Reading & Musing on a Sunday Morning

I was reading a passage of scripture this morning and decided to write my thoughts down, in case anyone is interested.

II Corinthians 12: 2-10

In this account, the Apostle Paul is telling the church members at Corinth about an experience he has had, and the effect this vision has had in his life. He doesn’t name himself, yet Bible scholars agree that he’s telling his own story here.

2 I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago…such an one caught up to the third heaven.
3 And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth)
4 How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.

Some scholars have read the story of when Paul was stoned and left for dead, wondering if he really did have an out-of-body experience. The Apostle himself isn’t certain, and leaves it open as to whether he was really dead or if this was a vision he had. However, during this experience he saw such beauty and glory, and heard such words as could never be described to an audience here on earth.

5 Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities.

So why doesn’t he tell the world about his experience? Why does he refer to it so discreetly, not mentioning that this happened to him? Why does he rather rejoice that he has these infirmities that drag him down? First, he doesn’t want people lifting him up:

6 For though I would desire to glory…now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me.
7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.

Most scholars agree that this “thorn in the flesh” was an infirmity that slowed him down, and probably a disfiguring one. We get the impression from different passages that Paul wasn’t such an attractive man.

8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.
9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

God has chosen to leave him weak so that the Spirit of the Lord can speak through him. People aren’t meant to look to Paul for the answers in life. The Lord Jesus doesn’t want people following Paul because he’s physically attractive or such a persuasive orator. So the Lord leaves him with this weakness, one which seems, from other scriptures as well, to be obvious to Paul’s audience.

Paul accepts this situation with grace:
10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

It’s so human to want to be strong, to be talented, articulate, to have our listeners nod when we present our ideas. The thought of stepping up to speak, either to an individual or to a crowd, and having absolutely no speech planned out is frightening. The thought of stammering and groping for words is abhorrent to most of us. Likewise we’re inclined to shy away from a task if we’ve had no prior experience in that line. None of us want to sound, or look, dumb.

When we lived in Ontario our neighbour was a minister in another denomination. One day his wife explained to me how ministers were hired. A congregation in need will hear of a pastor who wants to move from the place he’s at, so a small delegation from the pastor-less church goes to hear him —or her, in this group— speak. If the pastor presents a good sermon, if they like the looks of him and feel he’d be a good fit for their own congregation, they offer to hire him. (Again, or her.) How tempting would it be to put a lot of effort into making a good physical impression.

Paul has adopted a different mind-set. In one place he says, “The ways of God are higher than ours.” Aware of his own weakness as a human being, he “takes a step back from himself” and rather goes forward in the Lord. The idea of winning followers of using eloquence to gain a good salary, these are laid aside. He doesn’t take pains to please the audience or “keep out of trouble.” He rather lets the words of Jesus flow through him and speak to the hearts of his audience.

This is more pleasing to God and the Gospel more effective, than if Paul could attract listeners and entertain them with his own oratory ability, or persuade them by his skillful reasoning. He leaves us this example, so none of us can feel we’ve nothing to offer. When we feel we have no talent, skills, physical attraction, or never “the right words,” we can comfort ourselves God’s words to Paul: “My strength is made perfect in weakness.”

 

Bargains, Birds, Blogging

Good morning everyone!

I love the idea of a Monday morning, lots of things to do and a whole week ahead. I always start out with high hopes—and it would be great if I’d have a plan for my week as well. Sadly, time management is a skill I’ve never acquired, but I’ll plod through the week and do my best. I have so many posts I’d like to write and hope to do lots of digging this week as well, both literal and figurative. (Flowerbeds + family tree roots.)

BIRDS

I glance at the calendar and wonder how it can it be that we’re approaching the middle of May already. Looking outside, opening the window, I’m seeing and hearing a lot of different birds in the woods beside us. At noon we saw mourning doves picking their way along under our feeder.

My swallows have come back and are hoping for nests, but those pernicious, malicious English sparrows have claimed at least one of our bird-houses. I sat outside for half an hour this morning where I could watch the goings-on and decide what action to take. I saw the swallows come several time to check out the East-side nest, but the sparrows loitering in the shrubs at the edge of the yard came and drove them away.

Okay for you, guys! I took down the nest and hung it in the shrubs where they hang out. maybe that will keep them occupied and away from the house at least. When the wrens get back, they can fight over it; wrens, for all their midget size, are feisty birds and quite capable of taking over a nest if they want it.

BARGAINS

I stopped in at my daughter’s for a bit Saturday evening and she told me they’d been garage sale-ing. Here in Canada the GARAGE SALE signs start going up soon after our spring birds arrive, and sellers usually pack it in by the end of June. I used to enjoy this sport quite a bit, until my house got too full for any more stuff. But having a garage sale yourself is fun, too.
dear old grandma
clutching a neighbour’s pickle dish
her sale next week

Sometimes you get amazing bargains on something you really need. One day I bought a book for $1 and it helped me so much with a personal problem I was going through. And some folks start special collections from their garage and yard sale finds. I recently visited another blogger via the READER and read an older post she wrote about How A Garage Sale Changed My Life.

Do you plan to do any Garage Sale-ing this spring? Let me know in the comments what your special collections are.

BLOGGING

Speaking of blogs — and blog awards — I see in this morning’s notifications that I’ve been awarded the MYSTERY BLOGGER AWARD by Sue over at Crooked Creek.

According to the creator, Okoto Enigma:
The “Mystery Blogger Award” is an award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there, and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging; and they do it with so much love and passion.

Of course the deal is answer some questions about yourself and then to pass the award — and the questions — on to at least ten other bloggers, as with the old fashioned “chain letters.” (Minus the post card and dire consequences if you fail to comply.)

The problem is often to find ten other bloggers who will accept the award and pass it on. Some like doing blog awards and some can’t be bothered. I think I’ll use my one-thing-at-a time approach to this project. Stay tuned.

And with my current involvement in Family tree research, my cousin Linda has asked if I want to do some posting our our Vance-Turner Connect blog again. We started this in Sept 2013, hoping a few other cousins would have some family stories to share, but the idea didn’t pan out.  Still, it’s a good place to record family history. Click here if you’re curious about it.

I hope you all have a great week.

Haiku For Lunch

We were in the city having lunch at a BK by a main thoroughfare. These haiku distilled from my window observations:

verses
scribbled on a napkin
finer dining

bearing gifts
from afar
UPS

snail on the move
with all his chattels
U-Haul

Texas watermelon
rounded up
and driven north

restored Model T
repainted — Henry Ford
would turn purple*

*Henry Ford, when asked about making cars in colors, apparently replied, “I’ll make any color, as long as it’s black.”

Putting the Picture Together

choosing the rigth piece. decision concept
As I said in  an earlier post, eight days ago I received the results of my DNA test and got a long list divided into potential 1st + 2nd cousins, 3rd to 4th cousins, and 4-6th cousins. I was invited to give ancestry.com a try —a “14 Day Free Trial” to be exact . So you can guess where I’ve been this past week. 🙂
Cluttered desk
I already had a stack of data loosely gathered.
Through Ancestry.com I can now access the family trees of near & far kin. From other Falconer descendants I’ve learned my great-grandfather’s parents, John & Jemimah Falconer were both born in Scotland (she in Inverness) and met and married in Pennsylvania before moving to Minnesota.

Ancestry also has an extensive collection of census records, govt & church birth, marriage & death registrations that often verify — but sometimes raise gnarls in the branches. According to our family’s oral history, gr-gr-grandfather John Turner was born in County Fernanagh, Ireland in 1810 and came to Canada in 1828 and married Alice Doyle, “from an old Irish family. However, when I found the marriage registration of his son William to Alice Watchorn — my great-grandparents— it says John was born in Canada and his wife Elizabeth in England. More stats show 35 years between John’s oldest (1830) and youngest child (1865); Annie obviously died and he remarried Elizabeth, but who was she?

Ancestors.Mark Martins
Mark Martins, Pixabay

Altogether, the stats, info, records, and scraps of family stories have the appearance of a huge schmozzle of names and dates to be sorted and pieced together.

And, because I enjoy jigsaw puzzles and scrap-quilt piecing, I hope to assemble the families into in some sensible order. If you don’t see any blog posts from me for a few weeks, this is likely what I’ll be doing.

Ancestors.Mark Martin.jpg
Mark Martins, Pixabay