Sunday, June 24, 2018

3. CAMPING OUT IN ROMANS

GRACE & PEACE
"To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be his holy people: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ."  ~Romans 1:7




 The phrase 'When in Rome, Do as the Romans Do' refers to the importance of adapting yourself to the customs of the people who are in a certain place or situation and behave like they doAs it turns out, it's all to do with the travel arrangements of a couple of early Christian saints.   If only we could adapt as easily to God's agenda, "I have kept the faith."

"15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it."  ~Romans 7:15-20


So I took out my cell phone and began taking photos as many others were doing.
I put on my smiley face and greeted many people and enjoyed the worship service.  Leaving base camp,  I took a whirl wind tour around the world.  Excitement and anticipation is in the air as tomorrow VBS will be in full swing.


This year’s VBS is June 25-29, and the theme is “Racin’ Around the World,” which focuses on 2 Timothy 4:7—“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

 
The icing on my cake, the lyrics to the song, "Nothing Can Separate Us" from Romans 8:35-39  that Carmella Jones sang this morning in her gentle soothing voice.

 What Can Separate You?

 His love reached from the heavens
 to the far ends of the earth,
 to give you life forever,

 He left no stone unturned. 
And before the birth of time,
 Jesus had you on His mind, 
 so you never need to question His concern.

 So what can separate you
 from the precious love of God?
 Who could ever come against 
His strong and perfect love?

 So when you're in the valley,
 and your nights are cold and lonely,
 the darkest hour is just before the dawn.
 Remember nothing can separate you

 from God's love.
 He numbers each and every star
 and calls them all by name. 
He counts them one by one

 and sees that they are still in place.
 If He cares for every star,
 then He sees right where you are.
 You can trust you'll never fall from His embrace.Related image

  Neither pain or sorrow,
 not today and not tomorrow,
 nothing past or nothing present,
 nothing future, nothing ever.

Well it's back to base camp to see if there's gold in them hills in Romans.




Saturday, June 23, 2018

2. CAMPING OUT IN ROMANS

 To God be the glory, great things he hath done;

so loved he the world that he gave us his Son,


who yielded his life an atonement for sin,


and opened the life-gate that all may go in.


Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, let the earth hear his voice!
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, let the people rejoice!


O come to the Father through Jesus the Son,
and give him the glory, great things he hath done.



 O perfect redemption, the purchase of blood,
to every believer the promise of God;
the vilest offender who truly believes,
that moment from Jesus a pardon receives.


 Great things he hath taught us, great things he hath done,
and great our rejoicing through Jesus the Son;
but purer, and higher and greater will be
our wonder, our transport, when Jesus we see.~Fanny Crosby




The lyrics to that hymn resound in my head. I am transported back in time when my then three year old cousin struggling within the confines of her little mind would sing at the top of her lungs, "Pwaise the Loyd, Pwaise the Loyd."  I don't recall if she got beyond those words or not but I am transported back to those times when ever I hear or sing that hymn.
Now, you might be saying, "What the heck does all that have to do with camping out in Romans?"
  Many of our old hymns are rich in theology.  The lyrics give us glimpses into theology. I enjoy hymns and songs with rich, theological lyrics as they
 re enforce Scripture.

“In proportion as we are conformed to the spirit of this world, our understanding becomes dull in the things of God, our affections cold and torpid, and our consciences less tender and sensitive.”  ~J.C.Philpot who lived in the 1800's

Now just what is it about this book (Romans) that has me so enthralled?
What has made it stand out?
Extended Grace Project

For one thing, I have a serious problem.  God is holy and He is just, and I am not, and at the end of my life, I will stand before that Just and Holy God, and be judged.
But what makes the gospel "good news" is that it connects me with the "unsearchable riches of Christ."
Think on that!
 Why has this book had such an impact on me when it takes about an hour to read in one sitting?
Why would I take an hour out of my day to read it?  Would you pick up a novel and pick out a sentence from each chapter and try to figure it out?  Probably not, that is why I have been trying to read or listen to audio in full.
  It is proving to be quite an adventure in learning what I thought I have learned but really haven't or have forgotten.  

It is ironic that I have chosen CAMPING OUT IN ROMANS as title for my posts as Paul, the author of Romans was a tent maker by trade.

Reading or listening to Romans in full or big chunks gives me a bigger picture of God's marvelous plan of salvation as well as providing me with a picture of a righteous life lived in the Spirit.
What is so beautiful is that God has extended grace in every past and probable moment of my life and has been at work in my story even before I came along in time.
All this was promised by God beforehand through the prophets, l:2.
In the last two days, I have read the book two times and listened to audio twice.  What a hike!  



Friday, June 22, 2018

1. CAMPING OUT IN ROMANS



"O long and dark the stairs I trod,

 with trembling feet to find a god.

 Gaining a foothold bit by bit,

 then slipping back and losing it
.
  Never progressing, striving still,
 with weakening grasp and faltering will.

  Bleeding to climb to God, while He

 serenely smiled, unnoting me.

  Then came a certain time when

I loosened my hold and fell thereby,

 down to the lowest step;

 my fall as if I hadn't climbed at all.

  Now, when I lay despairing there,

 listen, a footfall on the stair,

 on that same stair where I

 afraid, faltered and fell and laid dismayed.

 And lo, when hope had ceased to be,

 my God came down the stairs to me."  ~anon


And that sums up the book, in a poem read by my pastor years ago as he introduced Romans.
As I camp out in Romans this summer, I am already into the third time reading.  It is inspiring to have had first hand experience of God's grace in my life as well as the life of his people.
 As per usual, my pastor, when introducing a new book or chapter at times does not get past the first word.  The first word in Romans is "Paul".  Paul was an amazing man!
What made him so amazing 
 was his biblical mind.  He knew God's Word and was very knowledgeable in the Old Testament.  His thoughts intersected with the O.T.
He understood grace.  He understood love.
He understood why man is so confused.
 He had a determined will to obey God's plan.  He had a loving heart and on top of that his highest goal was to glorify God.
  No wonder I have been captivated by this book.

Paul answers a plethora of life's questions:
 What is the gospel?
 Who needs it?
 Why is it needed?
 What is the nature of salvation?
 How is it achieved?
 What difference does salvation make in my life?
 What difference does it make with reference to society as a whole?



But what is truly amazing is the hope that I have been given when I find myself in those situational dramas when I experience mercy, grace, love and forgiveness, kindness and blessing when I venture into his agenda.
Camping out in the book of Romans so far has been phenomenal.





Wednesday, June 20, 2018

FABRIC OF MY MORTAL EXPERIENCES

" But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever,
    the purposes of his heart through all generations."~Ps.33:11


Great Grandpa Solomon Ediger (minister)

"God sovereignly decrees and designs circumstances so that we end up where he wants us to be even if we don’t have any conscious part in getting there. For example, Paul and Silas found themselves in jail, and the result was the salvation of the jailer and his household (Acts 16:24-34). This was God’s plan, but not Paul’s. God does this often—putting us in places that we did not plan or decide to be." ~John Piper

 ( “no purposes of [God’s] can be thwarted,” Job 42:2).
Great Grandpa Solomon


And that is what makes tracing ones genealogy so exciting.  The fabric of my mortal experiences are God's sovereign orchestration of my spiritual life, my spiritual ancestors.

   My spiritual life has functioned by suggestions in the patterns of those dimensions.  It has left me with a clearer vision and sense of purpose, default at arriving at present.  God always knows what he is doing.
  Some of those Russian/German Mennonite emigrants who arrived in the late 1874s by ship were placed in my story.  They in turn were influenced by the spiritual revivals of their day and on the heels of  great preachers such as Spurgeon, and other great men of influence in their lives.
THE S.S. TEUTONIA
In 1874, Heinrich and Sara Ediger joined the Mennonite immigration to the USA, and with their children sailed on the S.S.Teutonia, arriving in Castle Garden New York on Sept. 2, 1874.
This is the ship that our ancestors came on.


Looking back over the generations, I've seen just how God's story has woven my history and those before me to get me to where I am now.


  My story is intertwined with my past to make God's story, my story.  I am living in the shadow of some great spiritual leaders of my time making up the fabric of my spiritual journey.  They in turn were influenced by their spiritual journeys.  Just as all human DNA is unique to each person, so is each personal spiritual profile.
One of the Solomon Edigers

I have alluded to some of these spiritual influences in previous blogs.


 "Many are the plans in the mind of a man,
    but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand."~Prov.19:21

 "Even from eternity I am He, And there is none who can deliver out of My hand; I act and who can reverse it?"~Isa.43:13

" But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever,
    the purposes of his heart through all generations."~Ps.33:11
  "For the Lord Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart him?
    His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back?"~Isa.14:27


Monday, June 18, 2018

AN INTIMATE ENCOUNTER


 "All of us have lived before. You've had some very good experiences and some very bad experiences. When you come into this life, certain of those experiences are going to be highlighted for you because this is what you need to work out."— Harold Klemp
"The most significant way to encounter the Word of God is to read and read it."  ~rjs


I have alluded to the fact that I have always found myself strangely drawn to the book of Romans.  Perhaps it is because there has been no other book that has impacted my life so.
My intimate encounter with Romans began back when I was at MU in my early youth.
Then in 1981, again my life became even richer as our pastor taught from the very book.  My love for God deepened because of the influence of Romans teachings.
Think on these things.

Romans really is like a personal letter if you read it as such.
This letter has a unique way of grabbing ones thoughts and gravitating toward the things that we deal with in life, sinful habits and attitudes, shallow repentance, and a myriad of other worldly issues and dramas.
Here I am in now time again wrapping its truths in the context of time I find myself in with a most memorable quote dogging me,
 "Don't you folks ever read the Bible?" from my notable professor.
 Paul's words in Romans are not over for me.  As this book brought about life-changing experiences then it is again providing renewal moments.  It is restoring my understanding of the scope of God's grace and faithfulness.
It really is a marvelous book. I am anticipating reading and re-studying of this precious book again and again this summer.


"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." ~Romans 12:2






Friday, June 15, 2018

A PIECE OF MY JOURNEY

"...nothing about faith, relationships, or character is instant."  ~Anon

God's complimentary travel guarantee has always been his presence. He has traveled with me down many freeways, roads and paths.

Wherever I go, God is with me and for me.  He's been with me through many rocks and hard places.

My youthful experiences are the pieces of life that have become what I am  today.
 They were precious times of figuring things out in life.  I celebrated the people around me and came to the conclusion that it isn't a man I needed.

The truth is people will choose to leave you and plans don't work out.  "You'll never know how resilient you actually are until people leave you." and plans don't pan out.
Let me share here about a "common thread", prayer, that I noticed through out my journals and notes to self.
  It was during these pieces of my journey that I became more aware of life in terms of  eternal vs. temporal.  Comparing it to today, I am ashamed that perhaps prayer meant more to me then than it does today.  “The things you pray about are the things you trust God to handle. The things you neglect to pray about are the things you trust you can handle on your own.” Those words come from H.B.Charles Jr. 
  The things I have to handle today are really no more important than they were yesterday.
Those were the days that made up my  life pieces of  today.
The clearest way God demonstrated his love toward me was through answered prayer.
It is amazing that after 48 odd years my most profound experiences with God have been answers to my prayers.  The most humbling and overwhelming answers have come during my many overwhelming emotional melt downs.
As I continue life's continuum it is clearer to see where I fit in.

  In the course of life sometimes we try forcing wrong pieces in wrong spaces that look like they may fit.  You're blindsided, betrayed by situations and that piece of life that you though fit so perfectly suddenly doesn't.
While attending MU, we had an event called, Prayer and Praise Day. That day was a memorable time.
  Not only did we not have classes that day but we praised God with music, singing many of the old hymns as well spending time in prayer.
There are no shortcuts in life's puzzle.  All the pieces are important.  The Creator of life's puzzle gave me a guidebook.
 We live one piece at a time until its done and God lays that last piece in place.

"For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope."  ~Romans 15:4

Thursday, June 14, 2018

PAINFUL STRUGGLES OF YOUTH

How painfully we struggle in life.

 "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans."  Romans 8:26


Reading again through my journal from the early 1970's, I began to see a pattern emerging.  I was painfully dealing with exhausting, burdensome, agonizing emotions.  The intensity was often overwhelming.  Those emotions accompanied me where ever I went.
 I had fallen victim of my feelings, insecurity, anger, fear, jealousy, depression, and high on the list was discouragement.
  My deteriorating health made them more difficult to manage.  I recorded my melt downs.
 Over and over again, one entry after another found me submitting those emotions to God.  Many Scripture verses spoke to me.
I fought back spiritually with the Word, developing a stronger faith.  I determined to fill my mind with the power of God's Word.
My little event full dramas constantly changed.  I would flit between states of joy, rejection, euphoria, and discouragement, and anything between.

 They revealed my true affections and in whom I trusted.  They rebelled against how I knew I should feel.
 I prayed for wisdom and guidance.  I learned and grew closer to God in the process.  I grew in my understanding of myself and my understanding of life under God's control.  I fell in love with the book of Romans.
"We feel what we feel because we think what we think and do what we do!"  ~Somebody
 

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

SLOGGING THROUGH A SLICE OF YOUTH

We drove up to a palatial size ramshakled house with the glory of its yesterdays long gone. It was obviously a neglected house.

  The white washed clapboard had long ago darkened to the color of slate gray.  There were broken toys and other objects strewn about the yard.
Several little shabby looking, barefoot, dirty but happy faces eagerly appeared out of nowhere.
   We were invited in, we walked in and I was like OOOOOOH.  The children followed. 

I took in my breath sharply, I stopped, the dimly lit room revealed a sparsely furnished room with shredded sheer curtains on the windows.
  The living room where we were to hold the Good News Club had only a sofa and a chair and it was cold, dirty, and uninviting.
  It was my first encounter with such poverty here other than I had experienced in Mexico.
While attending MU, we were all required to accrue a specific amount of hours prior to graduation--called Christian Service.
  The above story was one recalled while ministering with CEF and their Good News Clubs.
While working with children for a couple of years, my senior year goal was to support the team that went to the Louise Home every Sunday afternoon.  It was a boarding home for disturbed teen girls.

  During that time we sensed much friction and antagonism toward stressing salvation by grace or works.

  The head house mother did not want us to stir up the girls to some emotional experience they were not ready to handle.   We brought snacks and homemade goodies to share with the girls and talked one on one.  Celebrated holidays and at times were allowed to have a sing and showed love.  Several of the girls made commitments.
There continued to be many wet and dismal days.

I loved the comforting sound of the Portland rain as long as I was under my comforter, unfortunately, those were many gray blanket drizzly days and did not have the luxury of lingering longer in bed.  Not only was the weather dismal but these were also some of the most difficult days of my youth. Darkest Days Of My Life click here
All students were required to attend select devotional and chapel activities as well as the annual Christian Life and Missions Conference.  Slogging up the hill to "Fort Mitchell" to sit damp and shivering, just when one has dried and warmed up, it would be time to make the trek back down, however, those were some of the highlights of my year.

1971, Life after college was foremost on my mind.  I found myself vacillating over future possibilities.  A friend and I visited Emmanuel and Good Samaritan hospitals with intentions of applying to nursing school.
Well that was scrubbed as I was not proficient in the math required.  That left me with another option.  I had applied to Wycliffe's SIL (Summer Institute of Linguistics) program and was accepted for the following summer but with some reluctance opted out as I did not feel linguistics would work for me.  As I mentioned in the previous blog that memorization was painful for me, I only got as far as memorizing the Greek alphabet.  Linguistics was not in my future.
After graduation, I took a step of faith, moving to SoCal with meager belongings, not knowing where it would lead.  I arrived with no job, no plans, and no current place of my own to call home but with a glimmer of hope.
I soon enrolled for a 5th year of college at Glendale C.C. where I enjoyed all my classes in child development while working in nursing homes. My nursing home experience click here 
My assignments were not glamorous but I gained a wealth of experiences on both ends of the spectrum.






Monday, June 11, 2018

"I NEVER MEMORIZE SCRIPTURE"

One very unearthly time of morning in September 1968, I was rudely awakened by the unfamiliar sounds of banging the likes of me had never heard.
Chapel, Library, Sutcliffe Hall


  I had just moved into a mid-century administration/dorm building (known as Sutcliffe Hall) of what formerly had been the Oregon Blind Trades School to begin my first year at Bible School (Multnomah University)  Many days dawned cold, wet and dreary.
 
Back side of Sutcliffe Hall
The old steam hammer season had officially begun, and I was not looking forward to waking up at all hours to the non comforting sound of
wheezing, banging loud pipes knocking and kicking themselves around as if something, somewhere was screwed up.
Sutcliffe Hall (Administration on 1st floor, dorms on 2nd)
I thought it a bit amusing that the school began in a former mortuary years earlier.
The redeeming factor of the steam radiators, however, it kept us warm and we could use them for drying wet or damp clothes.

I enjoyed walking up the wide, inclined ramp with recessed dormer like alcoves where the windows were, large enough to curl up in and read or study that went up to the second floor where our rooms were.
The Chapel at Night
  Some rooms were small, jail cell size, while others were large and I am inclined to think that the smaller ones were for those of us on a leaner budget.


The resounding sounds of "Man On The Floor"  would scatter a few gals back into their rooms but on the whole we enjoyed the camaraderie of the same gender.
My official address for 4 years was: 8435 NE Glisan St, Portland, OR 97220.  I like to tell people that I crammed 3 yrs. into 4 as most of those years, I was working either full or part time to meet expenses.
I was surrounded by a "bastion of fundamentalism with the Bible as its throbbing heart" where there was a narrow range of Saturday nite fun and activities of which I had little time for.
  The dorm was dreary to stay in for long and I always managed to find imaginative things to do.
Sometimes imaginative things found me.

Multnomah's public relations slogans, "If its Bible you want!  Then you want Multnomah" "Multnomah deals in life change, Don't settle for less." 
It was Bible I craved and I dealt with more changes than I bargained for.
HISS, POP, BANG!  The sound of the steam heater continued to intrude in my thoughts yet spurred me on.
Another wet and dreary day, I trudged up the street to a lecture.  Chapel and lectures by Dr. Mitchell were held in this massive cement block rectangle of a building known as Central Bible Church.  It was dubbed "Fort Mitchell".
"It was lovely in its elegant simplicity."
 If walls could speak, it would speak of the many days I sat in one of those pews listening to Dr. Mitchell or an endless parade of chapel speakers.
  Those unforgettable strains of him teaching us his songs with his beautiful brogue,
 "Cheer up ye saints of God,
There's nothing to worry about;
Nothing to make you feel afraid,
Nothing to make you doubt;
Remember Jesus saves you;
So why not trust him and shout,
You'll be sorry you worried at all, tomorrow morning."


What impressed me further was his command and recall of scriptures otherwise know as memorization.  Rote memory has always been painful for me.
Someone once asked Dr. Mitchell what method he used for memorizing Scripture.

"Ah,” he said, “I’ve never tried to memorize Scripture. I just pray
over them and read them over and over and over again until they become
part of me and then I know the Scriptures.”
Dr. Mitchell also recounted how he asked Dr. G. Campbell Morgan, a preacher he admired and met how he went about studying the Bible.

"If I tell you," Morgan replied, "the chances are you would not do it."
After further prompting by Dr. Mitchell, Campbell disclosed, "I read a book through 40 to 50 times before I even start to study it." "It was obvious that he saturated his mind with the Word of God." Dr. Mitchell rarely gave exams to my knowledge while I was in his classes, Spiritual Life and the book of Romans, but his assignments included reading a portion of Scripture many times over.
My pastor, John MacArthur on "When preparing sermons, I always read through the pertinent book repeatedly until the whole book fills my mind in a kind of visual perception." 
What good advice to follow. 
In the wake of a failed relationship, I had fallen in love with the book of Romans, particularly the fifth chapter.Encounter with Romans click here








 

Friday, June 8, 2018

SPRINGING FORWARD, LOOKING BACK~1967

I graduated high school 51 years ago. It was 1967.
  I was almost eighteen as the journey known as senior year was over. 
 It's incredible to think about how different life is now than it was then.
High school was such a turning point in life.  It's especially interesting to see how much has happened since then and how I matured over those 51 years.

As time passed, as those years distanced, it was clear to see how immature those years were, however, I did not just leave something behind when I graduated, I took something with me. 
I gained much advice from teachers and those things not taught in textbooks was learned through life's little events.
There are really no aspects of that season of life I truly miss other than the beauty of Oregon and life closer to nature.
  I was very awkward at relationships and was too busy not creating waves for my host family who had graciously opened up their home to me in Springfield Oregon.
Springfield High was one of the first high schools in Springfield.

  A notable alumni, Kenneth Elton Kesey,  an American novelist, essayist, and counter cultural figure of the 60s authored the book "One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest" which I thought was very interesting.  No, I think it is interesting that he was an alumni, not the book which I have never read as the reviews cautions one big Parental Advisory with many references to unsavory topics of which I wish to guard my mind.
Another notable alumni is Eric Millegan, an actor on Bones.  He is known for his role as Dr. Zack Addy.  I will admit here that I do enjoy watching Bones.
The high school years were followed by a year at Lane Community in Eugene.  That year prepared me with the prerequisite foundations of my continuing education at MU in Portland.  My father was very wise in advising me on taking them. 
We all go through stages of life that mold our futures.
So in asking myself to "Describe something or an event that has made me who I am today." 

Friends who became family since 1975
My mind scrambles through a bunch of events that have happened in my life, realizing that there really were many things that changed me, even the littlest things that I may have not thought of.
Friends since 1974, Mrs. Stewart
  So in answering my own question there is no ONE chapter in my life to describe that something that has shaped my life.
Friends since our kids were in elementary school

Does it matter? Will it matter?
 Stuff does not make you happy.  Stuff may give pleasure, but pleasure fades.
What are the best and the most important things in life?
Friends since 1983

Reflecting on the past is good for learning but best if left behind.
It takes time to get wisdom.  A big lesson learned being that life is too short to be exchanged by triviality.
I’ve been blessed to have great mentors, teachers, family, friends, that taught me about life.
Some newer friends

Life is better now from a spiritual perspective.  Life is better now from the friendships I've formed. 
We've all heard the line, "Friends come and go."  There is nothing like high school that highlights that line after graduation and sad to say, the friendships I had forged at that time have long been gone.
But that has been okay because every person that has walked into my life has contributed to teaching me about life.
Then there is the joy of meeting someone wonderful and you wonder where they have been all your life.

  Well that's just the wonderful thing about friendships, there are many, they are excited about spiritual things, and spontaneous. 

I now find that I tend to prioritize the
Wisdom Friends
people in my life who I value the most.

I have been spending every Friday with my toddler grandson.
  What I learn from him is how he appears to enjoy life more intensely than most adults do. 
My three-year-old grand daughter often gets lost in some creative project, drawing, coloring.  She is an avid puzzle and sticker fan.
  As life's puzzle pieces fall into place I gain a wider perspective as to what God is trying to do in my life.

I bet it never crossed your mind to think a short 5'3" girl like me could hurdle and I was a pretty fast runner.  Life is still full of hurdles and sprints waiting to shape the rest of my life.
I have found that the most profound impact on my life has been a teachable spirit.