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.
I’m back to the Bible Sampler Quilt project today. The next block goes with Jesus’ glorious entry in Jerusalem. Little did the joyful crowds know while they were celebrating and shouting “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” that soon they would disperse and leave Him to suffer and die, alone, on the cross.
My pastor recently preached a series called: Sola.
“Sola” is Latin for “alone”. As in: Christ alone, Grace alone, Faith alone, Scripture alone, and Glory to God alone.
Alone. Being alone is what we know in these pandemic years of 2020 and now 2021. Whether we like it or not, we are isolated like never before. There is a silver lining here, in that, whether we like it or not, we’ve had the opportunity to come face to face with our mortality without the usual societal props distracting our attention. Our relationship to God is one-on-one. Someday, somewhere, somehow, we all have to face Him alone. I can’t work out my personal salvation as a member of a group. My church membership, my family ties, my social status, while important, will not be there for me at the final judgment. I will stand alone to face the music. This thought makes me extremely uncomfortable. I prefer life in safe anonymity. This is found in crowds, where I can fly under the radar. A middle child of a large family, attending bulging schools in the boomer years, I grew up outside of the spotlight. This suited me just fine.
But then I remember that I will not be alone on that final judgment day after all. Jesus Christ will be there, imputing His righteousness to me so that I will appear sinless, pure, white as snow. And He alone is all we need. The only obstacles that would stand in the way, which is me and my sins, have also been nailed to the cross with The Perfect Sacrifice, Jesus Christ.
An old song comes to mind here. Anyone else remember J. Vernon Magee’s radio program?
(Refrain) Jesus paid it all, all to him I owe Sin had left a crimson stain He washed it white as snow.
This past year, I’ve received many gifts, both surprising and unexpected. I reported that I won the monthly prize TWICE on the Elm Street Quilts One Monthly Challenge. But there’s more, and I’ve got many words of thanks that are way overdue. I’ve been putting this off because I wanted to adequately express how much they meant to me. I thought an inspired way of showing my appreciation would come to me if I waited long enough. That doesn’t appear to be happening, so here I go, plain and simple:
Way back in August, I got mail from THE Frances O’Roarke Dowell herself for a Quiltfiction Club event. Theona also sent me some cute fabric, which has already been cut up and used. Theona, I know you follow this blog, sorry I didn’t take a photo beforehand. Thank you so much my dear friends whom I’ve never met in person.
Also in August, I got this package from THE Laurie Aaron Hird, with a signed copy of her newest book. What an absolute thrill, and I’m beyond excited to begin this project after I complete the Bible Sampler Quilt. Thank you Lori, another friend I consider dear even though we’ve never met in person.
The book pairs letters from Ada Melville Shaw with quilt blocks. Here’s a peek at the concluding paragraph in the introduction:
Just like Ada, “I count each of you a dear friend” even though we’ve not met in person. This blog is a gift, allowing me to share some of myself, and I thank you for spending some of your time with me here. I don’t pretend to believe my words are “fraught with beauty”, but I will agree that they are written with a “spirit of abiding love”.
Here’s what all this brought back to mind. Maybe it’s also because I’m currently reading the gospels, and the parables Jesus tells.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”
Yet here we are. Charles Dickens was/is spot on. Political discussion aside/avoided, how are you? How are we? I was thinking about my own response to these dramatic days of current events/history-in-the-making. When I’m being told that my country is experiencing unprecedented tumult and unrest, I look to the past to gain perspective. It helps me keep calm and carry on.
I marvel that, along with rolling bandages and knitting socks, Civil War era women could stitch beautiful heirloom quilts while their country was being torn in two. I imagine they poured all that worry and nervous energy into their work, all the while praying for their loved ones in battles far away.
I’m kind of copying the “Dear Jane” (Jane Stickles) with my Bible Sampler Quilt project.
In the corner patch she signs her quilt, “In War Time. 1863. Pieces 5602. Jane A. Stickle.”
So so much in those few few words. In that year of 1863 Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. He also delivered the Gettysburg Address, where that horrible battle took place in that very same year. Throughout those terrible months, Jane stitched and stitched and prayed and prayed. She kept calm and carried on.
Well, I don’t have anything else to say, I just thought I’d check in since it’s been awhile since my last post. A lot has happened since then. I’m not sharing a block from the Bible Sampler quilt project today, but here’s a peek at my progress:
The goal involved attaching borders with a weird corner turn. I was designing as I went along, so there were no instructions to follow. I wasn’t sure how I was going to do it, and I’m still not sure how it was done. I do know that it took me an entire day to get the first corner right. The other three were a little easier, but not by much. This photo doesn’t help, the shadows show all the bias-y lumps and bumps. I plan to give it a good pressing while I FaceTime chat with friends on Wednesday. Then I trust the rest will quilt out. It was just a fun project for me, I’m not too concerned about it.
But I am concerned about this:
I was done with the Blossom Time top mid-December. So I spent the rest of the month playing with the Bible Sampler quilt border pieces. I think I may be in trouble here, I’ve gone and created another weird corner angle join for myself. I won’t be posting progress on the OMG page, so stay tuned on my blog for news on that front.
Here’s to turning the corner on 2020. It was weird, it was historic, what can I say? Any other year I’d throw out a “Where did the time go?” question, but not this year. Time was what I had plenty of, and I have the never-ending shutdowns to thank for helping me complete all twelve monthly projects. And I WON a prize again this last month, a gift certificate to the Fat Quarter Shop. So it’s a good time for me to take a bow, say thank you to Elm Street quilts, and exit stage left. All the best to the rest in 2021!
This post has nothing to do with the next block in the quilt.
I was just remembering an elementary school incident. Do you do that? Rehash old embarrassing memories? There’s probably a reason why, but I don’t want to know that reason. It probably has to do with thinking too much of oneself, which would also be embarrassing. Anyways, I was remembering how thrilling it was to order Scholastic books. The teacher would pass out the newsprint catalog at the beginning of the month. I’d pore over the titles, and make my choices. Taping the coins to the part you cut off and return, I’d get my order in before the deadline, then wait, wait, wait, for my books. Anticipation brings a thrill of its own.
The embarrassing part of this blog entry happened in sixth grade. After a lot of deliberation in my own mind, I decided to go ahead and order “The Secrets of Loveliness” along with Helen Keller’s “The Story of my Life”. “The Secrets of Loveliness” promised tips and tricks to bring out the best of my natural features, and the beauty within, tweenager-style. I was keenly interested. But I had three brothers, and the teasing potential was what I considered at length before placing my order. I was risk-adverse and usually made my choices from a self-preservation mode.
But in the end, it wasn’t my snickering brothers who caused the embarrassment, oh no. It was my teacher.
Mr. Bannon was the first male teacher I had. He had played baseball in college, and it continued to be his passion. He even managed to get a TV brought into our classroom during the World Series, which was quite novel. So we all watched the Detroit Tigers triumph over the St. Louis Cardinals, which interested me not at all.
Mr. Bannon found a useful purpose for his exceptional throwing skills. I think he had been a pitcher. I was born in the bulge year of the baby boom, so my class sizes were always large. There were 38 of us, desks lined up in tight rows, with Mr. Bannon’s desk in the rear corner. He’d give us an assignment, then sit back, feet up on his desk, with a stack of black felt erasers at the ready. If anyone whispered, or fooled around in any way, he’d pitch one and bop them hard on the back of the head with it. He never missed. The student, red-faced, was required to stand, retrieve, and return the eraser to the stack on the teacher’s desk.
So now you know what Mr. Bannon was like.
Back to the Scholastic book order. It finally arrived, and Mr. Bannon took it upon himself to list the names of all the titles ordered as he called up each student one by one to receive their books.
So in front of the entire class, boys and all, I was called up to receive my “Secrets of Loveliness” book. I remember hoping desperately that “The Story of My Life” would somehow cause a distraction from the other title. But the snickers from the boys, with Mr. Bannon adding his own, told me otherwise.
Okay, memory lane stroll session is over. My initial thought for the subject of this post was about having that “thrilling” sensation. Christmastime always brought a thrill of some sort every year: Childhood anticipation of new toys, adult thrill of creating new traditions, and anticipation of surprising our own children with their new toys.
It’s lacking at my house these days, and I’m wondering why. I just realized that today is the Winter Solstice, the darkest day of the year. Maybe that explains something. But we’re going to look at the Bethlehem Star tonight, first time in nearly 800 years, shouldn’t that cause a bit of frisson? Maybe not the same as the thrill of paperback book orders finally arriving, I’ll let you know.
I’m sobered by the behavior I’m seeing out in “the world”. People are doing some really crazy things these days. YouTube provides streams of videos showing frantic, desperate people acting out in absurd ways. I figure they’re at their wit’s end, what with it being 2020 and all.
I forget that not everyone is walking around in the peace that surpasses understanding, secure in the knowledge that Jesus has done it all for us. Believers know and have confidence in the fact that, in the end, everything is going to be okay. I shouldn’t take this for granted, but it’s been a systemic part of me since my infant baptism. (Couldn’t help inserting the “word of the year” there, apologies). And it helps me understand a possible motive behind the adult meltdowns we see happening on airplanes, in grocery stores, and so on. People have been stripped of their usual safety nets, and they’ve got nothing to catch their falls into fear and worry. That’s a really hard way to live, in unbelief. Going through life without any help or resources beyond ourselves would be unimaginable. If this is all there is, then the pressure’s on to make it count, get it right, make a difference, leave a legacy, live, laugh, love. Sounds exhausting.
The passage goes like this:
John 10:22-30: “…So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”
“Never” is a really long time. That’s security with a capital S. As long as I remember that this world is not my home, I’m just passing through, then everything’s going to be okay.
This passage in Mark chapter eight tells of Jesus healing the blind man in Bethsaida. Actually, He took the man by the hand and walked him outside of town to perform this miracle in private. Jesus spit right into the man’s eyes, and laid His hands right on the man’s face, twice, to perfect his vision.
That’s a lot of touch, up close and personal. Maybe I’m noticing this because we are living through a pandemic-driven time of social distancing and germaphobia. But the previous accounts of Jesus healing the sick and dying didn’t involve so much personal contact. There’s a touch of the hand, or just a word. And Jesus wasn’t anywhere near when He healed the centurion’s servant.
This is reminding me that Jesus isn’t limited by ritual or form. He can heal, or cast out, or revive back to life, any old way He wants to. I think He is more interested in our faith outcome than in the physical outcome. For some, He chooses a hands on approach. Others need to be given a task, like the leper showing himself to the priest. And some don’t need any touch at all. The centurion had faith enough that Jesus chose to heal his servant remotely.
Each miraculous event was unique according to the situation. And Jesus would give them stern orders to keep it to themselves. He told this blind man to go directly home, and bypass the village. Jesus tried so hard to keep things quiet, but of course word quickly spread and needy, desperate crowds grew larger and larger. I think Jesus saw this as a sidebar to His primary purpose of teaching and revealing how He would eternally heal us once and for all in due time. I’m sure He also felt the urgency to prepare the apostles for their future ministries. Time was always of the essence. But His compassion got the better of Him, and there are over 40 accounts of miraculous healings in the gospels.
I don’t remember a time when I could see 20/20 without glasses. I got my first pair in second grade for nearsightedness, and I remember the doctor saying they were long overdue. My frames were blue, and cat eye style. The lenses were thick and made my eyes look little. I hated them, and remember with clarity that my self image tectonically shifted from positive to negative the moment I put them on.
But I also remember the surprise. For the first time, I could see the individual leaves on the trees. That was what I kept telling my mom as I marveled at the view outside my window on the car ride home.
Today, if I take off my glasses, people would look just like trees walking around. My prescription has numbers that put me in the “legally blind” category without correction. I think it’s awesome that Jesus took extra care and time to correct the blind man’s vision all the way to 20/20.
I know that we are all figuratively nearsighted. We try to work out how to be the church on Earth until we get to go to our eternal home. We mean well, but we mess up, we get things wrong, and we keep trying.
I Corinthians 13:12 says: “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I shall know fully just as I have been fully known.”
I confess, I was going to bow out this month. After all, there’s the holidays, pandemic or no, to observe. And I’m doing Bonnie Hunter’s Grassy Creek Mystery, which is no small thing. But a word, this one word, has clinched it for me: Challenge.
This word taps into a weakness of character I possess, which is to respond viscerally to challenges. If someone throws one down, I’m going to pick it up and take it across the finish line. It doesn’t matter if there’s a prize, recognition, or special whatever at the end, it’s the challenge that affronts me and causes me to want to overcome.
(Note to self: Research fitness challenges online. Maybe this character flaw will help me get motivated in the personal health department.)
Now might be a good time to tell you that I was indeed a prizewinner for the month of October. I’m enjoying a six month’s subscription to Make Modern Magazine. Thank you, Elm Street Quilts!
I don’t think I even intended to participate every single month for this entire year, but now that I’ve reached the final lap, stopping now would feel like quitting.
In January I had plenty of old UFOs that needed this outside motivation to push them along to the finish line. It was with relish that I chose each month’s project, excited by the prospect that they’d be up and out of the dark, into the light. (Except for last month’s finish. It went right back into a dark wardrobe.) Eleven months and eleven finishes later, I find myself at a loss as to what to pick next. I’m down to just one quilt top, my Farmer’s Wife Sampler. I need to keep that one waiting longer, because there’s no way I want to rush it through to its end. To my pleasant surprise, I’ve found it to be true that quilting skills actually improve with lots of practice. But mine are not where I want them to be for this one.
The other projects I’ve got going are the Bible Sampler quilt, a stack of neutral Courthouse Steps, cut sets of Castle Wall blocks, Lori Holt Farmhouse Vintage blocks, and the plaid economy blocks. But I consider them all WIPs rather than UFOs. I want to keep all those going, like plates spinning, because I like the juggler method.
So I guess I’ll choose the project that is my newest, Blossom Time, because I can’t seem to stop working on it. I watched Bonnie Hunter make it on her blog, and the seed was planted in September:
I started piecing these tulip blocks. No plan, no goal, just having fun with a cheerful jelly roll and some muslin.
Pretty soon I used up the flower fabric, so I moved on from block play to layout play:
Because I didn’t plan ahead, I experienced opportunity costs along the way regarding layout choices. But that’s the fun of it, figuring it out as you go along. What could possibly go wrong? I could no longer spare the bed for layout, so I improvised a design wall which covered the closet. I believe this is why I continued on with diligence, I kept needing things that were in that closet.
While finishing up Frolic for November’s challenge, I settled on this design. I design visually, not mathematically. With a sashing in between, the borders should fit just fine, right?
Wrong. I want to turn the corners like this, but I’m an inch too short on the border pieces.
No worries, I’ll figure it out. So the goal is to finish this top. I’m thinking about doing the final border like Bonnie’s, or not. We shall see. But now that I have my closet back, I think I’ll give myself a break from Blossom Time and pick up clue one of Grassy Creek. I’ve completely switched out the colors on this mystery.
What could possibly go wrong? I figure if I’m in for a penny, I might as well be in for a pound.
Happy December! Next up, Bible Sampler quilt block number 71:
Here’s an old Lutheran joke for you today: You’ve heard of God’s chosen people? Well, we’re God’s frozen people.
When I read this passage, I think Lutherans are following the words of Jesus:
“(6) When you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place, and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. (7) And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. (8) Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.”
Yep, that describes our style of worship. Being called “frozen” might not be such a bad thing after all.
These instructions are followed by the words of the Lord’s Prayer. Jesus gave us a model, a framework, a guide for communication with God Himself. It hits all the points: adoration, submission, confession, forgiveness, and thanksgiving. We memorized and recited it word for word every night as young children. One of my comforts and joys of parenting was teaching my own babies this prayer as soon as they were able.
I attended an international Bible school for a year abroad, and we would all end our Sunday services with the Lord’s Prayer, each student speaking in their own mother tongue. It was wondrous to hear. Believers from all over the word lifting their prayers as one voice.
I wish I could recall the details, but I remember reading a POW’s story about his captivity in Vietnam. The men were separated visually, but they could hear each other. Up and down the cells, they recited the Lord’s Prayer together. Some sang hymns and recited the Apostle’s creed. The author said that over time, the complete Lutheran order of worship came back to him in bits and pieces. He shared it with his fellow prisoners and they collectively had lots of resources to comfort and sustain them.
The centuries old prayers, creeds, and liturgies of our faithful forefathers are still vital today.