85. Say What?

Cross

Hello my friends, it’s been a long while. I first heard this from my grandma: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” Given the state of current events, I feared I might say something NOT nice. At least once a day I am puzzled (to put it mildly) by new information, new mandates, new decisions. I usually respond with “Say, what?” or “What now?” So that’s why I’ve chosen to say nothing at all.

But the Bible Sampler quilt is growing along, and I’m wanting to share my progress with you. I struck upon the idea that I would just post the photo and copy the scripture passage that goes with the next block to stay on the safe side. And really, quoting the word of the Lord is the best possible composition anyone could post. I know I’ve already said this more than once before, but reading through the Bible cover to cover has been the best choice I’ve ever made. Especially in these incredible times, the Bible has been the anchor, the compass, the plumb bob that has kept me calm and hopeful. Everything is gonna be okay.

So I copied Philippians 2:1-11 (KJV):

“1 If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies,

Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.

Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.

Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:

But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:

10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;

11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Say what? “bowels and mercies?”

I checked out verse one in my New American Standard version. It reads: If therefore there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion,”

Oh, okay. Despite that distraction, isn’t this passage truly a standalone? Just like the cross, there is nothing that needs to be added to make it more amazing.

84. V is for Victory

Victory Quilt Block in the Bible Sampler Quilt project. Please allow me to diverge from scripture in today’s post.

My long absence can easily be explained, I’ve been otherwise engaged in the gardens.

I wouldn’t describe it as gardening, rather, it’s hand to hand combat. First it was aphids vs. greens, , then it was grubs vs. vegetable starts. And the squirrels and gophers and voles are an ongoing struggle. Lately it has been a down and dirty battle for the grapes: Me vs. June Bugs.

I was anticipating this skirmish because I suffered a complete loss last year. I like to leave fruit on the vine until fully ripened, so all the sugars have flowed through the stems into the juice. Well, June bugs don’t share my delayed gratification skills, and they descended on my grapes in legions right before I planned to pick. Any attempt to rescue even a cluster was met with a full frontal attack. They bombed me with something really stinky as they ricocheted off my head and shoulders. It’s not what I signed on for when I planned and planted my “grape grotto”.

So this year I struck back on two fronts. (I also tried the bug bags, and the buried jar of molasses, but those were a bust). First, I found a box of knee highs from my working days, and encased the developing grape clusters within reach. I really dislike wearing nylons, and was surprised that I still had them hanging around.

Next I concocted a spray using oils and soaps. I was ready.

Today was the day. And sure enough, as I began picking my grapes, June bugs would suddenly burst from the leaves, buzzing and bombing me in chaotic flight. This time I struck back. Armed with my spray bottle, I kept them at bay. I took only two hits to the face. In my triumph, I sprayed over all the vines in a proactive measure. Then this fell at my feet.

It was a lot bigger than it appears here. Really.

What did a tomato worm think he was doing in my grapes? Not now! I am fully engaged in June bug warfare. Tomato boxes are next in the bug wars.

I’m done. But I will say that today, victory was mine.

The first of many sinkfuls of hard won spoils of war.

83. Good News

The Bible Sampler quilt is coming right along. My pile of Civil War reproduction fabric scraps is slowly shrinking. I wondered how I was going to use these particular scraps. I think this block gave me the best opportunity. And these scraps are gone, gone, gone, which is half the point of the project.

I was taught that the definition of the word “Gospel” was “Good News”. Couldn’t we all use some good news these days? It’s July already which puts us halfway through the year 2021. My state FINALLY lifted the COVID restrictions on June 15th, which is very good news. But this date on the calendar didn’t magically turn off the fear factor of these last two years. We’re experiencing this weird time of adjustment. Businesses still require us to wear masks if not vaccinated. The “new normal” doesn’t feel at all normal just yet. Restaurants still have abbreviated hours, and goods and services are still not what they used to be because of “supply chain issues” or whatever. I naively thought we would get that freedom feeling back on June 15th. But life still feels weird instead.

Love Knot quilt block

Paul discusses freedom quite a bit in the book of Romans. This passage says “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? . . . But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

That is really good news. And my favorite is in the book of John, “So if the Son sets you free; you will be free indeed”.

The only way to be truly free, especially from fear is through “The Way”, Jesus Christ. This is very good news as we celebrate our freedoms this weekend. Happy Independence Day!

82. I Can’t Even Come Up With a Clever Title

This is going to be short. I finished the reading and the next block in my Bible Sampler quilt project ages ago, it’s the blogging about it that held me up. What can I say? I’ve been composing blog posts in my head, but none satisfactory enough to hit “publish”. They all sound so trite to me when considering the content: Christ died for us.

Heart’s Seal

Paul is drilling it down, that it is by the grace of God alone that we are saved. He says that maybe some would die for a righteous man. For a good man some would even dare to die. But while we were yet without strength, Christ died for us.

We could do nothing to receive an offer of salvation, a rescue from sin and death. There was no requirement up front, like pulling ourselves together, cleaning up our acts, or showing our appreciation somehow. No, we were completely helpless and hopeless.

This passage ends with: “But God demonstrates his own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us”.

81. The Just Shall Live by Faith

Apologies for the long gap here.

One, my days have been spent washing endless sinkfuls of curly leaf kale in vain attempts at meticulously removing trillions of aphids before freezing. Chances are I missed more than a few, so my smoothies might have an addition of a little extra insectivore protein. (Note to future self: sow Dino Kale seeds next year.)

The current view: standing in front of my kitchen sink.

Two, the Bible Sampler quilt project jumped right over the book of Acts and landed in Romans. Number One allowed me time to “read” Acts via AirPods, along with some Elizabeth Gaskell novels since last we visited. Such enjoyable distractions keep me plugging away for hours at the gardening chores. So now we’re in the book of Romans, and here’s the next block:

Greek Cross Quilt Block

This passage includes the well known phrase, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth . . .”

The audience for Paul’s letter is the church in Rome. But as we do, we personalize scripture and apply it to ourselves. So this stirs up the question: “Am I walking out my faith unashamedly, and presenting a genuine example of the Christian life to others?

In my lifetime, there has not been a better time to “show the spine” of the gospel than now. Culture is pushing the reality of natural law aside and pushing us towards acceptance of absurd social norms that contradict common sense.

Historically, we’ve politely gone the “tolerance” route: Live and let live, I’m okay, you’re okay, and so on. But we knew deep inside that wasn’t going to be sustainable. Every “giveaway ” when compromising values paves the way towards the next give, then the next. Before you know it, you’re guilty of a hate crime if you happen to have a Dr. Seuss book on your family bookshelf. What’s next?

When tolerance is one sided, that’s the side that ends up the loser. The winner will continue to push until tolerance is changed to acceptance, and finally, changed to support, a full embrace of the new order. Anything less will not be tolerated.

When I sit down and start writing, I don’t have a plan as to the content. This blog entry/stream of consciousness came from the simple phrase in this passage, “The just shall live by faith”. Are we doing that? Do we expose our true identity in Christ where we live: in our schools, hospitals, workplaces, neighborhoods?

I’ve heard it said that we have “Freedom from religion”. Not so. The first amendment of our U.S. constitution actually says “Freedom of religion”. Yet we’ve been conditioned by secular culture to leave our faith outside the door when entering the town square. The acceptable way to engage in public life is to be faith-neutral in order to accommodate all. I get it, the intent of the writers of the Constitution was to prevent a church from running the government.

But they didn’t mean that the just couldn’t live out their faith while engaging in government.

What do you think?

80. Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch Changes

Morningstar Quilt Block

My Bible Sampler Quilt Project has me reading through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ as we just happen to be in the Easter season in real time. This passage describes the scene at the empty tomb that early morning. A cluster of women had shown up with prepared spices. But instead of a body, two angels were there, who provided the explanation for His absence. “Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not there, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when He was yet in Galilee, saying, ‘The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again’.”

When the women reported all of this back to the eleven apostles, the passage says, “And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not.”

Which is totally understandable. My first reaction is incredulity when I check the news each morning. While I was sleeping, new executive orders were signed, new cities were burned down, new victims were assaulted. Society is changing so radically, so swiftly, it takes more than a few deep breaths to process it all. And my personal feelings towards these changes are infinitesimal when compared to the universal consequences that followed the news of a resurrected Jesus.

Easter morning flipped the whole world upside down, and its epicenter was the site of the empty tomb.

Gone were animal sacrifices. Gone was the need for priests. Gone was the need for a tabernacle at all. The whole Jewish religious infrastructure turned obsolete overnight. There were going to be A LOT of changes to the status quo around there. All the law and the prophecies and the promises were fulfilled in Him. It was finished.

There would be no going back. Like it or not, we must move forward to our new normal. As the lyrics of the song say, we need to “Turn and face the strange”.

Just be sure to have a mask covering that face.

https://youtu.be/ntCkEzToINE

79. Waiting

Hourglass Quilt Block

The next block in the Bible Sampler Quilt project accompanies the last words of Christ. This is a tough passage, I find it extremely difficult to reflect on the suffering and death of Jesus. I am not going to delve deep into those words, rather, I’ll focus on the hourglass.

It’s Saturday today, and Jesus’ body is in the tomb. His followers are scattered and confused. They’re waiting, and unsure exactly what it is they’re waiting for. But we know how it’s going to go. We know that Sunday will dawn with miraculous glory. The hope that sustained the disciples was fulfilled when Jesus returned.

The hope that sustains us will be fulfilled when Jesus returns.

78. Party Line

Raise your hand if you know what a party line is.

Yep, I see those hands from a certain age group. And my guess is you grew up in a rural area, am I right?

I did not grow up with a party line, but my country cousins did. It was surprising to me that they could actually listen in on other people’s private conversations, hearing interchanges that were not meant for their ears. I wondered if the knowledge they gained affected their opinions about their neighbors? How could it not?

I was reading threads on the Next Door app this morning, which was once again testing my patience towards my neighbors. For example, a photo of a strange bug attracted responses like, “Time to burn the house down”. A comment about poor Door Dash service unleashed a tirade of shaming responses.

I thought about how neighborhood apps are like the old party lines. Those conversations aren’t meant for me. They certainly don’t need my participation. The problem is that they present themselves and the brain clutter happens. I don’t need these distractions. I need to hang up the phone. Or in this case, stay out of the rabbit hole.

Speaking of rabbit holes, this is happening in my yard.

I believe there’s at least three wee bunnies tucked away in there.

Back to the subject. There is a conversation that is meant for all ears to hear. It is the interchange between us and our Creator. He provides The Way, through his Son Jesus Christ, for us to have eternal fellowship with Him and each other. Listen to the gospel message and respond in faith. It’s the most important conversation you will ever have with anyone, anywhere, anytime.

The next block accompanies the account of Jesus’ crucifixion. My progress on the project coincides here with Holy Week.

Crown of Thorns quilt block

This Friday is Good Friday. Jesus did the most amazing thing for you and for me. He gave His life, perfectly lived, over to sin and death so that we could have life free from sin and death. Please don’t waste it.

77. Way In, Way Out

Father’s Choice quilt block

My Quilting through the Bible project still has me in the gospels these days. Reading the life and words of Jesus has been just the ticket I’ve needed to travel through this Lenten season. There’s so much “noise” out there, and I’m weary of all the politics. Exchanging the broadcast news media for the “Good News” of the gospels keeps me calm to keep carrying on.

This quilt block goes with the passage where Jesus tells His disciples that He is going to His Father’s house and preparing a place for them. He assures them that He will return to receive them, and that they know the way to where He is going. Good old Thomas asks out loud what everyone else is thinking, “Lord, we don’t know where You are going, how do we know the way?” Jesus replies: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”

Remember block #65? https://cutswithscissors.com/2020/10/01/65-typical/It accompanied Luke 1:76-80 regarding the role of John the Baptist:

76 And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High;
for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him,
77 to give his people the knowledge of salvation
through the forgiveness of their sins,
78 because of the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
79 to shine on those living in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace.”80 And the child grew and became strong in spirit[a]; and he lived in the wilderness until he appeared publicly to Israel.

I didn’t comment on it in that post, because I was having an emoji brain explosion that wasn’t quite jelled enough to share. It still isn’t. The gospel is truly mind-blowing. It turns everything on its head and I’m still scratching mine.

So what is in my brain’s jelling process is the concept of “the way”. I had previously thought of John’s words, “Prepare ye the way of the Lord” as a requirement for action on my part. I assumed he meant that we needed to make preparations of some sort. Maybe by examining our hearts, and clearing the path so we would be ready to walk, step by step, to our salvation.

Not even close.

Now it’s clear that “The Way” is the path where God brought Heaven to us. He sent His Son to be our pathway. If there were directional arrows, they’d be pointing from Heaven to Earth, not the other way around.

When John told the Israelites to prepare the way for the Lord, I think he wanted them to get ready for a mind blowing experience. God was going to do a 180 degree flip on the way He made covenant with His people. He was going to fulfill the Law for us once and for all. He was going to literally become the Way of salvation, as a Son, taking on flesh, as Jesus Christ.

I know I knew this, but it’s so easy to get lazy, and get thrown off track. Somehow I missed the little words, “HE will make your paths straight”, and “HE will guide our feet into the path of peace”. I translated those passages into “I have to get with the program and get my path in order”. It doesn’t help when books and sermons have titles like: “Five Steps to a Better Blah Blah Blah”, or “Ways to a Better Life Now”. The pure truth and finality of the gospel can get muddled. We mistakenly think that we need to be a part of the process. But thinking that way insults the complete work that Jesus did on the cross.

Don’t get me wrong, we do have something we need to do, which is taking that first step of faith. That’s it. And where does faith come from? Romans 10 says, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

So, we need to hear the word of God.

The End.

76. Everything We Need to Know …

Lightning Quilt Block

Jesus knows His time is growing short, and He’s giving the disciples lots of final instructions. This passage includes this warning:

“ … For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand.”

So how will we know what’s false and what’s true?

I heard this somewhere, that the U.S. Mint trained their agents in spying counterfeit money, not by focusing on the fake bills, but by studying the genuine item. Or maybe it was the FBI. Anyways, hours were spent poring over real currency. Familiarity was achieved at such a level, that should a false bill cross their desk, red flags would fly as if from intuition. Then upon closer inspection, the agent could identify the flaws that made it counterfeit. So the lesson here is: the best way to identify false teaching is to study the truth, the real deal, which is only found written in the Bible. The more we read the actual words in the actual Word of God, the more we will intuit what is from God and what is not. Not to mention that we also have the benefit of the help of the Holy Spirit.

Before Jesus left us, and sent the Holy Spirit to us, He said in Luke 24:44: “All things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” His final words on the cross, “It is finished” assured us that the job was done. The story is complete, and canonized into holy scripture for our review. So the role of prophet today continues with relaying that one gospel message, the good news. Everything we ever need to know is found in the Holy Bible. Period.