When you hear the word “steadfastness,” what comes to mind?
Steadfastness comes from the root word, STEADY. I watched our family in Tahoe last month play that game that tests how steady your hands are and how skilled you are at choosing what can be removed from the wooden pyramid without toppling the whole thing over.
The collegiate definition of steadfast is:
“firmly fixed in place” or “not subject to change” or “firm in belief, determination, or adherence”
Synonyms for steadfastness include:
constant, dedicated, devoted, devout, faithful, fast, steady, and true.
So, when I think of the word steadfastness, I think of faithfulness and dedication. I think of forever friends who stick by us – always there for us in good times and bad. I think of marriage – -the ones that last – and I am grateful for Bob’s steadfastness.
As a Man of God, Bob has exhibited for nearly 60 years the steadfastness of the Lord in our marriage. I am so grateful that God steered me in Bob’s direction when it was time to choose a partner for life. I can substitute Bob’s name for God’s name in this hymn – because Bob’s steadfastness has been so Christ-like. I truly am blessed!
I am grateful that our families (both Bob’s and mine) set an example of faithfulness for us. There have been no divorces among our parents or grandparents for as far back as we can trace our roots. Likewise, our current families have set an example of faithfulness for our children and grandchildren.
Our son, Ty, and his wife, Monika will celebrate 32 years of marriage this September.
Our daughter, DeAna, and her husband, Andre’ have just celebrated their 34th anniversary. Here are Bob & me 34 years ago at her wedding.
The dress she wore was my dress 25 years earlier – and she was married in the same University of Pacific chapel where Bob & I were wed. The steadfastness of family and traditions makes God smile, I’m sure.
Are you smiling, too?
The pillar is our faith – and the ropes are us – connected through faith for a lifetime and eternity – together – firm in belief, determination, and adherence!
When you EMBRACE STEADFASTNESS and consider the application of that word in your life and acquaintances, what image comes to your mind?
Thanks for visitingJanBeek today. See ya tomorrow(God willing)
We were having one of my favorite meals, spaghetti with meat sauce, when I first told my family that I had broken up with my fiance’. My dad nearly choked on his mouthful. My mom shoved her plate of spaghetti half-way across the table!
To this day, I can’t eat spaghetti with meat sauce without remembering that day.
My fiance’ and I had been engaged for about a year. He was in the army, stationed in Germany. I was a senior in college, missing the social life, trying to remain true to my engagement. I wanted to attend the school’s dances and other social functions. It was hard!
Rather than being untrue to my boyfriend who was so far away (we had not seen each other in six months), I broke off with him. Obviously, my parents were devastated. Especially when they learned the guy I wanted to date was a divorce’.
“Why buy a used car when you can have a new one?” my dad finally spoke. Then he got up and walked out of the room. (Yes, Dad was a man of few words, but a list of prejudices a mile long!)
Mom followed him, without speaking a word. That was so unlike her.
Proverbs 6: 20-23
20 My son, obey your father’s commands,and don’t neglect your mother’s instruction. 21 Keep their words always in your heart. Tie them around your neck. 22 When you walk, their counsel will lead you. When you sleep, they will protect you. When you wake up, they will advise you. 23 For their command is a lamp and their instruction a light; their corrective discipline is the way to life.
The man I broke up with was from a family very much like my own. He grew up in the same area I did. We shared common roots. My parent and his got along wonderfully. The man I wanted to date was nine years older than I. I won’t get into why he was so attractive to me, but suffice to say, my parents’ dismay touched me deeply.
They let me have my “fling.” They did not bad-mouth my new friend. But when my ex-boyfriend came home on leave, they invited him over. When I returned home from college that weekend, he was there. I realized how much I loved him. That love has carried us through 58 years of marriage. Not always perfect, not always blissful, but always respectful, and always knitted together in prayer, faith in God, and common purpose. The love has grown as years passed – and I am grateful every day for my parents’ wisdom.
Put a plate of spaghetti and meatballs in front of me. I can taste the kindness of my parents in every meatball. I can hear my mom’s silence and feel her prayers in every slurp of pasta. I feel my dad’s concern about age differences and divorce. I keep their love in my heart with every Italian meal! God bless ’em!!
Today at d’Verse we are trying a new form of poetry. Synesthesia is a neurological phenomenon in which stimulation of one sense leads to automatic, involuntary experiences of a second one. There are over 80 types of synesthesia described by science. Nearly every combination of sensory experiences or cognitive concepts is possible.
Seeing music as colors is one form of synesthesia. Perceiving letters as personalities is another one, or seeing numbers in color. Even hearing colors or touching smells.
How about tasting memories? Do you have any of those?
This post is a combination prompt: 1) My Madison Valley Writers’ Group Prompt was the title of the blog, and 2) the d’Verse prompt informed the style and content. It’s not poetry… but it may qualify as Synesthesia. What do you think?
Every day’s a celebration If you just know where to look. Look at all your many blessings. Take a look in the Good Book.
“Christ has freed us so that we may enjoy the benefits of freedom. Therefore, be firm in this freedom, and don’t become slaves again.”
Unlock the gifts of freedom With the key of appreciation. Be grateful for our liberties – We’re a very blessed nation.
We enjoy liberties that people In many other countries will never see, But will long for their whole lifetimes. Thank the Lord that we are free!
Free to vote and free to protest; Free to shout when we disagree. Free to love and be loved in return; Free from the oppression of tyranny.
“Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion, therefore I will wait for Him’.”
With my morning cup of coffee, I will wait in my sanctuary. I will read and pray and ask the Lord For hope to live in you and me.
I will seek the peace that God can give, And put the results in His hands. I will seek His strength for today Ask Him to heal the hurt in our lands.
I will celebrate the right to vote As I listen for the results to come. I will celebrate the eternal joy That I can claim. It’s denied to some.
If you are feeling disgruntlement And joy seems strangely aloof, Ask Jesus for His divine power To shine His joy – and Celebrate Truth!
Thanks for visiting JanBeek today. I’ll see you tomorrow. (By then, we may know a bit more of the election results!) Celebrate Freedom!!
…And defend GER? Yes, defend HER! God Bless the USA. Preserve freedom. Celebrate your right to differ – Celebrate the ways we agree!!
Thanks to Pastor Steve Hundley and our music minister, Fran McNiell, for the prayers, stories, and sermon, and the music for today’s worship service.
THE SECOND SUNDAY OF EASTER
April 19, 2020
Risen Christ, the brightness of God’s glory and exact image of God’s Person, who death could not conquer nor tomb imprison, as You have shared our frailty in human flesh, help us to share Your immortality in the Spirit. Let no shadow of the grave terrify us and no fear of darkness turn our hearts from You. Reveal Yourself to us this day and all our days, as the First and the Last, the living One, our immortal Savior and Lord. Amen.
Prayer of Confession:
We confess, O God, that we have not lived the past weeks in the faith of Easter. We have been like the disciples, who saw life in terms of the suffering of the cross more than in the joy of resurrection. Forgive our hopelessness in the face of our world’s response to the COVID 19 pandemic, these past few weeks, and help us to trust more fully that You are the Lord of our future. Amen.
Assurance of Pardon:
As God raised Jesus from the dead, so God will lift us all from the graves of broken dreams. God makes us whole again and send us forth to witness to His name.
A Children’s Message for Adults, too!
Steve’s message for the children today tells of a boy carrying two buckets… not just one, and not on a sandy beach like this one… read on and see how his buckets and path differed from this!
(a true story)
When I was a boy, my mother would often send me down the road to Clyde’s cabin to help him with his laundry. Clyde lived in a log cabin he had built in the early nineteen-hundreds. His cabin had no running water, only a well out back. There was a creek out front less than a quarter mile from his front door.
Clyde had an old roller washing machine, a tub and an old scrub board. It was my job to carry water from the creek to the cabin in two old milk pails. I would fill the pails in the creek and make my way back to the cabin, pouring what water that didn’t spill or leak out of the buckets into the large tub. Filling each bucket to the rim each trip, I would arrive with less than half a bucket of water. At that rate, it would take me practically all day to supply enough water for Clyde’s washing and rinsing.
Complaining about the amount of water that I was spilling over the top of the buckets, not to mention the water lost from holes in his dilapidated buckets, Clyde instructed me to place a small block of wood in the buckets. He explained that the blocks of wood floating in the buckets would help water from splashing out the tops. Though it helped a little, I continued to leak water from the holes the buckets.
On one trip from the creek to the cabin with water leaking down my legs and into my shoes, I had had about enough. “Clyde,” I moaned, “When are you going to throw away these sorry buckets and buy new ones? These dented old rust buckets are full of holes.” Clyde just smiled his toothless grin and said, “Why boy, those are my special buckets. I could never get rid of them.” “But these sorry things are full of holes,” I whined. “And, it takes me twice the effort and double the trips back and forth from the creek, to fill your tubs.”
“Boy, take a look along that path leading down to the creek,” Clyde said. “Do you see all those beautiful wildflowers, lining the path?Every time you made the hard trip from the creek to the cabin, spilling water along the way, you were unknowingly watering God’s beautiful flowers for us to enjoy.”
Jesus’ followers found the path towards Easter to be really difficult. Peter denied knowing Jesus, not once, but three times, though he vowed never to do so. After that, he was so upset that he no longer considered himself worthy of being a disciple. Mary, the mother of Jesus, had to watch her son suffer and die on the cross. Mary Magdalene was not only upset by Jesus’ death, but was horrified to think that someone had stolen His body when she found the stone rolled away.
I am sure that God could have found an easier path for them to follow than the way of the cross. But, without the pain of the cross, there can be no Easter joy. Without God coming into the world in the person of Jesus Christ and paying the price for our failures on the cross, we would not see, know, or enjoy the beauty of His love for us.
Prayer for Illumination:
God of life, whose Spirit raised Jesus from the dead and draws us to Christ, send Your Spirit now to give us deeper insight, encouragement, faith and hope, through the proclamation of the Easter gospel. Amen.
An Easter Message: “Through Locked Doors”
For centuries Christians celebrated Jesus’ resurrection the week following Easter with parties and picnics. The week culminated with “Bright Sunday” or “Holy Humor Sunday”, a day of joy and laughter. Churchgoers and pastors would play jokes on each other, tell silly jokes, and would sing and dance. The custom was rooted in the notion of early Christian theologians like St. Augustine, St. Gregory of Nysa, and St. John Chrysostom that God had played a practical joke on the devil by raising Jesus from the dead. Early theologians called it “the Easter Laugh”. Later, it became known as “the Gospel as Divine Comedy.”
However, the thought of the resurrection as God’s practical joke on the devil and death is not something we tend to think about the Sunday following Easter. Over the years, the tradition of “Bright Sunday” or “Holy Humor Sunday” has been lost. That tradition has been replaced with what we have come to know as “Low Sunday.” Compared to the highest feast day in the church year – Easter Sunday- the Sunday following is considered the lowest. Why is that?
I don’t know. Maybe the excitement of Easter Sunday fades so quickly because the church, over the years, has lost its hope in the power of the resurrection. Maybe. Or, perhaps it is because the stories of Easter and the resurrection have become so familiar to us that we have lost sight of the irony of life overcoming death, especially given the high death toll we are experiencing during this recent pandemic. Well, maybe.
You have to admit that someone rising from the grave is a rather fantastic idea in our modern world. For instance, when my son was in middle school, he came home one day after school to discover that our Brittany Spaniel was running around in the backyard with our neighbors’ pet rabbit in its mouth. Chasing the dog, my son finally caught it and wrenched the rabbit from its jaws. He quickly discovered, not only was the rabbit covered with mud and dog slobber, it was also dead as a door nail.
Panicking, he scooped the rabbit up and ran into the house. In the bathroom, he carefully washed the rabbit off, carefully brushed it out, and dried it with his mother’s hairdryer. Stealthily, he crept back into the neighbors’ yard and quickly placed the dead rabbit back into its rabbit pen. Arranging it just right, it was impossible to tell that the rabbit was dead. Sneaking back to the house, my son retired to his room, promising himself not to tell anyone what had really happened.
Arriving home from my office, I was standing in the kitchen when I heard the blood curdling scream coming from my neighbor’s backyard. Running out the house, I ran to the fence to see our neighbor’s wife staring with horror into the rabbit pin. “What on earth has happened?” I called. “THE RABBIT, IT DIED!” she screamed. “It died?” I said inquiringly. Turning to run back into her house, she screamed: “YES, IT DIED THREE DAYS AGO! WE BURIED IT, BUT NOW IT IS BACK! (Now this story may not be true, but you have to admit, be it rabbit or human, rising up from the grave is a fantastic notion in this day and time!)
Can you and I even fathom the shock of the disciples when Jesus appeared to them, passing through locked doors? Sure, they had trudged behind Jesus through the entire Judean countryside. Jesus’ purpose and teachings were hard to understand, even though He spoke of being the Christ—the Messiah—the Holy One of God, who is of the Father.
But, all that must have seemed like a dream (or more like a nightmare) when Jesus was crucified, ending all hope. The death of Jesus had slammed the door on their greatest hopes and dreams. It was over. It had been good while it lasted, but now the door was locked and nothing could bring Him back to life again, or so they thought. They had buried Him three days before, AND NOW, HE WAS BACK!
Of course, the reaction to God’s practical joke on death was varied among Jesus’ followers. While the “beloved disciple” may have believed without evidence except for an empty tomb, Mary Magdalene only believed because the Risen Christ called her by name. The remaining disciples, excluding Thomas, believed only because their Risen Christ appears to them, granting peace to them, and showing them His hands and His side. Yet, for Thomas, neither the word of his fellow disciples, nor the sight of the Risen Lord would be sufficient. For Thomas said, “Unless I place my fingers into the nail holes, and stick my hand in His side, I will not believe.”
It would seem that true FAITH is not the same experience for everyone, not then, not now. Neither is FAITH generated with the same kind and degree of evidence for each individual. For some, FAITH is born and grows as quietly as a child sleeping on grandmother’s lap. For others, FAITH is a lifetime of wrestling with the angel. And, some cannot remember a time in their life when they didn’t believe, while others cannot remember anything else with their lives having been shattered and reshaped by their decision of FAITH.
No matter how FAITH came, or comes, to you and me, it would do us well to remember the words of Jesus who said: (and I paraphrase), “REMEMBER THIS, UNLESS YOU ACCEPT GOD’S KINGDOM IN THE SIMPLICITY OF A CHILD, YOU’LL NEVER GET IT.” And like a child, what better way to celebrate God’s joke on death than with joy, laughter, singing, and dancing? Yet, what a shame it is, when the voice of doubters or the voice of those of us for whom FAITH has become the norm, even commonplace, drown out the true irony and wonder of the resurrection.
When I think of the true joy and wonder of faith, I cannot help but remember a boy named Lonnie, years ago, in my 3rd grade classroom. Lonnie’s parents had died in an automobile accident, so his grandparents were raising him. I remember how we used to tease Lonnie mercilessly, because he would believe anything. We’d say, “The school burned down, so we don’t have to go to school Monday.” “Oh, boy!” he’d say. You see, he’d believe it!
“They are giving away free ice cream down at Mr. Kern’s grocery store.” “FREE ICE CREAM?” he’d squeal and off he’d go running. “Lonnie, did you know that that Elvis is coming to our school?” “HE IS REALLY? WHOOPEE!” Yep, that boy would believe anything!
One day, Lonnie showed up at our little country church and came to our Sunday School class. Our teacher, old Miss King, told Lonnie that: “God loves you and cares for You. And God will come to you in Jesus Christ who has risen from the dead.” And do you know, THAT KID BELIEVED IT! HE ACTUALLY BELIEVED IT!
Do you believe it? Do we really believe it? And, if we do, then where is our laughter? Where is the singing and dancing? Where is our uncontrollable joy? Hmmm.
Lord of the cross and the Empty Tomb, we worship You. Though the pandemic rages on, You give us reason to hope. We thank You that we are not alone even as the news of more Corona Virus cases and deaths dominate the headlines. Though we are well-acquainted with death, dying and grief, we praise You that death has been vanquished and its spell broken. And though our lives are still embroiled in sin, failure and inadequacy, thank You, O God, for giving our lives meaning, purpose and direction.
We confess that the more days we stay at home, the more likely it is that we may forget Your power and fall into despair. Yet, today we remember and hope comes back. Though the darkness of the night brought doubt and disarray, in the light of this new day we bow our heads in worship. Like Thomas, we desire to see the nail prints and touch the wound in Your side, but Your presence is enough, and we cry out, saying: “My Lord, and my God!”
Walk among us, Lord, and touch our troubled lives. Give hope to the hopeless, strength to the faltering, love to the lonely, compassion and courage to those on the front line of this pandemic. We pray for health, hope, and help for those who have lost their incomes and/or health insurance in the midst of this ongoing lock down. Let the radiance of Your resurrected presence shine upon them and us as it shone upon Your first disciples and make new persons of us all, as it did of them.
Transform us from frightened, hesitant, uncommitted followers into people of fire and steel who know what we believe and who will follow You no matter what the future holds. Live in and through us. Walk among us and teach us to walk with You. For You alone have the words of eternal life, and You alone can call us into discipleship. Lord of the cross and empty tomb, we praise You! Bring healing and hope to our hurting world, for Your name’s sake, saying together, as One Church, One Body …”Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts (trespasses), as we forgive our debtors (those who trespass against us). And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.”
Go into the world: dance, laugh, sing, and create.
Go into the world: risk, explore, discover, and love.
Go into the world: believe, hope, struggle, and remember.
I take notes as I listen to the sermon each Sunday. Reverend Jean Johnson at our Madison Valley Presbyterian Church never fails to give me food for thought. Here are my sermon notes from Sunday, October 14, 2012. Perhaps they will cause you to pause and think – and question, too. She started with the scripture in Mark 10: 17-31. She titled her sermon, “Big Questions and Unexpected Answers.”
Are faith and questioning oxymorons?
The truly faithful live by faith;
they don’t question.
The questions of faith and of life change.
They become more complicated
as we become older.
They range from simple to complex.
The answers to our questions
can be found in the Bible –
– according to some people’s thinking.
But the Bible contains
some of the most daunting questions!
“What must I do to obtain eternal life?”
the questioning man asked Jesus.
Jesus’ answer was filled with imperatives
such as, “Go, Sell, Give, Follow.”
Is that it?
It’s part of the mystery of life.
Life has many mysteries.
That’s why faith and questioning are partners.
The joy of following is that it requires
Faith, not complete comprehension.
Questioning leads to more faithful following
and a life worth living.
Jesus didn’t scoff at the man who asked.
God expects us to be drawn deeper –
– deeper into following and faithfulness.
Thinking, questioning, pursuing
the living, dynamic, expansive God
Is a sign of an active, living faith.
The questions of life change.
The answers become more complicated
as we become older.
They mature as we do.