Today’s sermon was based on the story of two sons, asked to help their dad. One said yes and didn’t do it, the other said no, but did it anyway. Do you know that story? Imagine those were your sons.
Which of the two sons would you consider trustworthy? How would you react to their replies and subsequent behavior?
Our pastor, Rev. Steve Hundley, at the Madison Valley Presbyterian Church in Ennis, MT spoke on that topic today, inspired by the story in Matthew 21: 28-31.
The Parable of the Two Sons
28 “What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’
29 “‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.
30 “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go.
31 “Which of the two did what his father wanted?”
“The first,” they answered.
As usual, I listened to the sermon and took my notes in poetry. He started out by telling us about his grandmother’s advice to him when he announced (after graduating from college) that he had decided to go to seminary:
“When you stand up to preach, Don’t scold those who don’t come. They aren’t there to hear it,” My grandmother advised (she wasn’t dumb!).
“When you preach – remember To stomp on your own feet first. When you do that,” my grandma said, “You’ll serve living water to those who thirst.”
In today’s scripture, we heard Of two sons and their replies. One said yes and didn’t do it. The other, “No!” but did it. Which one cries?
The one who failed to follow through Was the one who’ll live with regret. Unlike him, we need to be obedient. Don’t say yes – and then forget!
Paul Tillick said, “In every human heart Is a faint recollection of our Maker.” If that’s true, we can see God Even in the disobedient faker.
The second son may have said “Yes, but…” In his response of a silent “No,” Other things may have taken precedence, But he didn’t want his “No” to show.
How many times do we say yes And then fail to follow through? Better to say No and then do it. I want to be trustworthy; how about you?
What jobs are you being asked to do? Are they tasks you look forward to? Or are you dragging your feet?
Schedule it for tomorrow After a relaxing Sunday afternoon/evening. And then… Just Do It!
Today’s sermon at our Madison Valley Presbyterian Church was titled, “The Amazing and Exasperating Grace of God.” I’ve certainly heard God’s grace described as AMAZING before. That’s typical. But, exasperating? When? How?
Do you know the story of the “Workers in the Vineyard”? It’s found in Matthew 20: 1-16. Essentially it tells of a landowner who needed extra workers in his vineyard. He agreed to pay the ones who started picking grapes that morning a silver coin for their day’s labor.
Later, with just an hour left in the work day, he realized the workers needed help to finish the job before sundown, so he hired a bunch more workers to help finish the job. This last bunch were the “left-overs” who had not been hired earlier. We can only imagine why they may have been left behind.
At the end of the day, the ones who came last (and had only worked an hour) were paid first. Each received a silver coin.
The ones who had worked all day saw that – and figured they would get more. They probably expected ten times more, since they had worked a ten hour day. When all they received was the same pay as the ones who worked only the last hour, they complained bitterly.
On that story, Rev. Steve Hundley based his sermon, and I took notes (as I do each Sunday) in poetry as I listened. Here they are:
The Amazing and Exasperating Grace of God
Reading the Word of God daily Helps you discover joy in life; But some difficult passages Cause misunderstanding and strife.
Like the story of the workers Who were paid equal wages Whether they worked one hour Or ten… Imagine the rages!
It’s hard to understand How such treatment is fair. Jesus explained the boss could Pay the wages anyway he cared.
Likewise, those who come lately To the Kingdom of God on earth Will receive the same blessings as Those who served the Lord since birth.
Does this seem a fair idea? Are deathbed conversions real? Maybe some of them are fake, But it’s not up to me or how I feel.
This parable isn’t about the workers. It’s about the generous vineyard boss Who is a symbol of our Gracious God. He focuses on the workers, not the cost.
Our God calls out the left-overs And tells them, “I have room for you.” God’s amazing grace and love are real, And they’re available to all – not just a few.
Load me up, Lord. Haul me to your vineyard. I’m ready to work! Amen.
Have you ever found God’s Amazing Grace to be Exasperating?
Or is there a Bible story that you find difficult to understand? Tell me about it.
Have a Super Sunday. Thanks for visiting JanBeek. See ya tomorrow.
During this period of time from now to November 2020, we in the USA will be looking carefully for the qualities we seek in a good leader… wanting to elect a great leader … someone worthy of following.
Our Ideas & Biblical Principles
I asked Bob this morning, “If you had to name just seven qualities you think are essential for effective leaders, what would they be?”
His answers didn’t totally match the Biblical principles that prompted this blog title, but some were right on. I was reading 1 Timothy 3:1-3 during my devotional time up in my angel room this morning. This is what it said:
“… If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task. Now the overseer must be above reproach… temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.”
An overseer is one who sees over his followers. A supervisor, head, manager, head honcho! And s/he must lead with qualities worthy of emulation.
Interdependence (not someone who thinks s/he can do it all alone)
The Bible went on to say in 1 Timothy 3:6-7 (The parenthesis are my additions):
“He must not be a recent convert (in other words, s/he needs experience in his/her area of leadership), or he may become conceited… He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace…”
If the leader’s reputation is tarnished, it is like handing his/her followers a handful of worms. They just come crawling out…
1 Timothy 3:8-10 says,
“Deacons, likewise, are to be [persons] of respect, sincere… and not pursuing dishonest gain. They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons.”
Being a deacon is often considered synonymous with being an “elder.” In the Catholic church, it is a position below that of priest. In the protestant church, an elder is part of the ruling or decision-making body. A deacon is a part of a group of leaders elected to reach out in service to the congregation and the community at large. All religions have “deacons” whose job it is to be the hands and feet of God – serving those in need. Deacons are respected leaders whose job it is to serve those who count on them.
Your Ideas & Mine
So have you come up with your own list of seven qualities a good leader needs? Will you let those qualities guide your decision when you vote in your next election?
Before you read on, make your own list. What are the seven qualities you deem most important in an effective leader?
These are the ones I gleaned from my study of the third chapter of 1 Timothy:
competent (gained from applicable experience)
wise (wisdom borne of Godly counsel, intelligence and study)
mature (mentally and spiritually solid)
gentle (compassionate & not quarrelsome)
self-controlled (exhibiting peace and unity)
respectable (leading a life worthy of emulation)
generous (always giving his/her best to/for followers)
May we each live a life That is worthy of emulation – A life that is an open book.
Tell me, what are the qualities that are on your list for great leaders? See ya tomorrow.
In today’s COVID-19 world, a lot of parents world-wide have become their child’s primary teacher. Even though many of the students have access to on-line classes, still parents discover they must oversee the learning process. Most parents are not prepared for this role. Are you one of them who sometimes feels overwhelmed by it??
Do Not Despair
You’re not alone! Many parents who are on this “Stay at Home” routine find themselves thrust into a much more intense teacher role than they ever bargained for. Your time spent with your child/student during this time is precious. You’re making life-long memories. Make them happy ones!
I am a retired educator. I spent more than two decades as an elementary teacher and administrator. During that time, I had the opportunity to experience first-hand how the expectations of others affects our self-evaluations. Our expectation for ourselves affects our self-esteem, too. Just know you are doing your best! Hang in there!
Do Your Best
How do you know when you have done your best? Who helps you determine what your best is?
I learned from a wise educator (Madeline Hunter) in an in-service once upon a time eons ago that the question is not, “Are you smart?” The question is, “How are you smart?” What a difference that makes!
As teachers, coaches, mentors, parents, friends, our task is to look for the natural strengths in others (as well as in ourselves). We all have them. Dig! Find the positives. Build on successes. Learn from, but do not emphasize, failures. Reward achievement.
Build On Strengths
Did you read my blog a couple days ago when I told you about our adventures on “Lucille” our Polaris Razor? She is a red-head who is a “Ball” – but she required a whole new level of “Do Your Best” when Bob took her into snow that was too deep for her body. Lucille high-centered and Bob was stuck. His best efforts at digging I her out were not good enough. She was not budging!
What does this have to do with “Build On Strengths?” Well thank God, we had friends with us – and one of them, Rex, has a wonderful Boy Scout skill: “Be prepared.” He had the necessary equipment to hook up a rope to his ATV and latch the other end of it to Lucille. He pulled our ATV out of that snow… and “saved our bacon!”
Bob & I can learn from Rex’s strengths. Be prepared! Carry a rope and the necessary winch in case of emergency in the future. And when the rope came loose at the end of the reel, Rex taught Bob how to secure it with a set pin so that it would not come loose again. God bless Rex! And as for us… we’re never too old to learn!
Focus on the Positive
My favorite expression when I was counseling teachers was one with poor grammar, but with great truth: “What you pay attention to is what you get more of.”
Want success? Find the best effort and praise it! Find what the student does best and teach through that strength. Sometimes our teaching is by example – people just watch what we do. Certainly our kids are perfect examples of that! It doesn’t work to tell them “Do as I say, not as I do!” They WATCH!!
Teaching is a JOY!
After I retired, I had the fun of teaching adults who had not learned yet how to read. I joined the volunteers in the “Stanislaus Literacy Program” in Modesto, California.
When I met her, Grace was an illiterate adult. She was nearly 40 and she had spent the last 30 years avoiding the world of print. Her “best” was sorting clothes from the dressing rooms at JC Penney and putting them back on the proper racks. No words needed for that task. But she hated being unable to read. She hid it well, but it made her feel “less than.” You can imagine!
Grace enrolled in the adult literacy program and I had the privilege of working with her to unlock the world of print. Sorting letters was a lot like sorting clothes. Matching capital to small case letters, sounds to letters, classifying vowels and consonants. One step at a time, backing up to the beginning, building on her strengths, we did it. The joy in Grace’s life when she discovered she could read menus, street signs, and billboards was palpable! Next step: books. A whole new world opened up to her.
Have you ever watched the light glow in a learner’s eyes when the key to a previously locked skill is found and the door opens? “I did my best” took on a whole new meaning for me!
You can watch that key unlock new learning, new ideas, new attitudes for your child. These days offer parents great opportunities.
Help Break Down Tough Concepts
When anyone is asked to perform at a level above their capabilities, frustration abounds. I’ve had that happen to me. I was put in a place where I was supposed to lead a ZOOM group. Be the host. What? At that time, I didn’t even know what ZOOM was!
But, I WOULD have been capable of that performance, if somebody took the time to show me how.
You have a chance to be that somebody for your child… or for a neighbor or friend. With love and patience, and confidence in his/her ability to catch on, be the somebody who breaks it down. Step by step, lead him/her through the process of knowing how, trusting that s/he CAN.
People need to know that we believe in them. Believe in yourself as a teacher. Do your best! Watch the light dawn. It’s a thrill!
Learn Something New
Everyday is a new opportunity to DO MY BEST. My mother-in-law always said, “No day is complete until you have learned something new.”
There is no better way to encourage a student to continue learning than to be the example who is a life-long learner.
What will I tackle with confidence today?
How about you?
Tell me about a skill you want to acquire. Then, Just do it!
Doesn’t that look like a fascinating job? I love it that we personally know this great guy!! Job security during the COVID-19 pandemic: The tigers must be fed and cared for. Not just ANYBODY can do that!
Heck, you just throw the meat in his mouth, right? Ah, there’s more to it than that? Uh… ya!! It’s not a job I could handle. How about YOU?
What’s the most fascinating job you’ve ever had?
Mine was teaching K-8 in a juvenile hall near San Francisco, It was back in the days when kids waiting for foster care placement were incarcerated along with older kids who were jailed because of violent behavior.
But that’s a fascinating story for another day.
Tell me the story of your fascinating job… or one you know about because a friend or family member had it.
I’d love to hear from you. Have a Fabulous Friday. See ya later.
Thank you for your prayers for the people of Tennessee who were so grievously affected by the 50 mile stretch of devastation in and beyond Nashville this week. My friend, Debbie, who lives in Nashville half the year, sent me this update this morning:
“Morning, Jan. What I didn’t tell you in the text was the immense response of the people of Nashville. Hands on Nashville, with 25000 volunteer slots, is full. People connected with houses of worship or no connection to anything other than this is home are pouring out of their comfort to help. People are showing up with strong backs (including team members of the Titans and Predators), chain saws, showing up with blankets (it was 29 degrees this am and no electricity in the tornado zones), showing up with ready to eat meals (son Joel is preparing 1500 meals each day), showing up with diapers, flashlights, batteries. Celebrities, including our beloved Dolly (Parton) and Taylor (Swift) and many others, have opened their checkbooks very wide, as have organizations such as the National Football League and the National Hockey League. In Nashville, as we did during the devastating flood of 2010, we show up. In Nashville, We Rise.“
Tennessee tornadoes kill at least 25. More than 150 people were hurt and thousands of homes and businesses were flattened when the twisters hit in the middle of the night.
Thank God for answered prayer as more than 25 thousand people have stepped up and in to physically help the people devastated by this disaster! They are using their money, time, and talents to do what they can to alleviate the suffering and aide those in dire need.
They are angels stepping in to lift the spirits, clean up the debris, and rebuild where possible. They are using their talents to feed the hungry (God bless Debbie & Steve’s son, Joel, whose place of business was spared. It had $50,000 worth of food in freezers and storage, and was only 1/4 mile from the tornado’s path). Now he is using those resources to feed the homeless and hurting. God bless him! He’s one of thousands of angels on earth… God’s hands and feet!
Use Your God-given Talents
I wrote this poem this morning while reading my devotionals and Bible and praying for help to arrive in Tennessee – before I saw Debbie’s update. It certainly fits the way folks are using their talents in and around Nashville right now.
Use Talents Wisely
God has given each of us Talents that are unique to us. Some are singers, others plow, Others use their funds somehow.
Some are math-magicians – true; Others are writers, just like you. Whether science or literature, Use your talents and be sure They are developed as your own, Gaining skill as seeds are sown. Don’t envy others for what they do. Use the talents given to you.
Moles must dig, and roosters crow, Unique gifts they use and grow. Likewise we must search and know Just what talents from us must flow.
Like a poet who thinks in rhymes, You might paint or prepare a pot. Keep your eye on what you’ve got, And never try to be what you’re not.
In the wake of this devastation, give the people strength and courage. In the aftermath of death and destruction, give the people hope and tenacity.
We know this “ordinary day” in the lives of so many is not “ordinary” in Tennessee. The extraordinary natural disaster has left more than 25 dead, countless wounded, and thousands without home, church building, or business. Some have lost their jobs as the place they worked no longer exists. Please be with these people. Be with the loved ones of the deceased.
We look at today, grateful for sparing our lives, knowing but for Your grace, we might have been in the midst of Harm’s Way. We thank You for the miraculous way you saved people, like the teenage girl who was whisked in the gale up and out of her home and dumped under a pile of debris into her neighbor’s swimming pool!
We thank you for the rescue workers who pulled people out, for the hospital staff who are working overtime to save lives, and for all those who have stepped up to help by using their time, talents, and money however You placed it on their hearts to do so.
Help us hear, dear God, what You are asking us to do… besides pray. Prayer is a given!
Do you enjoy keeping in touch with long-time friends?
This morning I posted “No Friend Like an Old Friend” with pictures of the long-time friends I met with yesterday.
Among the long-time friends I posted pictures of was Ly, my favorite hair stylist, whom I have known since 1979. Today she gave me a new hair cut and helped me get my “perky” back.
Also, today I had the privilege of reconnecting with dear friends from my years of working in the Ceres Unified School District. I was Caswell Elementary School’s principal from 1988-1997. Some of my favorite people to work with met me today for lunch. Most of them also are retired now. What a joy!!
Have you had the opportunity to reconnect 20 years later with co-workers who were instrumental in tour personal and professional growth? If so, you know what a JOY and a privilege this day was for me.
If not, I pray you will live 20 years into your retirement and have the delight of reconnecting the way I did today. It was indescribably wonderful. I wish you this kind of joy.
Thank you, dear Caswellians, for a wonderful day. I love you!
We’re so grateful that our granddaughter, Faith, married into this beautiful McSparron family! Such a gift to the Beekmans to extend our hearts into Kutztown, PA!! This is a sweet, quaint college town.
Their house was designed by Allen & Lisa and built by the McSparron boys & dad.
Such fun to have Lisa’s heritage also be in Switzerland where our DeDe and her family lives.
After a delicious breakfast topped off by the wonderful pear dessert left from last night, we went “hunting and gathering” in the gorgeous countryside.
As you can see, we are busy “hunting & gathering” in a variety of places.