Tag Archive | Kelly Minter

This week’s musing

Truth is revealed to me, even when my skull is thick.

 I cried unto God with my voice, even unto God with my voice; and he gave ear unto me.”  Psalm 77:1

I read the whole of Psalm 77 and think how Asaph, the author, expressed similar feelings and asked the same questions I have asked.  Perhaps that puts me in good company, the company of mankind.

Do we all question the goodness of God when our lives seem very hard?  I’ve done my share of asking only to be met with a hushed quiet that I now recognize as loving concern rather than silent neglect.

After this last season of Sweet William’s health issues, I am trying not to question so much but rather to fall upon grace and pray, “The will of the Lord be done.”  It is the prayer that never fails.

“Thy kingdom come.  Thy will be done,” Jesus prayed and gave us the example.  It does bring me more peace, just to rest it all in His hands rather than flail like a fretful child.  Trying to figure it all out is exhausting.

I’m still learning along this journey, not having reached perfection yet.  I have a long way to go.

Yesterday morning as I was finishing my Bible study lesson for the day, I wrote in the margin of the book these words,

“I’ve gotten to know Him [God] in great victories, but even more I think in great trials.”

 I almost gasped at the revelation of it as I wrote the words.  They are truth I know in my head but suddenly they seemed to take root in my heart.

Is it possible, probable that hard places reveal Jesus the most?  Paul’s words ring in my ears:

That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;

I do want to know Him, my God, my Father, my Savior, my Lord.  If it takes the hard roads, the rough seas, the jagged edges of life, to know Him most and know Him best, then I pray those sweet words, “The will of the Lord be done.”

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Fellowship and what love is

Normally on a Sunday morning, I write briefly and so honor the commitment to rest, to take Sabbath in all of its beauty.  Today, I must make some comments about fellowship.  I will try to be brief.

In studying 1 John this week, the facts about fellowship have dug deep into my heart.  I have an introverted personality and struggled with it, especially in my teen years when we feel all eyes are on us and we will never measure up.

People used to say things like “I wish you wouldn’t talk so much” or “Can’t you be quiet back there” as we rode along in the car.  It was not because I was talking but because I wasn’t.  Those kind of comments were kind of hurtful.  Because I didn’t really know how to join in the conversations people were having all around me.  I didn’t know what to say or if I wanted to say something I was afraid I’d be laughed at or misunderstood.

There was one year in junior high when not one of my friends had classes with me.  It was a lonely year for this introvert who had a hard time finding another group.  I spent a lot of time standing around, being quiet, and longing for fellowship.

As I grew older and a little wiser, I realized I could learn to be more proactive in conversations, in meeting new people, in making friends.  And I put myself out there with all of my insecurities, making eye contact and speaking directly to someone passing me in the school halls.  To my surprise, people responded, and I realized the problem was not that they didn’t want to be friendly but that I was too afraid.

Years passed.  I am much more comfortable making new friends now.  My inner introvert still longs for some quiet and space at times, but I am being truthful when I say I love fellowship.  I love gathering with women friends in groups or one-on-one.  And I equally enjoy when Sweet William and I get together with other couples.  I can even enter a room of virtual strangers and introduce myself, though this one is hard for me still.

So when John the beloved disciple talks about having “fellowship with us” it warms something in me.  He speaks of a common bond of friendship with Jesus, the One John had seen and heard and touched.  And he offers that to his readers.  Fellowship with the Father and the Son.  And the result that follows is joy.

There are lots of surface relationships in this world.  Friendship for what one can get out of it.  Professional relationships for the purpose of networking.  Using people for one’s own purpose.

But there is a friendship that is real, and it is lasting, and it originates with God who sent Jesus in human form yet in His own holy likeness.  He reached out His hand to invite us into fellowship with Him.  Then He stretched out his arms on a cross and to fulfill the just requirements of Holy God.   And the doors of Heaven were thrown wide open.

John says this is what love is.  We were loved first by God so that we could love others and have fellowship.

And that, my friends, is pure joy.

Sunday grace to you.  Relish the gift of fellowship with God and with believers today, no matter your personality.  And reach out to someone who is standing alone on the sidelines.  She may be just waiting for someone to love her.

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The gift of worship

 

Today, January 6, is Epiphany, a holiday celebrated by Christians in remembrance of the wise men’s visit to the child Jesus. History tells us Jesus may have been about a year old at the time. Because the wise men, or Magi, were not of the Jewish faith, Epiphany holds significance for Gentiles. Jesus came to the Jewish people first, but we Gentiles were included in the glorious manifestation of God coming to earth.

The word epiphany has come to mean an insight into the meaning of something, a moment of revelation, usually as a result of a simple or commonplace event.

You remember the story of the wise men who traveled a long distance to find this Child who would be king. They searched the heavens for clues about His location. They eventually arrived in Jerusalem and asked the reigning king, Herod, if he could help them find the child. Guided by the star, they found Jesus with Mary and Joseph, and their joy was over flowing.

We have assumed the Magi found him on the same night the shepherds came to see the baby in the manager.  At least, that is the way our Christmas programs portray the scene, isn’t it? 

We have also assumed there were three of them because Matthew 2 mentions three gifts presented to the Christ Child, gold, frankenstein, and myrrh. It was a surprise to me when I actually searched the Scriptures to find there is no mention of how many wise men there really were.

There is something else we might overlook in the story of this strange visitation. Did you ever stop to think that there were not three gifts but four?

“And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshiped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh.” (Matthew 2:11, emphasis mine) 

The first gift the Magi offered was their worship.

 The Jewish law instructed the people to come into Jehovah’s presence with an offering or a gift. I read in places like Exodus 23:15 and 34:20 how God said they should not come empty-handed.

As a child of God under the new covenant, I no longer have to bring the blood of bulls and goats.  A complete offering was made for me at the cross of Calvary.

Yet, when I come to God, my Father, I must not come empty-handed either.  The gift, the offering I bring is my sacrifice of praise. 

 Just like the wise men of old, I bow down and I worship.

 

Leave a comment.  I love hearing from you.

The women

The precious sisters and I climbed the stairs to the upper room for the last time on Wednesday, completing our study of Ruth, Loss, Love, Legacy.  It was a melancholy moment for me.  Finishing a project is always a joyous thing.  Realizing I won’t be seeing these women in such a setting again is tenderly somber.

Kelly Minter wrote about “the women” who met Naomi when she first arrived back home in Bethlehem (Ruth 1:19).  The women were there again at the birth of Obed, Naomi’s grandson and the restorer of her family line (Ruth 4:14).  Kelly told about the women in her own life.  She wrote,

“They are the women we grew up with, the thick-as-thieves church moms who were there when we were born, performed ridiculous skits at our church retreats, helped us celebrate our birthdays, wrote us a big check for graduation, cried at our weddings .  .  .  They’re the ones who still come scrambling down the church aisle to squeeze the breath out of us when we visit home  .  .  .”

I remember the women who watched me grow up from a preteen girl to an adult wife and mom at the Dixie Valley Church of God in Louisville, Kentucky.  There were Pauline Springer, Lavelle May, Gertrude Eversol, Bessie Davis, Aleen Colvin, Janice Popplewell, Pat Phillips, to name a few.  They loved me, supported me, encouraged me, forgave me, modeled Jesus for me, and prayed for me.  Some of them have gone to their Heavenly reward.  Some “still come scrambling down the church aisle to squeeze the breath out” of me when I return to my childhood home church.

I love those women!  They probably don’t know how much or how important they were to me, and still are.  The memories of their smiles and their love bring warmth to my soul even as I write about them.

Now it’s my turn to be part of that select group, the women, to someone else.  It might be a piano student, a child from a Vacation Bible School class, or a teen from the youth group.  It might be the daughter of a friend or simply a young woman I have met randomly.  Whoever she is, she is looking for someone to love her, encourage her, support her, and pray for her.  Someone who will be in her cheering section. 

God is calling me, and you dear sister, to be in the band of the women.  It is one way we will leave a legacy.  A legacy of love and faith.  A legacy that will live long after we do.  A legacy that honors God.

Legacy

Sunday morning finds me at Little Flock Baptist Church where my Sweet William and I are members.  I love the worship, Pastor Rodney’s sermons, our Sunday School class, and getting to see so many precious Christian brothers and sister.

This Sunday, however, I went to first service at 9 am, then slipped out to visit Shepherdsville First Baptist Church, where my son and his family are attending and serving.  Travis plays percussion, and my two granddaughters, Elyse and Celeste, occasionally sing with the praise team. 

Elyse, the elder granddaughter, was going to play the keyboard for the worship songs, then sing a solo for the first time.  I did not want to miss it.  She was delighted to see that I had come to hear and support her efforts.  The day before, I told Elyse that I was her age, 13-years old, when I began to play regularly in our small church.  It was that experience as a young girl that set the course of a life of music ministry for me.

When it was time for the special song, Worship Minister, Sheila Lamonte, went to the keyboard, and Elyse stood close by at the microphone.  After a melodious introduction, Elyse began to sing My Everything.  If you will bear with this Grandmother and give me bragging rights for a moment, I will tell you it was beautiful!  Her voice was true and clear.  She sang with confidence and feeling.  I was moved to tears.

Do you know the feeling of being part of an experience while your mind goes to another time and place?  That happened during Elyse’s song.  I thought of my mother who died in 1983.  She had an astounding alto voice that bellowed and lifted the rafters.  She was anointed to sing, and hearts were touched when she did.

I’m not one who speaks to the dead or goes to the cemetery to talk to those who have gone on.  They aren’t there anyway.    But this morning in the pew at First Baptist, I spoke silently to my mother.  You see, I believe the saints in Heaven, that great cloud of witnesses, are aware of some things on earth, especially those involving their families.  So my mind said, “Mother, do you hear your great-granddaughter?  This is your legacy.”

Legacy.  It is what we leave behind when life is all said and done.  

My mother blessed others with her gift of music.  She traveled to little country churches to sing, and she faithfully served her own church for years. 

Mother wanted music to be part of my life.  She was determined I would have piano lessons and made me (yes, she made me) practice.  She encouraged me to play for others though I was a shy, backward child. 

It was only natural that I took that same path with Travis.  He took piano lessons which turned him toward a snare drum in fifth-grade band.  It eventually led to his high school’s marching band and the amazing percussionist he is today.

The beauty of my legacy is not just God’s gift of music to my family but that by His mercy we have come under the shadow and refuge of the Almighty, the saving grace of a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

The legacy goes on.  Gifts from God are honed into skills that are then used to worship the Giver of all good and perfect gifts. 

The Lord has given us great and precious promises.  His Word is filled with them.  One of my promises is in Isaiah 44:3b and 4.  I believe it and trust God will fulfill it in my family.

 . . . I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.  They will spring up like grass in a meadow, like poplar trees by flowing streams.  

Legacy can be a beautiful thing.  No matter your background or heritage, a new legacy begins with one individual who choses to follow Jesus and surrenders his life to the glory to God.   

To the threshing floor of surrender

” The quickest way for anyone to reach the sun and the light of day is not to run west, chasing after the setting sun, but to head east, plunging into the darkness until one comes to the sunrise.”   —- Jerry Sittser

Chapter 3 of Ruth tells of her trip to the threshing floor.  It was night.  She was alone.  She walked into the unknown, plunging into the darkness in hopes of a sunrise.

The threshing floor in ancient Israel was generally on a high place surrounded by a low stone wall.  The floor was often where bedrock was exposed.  The newly harvested stalks of grain were spread on the stone, then crushed, breaking open the husks.  The husks were tossed into the air allowing the breezes to blow and separate the chaff (the part of the stalk not good for food) from the kernels of wheat and barley.   This was called winnowing.   Until the winnowing process was complete, separation of wheat from chaff, the grain was not ready to provide nourishment to the body.

Sounds like a painful process for the wheat.

There is a threshing floor experience for each of us, a time when God calls us to turn loose of things that are often familiar yet are hindering us from being all He wants us to be.  We cling to those things as if they are necessary for our lives, feeling we simply cannot live without them.

The threshing floor, then, becomes a place of separation and also surrender.  It is risky to go there, and it is dangerous.  It is also necessary.  We will  not leave the same as we came.  The wind may be a breeze, or it may be hurricane gales.  It is meant to strip away what is not fruitful in our lives.  After all, offering nourishment to a dying world is part of our purpose.

I’ve had my threshing floor experiences.  God reminded me I was holding  on to what I thought was my security, things and relationships, when He wanted me to cling to Him only. As painful as it was, it was a turning point for me.  I had nothing left but God, but I found out He was enough.   

Ruth went to her threshing floor only after she had discarded her widow’s garb, that which had become her identity.  She came in humility, nothing in her hand.  She came with the intent to lay down her life and her future before Boaz. 

God asks us to relinquish what we cling to, what we think will bring security.  Eventually we find there is no security except in Jesus Christ.  He alone has what we are longing for:  a hope, a future, and a place of rest.