Tamara's Journeys

Journeys as great as the destinations.

Devotions from Baba’s Front Porch: The Pantry

November 8th, 2017

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. 1 Peter 3:15

Does this happen to you? You wake up in the middle of the night with a sudden craving for a certain food, but the only thing in your kitchen was some instant oatmeal, peanut butter, a sleeve of crackers and an apple? Or perhaps a sudden winter storm blew in, and you couldn’t leave your house. Those are the times you realize the pitiful state of your pantry. Being snowed in is a reasonable concern in Rapid City, and it’s NO fun without sufficient supplies. (“supplies” is code for coffee and chocolate) It’s frustrating not to have what you need when you need it.

When it comes to the spiritual aspect of our lives, however, it’s more than frustrating when we find ourselves unprepared…it’s dangerous. Scripture tells us that we should always be prepared to defend our hope. Imagine that you were in a conversation with someone and they had questions regarding your faith. Would you be able to supply them with a response, or would you be unprepared?

Our pantries may look very different, yet still serve us quite well in an emergency. You may whip up a homemade pizza while someone else is content with peanut butter on a spoon. Likewise, not everyone is pulling from the same spiritual stockpile. One person may have a seminary degree, while someone else is a new believer. That’s the beauty of faith. When it comes to defending it, the answer is the same. The reason for our hope is always: Jesus

Don’t get caught unprepared. Be prepared with a hot beverage and chocolate in the pantry and Jesus in your heart.

Devotions from Baba’s Front Porch: Surviving Goodbyes

November 1st, 2017

There is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. Psalm 73:25

There was a time when folks lived their entire lives and died in the same small town. It wasn’t uncommon to grow up right down the road from grandparents. And you would NEVER dare misbehave in public because everyone knew your family and would have called your parents before you made it home. But these days things are different. People don’t stay in one place, they pull up roots and replant them somewhere new. Many of us have lived a lifetime of goodbyes – like I had to say to my family last week before returning to Rapid City, SD.

No matter how much we wish it were different, goodbyes are a part of life. Circumstances change. People change. Life happens and jobs change. Sometimes we must leave people and places that are dear to our hearts. Other times those we love leave us. Some goodbyes are welcome, however many goodbyes aren’t happy and some even painful.

Through it all, it helps me to remember that we must learn to hold on loosely to the things of this life. The things and people we cherish must be held with open hands as we entrust them to the One who loves them even more. We can trust Him to restore all joy.

Wanting our Lord more than we want any thing is the key to surviving goodbye. He must be our heart’s greatest desire. If God calls any of us to a goodbye, He can bring good from it. If it’s painful, we can trust that He will use it for His glory. Yes, some goodbyes will hurt, and we’ll grieve. But at the end of the day He will heal all sadness and reveal purpose.

Old West Devotions: Spur

October 18th, 2017

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. John 14:26

If you’re not familiar with what a spur is; it is a sharp metal piece attached to a cowboy boot.  A spur is used for the purpose of goading a horse. It’s an incentive to make the horse move forward.  Christ left us with the Holy Spirit to be our spur. The Holy Spirit is there to prick and guide us as Christians.

When we are sensitive to His leading, we move forward in the direction that the Lord would have us go.  This is a blessing world doesn’t have to guide and direct them. Thank you God for indwelling us with the Holy Spirit.

I love the fact that the Lord brands us with His touch.  There is so much He gives us as His children.  The qualities I’ve mentioned in the “Old West” series are just a small helping of what God gives us when we accept Him as Lord of our lives.

I hope others can see Whose brand is on me.  I want to be identified for Christ. What’s your brand?

I will be gone for a week but will return the first week of November. Have a great week and be a light in the darkness.

Old West Devotions: Saddle

October 4th, 2017

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Mark 16:15

The western saddle has an interesting history and development and it’s now considered a uniquely American style. From the 1700’s through the 1950’s, the western saddle evolved, with new features to support cattle work and improved construction methods to extend strength, durability, and comfort during the long hours cowboys worked. Like the cowboys, and girls, that worked the buffalo herd last weekend. They depend on their saddles for their specialized work.

Like the saddle, we are also set apart for specialized work. We are here to carry out the Great Commission. God set us apart from the world by making us His ambassadors. We need to be in the saddle, so to speak, spreading the Word and love of Christ in our daily lives.

Old West Devotions: Cowboy Hat

September 27th, 2017

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.  Psalm 91:1

The broad-brimmed hat concept was borrowed from the Mexican sombero worn by vaqueros. The invention of the first real American cowboy hat is credited to John Stetson, who created a hat with a high crown and wide brim used for protection from the sun, but it was also useful and functional to the cowboy.  On their cattle drives, the cowboys could signal with their hat and also use it to dip water out of streams when they were thirsty. Stetson set the standard for cowboy hats protecting cowboy’s from the elements.

Isn’t that what the Psalmist is saying our Lord does for us? His shadow is our protection from the world. It’s such a wonderful thing that the Lord is always there to shade us if we just stay close to Him. We can be shaded and dip into His Word and into the power of prayer and be refreshed in Him. Hallelujah!  And Yee Haw!

Old West Devotions: Chaps

September 20th, 2017

This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me.  Psalm 119:50

Chaps are leather coverings for the legs of the cowboy.  They’re usually made out of sturdy leather and made to protect the legs. It’s important they’re sturdy leather because of the shrubs and vegetation that tear at the cowboy’s legs.  Like chaps, God gives us wonderful protection by providing His Word for us as His children.

When the world starts tearing at us and reaching out to grab us with all it has to offer, we can be refreshed and cling to the Word of God and find peace and comfort there.  We can take comfort knowing God provides protection that covers us in this world.

Old West Devotions: Horseshoe

September 13th, 2017

The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?  the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27:1

Horseshoes are normally made of metal and designed to protect a horse’s hooves against abrasion and breakage.  They are fitted by a professional farrier, who specializes in the preparation of feet and fitting appropriate shoes. A horseshoe is also kept as good luck by some that hang it with the ends pointing upward to “catch” any luck that might be floating by.

We could say that God is our farrier. He prepares us, fits us and protects us by placing the Holy Spirit within us. He doesn’t just set us in the world and expect us to have all the friction and roughness of the world bear into us as we bump along in life.  The Lord is there for us to protect us… like our horseshoe.  And it’s not by dumb luck that we have His protection. We were invited as His children. Thank you, Lord!

Old West Devotions: Branding

September 6th, 2017

What? Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?   1 Corinthians 6:19

Labor Day marked the unofficial end of Summer, and end of Hymns. Time to move on to devotions. Since my family has always been fascinated by the Old West, I’ve decided to use the West as inspiration.  After all, I’m still in South Dakota waiting for the Great Buffalo Roundup.

I always enjoyed Saturday TV with all those old westerns with the shoot-outs and cattle drives.  I was thinking about those cowboys on their cattle drives recently and about the concept of branding. Branding was originally any visible mark that showed identification for livestock.

When we become Christians, we are in a sense branded for Christ.  He sets His mark on us and sets us apart.  When we accept Christ as our personal Savior, He has ownership of our bodies and us.

Come saddle up with me as we explore this concept over the next several weeks, using some of the objects found in the Old West. 

Inspiration: Magic Bank Account

August 30th, 2017

Hope you enjoy it as much as I did when I read it. This was found in the billfold of Coach Paul Bear from Bryant, Alabama, after he died in 1982

The Magic Bank Account: Imagine that you had won the Following *PRIZE* in a contest: Each morning your bank would deposit $86,400 In your private account for your use. However, this prize has Rules:

1. Everything that you didn’t spend during each day would be taken away from you.

2. You may not simply transfer money into some other account.

3. You may only spend It.

4. Each morning upon awakening, The bank opens your account with another $86,400 for that Day.

5. The bank can end the game without warning; at any time, it can say, Game Over!” It can close the account And you will not receive a new one.

What would you do? You would buy anything and everything you wanted, right?  Not only for yourself, but for all the people you love and care for.  Even for people you don’t know,
because you couldn’t possibly spend it all on yourself, am I right? You would try to spend every penny, and use it all, because you knew it would be replenished in the morning, right?

This game IS real… Are you shocked?

Each of us is already a winner Of this *PRIZE*. We just can’t seem to see it. The PRIZE is *LIFE*

1. Each morning we awaken to Receive 86,400 seconds As a gift of Life.

2. And when we go to sleep at night, any remaining time is not credited to us

3. What we haven’t used up that day is forever lost.

4. Yesterday is gone forever.

5. Each morning the account is refilled, but the bank can dissolve your account at any time WITHOUT WARNING…

SO, what will YOU do with your 86,400 seconds?

Those seconds are worth so much more than the same amount in dollars. Think about it and remember to enjoy every second of your LIFE, because time races by so much quicker than you think. Be kind to one another.

So take care of yourself, be happy, love deeply and enjoy LIFE! Start spending….

 

Hymns With a Message: Battle Hymn of the Republic

August 23rd, 2017

After the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, a national service of prayer and remembrance was conducted at Washington’s National Cathedral. America’s most powerful leaders prayed together, listened to brief sermons and then joined voiced to sing the defiant anthem, “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Its words seemed to perfectly signal America’s intention to battle the forces of terror in the world.

It was written by Julia Ward Howe, a leader in women’s rights and ardent foe of slavery. Julia, who came from a wealthy New York family, was married to a prominent Boston philanthropist and humanitarian. They were both crusaders for progressive moral issues of the day. In 1861, during the darkest days of the Civil War, Julia toured a nearby Union Army Camp on the Potomac. That very night the words came to her in her hotel room.

These defiant words seem just as perfectly suited to today’s terror as they were to Julia during the Civil War and to leaders in 2001: https://youtu.be/QSiVjlknuSw

Hymns With a Message: America, the Beautiful

August 16th, 2017

In 1892, The United States observed the 400th anniversary of the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus.

As part of the celebration, the city of Chicago sponsored a World’s Fair which carried over to the next year. It was early in the summer of 1893 that a group of professors from Wellesley College visited the Expo on their way to teach in Colorado. The women later compared the wonders of the man-made Fair with the glory of God’s handiwork in the Rockies.

At the end of the school year, the teachers decided to visit Pike’s Peak, elevation 14,000 feet! One of them, Katharine Lee Bates, wrote, “We hired a prairie wagon. Near the top we had to leave the wagon and go the rest of the way on mules. I was very tired. But when I saw the view, I felt great joy. All the wonder of America seemed displayed there, with the sea-like expanse…It was then and there, as I was looking out over the fertile country spreading away so far under those ample skies, that the opening lines of the hymn floated into my mind. When we left Colorado Springs the four stanzas were penciled in my notebook. … I copied them out and sent them to print July 4, 1895. The hymn attracted an unexpected amount of attention. In 1904 I rewrote it, trying to make it more simple and direct.”

Katharine’s inspired words are certainly a favorite that resonate my feelings for this vast and diverse nation. “O beautiful for heroes proved In liberating strife, Who more than self their country loved, And mercy more than life!”

I think we need to hear this now: 

Hymns With a Message: His Name is Wonderful

August 9th, 2017

This hymn was born in a small church, much like the one I grew up in. In an era when bigger is better and success is usually measured by statistics, it’s important to remember that small churches can do great things.

Audrey Mieir was born in 1916 and after she married Charles Mieir in 1936, she was ordained to the Gospel ministry in the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel.

Audrey was a gifted pianist and an inspiring worship leader and song director. In the 1950s she was working at Bethel Union Church in California. Christmas fell on Sunday that year and the church was decorated beautifully. Her choir loft was now a manager scene.

“As the morning service began,” Audrey recounted, “I was almost overwhelmed with the sounds and the gentle moving of the Spirit in that church. The pastor stood to his feet, opened the Bible, and said, ‘His name shall be called Wonderful.’ I tell you the truth, that’s all it took. I wrote the words and music in the back pages of my Bible. In that Sunday evening service, I taught the chorus to a group of young people, and it was sung for the first time.”

Though it was inspired on Christmas day by a traditional Christmas text, “His Name Is Wonderful” isn’t pegged as a Christmas hymn. It’s been a favorite with many around the world for singing throughout the year.

His name IS WONDERFUL:

Hymns With a Message: He Lives

July 26th, 2017

As a child in Ohio, He Lives was one of the most requested hymns we sang. We never tired of the reassuring message that filled us with joy. It’s a theme effectively supported by a soaring melody that I found myself humming yesterday. It still has a profound effect on my spirit.

Strangely enough, the dreadful question “Why should I worship a dead Jew?”, inspired the writing of this hymn. Honestly.

In 1932 Pastor Alfred Ackley met a Jewish man in California. He’d been exchanging theological ideas with the man over several weeks and one day the new friend asked Alfred, “Why should I worship a dead Jew?” Naturally the question played on Alfred’s mind as he prepared Easter Sunday’s sermon.

That morning, Ackley preached with great vigor on Christ’s Resurrection, and did the same at the evening service. Later Easter night, he was still vexed over his friend’s question. Noticing her husbands mood, his wife said, “Listen here, it’s time you did what you do best. Why don’t you write a song it and maybe you’ll feel better.”

Alfred went to his study, opened his Bible, and re-read the Resurrection account from Mark’s Gospel. A thrill went through him and he began to write as his wife expertly suggested. A few minutes later, he was at the piano putting He Lives to music. He wrote it, but I think we really have Alfred’s friend and wife to thank for this triumphant hymn.

He walks with me and talks with me … He lives within MY heart.

Hymns With a Message: Jesus Loves Me

July 19th, 2017

Jesus Loves Me. Who doesn’t remember singing this in summer Bible School? I certainly do, but I didn’t know the history until now…

Anna and Susan Warner lived in a lovely townhouse in NYC where their father was a successful lawyer. But the “Panic of 1837” wrecked the family’s finances, forcing them to move into a ramshackle Revolutionary War-era home across from West Point.

Suddenly the girls needed to contribute to the family household income, so they began writing poems and stories for publication. Anna wrote, “Robinson Crusoe’s Farmyard,” and Susan wrote, “The Wide, Wide World.” The girls went on to launch parallel literary careers that resulted in 106 publications, eighteen of them together.

One of their most successful joint projects was a novel titled Say and Seal in which a little boy named Johnny Fox is dying. His Sunday school teacher comforted him by taking him in his arms, rocking him and making up a song: “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so…”

The novel became a best-seller; and when hymn writer William Bradbury read the words he composed a musical score to go along with them. Soon Jesus Loves Me became the best-known children’s hymn in America.

Despite their success, the Warner sisters never seemed able to recover from the staggering financial reverses of 1836. For forty years, Susan and Anna conducted Bible classes for cadets at West Point, and both were buried with full military honors. They are the only civilians buried in the military cemetery at West Point. To this day, their home is maintained by West Point as a museum.

 

Hymns With a Message: God Will Take Care of You

July 12th, 2017

J.C. Penney, who came from a long line of Baptist preachers, was well on his way to establishing a successful career when the 1928 Great Depression threw our country into crisis. His business deals turned sour, and like many during that time, Penney became overwhelmed with anxiety and insomnia. He developed a painful case of shingles and was hospitalized. His emotional state deteriorated until, “I was broken nervously and physically, filled with despair, unable to see even a ray of hope. I had nothing to live for. I felt I hadn’t a friend left in the world, that even my family turned against me.”

But one morning he heard singing coming from the little hospital chapel. The words of the song said, “Be not dismayed what’re betide – God will take care of you.”

Entering the chapel, he listened to the song, to the Scripture reading, and to the prayer. “Suddenly something happened. I can’t explain it. I can only call it a miracle. I felt as if I had been instantly lifted out of the darkness of a dungeon into warm, brilliant sunlight.” All worry left him as he realized how much Jesus loved him. From that day J.C. Penney was never plagued with worry, and he later recalled those moments in the chapel as the most dramatic and glorious twenty minutes of his life. He went on to become one of our country’s greatest retailers.

God’s eyes are on the sparrow – and He is watching each of us. God will take care of you.

Hymns With a Message: My Country, ‘Tis of Thee

July 6th, 2017

Blessed is the nation whose God is the LordPsalm 33:12

This popular patriotic hymn was written by Samuel Francis Smith in 1831. It was during Samuel’s first year at Andover Seminary that a hymn publisher sought his help. Lowell Mason had a stack of German songs and materials needing translation and young Samuel was proficient in German.

On a cold Boston February, Samuel sat in his room pouring over the materials. He was struck by the words of “Gott segne Sachsenland” (“God Bless our Saxon Land”), set to the tune we know as “America.” “I instantly felt the impulse to write a patriotic hymn of my own adapted to this tune,” Samuel later said. “Picking up a scrap of paper which lay near me, I wrote at once…”

It was first sung by the Juvenile Choir at a Sunday School Rally in Boston on July 4, 1831. In the following years Samuel grew into a powerful Baptist preacher, college professor, hymnist and missionary advocate. He traveled the world in support of evangelism and rejoiced when his own son became a missionary.

Although Samuel died in his late-eighties after many notable achievements, he has always been most revered for the patriotic hymn he wrote as a 23-year-old student.

As proud American’s let’s sing in unison a song for the brave and the free – My Country, ‘Tis of Thee…Sweet land of liberty…

 

Hymns With a Message: Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus

June 28th, 2017

Stand therefore, having girded your waist with the truthEphesians 6:14

Traditional hymns are filled with wonderful truths set to music. As a child I sang many over the years in the little church on the hill. Last Sunday we stood up and sang Stand Up, Stand Up as a group from the same pews.

Dudley Tyng was only 29 in 1854, the year he succeeded his father at the large Philadelphia’s Church of the Epiphany. It seemed like a good fit, but the honeymoon didn’t last once Dudley began preaching against slavery. Loud complaints resulted in his resignation in 1856.

He and his followers organized the Church of the Covenant. He began Bible studies at the local YMCA and the church grew beyond its walls. Dudley felt a calling to lead husbands and fathers to Christ and organized a great rally to reach men. Over a thousand men were converted that day.

Two weeks later while visiting the countryside, he became intrigued with a corn-thrasher in a barn. His hand moved too close to the machine and his sleeve was snared. Dudley’s arm was ripped from its socket. Four days later he lay dying, Dudley told his aged father: “Stand up, stand up for Jesus, father, and tell my brethren of the ministry to stand up for Jesus.”

Rev. George Duffield of Philadelphia’s Temple Presbyterian Church was deeply moved by Dudley’s funeral, and went home to write Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus, inspired by Dudley’s words. The song soon became a favorite and inspired many and continues to inspire today as it did me last Sunday.

Live inspired and filled with light.

Hymns With a Message: Rocks of Ages

June 21st, 2017

 

Many families spend weekends together going hiking or to the movies. This weekend I’m traveling to a family reunion, which differs from a typical family visit in that extended family members are present. Reunions are a memorable time. Perhaps bonds will be formed with younger generations of cousins and fences mended. Naturally I’m enjoy seeing my relatives, but I can’t wait to step across the threshold and into our family church in Tyndall, Ohio. My maternal grandparents sat in these pews, my mother was baptized and married there, all of us were baptized there. We had several traditional hymns that are my “go-to” hymns when I need peace, however the one I requested most from my seat in the wooden pew was Rocks of Ages.

Tyndall United Methodist Church, Tyndall, Ohio

The author, born in England in 1740, was Augustus Montague Toplady. His father died in a war, his mother spoiled him, and his relatives disliked him.

Good thing Augustus was interested in the Lord. By age 12 he was preaching sermons to whoever would listen. At 14 he began writing hymns. And at 22 he was ordained an Anglican priest…that didn’t care much for Methodist theology. Ironically, this hymn that I grew up singing in Tyndall United Methodist Church, was part of an article Augustus wrote in 1776, intending it as a slap at John Wesley.

Oddly, it’s remarkable similar to something Wesley had written 30 years before in the preface of a book of hymns: “O Rock of Salvation, Rock struck and cleft for me, let those two Streams of Blood and Water which gushed from thy side, bring down Pardon and Holiness into my soul.”

Perhaps the two men weren’t as incompatible as they imagined. Please enjoy what has been hailed as “…the best known, best loved, and most widely useful” hymn in the English language: https://youtu.be/GAfAko5dwoM

 

 

Tamara's Journeys

Journeys as great as the destinations.