would have thought he was nuts.

First off, he presents this totally backwards list -- blessed are the poor in spirit, the meek, the mourning, the persecuted.  If I am being persecuted, I am probably not feeling very blessed!  What is this guy talking about?

Then he makes several claims beginning with "You have heard it said... but I tell you..."  He took the teachings the people had heard all their lives and changed them!  If someone came up to me and told me the things my parents and pastors had told me were wrong, I would walk away shaking my head and thinking they were crazy.  Give to those who are suing you?  Bless those who curse you?  Seriously?

And then he launches into a scathing review of the Pharisees and teachers of the law -- "They are hypocrites who have already received their reward!  Don't be like them!"  What?!?  These guys are the high and mighties!  They are the best of the best!  And he says, "Unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven."  The people must have wondered, how in the world can my righteousness be more than theirs?

And yet, people listened to him.

"And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes."

Yeah, Jesus can do that, too.  Amazing.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Thing of Beauty

Last night as I headed out the door to Bible study, I actually remembered to grab my camera (and my Bible)!  I don't know whether it's the time of day, the novelty of half an hour of solitude or God preparing my heart to study his word, but every month as I make the 25-mile drive alone down that long two-lane South Dakota highway, something takes my breath away.  A sunset.  A storm.  A pumpkin of a harvest moon rising over the hills. Amber waves of grain.  And every time I wish I had my camera and an extra 10 minutes on me.  And this time I did!

The sun was low but mostly hidden by clouds when I left home.  By the time I reached Lodgepole (home of some of the world's friendliest people), it was illuminating the thin, lowest layers of cloud and splashing orange waves across the plains, and over this little prairie church.

This isn't my church.  In fact, it only gets used every other Sunday.  Its congregation and another nearby church joined forces, and neither wanting their building to fall into dilapidation, arranged to hold services alternately at each one.  

It amazes me how churches of different denominations work together out here where congregations are spread so thinly.  The Christian Reformed Church is staffed by the Wesleyan Church's pastor (don't tell anyone, but he's really Reformed).  A CRC, Wesleyan, Lutheran and two other churches join their voices for hymn-sings several times a year.  The local youth group is a collaboration of Lutheran, Baptist and Catholic churches.  I imagine that God looks down and smiles when he sees his children working together and getting along despite their differences.

Anyway, I got a little off track there.  God's beautiful handiwork.  That's what I was writing about.  Or maybe I didn't get so far off track after all.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

A Miracle

The sun is shining, the wind ain't blowing, the windows are open, I'm comfortable in a T-shirt and it's an incredible 73 degrees outside!  I think I've died and gone to heaven!  Not only does it feel so good to be warm, it smells so good.  Out goes the stale stuffiness of winter and happiness rolls in on waves of fresh air.  I feel like joining that solitary bird out there who is brave enough to sing in March!

I know, winter is likely not over.  We may get a blizzard -- or two or three -- yet, but this divine intervention of spring into winter's battle arena infuses me with energy and enthusiasm, and I will rejoice in every warm ray of sunshine spilling over the cool, damp earth.  Yea spring!  Welcome back!  

Thursday, March 08, 2012

A Paraphrase

Matthew 7:22-23 rewrite:

Jesus said, "Many will say to me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not gone to church every Sunday, tithed generously, lead Sunday school, attended Bible studies and memorized scripture (and blogged about deep Biblical insights)?' and I will say to them, 'I never knew you.'"

The point God is driving home for me -- again! -- is that I can't save myself by my own works.  All my good deeds, if done in order to earn or prove something, are worthless.  Only when done out of thanksgiving and love for God do my actions behoove me at all.

I can't save myself or even contribute minisculey to my own righteousness.  Only Jesus can do that.  And thank God for that!

Monday, March 05, 2012

No Ordinary List

I'm a list kind of girl.  I like lists.  Find comfort in lists.  Perhaps even depend on lists.  And most of the lists in my life are "to do" lists.  Do these chores.  Remember these groceries.  Pack these things.

But in studying the Sermon on the Mount during Lent, I'm faced every day with an entirely different sort of list -- the Beatitudes.  This is no ordinary "to do" list.  This is a "to be" list!  Be meek, be merciful, be hungry for righteousness, be pure in heart.  It's about motives, not behavior.  And that makes it so hard for me.

I can handle a "to do" list.  I can take on the Ten Commandments.  Like the Pharisees, I can take a great list, add to it to make it even better (if ten commandments are good, 20 are even better!), and then feel mighty proud of myself for my stellar accomplishments.  

But motives, character, the state of my heart -- those are a little harder to control.  Can I force myself to be meek?  Can I cause myself to mourn over sin?  Can I make myself pure in heart? 

But, perhaps, my helplessness is the point.  I can't do it.  I can't save myself.  No matter how many lists I may make to keep myself on track, only Jesus can save me.  More and more as I study this passage I find myself realizing, "Only Jesus can do that."  Praise the Lord!