Archive | October 2009

MY LIST OF LISTS

In less than four weeks now I will be on a plane to Ecuador! I check the countdown clock on my computer every day – sometimes several times a day – and the little Naranjo girls call or e-mail all the time asking, “What’s the countdown now, Grandma?” As of this very moment it says, 26 days, 21hours, 50 minutes and 13…12…11…seconds until I leave on that bus for the airport.
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I am excited, and at the same time a little scared. Can I possibly get everything done before I go that must be done? I’ve already accomplished two of the biggest things. In the last few weeks I wrote “The End” on two of the three books I needed to finish before I leave. Gabi, Melissa and Katie are expecting new books from Grandma when she comes and I could not bear to disappoint them. Melissa’s and Katie’s books are done. Whew! I seriously asked the Lord to help me with Gabi’s – to give me good ideas, ease of writing, fewer interruptions and so on. It is coming along very well, and I know it is because the Lord is helping me. I now feel that I will finish it in time, but the question is, will I have the time left over to cross off everything else on my list of things to do?
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Or should I say lists? I have a list of lists! There is the “Writing Projects to Finish” list, which includes not only the three books, but a message for the ladies in Laurie’s church, a skit for a seniors’ Christmas luncheon at our church, printing and binding the books and a couple other things, my weekly blog, etc.
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Then there are the shopping lists – and I have a list of shopping lists, in itself! “Laurie’s List of Things to Buy and Bring with Me;” my “Christmas Shopping List for the Naranjos;” the “Supplies for the Ministry Outreach Projects I Want to Do in Ecuador” list; a few things for myself; necessities for Bob and Robbie while I am gone; etc. Of course, then I have to get everything into a carry-on and two fifty pound suitcases so I have a Packing List – my personal clothes, hand-me-down clothes for Matthew (which I still have to go through and compact into space bags), toiletries, prescriptions, gifts, supplies, books, passport, tickets, money and on and on…
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Another list of lists is the “Things to Do to Keep the Homefires Burning List” which includes “Meals to Prepare Ahead of Time for Bob;” the “Suggestions of What Bob Can Fix for Himself” list; the “Bills to Write Out” list; “Prescriptions to Call In” list; and the “Things to Do to Get this House Back in Shape After being Sorely Neglected While I Wrote My Fingers To the Bone and Did Everything Else on the Lists” list. That one may not be accomplished, I fear. It is at the very end of my list of “Priorities” and I pray if it does not, that Bob will not only forgive me, but take mercy on me and clean it himself while he has two weeks off to stay home with Robbie! Sure would be wonderful to come home to a nice clean house!
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To round things off, there is my “Project List for Pastor.” Most of the things that were on that have been crossed off, praise the Lord! Missions Month is over, the International Dinner is over and the few upcoming things (that I know of – there may be more to come for Christmas) have been pushed back until January. All that remains on this list are the Powerpoint presentations for Pastor’s messages for the next few weeks.
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Do you know how much time it takes just to write these lists? I suppose it is time well spent, though, since these days my memory is shot and if I didn’t have them I would probably forget half the things on my lists. Oh, that reminds me – I need to write a “Things to Remember” list so that I don’t forget to confirm and print my boarding passes 24 hours prior to my flights, transfer money to different accounts, program the DVR to tape my shows, show Bob how to use Skype so he can webcam with us — what am I forgetting?
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Those are just the lists that I need to fulfill before the trip. I also have a shopping list for while I am in Ecuador – small Christmas presents to bring home with me, a few souvenirs for people back home, a few gifts for people down there, and so on. Laurie and the girls and I have our list of things to do while I am there, too. It includes a tea party for my birthday with all the Naranjo women and girls; a traditional American Thanksgiving dinner with the entire Naranjo family so they can see how it’s done in the USA; speaking to the ladies in their church; passing out goodie bags and tracts to the very poor Indian children and their mothers out in the mountain villages; going up to Paccha (Fernando’s family getaway in the country); visiting the Inca ruins and other sightseeing spots; and lastly, but most importantly – just spending time with my kids and grandkids – shopping with the girls, reading books and playing games together, celebrating an early Christmas and so on. The two weeks I will be there will disappear in a flash! I hope we can squeeze it all in!
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Then when I get home, it is time to get ready for Christmas and the Sanchez family’s visit here! More lists to come, I am sure!
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All this preparation! It is good to work towards a goal. The Bible commends the ants who work hard in preparing for the winter. “There be four things which are little upon the earth, but they are exceeding wise: The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer.” (Proverbs 30:24, 25) “Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise:” (Proverbs 6:6) A big part of my preparation in working toward a goal is in making lists and being organized. The lists do no good, though, unless they are followed up on and accomplished. Nothing gives me more satisfaction than to see, one by one, each of the things on my list crossed off! This often takes a lot of hard work, perseverance and determination.
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Proverbs 31:10-31 gives us the account of the Virtuous Woman. What a hard worker she was! She was prepared and thought ahead and she worked hard to accomplish the goals she had set for herself and her family. There is no mention of list-making in this passage, but you can definitely see her organizational skills here as she moves through her tasks wisely and with strength and purpose.
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10 Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.
11 The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.
12 She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.
13 She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.
14 She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar.
15 She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to
****her maidens.
16 She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a
****vineyard.
17 She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.
18 She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night.
19 She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.
20 She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the ****needy.
21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with
****scarlet.
22 She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.
24 She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.
25 Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.
26 She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.
27 She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.
29 Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.
30 Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be
****praised.
31 Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.
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I would not begin to compare myself with the Virtuous Woman of Proverbs 31 and all that she seemed to accomplish, and yet there are principles and characteristics here that I think we modern women can glean from her example. She abounds with qualities like wisdom, strength, kindness, endurance, perseverance, preparedness, faithfulness, willingness, industriousness, good self-esteem, charity, fearlessness, honor, and trustworthiness. How many of those same qualities can we say we share?
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Making lists is only one tool that helps me accomplish the things the things I need to do. Other people may have different ways of doing things that work equally well for them. The important thing to remember is to work hard and do the best we can in all things to the best of our ability. This brings honor to God and blesses all those around us. It also brings us a feeling of satisfaction in our own souls when we know we are doing what is right and good.
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One final thing – having said all that, my lists are not set in stone. Who knows what a day will bring forth? All my big plans and little details may not be on God’s agenda. He is in control of my life and my day, and I can make all the lists I want to, but in the end, it is He who enables me to accomplish them – or changes the path I was set upon. Lists are great, but being flexible and willing to accept God’s will should it be different than our own, is far more important. “Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” (Matthew 6:31-34)
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My countdown clock now stands at 26 days, 19 hours and 24 minutes. My lists are written and I have my work cut out for me! Will I finish everything on time? The Lord knows and it is in His hands. Now if I can just remember that and try not to stress…

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DULCE DE LECHE

Please forgive me – I won’t be doing a “Sundays with Cindy” this week. Today is World Missions Sunday at our church and we are having an International Dinner tonight. Pastor asked me to head it up and I have spent the last few weeks working hard at planning and preparing for it. One of the things we did was ask our missionaries from around the world to send us recipes that we could use for our dinner, so instead of writing my blog this morning I will be in the kitchen making “Chicken Yassa” from the Gambia in West African, and a dessert from Ecuador called “Dulce de Leche.” I am a little nervous about making two totally foreign dishes to me that I have never prepared before, or even tasted, and then having to take it to share at church. But as I’ve been saying to the other nervous women who have been calling me all week about their recipes, who’s going to know the difference if it isn’t exactly the way they do it in Africa or Ecuador or Thailand or Norway?

Speaking of Norway – I’m just glad I didn’t get the recipe for Elk Stew. I have had elk in my freezer before, but I don’t happen to have any this year. Of course the recipe did say if you don’t have any elk, you can substitute reindeer. Hmm, I’m fresh out of reindeer, too!

Anyway, I thought you might be interested in this recipe Laurie sent us from Ecuador. I copied it just as she wrote it.

DESSERT — Dulce de Leche [Literally “Sweet from Milk”]
(serves approx. 20 people)

This is kind of a gooey topping that is usually spread on little breads (like small pan rolls) or crackers, like Ritz crackers. It reminds me a lot of the frosting for a German chocolate cake but without the pecans.

Ingredients:

4 liters of milk (approx. 1 gallon)
4 tsp. cinnamon
5 cloves
5 cups sugar
2 lb. coconut
1 Tbsp. butter
1 egg, beaten
small breads or rolls or crackers for serving

Simmer milk with cinnamon and cloves for 15 minutes. Remove cloves. Add sugar and keep simmering for 10 more minutes. Add coconut and simmer about 15 more minutes until mixture gets thick and the spoon leaves a “trail” as you stir it. (Also, the mixture might start to pop and jump when it’s about ready.) Add butter and egg (already beaten) to the mix and stir. Remove from heat immediately.

Spread on small breads or crackers to serve. [I’m using the Ritz crackers. I thought the combination of sweet ‘n’ salty sounded good!]

And just a bit of spiritual dulce de leche for thought:

“And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” John 6:35
“The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.” Psalm 19:9, 10
“As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.” I Peter 2:2,3
Okay, I think I just did a “Sundays with Cindy,” after all! Enjoy!

SACRED HERITAGE — A TRIBUTE TO 75 YEARS OF FAITHFULNESS

I went to a concert last night – the first I had been to in a couple years. It was at the church I grew up in, Hessville Baptist Church in Hammond, IN. The church is celebrating its 75th anniversary this weekend – a wonderful achievement in this day when so many churches have closed their doors or become watered-down versions of what they had once been. Anyone at Hessville Baptist would tell you that the glory and praise for that goes to God. Sure, the numbers are not what they once were, but He has brought them through some pretty tough trials. They’ve struggled over the years to stay above water in a declining area, but still, praise the Lord, the doors are open and the Gospel is being preached.
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Our family has been a part of Hessville Baptist Church for nearly 55 of its 75 years. I was three years old when my mother first took me. We rode the Sunday School bus for several years until my dad was saved when I was nine years old, and then he took us himself. I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior at the age of six and was baptized in that church. My siblings were all saved there, too. The strong foundations of my biblical training and growth began at Hessville Baptist Church.
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Bob and I met and began dating through a church activity and he accepted Christ as his Savior there, as well. We were married there and started serving the Lord together in that church. When our children came along, they too were saved and baptized at Hessville Baptist Church. Bob was an associate pastor of youth and music, and I taught preschool in its Christian school. Later it was one of the first churches to support us as home missionaries.
God has used the people and ministry of Hessville Baptist Church to play an important and very special part in our lives and to help make us the people we are today. And if that were not enough, for all of those 55 years, we have known that we are loved there. We have been so blessed by God in our lives, and one of His greatest blessings has been in making us a part of the Hessville Baptist Church family.
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This is the story of the impact this faithful church has had on just one family. You can multiply that by many hundreds of families, many thousands of lives over the last 75 years. It is wonderful to have a reunion this weekend of many who have come back to recognize and celebrate this special anniversary, but can you imagine the reunion someday in Eternity when the Lord may actually show us exactly how great an impact the testimony and ministry of Hessville Baptist Church has had in Hammond and around the world?
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The name of the group who sang at the concert last night was “Sacred Heritage” – very fitting, I think, for the legacy that Hessville Baptist Church has left behind. I have thought often, the last few years, of the spiritual legacy that I am leaving to my children and grandchildren and all the descendants who will come behind. I pray that I will be found faithful, and that my godly example will influence and inspire young lives to follow after Him as I have followed. In the same manner, there have been and will continue to be generations whose lives have been touched for the Lord by Hessville Baptist Church. Praise the Lord for its faithfulness. Eternity will tell the true tale of its legacy.
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“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now; Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”
Philippians 1:3-6

PASSPORT TO THE WORLD

October is Missions Month in our church. We will have special missionary speakers throughout the month and October 18th will be World Missions Sunday. I am looking forward to that day when we will have four missionary families with us. Two mission agencies, Compassion International and Gideons, will also be represented during the conference. Among the other activities and special services that day, we will have an International Dinner. I have been working on several of the special projects for this missions conference for over a month now and it is exciting to see our hard work coming to fruition. Missions has always been near and dear to my heart, so my prayer is that this special emphasis in our church will be used by God to stir hearts to be laborers in His harvest fields, whether here or abroad, and to really care and pray for those who go.
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The theme for Missions Month is “The Gospel – Our Passport to the World.” Pastor asked me to design little passports to hand out to everyone, with pages featuring the missionaries and agencies we will have with us, and places where they can be “stamped” by the missionaries, etc. I was also asked to write a short skit for World Missions Sunday along that theme. I had just renewed my passport this year in preparation for my upcoming trip to Ecuador, and I can assure you, I probably have the best read passport in the USA after using it for my inspiration in these projects!
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I would like to share that skit here with you today as just a little food for thought:

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Passport to the World

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Matthew 28:19-20)

Setting: A missionary (older man) is standing next to his display shaking hands with people as they leave the church. Two or three people come through, quickly shake hands and move on. A young couple comes up to display and stops to look at it.

Missionary Whitman: (Smiling and reaching out to shake hands.) Hi, there!

Pete: Good morning, Mr. Whitman. Really enjoyed your message this morning. Thanks so much for sharing your ministry with us today.

Whitman: You’re welcome. It’s great to be here! (To young wife) Do you see anything that interests you, young lady?

Meg: (She smiles, picking up a curio to look at it more closely.) It all interests me!

Pete: Oh, excuse me! I guess we should introduce ourselves. My name is Pete Jenkins and this is my wife, Meg.

Whitman: Good to meet you both!

Pete: To tell you the truth, Mr. Whitman, we are very interested in missions. Every time we have one of these missions conferences, or a missionary comes to speak, we just feel like maybe the Lord is calling us somehow into missions. And now, we can’t seem to shake that feeling, even in between hearing missionaries speak here in our church.

Meg: We don’t know, though… We have so many questions! How do we know for sure if God is really calling us, and it’s not just our own feelings leading us? Where in the world would He have us to go if He is calling us? Our hearts feel burdened every time we see a missionary presentation. And really, we don’t even know if we’re strong enough to do something like this—all that preparation, I mean, and then to leave family and home behind… (She shrugs her shoulders and looks doubtful.)

Pete: (Earnestly) Yes, how can we know if we really are called and if we have what it takes to be a missionary?

Whitman: (Laughs.) Hold on! To really answer all those questions would take hours. I encourage you to speak with your pastor and share your questions with him. Let me just share a couple simple things with you right now, though… You remember how I spoke on The Great Commission this morning? Matthew 28:19 and 20 says, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” The call has been given to all Christians right there. It is the last thing Christ said on this earth before He returned to Heaven. The call has been given. God is just waiting for us to answer.

Pete: So God has already called us…

Whitman: Look. (He picks up a passport from the display table.) This is my old passport. The United States government issued it to me, and all the authority of the United States of America stands behind it in allowing me to travel throughout the world. (He holds up his Bible.) The Gospel is my authority from the Lord Himself. The Great Commission is a commandment, or a mandate to His followers that we are to go in His name—in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost—and take the Gospel throughout the world so that others may hear of Him and be saved.

Meg: So it’s not just a call, but a commandment?

Whitman: (He nods.) With all of God’s authority behind it. And not only that, but it is a commission that is personal to each one of us! (Holds up passport again.) This passport was issued to me and to me alone. (Turns pages) It says right here on page five that it is unlawful for anyone else to use it! The Great Commission is personal as well! If we are saved, we are individually to take part in the Great Commission in some way—whether it be here or abroad; whether it be through praying, giving or actually sharing the Good News of the Gospel ourselves. Our salvation is very personal thing, isn’t it? When Jesus says “Come unto me, all ye who labor and are heavy laden,” that is very personal isn’t it? Well, someone has said, ‘Go ye’ is as much a part of Christ’s Gospel as ‘Come unto Me.’

Pete: So we need to take “Go ye” personally.

Meg: (Thoughtfully) I don’t think I ever thought of it that way before. I mean, I guess I just thought it was the church’s responsibility to do something about missions… I’m still kind of scared, though. It seems like such a huge thing!

Whitman: (Holds up passport.) This passport not only tells me that I have the authority of the US government behind me, but I also have its assistance if I run into trouble in a foreign country or have an emergency. I just have to contact the nearest US embassy or consulate. (Holds up Bible.) Matthew 28:20 says, “and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” Christ promises right here in this passage to be with us always, no matter where we are in this world, when we are obeying His Great Commission. The authority and assistance of the US government is great, but how far greater is God’s authority and help! He protects and equips us for whatever He has called us to do!

Pete: There is no reason, then, to be afraid if we have a mandate from God and His promise to go with us.

Whitman: That’s right! And here’s something else. On the very first page of my passport the United States government requests that other countries allow me to enter. When I enter another country my passport is stamped. Each of these stamps inside my passport represents a nation. And each of these nations represents millions of lost souls. The Gospel is my passport to reach those lost souls, my passport to a world of lost souls! And Pete and Meg, let us never forget that the Gospel of Jesus Christ, crucified and resurrected for our salvation, is the passport to Heaven for each of those precious souls who believes in Him and accepts Him as their personal Savior.

Pete: Amen, Brother Whitman, amen. Thanks for taking the time to speak with us this morning. (They shake hands and then Pete looks at Meg.) Well, Honey, we have a lot to think about. Let’s go home and pray that the Lord will show us what He wants our part to be in the Great Commission. And I think we’d better apply for our passports—just in case! (He puts his arm around her shoulder and they walk away.)

The End

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Whether we are called to go into all the world, into our own neighborhoods, or to our own families and friends; whether we are called to preach or teach, testify, build, give or pray – if we are truly Christians we are called to be a part of the Great Commission. Those who are called to stay behind and support through prayer and finances are just as responsible to do their part as those who are called to go, and will partake of the rewards equally, as well. Hudson Taylor, the great missionary to China in the late 1800’s said, “The Great Commission is not an option to be considered; it is a command to be obeyed.” May we each prayerfully consider if we are doing our part to reach the world for Christ.*

Finally, a few more thoughts to ponder from great men and women of God who had true hearts for missions:

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“God isn’t looking for people of great faith, but for individuals ready to follow Him”
— Hudson Taylor

“If a commission by an earthly king is considered an honor, how can a commission by a
Heavenly King be considered a sacrifice?” — David Livingstone

“The Bible is not the basis of missions; missions is the basis of the Bible” – Ralph Winter

“The mission of the church is missions” — Oswald J. Smith

“We must be global Christians with a global vision because our God is a global God.” –
John Stott

“The mark of a great church is not its seating capacity, but its sending capacity.” — Mike
Stachura

“In no other way can the believer become as fully involved with God’s work, especially
the work of world evangelism, as in intercessory prayer.”
— Dick Eastman

“Prayer is the mighty engine that is to move the missionary work.” — A.B. Simpson

“‘Go ye’ is as much a part of Christ’s Gospel as ‘Come unto Me.’ — J. Stuart Holden

“I believe that in each generation God has called enough men and women to evangelize
all the yet unreached tribes of the earth. It is not God who does not call. It is man who
will not respond!” — Isobel Kuhn

“The Christian is not obedient unless he is doing all in his power to send the Gospel to
the heathen world.” — A B Simpson

“We talk of the Second Coming; half the world has never heard of the first.” — Oswald J.
Smith

“Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God” — William Carey

“Lost people matter to God, and so they must matter to us.” — Keith Wright

“If you found a cure for cancer, wouldn’t it be inconceivable to hide it from the rest of
mankind? How much more inconceivable to keep silent the cure from the eternal
wages of death.” — Dave Davidson