LUKE SIX – BLESSED WORDS

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READ LUKE SIX
This chapter is filled with so much meat. It begins by discussing the Pharisees insistence on not working on the Sabbath. Such things as eating some gathered corn from the field or healing the sick from their infirmity were considered labor by the elders of the church. Jesus quickly set them straight by stating that He was the Lord of the Sabbath. Those words must’ve stung deeply, as they were seen as a threat to the church itself.

By this time, Jesus had chosen all twelve of His disciples. They indeed were helpful to His ministry, as many of our own church elders can be of help to our officiating pastors. Jesus was a man and because of that He got tired and hungry. He needed time to pray, to rest and take nourishment just like we do. On the other hand, He is also God and could’ve easily provided for those needs, but it wasn’t part of His mission on earth.

We see in this chapter that Jesus prayed a lot. As our example, we can glean much from this. God is available to hear our prayers at a moment’s notice. We don’t always take advantage of that.

Jesus and his band of disciples covered a lot of territory. The crowds were growing. People came to be healed, out of curiosity and because the message was one they had longed to hear.

The Beatitudes are listed in this chapter. “Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh,” was one of them. These were akin to the proverbs of old, but they carried an entirely new meaning. He said things like, “Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.”  These words were foreign to them, but they certainly held their attention.

Jesus must’ve been an exemplary speaker. His voice would have to carry to great lengths to reach the many in His audience. Imagine the voice of God speaking directly to them and us. He was nothing extraordinary to look at, yet he commanded the crowds. When He told them not to judge others, but to forgive them as we will be forgiven. He told them to be good fruit and to build their lives on the foundation of God. By doing so they would not be shaken.

Jesus was bringing that foundation back to the people. He came to establish His kingdom in our hearts. Let us continually stay rooted in His Word so we continue to flourish and spread the Good News of salvation to all people.

We are definitely living in troubled times.  The church is being attacked on a daily basis.  The devil is using every tool in his toolbox to take advantage of us.  Don’t let Him in.

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BIG GIRLS DO CRY

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The feminist movement did great things for women.  It allowed them to leave the ties of housekeeping behind and venture into a whole new world.  It was a world which challenged their abilities, their brain power, their industriousness, their ingenuity, their organizational skills, their talent and their compassion.

Yes, I said compassion.  Now where in the world does that word fit into the world of commerce?  Up until then, compassion was woven into the fabric of nursing or caring for others.  The corporate world was and still is, filled with money driven men who were trying to change the world.  Not a lot of compassion was necessary  When women became part of that world, things changed a lot.

In the beginning men said women’s place was in the home, raising a family, tending to the chores of the day and caring for her husband.  The game was on.  Women started attending colleges for things other than secretarial or medical skills.  They proved that they could work under pressure and handle the stress of corporate life.  It wasn’t an easy road, because these same women still had the responsibilities of running a home, but they managed to do both.

Today women are deeply imbedded into politics.  They hold positions of power in the medical field, the corporate world, high finance and industry.  They have proven to be equal to men, but still fight the battle of equal pay. I’m sure that day isn’t far off

In the process, families have become accustomed to both parents working.   The material things that were put on the back burner until they could be paid for are now staples in most homes.  The home fires still burn, but most of the management of that place is being carried out by hired workers.

In the meantime, women have become equal with men.  In my opinion, they always were in God’s eyes.  Woman was created to be a partner for man.  I’m sure there are statistics that prove that men are the hunter/gatherers and women, the caregivers, simply because of the way they are made up physically.  Women are sensitive, intuitive and have the ability to listen.  The tenderness of their hearts is something that continues to exist, even though they try to put on an armor of toughness.  Women cry.  Yes, so do men, but women seem to do it more often.

As women take on some of the roles of their counterparts, they’re expected to be tough,  put their emotions aside and act like a man.  However, even in a society that wishes to determine their own gender, men are men and women are women.  The differences were designed to compliment each other.

Women do have a softer side.  Our emotions are often worn on our sleeves.  Our compassion is evident in the way we work with others and live with them and should be considered a medal of honor.  It’s not an attack on your character to say you can cry if you need to.  There will be days when the pressure of work gets in the way of family – when the demands of travel take you from those you love – when the extra hours of work keep you from kissing your children goodnight.  It’s OK to feel bad about those things.

God made tears for a purpose.  They come out when we grieve, when we’re frustrated or angry and even when we’re happy. The silent tears you pour into your pillow each night do not go unnoticed.

There’s someone who understands those feelings.  Jesus wept.  He knows all about sorrow.  He understands our pain.  He is also our comforter.  He hears our prayers and dries our tears, but He allows us to  bring all our burdens to Him, so he can carry them for us.

 

 

 

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NOW I LAY ME, DOWN TO SLEEP . . .

When I was a child, I was taught to pray – Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep.  If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord, my soul to take. Amen!  After this simple prayer I would ask God’s blessings on all my family members, the pets, grandmas, grandpas and aunts and uncles.  I might also include someone that I had a problem with that day. Things have changed since those innocent days of youth.

Now my prayer list is getting so long, I often fall asleep before I’ve completed all the of them. The older you get, the more folks you need to pray for. There are those with serious illnesses, those who need God in their life to make it complete, those who have strayed from Him, those who feel life isn’t worth living anymore. There are the aged, the young adults starting their families, the teens who face unheard of stress and temptation and the children who are depending on good examples in their lives. God invites us to talk to Him and it is good to go to Him with our troubles, but we should also go to Him when things are going well and give Him the thanks He deserves.

Dear, Lord, it’s a privilege to come to you in prayer.  Your Son made that possible, by shedding His blood for me, a sinner.  Thank you for giving us an open line to you at any time of the day or night. Even my inadequate words are interpreted, through your Holy Spirit, in the right way. You control every inch of my existence.  Amen!

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SOLITUDE

ORIGINAL ART & POETRY BY PAUL & KATHY BOECHER©


In solitude we sometimes find ourselves – we need some time alone,

A quiet place where life stands still – an instant safety zone,

Where waters blue surround us, where peace is everywhere,

Where you can hear the voice of God, in quiet, thoughtful prayer,

He may not give us answers that we would like to hear,

But in the sweet serenity, He holds us ever near,

The beauty of those moments, renew – refresh – restore,

So we can handle all the things the world may have in store,

Within that peaceful time with God, our eyes will never close,

New life is ours when we believe our every need He knows,

He has designed what’s best for us, He knows our every need

He proved it when He gave to us, His Son to intercede,

Though we may need to sort things out, we never walk alone,

God has a plan for all of us to reach His heavenly throne.

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THE PERFECT PRAYER

Prayer was important to Jesus. He would often escape to a quiet place to talk with His Father.  His time was limited, because of the big following He was gaining, but that didn’t stop Him.  The disciples saw their rabbi going off to pray and, wanting to follow His example, they asked Him for a “how to lesson.

“How should we pray,” is really a prayer in itself.  How many times have we gone into prayer with just that question?  We can’t find the words. We stumble over the ones we say.  We feel unworthy or selfish.  That is when we should rely on God’s intervention to give us the right words.  The Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit will intercede on our behalf with groans too deep for us to understand or say.

Jesus gives us a perfect example of how to pray.  This is one of those prayers we learned as children and used throughout our lives.  Often, because we know it by rote, we just recite the words without really thinking about them. This prayer is rich in praise, petitions and thanksgiving.  In the opening sentence He shows that we have the same family rights that He did to go directly to His Father in prayer. “Our Father.” He reveals His respect for His Fater and His name and kingdom. He speaks of God’s will eing fulfilled on earth as it is in heaven. Then He confidently presents His petitions. “Give us this day, our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive others. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. The prayer ends with thanksgiving, as all prayer should.

As Jesus was casting out demons, a member of the crowd questioned the fact that only the chief of demons could do such a thing, a well remembered phrase was uttered by our Savior.  He said, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and a divided household falls.”  This idea has been penned by many through the ages, including Abraham Lincoln’s, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

How true is that today?  We see it in our own political scene as division. It’s apparent in families and in churches also. It is occurring all across the country.  Family members fighting over insignificant issues; friendships and relationships falling apart because of false witness; and courts, leadership and law enforcement losing our respect. Churches even struggle over things that have nothing to do with the salvation of the flock, and often lead to hard feelings and anger.

The real basics of prayer is wrapped up in our relationship with God, our relationship to each other and how we should forgive. It also leads us to follow the laws of God, written in the Bible, even though Christ has come to fulfill all of them. If you are new to prayer, remember this. God already knows what’s in our hearts. He knows what we need and what is best for us. He is in control of the whole course of our lives.

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TALKING TO GOD

I had a cortisone shot yesterday. I’ve been nursing a bad knee and hip since I was released from the hospital in November 2022. I was only allowed a shot in the knee, because I have to make a separate appointment for other body parts. Well, I was amused by that, thinking you have to have a separate appointment for each body part? I’d be returning every other week! Anyway, I was happily surprised to have almost instant results. I was able to sleep almost through the night for the first time in a long time. I woke up at about 4 AM and my mind was swimming. Dreams often make way for creative expression, so I usually pay attention.

I was dreaming about my marriage and all the turmoil we’ve been through the last recent years. I reverted to my memory bank to discover we have had a very interesting marriage, but when we go through trials, we often change the way we become as human beings. Paul and I have known each other since we were 13 years old. That’s 63 years, if my old Math serves me. For each step of our relationship, we’ve managed to find humor in almost every situation. Now, the situations aren’t as funny anymore. I used to think it would be so romantic to grow old together. I didn’t realize these new struggles could lack anything humorous, but I realize that the minute I let that happen, my joy gets sucked out of me. I decided to talk to God about that very thing. So, I spent the next couple hours praying about it. The prayer reminded me that I can talk to God anytime. Jesus made that possible with the price he paid for our salvation. I can open my heart to Him, because He knows what I’m going through. He has the blueprint of my life right in front of Him. He created the plan and supplements or takes away as He sees fit. In other words, He’s in control.

Those thoughts kept me awake for a couple hours. Like I said, we’ve always seemed to find humor even in the difficult times. When you’ve endured a three-year pandemic along with a yearlong struggle with health issues for both of us, I realized that this is our new normal — so we have to make the best of it. Our struggles are no worse than anyone else’s so we should be grateful for them. I went back to sleep feeling somewhat relieved – maybe it was the shot, but I think it was that conversation I had with my Creator. He knows what we need to put the frolicking back into our lives. He really sets the record straight and helps us find our joy again. When you need an attitude adjustment, turn to the One who is a master at it.

“To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.”

Martin Luther

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PRAYER CLOSET

My maternal grandmother was a child in the late 1800s. She had a pioneer spirit. much like the matriarch, in the series {“1923”) Cara Dutton (played by Helen Mirren.) My grandma even had snow white hair which she braided into a bun. She was feisty, hardworking, patient, loving and a child of God. This amazing woman endured the loss of five of her children (at young ages) along with the bedridden life of her husband and finally his death. She was tough as nails when it came to getting her chores done. I remember one instance where she cut her toe on the lawn mower and instead of going inside to tend to it, she stuck her foot in a container of turpentine for relief. She milked cows, raised a vegetable garden, loved planting and tending flowers. She made the best homemade bread ever and would get up very early to do so. She was kind of like the Proverbs 31 woman we read about.

This special lady died at the age of 78. By that time, she had cut that long hair, sold much of the farmland and settled quietly into old age. She died peacefully even though her life was not one to write home about. Even in her darkest hours, she never failed to turn to God for help and answers to her prayers. Before they had indoor plumbing, she would sit in the outhouse and pray. Later on, she’d go to the woods to talk with God. Her prayer closet moved around a lot, but she always found the time and place to communicate with her heavenly Father.

How often do you pray? I had to ask myself that question and to be honest, I’ve never timed myself, the truth is God doesn’t have an appointed time to receive our prayer. He’s available 24/7 and we can talk freely to Him. Jesus made that possible for us. The line of communication has been opened and we have a direct link to Him. A prayer closet is a good idea, if you want to be alone in your prayer time, but you can achieve the same affect by closing your eyes, bowing your head and talking to Him. Keeping a prayer journal might be helpful as well. No matter where you pray, God hears you. He loves you so much, He makes time for your conversation. That makes it even easier for us to approach him.

“Any concern too small to be turned into a prayer is too small to be made into a burden.” –

Corrie Ten Boom

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ENCHANTING LIGHT

ORIGINAL ART & POETRY BY KATHY BOECHER ©

A light streams through resistant clouds.  It brings a glimpse of heaven.

As once in darkness bathed in shrouds, it’s filled with hope once given.

The light came forth in darkness, so many years ago.

And shone upon the Son of God, in humble manger low.

He could have come in glory, with angels at His side,

Humility He chose instead, when with us He’d abide.

Oh, sweet and loving Jesus.  You came to give us life.

You promised to be with us through all our earthly strife.

You walked alone to Calvary and hung upon a tree –

You suffered pain and shed your blood.  You did it all for me.

How can I thank you, Jesus, for bringing me Your light?

Use me and let me praise you, through all Your Holy Might!

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TO SLEEP PERCHANCE TO DREAM

ART & POETRY BY PAUL & KATHY BOECHER© 

When we search for distant places,

When we walk uncharted lands,

Our hearts are filled with wonder,

Our minds hold no demands.

A trail that leads to winter,

A path beside the sea,

A walkway through a forest,

Whatever it may be.

Our dreams can take us somewhere,

We’ve never been before,

In our imaginations,

We can open any door.

We wander through a fantasy,

A magic wonderland,

Though sometimes fears surround us,

It’s hard to understand.

Then we awake from slumber,

Our dreams come to an end,

But our imagination,

Can still be our best friend.

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PARENTING WITH THE THREE “R”S

I’m an old woman and still remember hearing the philosophy that the three “R”s were all we needed to learn in order to succeed as students. I think the person who came up with that concept needed some education on spelling. Reading is the only one that makes sense. Writing begins with a
“W” and the actual art of writing has changed dramatically over my lifetime. Cursive wriing is an archaic term today. It’s an obsolete language which seems to have been gobbled up by the Internet. Kids simply can’t interpret anything written in cursive. Of course, I can’t decipher my own handwriting anymore. Arithmetic is not really a subject, nor does it begin with “R.” Now it’s called New Math and us old fogies haven’t got a clue what it means. A lot of today’s students don’t get it either.

I would, therefore, like to offer my own 3 “Rs” to those of you who are beginning the parenting phase. There are probably more to consider, but today I’d like to propose these three:

RESPECT – RESPONSIBILITY – RESILIENCE

RESPECT: This bit of learning should begin at the very beginning. When a child is taught to respect those in authority, their parents, their teachers, their religious leaders, friends and employers, they will have a much easier go in this life. As they grow into their teens, a reverence and respect for law enforcement is also a necessary tool whereby they can navigate through tough situations. When I was a young girl, I pocketed something that caught my eye in a secondhand store. I didn’t pay for the object. I don’t even remember what it was. My father discovered that I had stolen it and marched me back to the store to return it At the time I was humiliated, (mostly because I was caught) but I ate a huge piece of humble pie that day and the thought of not becoming a thief was now emblazoned into my brain. When we teach our children to respect others, the Golden Rule should apply. Treat others as you wish to be treated.

RESPONSIBILITY: This attribute is a result of showing respect to others. When we stand up for our children, even when they’re wrong, we’re sending a wrong message. When we do wrong, we must be willing to take the consequences for our actions. So many young parents believe they are to establish a friendship with their children. I’m not saying you shouldn’t care about your kids or come to their rescue, but they do need to realize that there will be residual effects to bad behavior. The children of today have it so much harder than we did as children. They are under tremendous pressure to succeed. They often are overspent with after school activities that rob them family time and relationships with others. It’s OK if they don’t excel in something, but the awarding of participation certificates isn’t the way to do that. We need to help our children find what interests them and then help them realize their potential. They also need to know it’s OK not to win at everything. Failure often leads to future success.

RESILIENCE: We’re beginning to live in a world of hermits. Electronics have given us a plethora of instant knowledge, while offering a platform for all kinds of destructive platforms that are easily accessible to our children. The fact that we went through a very long pandemic and faced isolation has increased the use of those tools. Many are doing jobs from the comfort of their homes and actual face to face communication has broken down. The old adage, “Sticks and stones can break my ones,” is simply no longer true. It’s too bad we need to teach our children how to rebound from bullying, name calling, lies and slander going into cyber-space. We all feel vulnerable with social media today and with good reason. Giving our kids the tools to withstand these harmful jabs and often depressing words is vital. Limiting screen time is tough, but necessary. Teaching them that they are loved is more than important. Get them involved in activities where they will learn to solve problems, work with others to accomplish their goals and sharpen up their communication skills. The statistics on depression, anxiety and suicide in our time have surged dramatically. Everyone needs to know that they are loved by God. We all need to be loved.

As I said at the beginning, there are many “R”s out there that deserve attention. RELIGION is one that comes to mind. This is something we can nurture along the way. Get in the habit of worshipping with your children – at home, in church – in youth groups that provide application through God’s Word. With the pandemic, came on-line worship. There are tons of great devotions online as well. This is something you should be doing together with them.

“Train up a child in the way he should go. Even when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6 ESV

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THESE KIDS TODAY

I’m certain I would never have been hailed as Mother of the Year during my tenure of raising three youngsters.  I made a ton of mistakes – mistakes I wish I could undo, but instead I just hide them away in the recesses of my aging mind – and pray that God has forgiven them along with my other sins. Kids today are different than when I was raising a family.  Kids today are different than when my great grandparents were doing their parenting thing.  I could go on and on about how good my way was, but I think every generation is filled with the same problems, fears, anxieties and trials by error.

Each day as a parent is a new adventure.  You will face problems with discipline – scrapes and bruises, frequent trips to the ER, helping with homework that’s foreign to you, constant picking up after, nagging, feeling like a drill sergeant, making sure they eat properly, are clothed and have a roof over their heads.  Not an easy job description, but every year – more children come into the world and the process goes on.

My generation has seen the first television set, the first astronaut on the moon, advances in technology – science and medicine.  We’ve come from a place where washing hands was only necessary before eating a meal.  We entertained ourselves by playing outside all day – even on the cold days of winter.  Almost everything was recycled – disposable diapers, water bottles, plastic containers for fast food were non-existent.  We took the bus to sporting and after school events – in fact my family didn’t own a car until I was old enough to get a license.

The generation of today will experience much of the same – growth in technology, an abundance of new jobs being created because of it – fear of being bullied, having their school under siege, and changing views on morality. They will absorb more information than the mind can possibly handle.  They will be exposed to more of the ugliness of the world through the media and instant news.  They will need their parents guidance and reassurance as much as we did. Us old fogies will grumble and complain and the moms and dads of today will do so too when their kids have children.  It’s in the nature of man.  I had to learn how to be a mom.  Even with good role models, it’s a learn as you go process.

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PARENTING ISNT FOR WIMPS

As our children grow from infants to toddlers, you will see a lot of your own habits and idiosyncrasies come to life in them. This is a time to really be a good role model for them. They’re like little copycats and will often mimic what you say and do. They’re forming their own personalities based on what they see and hear from you. That’s a heavy load to carry right there. As a parent, you have more than a physical obligation to these little ones. How they turn out is dependent on their early years of experience and exploration. I’m not trying to lay guilt on you before you even go through this, but it is a fact you should be aware of.

Having raised three children and watching them turn into responsible adults is really an accomplishment, but not one I can take credit for. Each generation has its own set of problems to deal with. Whether it’s a turn in sexual behavior or drug abuse; a shift in the course of politics; a surge in unethical behavior; greed, violence, bullying – we as parents have a tough row to hoe.  When you partner with your Creator in the process, it makes the job less difficult. Here are ten suggestions to help you in this difficult, trying, sometimes frustrating and anxious walk, which I hope will give you some insight into this wonderfully exciting adventure:

  1. From little on, let them know about God’s love for them. Build a strong spiritual base. This is the foundation that will see them through anything.
  2.  Shape their moral values by setting a good example.
  3.  Encourage and support them, but don’t build them up to the point of no return.
  4.  Let them know that you have expectations of them – set down the rules as soon as they are old enough to understand and then follow through with them
  5. Trust is something that takes time to build. With our children, it should begin on day one. They are totally reliant on us. We need to return that trust to them as they grow older. By doing so, we are also trusting that what we have taught them has actually sunk in.
  6.  Let them know that when we are angry with something they have done, it doesn’t change the love we have for them.
  7.  Be vigilant about their physical well being. Watch for signs that things aren’t right and talk to your children about them. Always keep the lines of communication open.
  8.  You are not your child’s buddy, you are his parent. Too often we give more material things to our children than we need to. They need our love, understanding, guidance and security – not our stuff.
  9.  There are others out there that are experiencing the same things you are. It doesn’t make the job easier, but it helps to know that you aren’t alone.
  10.  Trust in God’s direction for your child. Pray for them. Teach them God’s teachings through the daily study and encouragement of His Word. With God at your side all things are possible – even parenting.

“Even a child makes himself known by his acts, by whether his conduct is pure and upright,” Proverbs 20:11 ESV

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PARENTING – GETTING DOWN IN THE TRENCHES

I don’t mean to mislead you by my title today. Raising a family doesn’t mean you’re going to be fighting a never-ending battle with your offspring. It does mean you will be spending your time much differently than you did before they arrived on the scene. Being a parent in itself deserves a Badge of Courage, but when you are with them 24/7 you have gone way above the call of duty. When you add an outside job to this one, you deserve more than a medal. Each day begins with a barrage of shrapnel in your path.  Toys are scattered everywhere.  Have you ever stepped on a Lego with your bare feet? Your house will never be posted on Pinterest – you thrive on caffeinated beverages – your work schedule never ends, even when you manage to get in 40 winks – I mean that literally!

We cry with them when they face jabs from the neighborhood bully.  We become go into Mama
Bear mode with anyone who does the jabbing. We feel like drill sergeants when we ask them to clean their rooms.  We cheer them on in all their endeavors.  We make sure they’re safe, healthy, smart, happy, encouraged, well adjusted, God loving and more.  We suffer through their bruises and illnesses.  We endeavor to help them make good choices but allow them to decide for themselves.

One day you’re praising them for their art work and the next day they’re spray painting the dog.  One day you’re proud of their interest in nature and next day they come home with a three foot snake. There are times you’re amazed at their speaking skills and then you’re shocked when words come out of their mouths that you didn’t think they knew.

Some days hold great success, others seem like a total bust, but you’re building the future through them.  Teaching them values- telling them about integrity, honesty, loving someone despite their faults, helping them become the kind of leaders that have been lacking in our country for a long time.

There will be days when you wonder why you ever became a parent – especially when you’re peeling oatmeal off the walls or trying to get permanent marker drawings out of the carpeting – but it is so worth the battles and skirmishes of childhood.   It is through them that the victory so sweet. Remember they are a gift from God and on loan to us to educate, inspire, encourage and love. The short time we have available to us is never enough and the parenting never ends until we go to heaven.

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SO, YOU WANT TO BE A PARENT?

It all seems so precious and perfect. A couple marries, they have a child, then another and maybe more. What could be better? Well, I am certainly not an expert on parenting, even though I did birth three babies that turned into amazing adults. I wonder how I’d feel about getting the news that I was pregnant at my age today? I mean, look at Sarah, the wife of Abraham and mother of Isaac from the Old Testament. Put yourself in Sarah’s sandals for a moment. You’ve wanted children since you were old enough to conceive. Years went by and it never happened. Your friends all had children and you were overlooked. Your husband had been promised by God that he would be the father of all nations and from his bloodline, the Messiah would come. He had to be thinking, “God, I can’t even tend the sheep anymore. How can I raise a family?”

This sort of thing doesn’t happen today. Although if I was approached by three angels who told me I was going to have a child at 90, I’m quite sure I’d believe them, or at least try to believe them. Then to go through nine months of a pregnancy at that age and the trauma of going through labor and delivery of that child. Well, this week I’m going to talk about parenting for those of you who are considering having a child. These posts are not intended to discourage you. If anything, I hope you decide to have a family. The stories I have to tell are countless and pretty funny to boot. The truth is, there is nothing like it.

Someone once said, it’s the easiest thing in the world to have an opinion on parenting and the most difficult thing to actually do.  Grandparents think they’re experts, because they’ve raised a few.  Friends without children know everything there is about raising a child, because they’ve read all about it on the internet.  Friends with children will tell you it’s a piece of cake, because misery often loves company. Actually, there is no right or wrong way to be a parent.  It’s kind of a “learn as you go process.”

I belong to the old way of thinking, regarding marriage and family and I know I’m not alone in my thinking.  I believe that marriage should be between one man and one woman, as clearly stated by Almighty God.  I also believe that the family unit has disintegrated over the years.  I’m not sure how this happened other than the possibility that folks just don’t work hard at marriage anymore. 

OK, I’m old fashioned.  That’s because I’m old and I have a right to be.

When another human being enters the equation, we soon discover their needs come before our own. There will be sleepless nights, bumps and bruises, calls from the principal’s office, fending off bullies, helping with homework and a whole plethora of duties.

The next few days will be devoted to the art of parenting from someone who has lived through it.

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MANY COLORS

ORIGINAL ART AND POETRY BY KATHY BOECHER©

A coat of many colors, a gift from dad to son.

Each shade revealed the pleasure in work that God had done,

The tapestry of color with hand stitched threads of gold,

and greens and reds and royal hues was something to behold,

But in that coat lay jealousy from brothers so much older,

They couldn’t quite get past it, their envy turned them colder,

Their plot to do away with him, just wasn’t meant to be,

For God had other plans for them, as He does for you and me,

In dark encounters that we face through this brief expedition,

He shapes us and refines us and gives us definition,

He weaves His Word within our hearts and colors every seam,

He shows compassion to the lost, He shows us how to dream.

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THE YEARS IN BETWEEN – CONCLUSION

THE TIME WAS RIPE FOR A SAVIOR

The Torah wasn’t being taught on a daily basis, as it should’ve been. Families were breaking apart. Religion had become geared to the hierarchy and the common folk felt they had nothing to fall back on. We see things like this today as our own country has become so self-absorbed and God has taken a back seat – again. 

This boy, Jesus, who studied diligently with the scholars – who had complete understanding of God’s Word – who was determined to be about His true Father’s business – knew He had a mission to fill. He would bring hope back to the people. He’d show them there was a purpose for their lives. He told them to love one another. He demanded they follow the truth of God in His commandments and laws. He did not come to us, to condemn the law, but to fulfill it.

The young man, Jesus, who worked hard along His stepfather, was obedient to His parents and showed them respect. He ate, slept, drank, walked, wept, laughed like any other teen, but never gave into temptation. He was determined to complete the work He was placed on earth to do. His parables would be well received, because His audience could relate. He would upset the tables of the merchants using the temple area for selling their wares. He called them a den of thieves. He pulled no punches, yet He exuded kindness and comfort.

So what do we know about Jesus? He was the perfect son. His siblings probably didn’t like that too much. He worked hard at a physical job. He traveled by foot to celebrate the Passover each year. He saw the corruption within the synagogue and challenged them. He was strong physically. He was vocally astute, as He later would speak to crowds of thousands and each ear would be open to His words.  He was kind and compassionate and loved everyone. He suffered sadness, depression as He prayed for the cup to pass from his lips. He went through grief, as friends would die and go through illnesses. He witnessed their poverty and hunger and provided abundantly when the time was right. He respected the government, because all government (good or bad) is instituted by God. He was a common man yet had a captivating personality which opened doors and minds for Him. He could heal people from their afflictions, drive out demons, restore life to the dead, because He was not just an ordinary man. In the end He bore the sins of the world as He was tortured and carried His cross to Calvary.

What kind of person would do that? Most folks today think only of themselves. We still have a few who put their lives on the line in their work or in the service of our country, but when it comes right down to it, we have become very self-serving.

When Jesus lived, the world was a mess. He saw all of it. He lived through it. He suffered along with His family and friends because of it. Much like today, everything had turned upside down. They strayed from their laws. The unity of community had died. They again were under oppression. They were ripe for a Savior. They longed for God to send the Messiah and He did. Today, we long for Christ’s return. The time is ripe once more. We know He will come back, because He said He would.

“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14

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THE YEARS IN BETWEEN – PROPHESY FULFILLED

Painting “Jesus and His Mother,” by Del Parson

I love the above painting, because it shows so much more than a boy and His mother. The painting depicts his devotion to His family. Jesus wasn’t like any other child. He was perfect. He revered His mother, respected and emulated His stepfather. and cared about those in His community as well as all mankind. In this weeklong series I’ve tried to look into the daily life of Jesus as He walked as a human being so many years ago. Much of the information is based on what daily life was for people of His time. Some is based purely on speculation. I’ve enjoyed digging into the Bible to find as much information as possible. We read very little in the New Testament about His early years. His immaculate conception, His birth, and His presentation at the temple. We’re told about He was left behind as a child, and later found in the synagogue reading from the scriptures. It is very telling that He referred to doing His Father’s work. His Devotion to studying the Scriptures was apparent. His knowledge and understanding of them was equal or greater than the scholars of the day. He was twelve at the time. Then there is nothing until He begins His ministry at the age of 30.

The Word of God has a lot to say about the Messiah. In the Old Testament. There are over 300 prophesies written about Him and what He would do – how He would live and die – those He’d associate with – His mission and more. Here are just a few:

Isaiah 53:1, 3* – “Who has believed our message? To whom will the Lord reveal His saving power? He was despised and rejected – a man of sorrows, acquainted with bitterest grief. We turned our backs on Him and looked the other way when He went by. He was despised, and we did not care.”

Isaiah 53:7-8 – “He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet He never said a word. He was led as a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, He did not open His mouth. From prison and trial they led Him away to His death.

Psalm 22:14-16* – “My life is poured out like water, and all My bones are out of joint. My heart is like wax, melting within Me. My strength has dried up like sunbaked clay. My tongue sticks to the roof of My mouth. You have laid Me in the dust and left Me for dead. My enemies surround Me like a pack of dogs; an evil gang closes in on Me. They have pierced My hands and feet.”

The man He became, says a lot about His upbringing and character. He was friendly and knew how to communicate to the common man. I imagine He had an amazing speaking voice – gentle and kind, yet loud enough to reach the ears of thousands. He honored His earthly parents as well as His heavenly Father. He had a servant attitude up to the point of laying down His life for the world and their sins. He knew about fishing, carpentry, walking on water, calming a storm and being useful in His community. He was able to heal people and raise them from the dead. He was generous, spoke the truth, knew what was in people’s hearts and minds and enjoyed being with them. He was also determined in His mission for mankind, which required a great amount of focus.  He was angry with the corruption of God’s Word and wasted no words in stating His displeasure.  He prayed fervently for His people.  He loved and continues to love everyone.

All we really need to know is this. Jesus was born a natural, yet supernatural birth – Son of God and Mary’s Son. His presentation at the temple before Simeon, made it clear that He was the awaited Messiah. He escaped death by Herod when the family fled to Egypt. Later, He shared His Word with the masses, fed them, prayed with and for them, healed them, led them to repentance, suffered the pain of torture, abuse and scorn and eventually hung on a cross to die for you and me. He then conquered the devil and rose to life again.

Jesus was a man, but He was also God. This is a most amazing concept and difficult to understand, but because of man’s fall into sin, our connection to the mind of God had been broken. Someday it will all make perfect sense to us. What we need to know about Jesus, is that He loved us so much that He died for us. He rose again, on the third day. We can be sure that He conquered death. Because of that, we’ll also rise.

WITH GOD, ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE.

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THE YEARS IN BETWEEN – FAMILY TREE

Recently, a family member on my husband’s side, took on the task of researching the beginnings of their family. There is currently a TV series, “1923, * which follows the lineage of the Dutton Family, from another TV series called, “1883,” from another TV series called, “Yellowstone.” We sometimes get hung up on wanting to know about our lineage. However, we might become surprised at what turns up. The family tree most definitely is filled with a few nuts, some squirrels, roots that stretch to many parts of the earth, occasionally some lovely birds, but always a lot of interesting information. Jesus’ ancestry is printed out for us in the Bible. Our God wants us to see that Jesus, His only begotten Son, came from a long line of people – some who weren’t ones you’d like to brag about. This lineage shows that Jesus was human, just like you and me, but He was also conceived by the Holy Spirit of God, therefore He was both God and man. Going back to Adam and Eve and God’s covenant to send a Redeemer, we can see how all the pieces of this interesting history fit together to reveal the truth that Jesus was born to save the world.

There were murderers, adulterers, swindlers, liars, the evil and brutal men and women who would be considered the dregs of society. Jesus was not a sinner, because He held the blood of God in his veins. He was a real human being too, with the same problems that faced many of his friends and family members. You can do the research yourself, by reading Luke 3:23-38. We start with Adam and Eve. There were those who had no involvement in the Jewish faith. Ruth married into it when she became Mrs. Boaz. Tamar, Rahab and Bathsheba were all women of questionable character. Ruth and Rahab were Gentiles who became part of the family tree. There are many heroes of the Bible, like Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, along with Joseph, the dreamer, who spent time in prison for being falsely accused of rape. King David was the apple of God’s eye, yet his sins included adultery, lies, coverups, espionage and murder. Even with all those sins, He regained favor in God’s eyes through repentance. David was the warrior king. It was a king like that which the Jews longed for in Jesus’ lifetime, to defeat their enemies.

This long line of begats and begottens is clear evidence that Jesus was the legal heir to the covenant promise associated with David’s throne. Both Mary and Joseph could trace their heritage back to King David and even though Joseph was not the father of Jesus, his genealogy seals the promise doubly. When they went to register for the census, they went to Bethlehem, the birthplace of David. The truth of these genealogies is part of the Jewish culture. They were meticulous at keeping birth and death records over the course of time.

The unique mixture of people can pop up in our own ancestry. There are often a few skeletons in the closet, and it was no different in Jesus’ bloodline. This defines His humanity. His relatives were often ordinary, unexceptional people, who would bring forth the most exceptional human being to walk the earth. Yet His blood was fused with God the Father. What a mystery, yet what lovely truth. God uses everyone for a purpose in His already mapped out plan for humanity.

Our DNA holds clues to who we are and where we came from. Those elements played a part in Jesus’ makeup as well. He saw poverty and wept for those who had no food. He even provided meals at times. He struggled as he watched families around him scrounging to make ends meet, yet all He could do was comfort them. He grew angry when He saw how the church had been corrupted and He wept when His friend died. The Old Testament is filled with prophesy regarding the Messiah and Jesus fulfilled them. He was a man of sorrows, having no place to rest His head. He was abused, rebuked, bullied, smitten and afflicted. His hands and feet would be pierced. He would be betrayed and rejected by His closest followers. He saved the world from the grip of sin and death. He was born to one purpose – a man, yes, but also God in every way.

OH COME, OH COME IMMANUEL – GOD WITH US!

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THE YEARS IN BETWEEN – RELIGIOUS LIFE

Both Mary and Joseph were from the lineage of King David.  They followed the laws of the Old Testament and devoutly studied the scriptures each day.  They would have insisted on that within their family.  The command to raise a child in the way he should go was a way of life for them.  The Word was necessary for the spiritual growth of each member of the family as it should be today.  The head of the house would lead the family in this process.

The Romans had a huge assortment of gods – all of which tended to the needs of humanity.  Many felt if they led a good life these things would be given to them if they worshipped those gods. Because the Jews moved around so much and were often held in captivity, they were influenced by various other religions. They also had various sects within their own religion:

The Pharisees were the upper class, wealthy part of Jewish society.  They were considered Separatists.  The name Pharisee comes from the Hebrew word, persahin which means, separate.  This particular sect was educated in the law of Moses and deemed it necessary to follow it to perfection, yet they sometimes manipulated it to suit their own personal needs.  During Jesus’ ministry, the Pharisees felt threatened, because His words held great authority and the Pharisees were losing control.  The plot to get rid of Jesus began shortly after He gained popularity with the people.

The Essenes resided near the Dead Sea.  They were not materialistic so weren’t wealthy.  Their position on the Law was to keep it perfectly.  They were considered isolationists.  The historian, Josephus, described Essenes as strict observers of the Sabbath. They also followed every dietary law and would do so even under threat of death. They are not mentioned in scripture by name.  They believed in the immortality of the soul, following the law to the letter and remained celebate.

Scribes were not really a sect, but an occupation.  Since these men were skilled in reading and writing, they were able to teach others from the Scriptures.  They could also write down the events of the time and keep a history of the church.  They were prosperous, because of their knowledge. They would be first and foremost a Rabbi, but they also served as arbitrators within the community.

The Priests were responsible for bringing sacrifices before the Lord and being the intermediary between man and God.  This was also an occupation rather than a sect.  When Aaron appointed priests in the Old Testament, there were strict laws regarding the physical and spiritual wellness of priests.  Leviticus 21:16-23 clearly states that the priest was to be perfect in every way.

The Sadducees were the intellectuals, philosophers, the deep thinkers. They probably came into being during the Greek occupation of Israel.  Bits and pieces of Grecian culture began to infiltrate their thinking.  They were obedient to the Torah, but like the Pharisees, they manipulated the law to their advantage.  They were part of the elite element of society.  John, the Baptist, referred to both the Sadducees and Pharisees as a brood of vipers.  Jesus also addressed them as hypocrites and a wicked and adulterous generation.

Zealots were considered nationalist militants.  They were against Roman rule, because they believed that God was their only king.  They acted as armed insurgents in defense of the temple.  They were referred to as rebels, bandits, activists and troublemakers, but they eventually overthrew Roman rule and provided sovereignty for Israel. One of Jesus’ disciples, Simon, was a zealot before following Jesus.

There were other groups within the community.  They didn’t always think or worship the same, but they were united by the Word of God, the prophets and the Law of Moses.  They were waiting for a messiah that would rid them of their earthly problems.  They wanted a king like David to rule over them and defeat their enemies.

Christians believe that the Messiah came to earth to dwell among us – to pitch His tent with us – to walk in the sandals of the average person.  He wasn’t what the Jews wanted, but many followed Him, because of His message of peace.  Jesus would teach, lead, work alongside, look inside of people’s hearts and offer them forgiveness of all their sins.  He died to make that happen and rose again to show His authority as King of Kings.  We now wait for His return.

COME QUICKLY, LORD, JESUS

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THE YEARS IN BETWEEN – HEALTH ISSUES

The average life span for the people living in Jesus’ time was between 30 and 35 years. Some made it into their 50s and if they were fortunate, they might even live as long as 80. We know that people suffered from many skin issues. I imagine it being caused by exposure to the sun and other outdoor elements. Some of it may have been caused by bugs, irritating the eyes as they worked outside. To combat this issue, they would pour oil on their heads to keep the bugs away. (anointing with oil.) There are accounts of those with Leprosy, sores and boils. Different names to a lot of the ailments we know today. This disease would cause the loss of limbs and slow death of the body. It was also highly contagious. Separate communities were set up for people with this disease and they were isolated from the rest of society.

There is reference to female problems such as an issue of blood one woman was healed from as a result of her faith in Jesus. Husbands would stay away from their wives during the time of her period. Depending on the culture, many women were brutalized sexually. Sexual organs were mutilated as an act of dominance.  It’s hard to believe, but this still goes on in certain areas of the world.

We hear about Peter’s mother-in-law being healed of a fever that had been plaguing her for some time. She immediately got out of bed and served Jesus. Fevers were common in this time and were considered an actual disease, rather than just a symptom. In fact the Talmud refers to fever as ”fire.”

We know there were physicians. Dr. Luke ministered to Paul when he was in prison – caring for his wounds as well as taking dictation for the book of the Acts of the Apostles. This was all done as Paul awaited his execution by beheading. Several people were healed from deafness, blindness, vocal impairment, lame bodies and demon possession.  All of them by miraculous acts of Jesus and later his disciples.

Today there are cures for most of these things, but people still suffer being blind or losing their hearing. Some never learn to talk. Others have limbs which can be repaired, but there are still scars. Even though the devil has been defeated, he’s still allowed power in a sinful world. I believe he is in the center of mental and emotional illness which might be considered a form of demon possession. We have made many gains in health care today, but we still don’t have a cure for Cancer.

As we know, the Jews had strict laws regarding sanitation and cleanliness. They weren’t immune to sickness, however. They lived in a community of mixed cultures, so there was no shortage of germs. People were coming and going through Galilee on an ongoing basis, so they would bring disease with them. Since pain, suffering and death are all a result of man’s fall into sin, there is no escaping it.

Jesus may have seen many of his friends and relatives die at an early age from some disease. He would’ve seen suffering that we don’t see today, because of the advances in medical knowledge. He had the power to heal everyone, but the time was not yet right. Boys were confirmed in their faith at twelve and weren’t considered to come to the of age of manhood until they were thirty – precisely the age of Jesus when he started His walk to our salvation.

We may wonder if Jesus did anything miraculous when He was a child, but the Bible is very clear on that. When He performed His first miracle at the wedding of Cana, He told His mother that His time had not yet come – but then he changed water into the best wine ever created.

I believe that Jesus, the child, knew He was divine, because He’s God. I also believe He chose not to show that side of Himself until He reached the age of manhood. His childhood gave Him the experience of life as a human being. He experienced acne, growing pains, puberty, temptation and at the same time, He grew in knowledge and wisdom, never falling into sin.

This was all in preparation for the work He came to earth to do.

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THE YEARS IN BETWEEN – DAILY LIFE

DAILY LIFE DURING THE TIME OF JESUS

The sun slowly rises in the east, as women awake from their slumber to prepare for another day.  They meet at the well early in the morning to gather the daily supply of water – water which will cleanse them and their household and with the help of some lentils and vegetables, provide a nice meal for supper. The men tend their livestock.  They fork hay into the feeding trough and begin the process of gathering fresh milk from the cows and goats.  The children stay nestled tightly in their beds for a while, but soon they also will be called upon to help with the daily chores.  They eat a small breakfast and pack a lunch to take with them as they go about their many jobs.  Those who tended the flocks of sheep, stayed with the flocks all the time – only returning home for supplies from time to time – and maybe a much-needed bath.

A spinning wheel and loom sits in the open space of the house.  Wool from the sheep will be spun into cloth which will keep them all warm during the colder weather.  Fresh bread is already baking in the oven. The smells of morning are everywhere.  Even in a town of such insignificance, life goes on.

The town of Nazareth was in the province of Galilee and held no more than 2000 people.  The only merit to it was the fact that it was located between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, so it was situated to provide overland passage to Egypt – a fair stop-over for those who were taking their wares to market. There were a few craftsmen – carpenters, cloth dyers, tailors and each had a way of exhibiting their occupation.  Carpenters would wear wood chips behind their ears.  Dyers of cloth would wear colorful clothes.  Tailors would pin needles to their clothing.  None of these was worn on the Sabbath, because they didn’t work on that day.

Here in this little “nothing good ever came from it,” town, Mary and Joseph settled with her firstborn Son, Jesus.  There would be other children, fathered by Joseph, but there was something different about Jesus – the perfect child.  His dad was God, Almighty. Can you imagine what His siblings thought of Him?  The boy could do nothing wrong – it wasn’t in His nature, yet He was fully human.  How could that be?  It isn’t surprising that they didn’t believe in His divinity when He was living under their roof.  Did Jesus know He was divine at that time?  He lived as they did, yet never once sinned.

Jesus was a loving son.  He worked hard.  His hands were calloused and sore from shaving wood and crafting small cooking utensils or pieces of furniture.  He played the games children played at the time – a form of hopscotch – twirling tops – board games that resembled checkers.  His real devotion, however, was in studying the Scriptures.

I wonder how children related to each other in those days.  Were there bullies who would taunt others and make them look foolish?  Was Jesus the object of such ridicule?  In our world today, there’s no question that children can be hateful and mean.  Was it the same then?  We are told that Jesus grew in favor of God and man, so He certainly had a degree of popularity, but that would eventually change.

His life in Nazareth was ordinary.  He ate, played, worked, slept, studied and did all the same things every other child did. There was no money for furthering an education, so they made do with what they had.  There were stories handed down from one generation to another – tales from far off lands regarding what was happening in the world – the Holy Scriptures of God, which told them what was expected of them in this life.  There was no world-wide web nor instant news. In all of it, Jesus offered exemplary behavior and respect for those in authority.

The perfect child was the “good” that came from Nazareth – the Son of God and Mary’s boy – lived an uneventful life until He began His ministry – which would change the world forever.

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THE YEARS IN BETWEEN – INTRODUCTION

As an actor, playwright and author, it’s important for me to know many details about a character.  I like to know where they lived – what was happening in his world – what was the political climate – what does the script say about the character – what do others think of that person – does he have any unusual habits or idiosyncrasies?  What was the costume of the era? There are so many facets of a human being that affect who they are and how they come across to others.

In Jesus’ case, we have a whole segment of his life which remains unknown.  From the time He remained at the temple to teach the scholars about the scriptures until the day of His baptism by John the Baptist, we have lost 18 years of his growing into a man.  We can make some judgments based on the history at that time.  We can speculate.  We can make our own story.  We can go to the scriptures, as He did, and realize that during those years of growing in wisdom and stature He became well-liked by those He met, but it would not always be that way.

We don’t always fill in the blanks of a life.  Sometimes there are memories of special events or funny situations – unusual happenings and areas of concern, but for the most part, our growing up years can be quite uneventful.  It is my belief that Jesus was and still is the true Son of God – but also true man without sin.  He had miraculous powers, but He didn’t abuse them.  He had great compassion for those He came into contact with and put no one on a different level than another.  He showed anger, pain, frustration, patience, calm, peace and every emotion known to man, yet He never fell into sin.  He was the perfect example of how we should live as servants, encouragers, inspirers, teachers, leaders in the workplace, at home and within our own country.

This study is merely a character analysis, in light of the events happening during Jesus’ time as a man.  There may be some speculation included from time to time, but I in no way wish to alter the truth of God’s Holy Word.  Come with me as we take a walk back in time and try to discover more about the Savior of mankind and His time.

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