Glimpses of Our God; The Bible And History

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

My grandmother on my mother’s side passed away a couple years ago at the ripe age of 100. A person with so many years is quite a treasure to have, with so many stories about the old days. However, old stories of days gone by is not what I remember about my grandmother. When I was little I remember playing  the rummy game with her. But as I got older, even up until the end, I would go to see her and ask if she wanted to play a game of rummy like we used to. Every time her answer was, “No, I have learned a new game. Let’s play it instead.” I got tired of having to learn the rules to new games all the time, but every time I turned around she had learned a new game. She loved talking about current events. She was always open to trying new restaurants. While she was a centenarian, she simply did not live in the past. You had to probe her to talk about the past. Oh, she did not mind talking about the olden days once you asked her about them, she was so caught up in the here and now that those things did not come to mind unless you asked. She was not a has been. She was always living in the present.

This is how I picture God when I read this week’s SS lesson key verse, “‘I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,’ says the Lord, ‘who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” Revelation 1:8 God is not a has been either. Sure the Bible is full of rich history which our lesson brings out, but the Bible and God are also very much in the present and future.

When the Israelites entered Canaan they were to take all of the land. However Judges 1 tells us, “And the LORD was with Judah; and he drave out the inhabitants of the mountain; but could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley, because they had chariots of iron.” Really? Those chariots of iron were just too much for God huh? I don’t think so. That was no excuse and God knew it. Earlier in Joshua 17:8 God Commanded, “for thou shalt drive out the Canaanites, though they have iron chariots, and though they be strong.” So what was the problem? Zephaniah talking about the church says, “And it shall come to pass at that time, that I will search Jerusalem with candles, and punish the men that are settled on their lees.” Those who are settled on their lees are riding on their past reputation. They have a lot of accomplishments under their belts and they are content to relax with that and be satisfied with past successes. I imagine this was true of the Israelites when they entered Canaan. They had crossed through the Red Sea and the Jordan River. God had seen them through a lot. Let’s stop now and just rest. Why go further? The iron chariots was just the excuse they used to stop where they were, and become a bunch of has beens, content to rest on past accomplishments. That is not my God! That is not the God of the Bible. God is not a has been. God is not just a historical Figure. He is in the here and now! Instead of sitting in His rocking chair talking about what He did in the past He is planning His next great accomplishment in the future!

In reviewing our past history, having traveled over every step of advance to our present standing, I can say, Praise God! As I see what God has wrought, I am filled with astonishment, and with confidence in Christ as leader. We have nothing to fear for the future except as we shall forget the way the Lord has led us.- Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, page 31.

There are many valuable lessons in Bible history to strengthen our faith in a lot of areas. As we learn those lessons, we can relax like the tribe of Judah did in Canaan, and rock back and forth in our old rocker thinking wow that was great, or we can be like my grandmother who even at a hundred years was ready for the next new thing. I have to believe some of the greatest stories of victory and triumph in the Christian era have yet to be written. I don’t believe God wants a church that sits around and talks about the great days gone by when our sanctuary used to be filled and our programs used to be strong. I think God is well capable of driving out the iron chariots and making it so that each new day we can say “We have never tasted success as wonderful as the success God had given us today!”

My grandmother could tell you a lot of wonderful stories about how God  led her in the past, yet she was always excited about the present. Even in the nursing home where she stayed briefly, before coming back to my aunt’s home where she died, she was making new friends that she dearly loved. She never compared her current friends with her friends from years gone by. She was happy where she was and with who she was with. She loved life to the very end. Well it hasn’t ended yet. My grandmother has fallen asleep. She needs her rest, because when she wakes up, she has a big day ahead of her! That’s how my God and my Grandmother are. Always ready for the next big thing!

You may download the SS Lesson Guides to your cell phone or Ipod here.

Glimpses of Grace; Family Grace

I am writing this morning from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

One summer, when I was ten years old, I spent a week at my Grandmother Holzkamper’s house in Gentry Arkansas. My mother came to pick me up and while we were still visiting with grandma, I smarted off to my mother. My grandmother told me something that has always stayed with me. She said, “You don’t talk that way to your mother.” After that I thought she would tell me how my mom is the boss and all but she didn’t. Instead she said, “You don’t talk that way to someone who would die for you.” Wow. I had never thought of it like that.

There are power struggles even in families. I wish this were not so. I have seen family members accusing other family members of being on ego trips and being power hungry. Husbands are to be respected, not because they are “the man” or the boss. They are to be respected because they would be the last ones off the Titanic. They would die for their families.

At the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist Church where I serve, we don’t call pastors “reverand.” We only revere God. Yet Paul tells wives to reverence their husbands! Paul is telling wives to have more respect for their husband than a church pastor. That is because of the self sacrifing love the husband has for His family.

I am sure many times the wife has this love also for her family. Disagreements happen. That is okay. I just hope that when family members disagree, that they continue to resepct each other and remember they are arguing with someone who would die for them. Reverence that love even while disagreeing!

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it. Ephesians 5:25

Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband. Ephesians 5::33

The Fruit of the Spirit, Lesson 4

I am writing tonight from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

Here are my thoughts on this week’s SS Lesson.

Thou wilt keep [him] in perfect peace, [whose] mind [is] stayed [on thee]: because he trusteth in thee.  Isaiah 26:3

 

Mark the perfect [man], and behold the upright: for the end of [that] man [is] peace.  Psalms 37:37

Real peace does not come from being right with the world. It comes from being right with God. Peace of mind is not knowing that you have money in the bank. It is knowing no matter what, God will take care of all your needs. Peace is not knowing that you will live through the storm. Peace is knowing even if you die in the storm, God has promised you eternal life. Peace is Ellen Harmon, an 18 year old girl explaining why she was not terrified during a storm at sea when she said, “If my work for God is over I might as well rest at the bottom of this sea as anywhere else, but if my work is not over, not all the water in all the sea will be able to drown me.” (Life Sketches, p. 240) Peace is Marion Fisher, a 13 year old Amish girl telling a deranged gunman “shoot me first” so that help would arrive in time for the other victims. Peace is an elderly man I was studying with this summer who laid on his deathbed with a smile on his face saying “I’m ready to meet Jesus.” Peace is my 100 year old grandmother’s last words to my mother, “I will see you in heaven.” Peace is Jesus sleeping in a boat during a storm at sea. (Matthew 8:25)

Peace is not the absence of the storm, it is the absence of the fear of the storm. Peace is not the absence of death, it the absence of the fear of death. Peace is not the absence of worldly turmoil, it is the presence of God in the turmoil. Peace is a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Here is one of my favorite quotes on peace from the Spirit of Prophecy:

  Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. John 14:27. 

     Before our Lord went to His agony on the cross He made His will. He had no silver or gold or houses to leave His disciples. He was a poor man, as far as earthly possessions were concerned. Few in Jerusalem were so poor as He. But He left His disciples a richer gift than any earthly monarch could bestow on his subjects. “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you,” He said. . . . He left them the peace which had been His during His life on the earth, which had been with Him amid poverty, buffeting, and persecution, and which was to be with Him during His agony in Gethsemane and on the cruel cross. 

     The Saviour’s life on this earth, though lived in the midst of conflict, was a life of peace. . . . No storm of satanic wrath could disturb the calm of that perfect communion with God. And He says to us, “My peace I give unto you.” 

     Those who take Christ at His word and surrender their souls to His keeping, their lives to His ordering, will find peace and quietude. Nothing of the world can make them sad when Jesus makes them glad by His presence. In perfect acquiescence there is perfect rest. The Lord says, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee” (Isaiah 26:3).   It is the love of self that destroys our peace. While self is alive we stand ready continually to guard it from mortification and insult; but when self is dead, and our life hid with Christ in God, we shall not take neglects or slights to heart.

     When we receive Christ into the soul as an abiding guest, the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, will keep our hearts and minds. There is no other ground of peace than this. The grace of Christ, received into the heart, subdues enmity; it allays strife and fills the soul with love. He who is at peace with God and his fellow men cannot be made miserable. . . . The heart that is in harmony with God is a partaker of the peace of heaven and will diffuse its blessed influence all around.  {Heavenly Places, p. 249} 

You can find more studies and devotionals at In Light of the Cross.

Grandma’s 100th Birthday!

Grandma's 100th Birthday 009My family and I at my grandmother’s 100th birthday party.

In 1909 Theadore Roosevelt retired from the Presidency and was succeeded by William Howard Taft, the 27th U’S. President. In 1909 the U.S. flag proudly waved with 45 stars. John F. Kennedy would not be born for another 8 years. In 1909 the New York Yankees had not yet won the first of their 27 World Series titles and it would be another 6 years before Babe Ruth would hit his first homerun. Arkansas had half the population that it has today, and in Siloam Springs Arkansas my grandmother was born on a Sunday morning in a tent during a storm on November 7, 1909.

 

Last Sunday my family and I paid tribute to my Grandmother, Ruth Holzkamper and her 100th birthday! While my grandmother is responsible for five children, 16 grand children and I don’t know how many great and great great grand children, the greatest legacy she has given us is the legacy of love. My grandmother’s first husband died and she remarried. Her new husband, Robert Holzkamper (deceased), had children of his own too. Growing up I did not realize that half of my family was not all blood related. We did not hear of step children or step family members, it was all just family. I remember as a child watching my grandmother cry her heart out over the welfare of a family member only to grow up later and realize there was no blood relation between her and them. My grandmother loves to have fun. I remember her playing football with us in her 50’s. She loves to play cards and table games and the thing that amazes me is she is always learning new games! Every time I come to see her she wants to teach me a new game. Even at 100 this woman does not live in the past! I am always saying, “Grandma why don’t we just play a game we already know” and she will respond something like, “but this new game is so much fun!” And she will teach me the new game.

 

Grandma Ruth was raised a third generation Seventh-day Adventist Christian. A lot of her family is still Adventist today, but more importantly most of them have a relationship with Jesus in a church they are comfortable in. Growing up I always wanted a career in the ministry but Grandma always reminded me that labels don’t matter. It is what is in the heart. I remember her telling me more than once, “Be like Joseph. Leave your coat and flee if you have to.” So far I have never had to. 🙂 

By the way Grandma has a brother buried in South Africa who died as a child while her parents were missionaries. Various members of my family have served and are currently serving as missionaries practically all over the world. My grandmother’s parents were married in the home of Uriah Smith, in Battle Creek Michigan before becoming missionaries.

 

I have learned so much from my grandmother over the years, but here I have tried to condense it into a top ten list.

 

Top Ten Things I Have Learned From Grandma Holzkapmer

 

10. Its good to be funny but don’t be silly. That’s just silly.

   9. Get up early, work hard, but don’t forget to take your lemonade break on the front porch around 10:30am. Good memories, them front porch breaks.

   8. You are very special but then again so is everyone else. We are all special.

7. Macaroni and cheese is so much better with lots and lots of pepper. (No hate mail from health fanatics please.)

6. Grandchildren can help themselves to the cookie jar and anything else they want anytime they want. I was so embarrassed the first time I learned this rule does not stand at everyone else’s home.

 5. It’s a huge family. Some days it may be all about you. Other days it may not be about you at all. Refer to number 8.

 4. You give everything you have for family, and everyone you know is family.

 3. Luke and Laura made it because they had love. It just takes lots of love.

 2. If you cheat in a game of Uno grandma may not catch you, but God will know. (Leaving me to assume you go to hell for cheating grandma at Uno, though it was never actually said.)

 1. While we all have fun we must also remain very respectful. After all your family members would give their life for you, and you never disrespect someone who loves you so much they would give their life for you.

 

Happy 100th Grandma! And many many more!!!

 

 

Grandma's 100th Birthday 013

This photo must have been taken around 1910 or so. Grandma Ruth is sitting in her mother’s lap on their front porch I assume.