August 10. 2014    JANE’S HEART TO HEART   ….PASTOR’S HELPMATE

“Good Morning Glory!”  Those words are etched in my memory and re-occur in  my mind  whenever I see a lovely Morning Glory, as I on Face Book just few weeks ago.  “Good Morning Glory” was a daily greeting of my  mother’s cheery voice as she came to our bedroom and sang out to waken us. What a happy memory.

My father always said to us “Remember Whose You Are” as we parted.  I wonder what positive lasting memories my descendants will have of me.

While I was a patient at Oaklawn Hospital in Marshall, our youngest son Nathan and his family came to visit and I could see the very seriously subdued looks on the faces of even the smallest child.

Seeing grandma with an NG (nasogastric) tube in her nose didn’t present a very  pleasant picture, drab hospital gown, disheveled hair and ashen countenance. I waved and said just a few words to assure them that I was, OK, but the tube caused me so much discomfort, I was not able to talk or swallow, so I lay quietly and everyone else carried the conversation. Ken and our son Nathan stood talking in hushed tones at the foot of my bed. Jennifer and the children seated in the area provided for guests and little Hudson (2 1/2) fearfully pressed against his mother’s knees, looking back and forth at me and the men. I smiled to reassure him. Cautiously he stepped away from his mother and moved to stand between the men obviously mimicking  their stance  and looking up from them and to me he tried to duplicate their conduct. When they all lined up to give me a hug as they left, he fearfully came over to the side of my bed and reached up to join the family in a farewell hug. Mommy picked him up and he laid his sweet little red head on my chest.

Yes, children watch us and react as we do. What a great responsibility we have as God’s children  to allow our children to see by our conduct, through the joys and trials of life, what is really important to us. To point them to the proper responses to things that come our way. Not to shield them from the trials of life but to include them and show them by example how we can truly trust God.

That evening Lissy stopped to visit on her way from LCC to her home in Kalamazoo and after our visit she and her grandpa  prayed for my situation and then her safety on the road.  As he closed his prayer, without the slightest hesitation, Lissy began praying and poured out her heart to her Saviour for my healing. 

Deuteronomy 6: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.  6. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:  7. And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.  8. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.  9. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.

August 3, 2014   Jane’s HEART TO HEART …. Pastor’s Helpmate

Psalm 23: 6b  “…and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

The shepherd leads his sheep back to stay close to him. To arrive home safely in the valley they follow their shepherd and obey him all along the way. 

Jesus wants to lead you on the journey of your life.  One day He will take you to the special home He’s made ready just for you in heaven.  

John 14: 1-3 in the J.B. Phillips New Testament (PHILLIPS)

“You must not let yourselves be distressed—you must hold on to your faith in God and to your faith in me. There are many rooms in my Father’s House. If there were not, should I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? It is true that I am going away to prepare a place for you, but it is just as true that I am coming again to welcome you into my own home, so that you may be where I am.

Are you ready to “dwell in the house of the Lord forever?”

If you aren’t ready, you can bow your head and pray this prayer.

“Thank you Lord for sending your Son to die on the cross for me.  Forgive all I’ve done wrong. Come into my heart. Thank you for loving and forgiving me.  Thank you for promising me a home in heaven.  Help me to turn my back on sin and live for you now that I have received you as my Lord and Saviour. In Jesus name I pray. Amen

Remember: Now that you know Christ…. I John 1:9 says “If you confess you sin, HE is faithful and just to forgive you your sin and to cleanse you from all unrighteousness.

 “…and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

Psalm 23: 6a  “..Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.”

Jane’s HEART TO HEART….. The Pastor’s Helpmate

This is a strong statement of trust.  As we have studied Psalm 23 the stress has been placed on following and trusting the Shepherd.  All of this is capsulized in  this verse.  How many of you today feel the way that David the Psalmist  expressed here? (repeat verse). 

To quote Keller again (p.128) “of course it is very easy to speak this way when things are going well….. when the body breaks down… when I stand by helpless, as I have had to do and watch a life partner die by degrees under appalling pain?… When my job folds and there is no money… When my children can’t make the grade in school… Or run with the wrong crowd… When, without grounds friends turn against me? ‘ ….Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.’ These times can test a person’s confidence in the care of Christ.  Is this sheer humbug and maddening mockery?”

There may be times when you may want to give up, but God will not give up on you.  Despite your doubts and fears you will see the goodness and mercy and you can know that you are truly in Christ’s care.  Nothing can come upon you without eventual good coming out of the chaos.This can be the Great foundation of our faith.

I John 3:16 says… “I am the good Shepherd: the good Shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us.”

Having attended many funerals lately and witnessing what people leave as an heritage… I have to ask myself, what are my relatives going to find as they scramble for memories about my life.   “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of them that bring good tidings, that publishes peace…” Is. 52:7.

Look at your life and ask yourself…. What am I leaving behind for others to be pointed to a Christ of ‘goodness and mercy’?

Ask yourself…

Do I leave behind turmoil  or peace?

Do I leave bitterness or forgiveness?

Do I leave  conflict or contentment?

Do I leave frustration or JOY?

Do I leave bitterness and resentment or love ?

Do I leave loved ones who don’t know Christ or those whom I have won to Christ?

..Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.”

Psalm 23:5c  “…..My cup runs over.”

July 6, 2014        JANE’s HEART TO HEART

                          …The Pastor’s Helpmate

As we spoke last week about the anointing of the Holy Spirit in our lives this flows right into this passage.  The Lord is pleased when we seek the Holy Spirit to guide us and consequently the result of the Holy Spirit working in and through us we over flow with love and concern for one another. The Holy Spirit in our lives brings peace JOY, long suffering and generosity. We then have great contentment in His care and that love overflows and that is when we become the most contented people on earth.  

Inside the sheep fold the shepherd stores water in a large stone container to keep it cool and then when the sheep are hot  he dips a cup in the water jar and the sheep sinks its nose into the cup all the way up to its eyes to cool a fever and the shepherd allows the sheep to drink all it needs. Also, remember that at night the Shepherd lies down across the entrance of the sheepfold.

After the flock lies down to sleep their shepherd lies down in the open gateway of the sheep pen.  No sheep can go out except across his body. No wolf can come in to the sheep pen except across his body.  He literally becomes the door of protection.

Can this be said about us.. Especially when troubles or disappointments come along, we are apt to feel forgotten by our Shepherd. We may feel as though He has  looked away from our needs. Some say, “That’s not fair” and become angry when those around us do not treat us as we feel we should be treated.  Not so if we allow the Holy Spirit to control our actions and our reactions “…we will hardly even notice when other do it wrong.” I Cor. 13:4 LB.

Missionary  to India, Amy Carmichael said: “ if a sudden jar can cause me to speak an impatient, unloving word, then I know nothing of Calvary love. For a cup brimful of sweet water cannot spill even one drop of bitter water however suddenly jolted.

Take time to be with Jesus and allow the Holy Spirit to fill you to overflowing with sweet water even in the hard times.

Psalm 23:5c  “….My cup runs over.”

FIRST AND SECOND GRADE MEMORIES –Autobiography Chapter Three

My mother’s parents, (Grandpa) Frank Porter Burch, and (Grandma) Bertha Marie Burch lived on the corner of West Railroad Street and Telegraph St. In Dowagiac, MI. We lived next door on Telegraph Street in what used to be  Grandpa’s old grocery store.

My father was a builder and he had a lot to do with making it into a comfortable little place for us to live on Telegraph St. near West Railroad Street. I attended the Oak Street Elementary school while in the first and second grade.

I  recall many times  we would go someplace or just be out for a drive and Daddy would  point out places he had helped build.  One place that I especially remember was a home that was on the road from Dowagiac to Niles.  The house was round and had two stories and he told us that the rooms were pie shaped.  I alway wanted to see the inside and was so proud, each time we passed  it over the years, to think that my Daddy had helped build this unique home. 

Our next home was a few blocks across the railroad tracks to Sherwood St. My mother did interior decorating for a contractor  and it was one of the homes he built. I only remember four events during the time we lived on Sherwood Street.  

Once was when I was very sick with bronchial asthma and I also had problems with constipation so I had a tall glass of prune juice, which I really liked, sitting on my dresser next to the bed.  When the doctor made a house call to check me out and wanted to take my temperature he dipped the thermometer into my prune juice and said, “ Here, Jane, your coke will make this taste better”.   

He was pretty alarmed when I told him that it was prune juice and then he said, with great surprise, “Prune juice! That much!” and looked at my mother waiting for an explanation. My mother explained that I loved prune juice and that it also had medicinal purposes for my chronic bowel problem.

The second thing was the time that some of the children in school had head lice of which I was unaware and needless to say, some of those little varmints lodged in my very curly long hair.  Before we realized what was wrong I thought I would absolutely go crazy with my head itching. I asked Mother to wash my hair which she did, but I still complained  even more and she  was quite disturbed when she realized that I had head lice.  She contacted the school in the morning and they said that I must have gotten them at school because there were several cases of them. Mother was upset about that because of my tangly long curls. We had quite a time getting rid of the lice and eggs. In those days we did not have the preparations that are available to us  these days.  

Mother used a black tarry like ‘gunk’ and it seemed like she washed my hair more times than I could count and each time using a really fine toothed comb to try to remove the eggs from my curly tresses. 

Years later when I was teaching school and some of the students who had hamsters came in with head lice so bad that I saw them in the hair of one of the girls while listening to her oral reading.  At first I though she had mosquitoes in her hair and then I saw a lot of them.  That night I went home and gave myself a permanent, not that I needed curl, just thought that would kill them for sure.   For the next few weeks every time that I felt the least little tickle in my hair I was fearful that I might have head lice.  Thankfully that never transpired.

The third thing I remember was when I was doing my home work while learning to address an envelope. When it came time to put the stamp on I remember learning from my mother that the three on the stamp meant that it  cost three cents.  That was when I learned that it actually cost something to send a letter.

Finally, I remember when my mother was at work and daddy was home with us and we had just retired for the evening and my daddy came into our rooms and asked me, my sister, Sue and  my brother, Larry to get up and come to the bathroom.   Went we got there he asked each of us if we had flushed something down the toilet earlier that day. We each look innocently at one another of and then each of us pleaded complete innocence.   My daddy always spoke very softly and he told us that if someone did not tell the truth he would spank all of us.  Of course when each of us denied it continually he finally paddled us and sent us to bed. It wasn’t a very hard spanking that I recall.  Perhaps he felt he would get a confession and since none of us took the responsibility for the deed he had some doubts himself and felt he must do as he said he would.

Then what seemed to me the middle of the night he awakened us and  with tears on his face he apologized to each of us. When mother got home and he told her what had happened she informed him that she was the one who had plugged the stool earlier that day and then thought it was okay when she left for work.

Truthfully, the thing that I remember most about that incident was the fact that my father felt so badly about it and apologized to us. This caused me to have a great  respect for him and no hard feelings at all about the spanking. I loved my “Daddy”.

My parents both had jobs and were hard workers and provided well for us. I do not recall attending church anytime during those early years but I learned the importance of an apology when necessary and forgiveness when wronged.

Proverbs 25:11-13 (KJV)    “11 A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.  12 As an earring of gold, and an ornament of fine gold, so is a wise reprover upon an obedient ear.”

Psalm 23:5b ” You anoint my head with oil.”

June 29, 2014    JANE’s HEART TO HEART    …. The Pastor’s Helpmate

Psalm 23:5b  “..You anoint my head with oil.”

When I was  about eight years old I loved to read the dictionary.  I would look through and find words, read the definition and then I would try to think of ways to use them in a sentence and ask my family a question using that word.  One I especially remember is when I would sit with my head on my hand and elbow on my knee and ask, “What am I doing?   They would try to guess and then I would say, “I am meditating”. Often when we had visitors my parents would have me try to stump our company.  

As we meditate on this magnificent poem of Ps. 23 it is helpful to keep in mind that the poet, David, is recounting the events of the full year in a sheep’s life. He takes us with him from the home ranch where every need is so carefully supplied by the owner, out into the green pastures, along the still waters, up through the mountains valleys to the high tablelands of summer.

Here now when it would seem that the sheep are in a perfect setting on the high meadows; where there are clear running springs and fresh tender forage we suddenly find “a fly in the anointment” so to speak. (Keller)  There  are many different insects that reek havoc among livestock. The shepherd anoints his sheep to protect them from the nasal flies which land on the sheep’s nose and lay their eggs. The eggs hatch into tiny worms that burrow up the sheep’s nose into its head. These wriggling worms cause the sheep to panic, toss its head and run wild trying to rid itself  of the pain even beating its head against a rock or tree often hurting itself. Right away the shepherd will rub a mixture of oil and herbs over every sheep’s head and nose. This keeps the flies away and calms the sheep.

Meditate on this:

What is it that upsets you?  What frustrates you and causes you to panic? Who irritates or “bugs” you? When things go wrong and upset you, ask Jesus to anoint you with His love and peace., Just as oil calms the sheep, Jesus wants to calm our upset minds and hearts with the Holy Spirit. Ask the Holy Spirit to take control of your life. 

Romans 15:13 says: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Jesus also said, “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you…”

Psalm 23:5b  “..You anoint my head with oil.”

PS. 23:5a “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.

PS. 23:5a  “You prepare a  table before me in the presence of my enemies.   (Keller and Haidle)

High flat places of mountain sheep ranges are called “tables.” These are the very best pastures or tablelands. The shepherd “prepares” the table for his flock by scouting out its enemies: wild animals and poisonous plants. Sheep cannot tell the difference between poisonous and non-poisonous plants. One nibble of the white camas flower would kill a lamb, so the shepherd finds and destroys all poisonous plants so his flock can feed safely. He works hard to protect them.

Jesus said,in John 6:32-35 “ I am the bread of life. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is MY flesh, which I shall give for the Life of the world.” When you believe in Him, He fills a hunger in your heart that only He can satisfy.  And you can be sure He has already prepared a feast for you in heaven. Also if you feast on HIS WORD in obedience you will be filled and blessed beyond measure. And “…your will live forever” vs. 51.

The parallel in the Christian life is clear. Like sheep, and especially lambs, we somehow feel that we have to try everything that comes our way. We feel we have to sample everything just to see what it is like even though we may know that some things are deadly. They can do us no good, and are even most destructive. Still somehow we give them a whirl anyway.

The shepherd also tries to watch out for predators like wolves, coyotes, cougars and bears. What actually happens is that these crafty ones are up on the rimrock watching every movement the sheep make, hoping for a chance to make a swift, sneaking attack that will stampede the sheep and one or another will fall easy prey to the attacker’s fierce teeth and claws. 

God’s love to us in Christ is bound up too with the deep desire of His heart to have us live on a higher plane. He longs to see us living above the mundane level of common humanity. He is so pleased when we walk in the ways of holiness, of selflessness and  of serene contentment in His care, aware of His presence and enjoying the intimacy of His companionship. 

To live thus is to live richly

To walk here is to walk with quiet assurance

To feed here is to be replete with good things. 

To find this tableland is to have found something of my shepherd’s love for me.

“You prepare a  table before me in the presence of my enemies.”

Ps. 23:4b – Thy Rod and Thy Staff They Comfort Me

June 15, 2014     Jane’s HEART TO HEART   …. PASTOR’S HELPMATE

PS. 23:4b “…THY  ROD AND STAFF THEY COMFORT ME.

REALLY!     COMFORT ME?

On a blog on the internet called Jodi’s Journal….Oct 2009 she also sites W. Phillip Keller in his book A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23.  How can a rod and staff bring comfort?  A rod and a staff are the universal instruments used by shepherds. The rod represents  God’s Word. It is absolute Truth and has full authority. God’s Word “keeps our lives free from confusion and chaos.” His Word brings peace and “quiet serenity.”

 The rod has four basic functions. First, “as a symbol of the shepherd’s strength, power, and authority.” Second, an instrument of discipline to correct wayward sheep. “With it, the owner is able to carry out effective control of his flock in every situation.” Third, to examine and count the sheep. The Old Testament term was “passing under the rod.”  Finally, it serves as an “instrument of protection for the shepherd and his sheep when  in danger.“

The staff represents the Holy Spirit who provides comfort to believers – He is the still, small voice that stirs our soul to desire intimacy with God.  Jesus promised that God would send the Holy Spirit. …“the Spirit of Truth will guide you into all truth.” (John 16:13).

This reminds me of the small child screaming for his own way and when the wise parent steps in and corrects the child, then the child experiences a calm and even happiness in his boundary. The other day I heard a  wise parent say to a disobedient child: “Just remember if you are disobedient to me, then the Lord’s  correction may be  harder than mine.”

Often we live our lives on the “Zip line” of careless disobedience and when the  line breaks we cry out to God expecting answered prayer.   

“The Holy spirit says, ‘This is the way – walk in it.’ And as we comply with His gentle promptings, a sense of safety, envelops us. If we take the time to ask God for guidance, it “conveys the mind of Christ”  and there is a calm repose in the knowledge that He is there to direct  in the most minute details of our daily living.”

Ps. 37:3-4 says: “Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.

“…THY  ROD AND STAFF THEY COMFORT ME.

MEMORIES OF MY PARENTS — Autobiography Chapter Two

I,(Jane Ann Shipley) was born in Cassopolis, MI

http://www.swmidirectory.org History_of_Cass_County.html

 DADDY ‘S HOME Town

My father, Beryl (Bud) Allen Shipley of Buchanan, MI,  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buchanan,_Michigan   son of Grace Moyer Shipley who raised my father and his sister Wilma alone, after a divorce  when my father was about nine. His father’s name was Ownan Shipley, and lived the rest of his adult life in Glendora, MI.

She raised them in the fear and admonition of the Lord as she served faithfully as a Sunday School teacher in the Church of Christ in Buchanan, Michigan. She also worked for the Clark Equipment company until her retirement.

My father had trusted Christ as his Saviour, I believe, in his teen years (As in the article below).

Daddy was a carpenter and had a hand in many projects over the years in the Indiana – Michigan area.  

MOTHER’S HOME TOWN

While I was quite small we moved to the little town of Dowagiac, MI which was nick-named “Dog – Patch”.  I have looked it up to see why and I have only found a few nick name forums that affirm that fact.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dowagiac,_Michigan

We lived in the former grocery store of my maternal grandfather, Frank Porter Burch who was married to Bertha Marie (Green) Burch. 

I recall my mother telling that her father had the name  “Lottie” put on her birth certificate when she was born to her mother’s grief (a former girls friend’s name).  They had agreed to name her Charlotte Celeste Burch.

A little closed grocery store building was on the same property as my grandparents home. 

My earliest memory when the store was still in operation, was to go see my grandparents and there were large barrels in the middle isle of the store and they would let me stand on my tip toes along with my brother and sister and reach into the barrel and have a few soda crackers or sometimes a big pickle.

 I can remember the very tall yellow and brown Sunflowers and beautiful blue Morning Glories that my grandfather grew just outside the back door of the store.  I do not remember a lot about those days. I must have been very young.

*************************************************

Some Things My Mother Taught Me

(Written approximately 1960’s by Grace Shipley) My paternal grandmother.

Thinking back as a great- grandmother there are  so many  things my mother taught me it would be hard to name them all. Altho she was not a Christian at the time, she was interested in having her children attend Bible School.  At the age of six, I attended my first year.  I had a perfect attendance record and was awarded a pin by my teacher with  the Scripture words, “fear not I will help thee”, which I have carried in my memory through the years.

When we moved to the country my mother provided a way for us to attend the country church in which we also had an active part in the services.  I knew there were times when we disobeyed her, but she was always kind and understanding and willing to help us with our problems.

I became a Christian in my teens and down through the ages wherever I have lived I found a church where I could serve the Lord in some way.

On Dec 18, 1922, I took fellowship with the Church of Christ here in Buchanan, MI, having been a member of the U.B. Church.  As a member here I have spent some of the most enjoyable years of my life in serving the Lord and having the fellowship of Christian friends. 

On April 27, 1924 my Mother and son were baptized into Christ in this church which made me very happy.

The most important thing my mother taught me is that it was right to go to church and has had a great influence in my life.  In rowing older we cherish the memories of the many things our mother’s teach us and the things she did for us and how richly we have been blessed by having such a mother.

We are twenty in number in our family group.  I have a sone, a daughter, six grandchildren of whom for are married, and five great-grandchildren.

Out of this number we have two ministers, a choir director, a youth leader, four pianists, and others serving the Lord in many ways.  From the youngest to the oldest these twenty are in the Lord’s house every Lord’s day, which makes a very happy great- grandmother.

In Proverbs 22:6 we read, “Train up a child in the way de should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.”

PS. 23: 4a   ..Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.”

In the first three verses David is talking to the reader. Here in verse four he begins to talk to the Lord.

“There is a Valley of the Shadow of Death in the Land of Israel.  The four-mile long valley wall rises hundreds of feet in some places. This is the most dangerous part of the journey on the way to the best highland pastures.  Some times the path is too narrow for the sheep to turn around or a gully splits the path in two and he must jump over it to follow the shepherd.  Sheep are never alone if they stay close to the shepherd, because he has been there before. Remember that Jesus Himself went through the valley of the shadow of death and came out ALIVE!  (Haidle).”

No dark valley or trouble can ever separate you from Jesus, He cares about you and will not let you go through any trial alone if you follow HIM. Those who are fully trusting in the Lord can have a sweet confidence that HE is in the situation right along with us.

Is. 41:13 “For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand, saying to you,’Fear not, I will help you.”    

It is always a JOY when we can look back and recount the many times that the LORD has sustained us through  pain and suffering, loss of loved ones and when we are persecuted for righteousness sake. “If God be for us who can be against us.” Ro. 8:31b

There are going to be valleys and trials for all of us. The “Good Shepherd”  says in John 16:33, “in this world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world”.  

The important thing is how we respond when trials come. We can trust the Shepherd and rest assured that He will lead us to higher ground in peace and safety. When we do we will be blessed and we can be a blessing to those who live in fear and have not learned to trust the Shepherd.

…though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me. ”