Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Misfit’s Desk’ Category

I AM A MUSTARD SEED

And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. Matt 17:20

It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth: But when it is sown, it groweth up, and becometh greater than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches; so that the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it. Mark 4:31, 32

It is like a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and cast into his garden; and it grew, and waxed a great tree; and the fowls of the air lodged in the branches of it. Luke 13:19

And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you. Luke 17:6

Charles wrote an article several years ago titled “The Mustard Seed” in which he tells of the wrong teaching we have heard for centuries about “faith as a mustard seed”. This teaching, as Charles explains in his article, tells us that if we have faith the “size” of a mustard seed we can do wonders; work miracles and such. If this were actually the case then every person alive, self proclaimed atheists included, would be able to do miraculous things. As we all know, the mustard seed is one of the smallest seeds in existence; usually about 1 or 2 mm in diameter. Therefore, it would pretty much take no faith at all to do anything. But that is not what Jesus said. He said the faith of a mustard seed. Imagine, as Charles wrote, how much faith it would take for the mustard seed to overcome all the obstacles in it’s path. That would definitely be no small task. The mustard seed has to fight against all odds: the earth covering it as it is planted; the drowning of the water that must follow; not to mention the subsequent rains; the baking of the hot sun, etc. Then to reach the height that an adult plant or tree would come to, would certainly require much more faith than a tiny speck.

I want to be like the mustard seed; follow in the steps of a mustard plant with all the inclusions. I have been buried, as the seed must be in order to reach it’s full potential. I also have died to self, which is what the seed must do before it can grow. We all know that the original seed must die before it can grow. How this works I don’t know, but God does. The seed, and I, totally yield ourselves to the creator to use as He sees fit; not our desires but His will.

I will push forward toward the goal that God has set before me, regardless the cost. I will push against the dirt that covers me, I will be washed in the water of the word, as I die to my old self to become a new creation. I will grow in the grace and admonition of the Lord. This will give me the wisdom and knowledge I need to be found a worthy and obedient servant.

Notice that the mustard seed, as Jesus refers to it in Mark and Luke, produces a plant in which the birds can find shelter and rest. This is my desire as I work toward the goal of the mustard seed; to be someone others can come to for rest and shelter; because I have been through the pushing, and the struggling, and the growing that true faith has seen me overcome.

I think in writing these notes down of a children’s story I am sure you are familiar with… “The Little Engine That Could”. He was faced with tremendous obstacles and I’m sure laughter from the bigger engines but still he trudged on until he had reached his goal: *“A little railroad engine was employed about a station yard for such work as it was built for, pulling a few cars on and off the switches. One morning it was waiting for the next call when a long train of freight-cars asked a large engine in the roundhouse to take it over the hill. “I can’t; that is too much a pull for me,” said the great engine built for hard work. Then the train asked another engine, and another, only to hear excuses and be refused. In desperation, the train asked the little switch engine to draw it up the grade and down on the other side. “I think I can,” puffed the little locomotive, and put itself in front of the great heavy train. As it went on the little engine kept bravely puffing faster and faster, “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.”

As it neared the top of the grade, which had so discouraged the larger engines, it went more slowly. However, it still kept saying, “I—think—I—can, I—think—I—can.” It reached the top by drawing on bravery and then went on down the grade, congratulating itself by saying, “I thought I could, I thought I could.””

Then we have the story of David and Goliath; which we all know well. David wouldn’t even use the kings armour for protection; his faith was definitely that of a mustard seed. He had no doubt that God would give him the victory. Had either of these two had simply a grain of faith, neither would have reached their goal.

The little engine wasn’t fearful of the huge job ahead, although the engines built for the task were afraid; the little engine had the faith he needed to get the job done and was successful. David likewise, had the faith thru all the ridicule and mockery, much like the dirt piled on the mustard seed, that God would give him the victory. We all know how that ended.

My prayer is that I don’t have faith the “size” of a mustard seed, but that I have the faith that a mustard seed has as Jesus spoke. If you have the faith as a mustard seed you can move mountains; you can move a sycamine tree into the sea.

I am reminded of the story of an older woman who lived in the mountains. She had a mountain in front of her house and could not see past it. She remembered the teachings about the mustard seed. One night before she went to bed, she said her bedtime prayer asking for the mountain to be moved from her yard. She got up the next morning and it was still there. She said, “I KNEW it wouldn’t be gone.” She had a grain of faith that she used to pray that the mountain be moved, but she didn’t have the faith that a mustard seed has that it would actually be moved. Jesus also said, “Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done.” Matt 21:21; notice “and doubt not”.

I wonder if the faith of a mustard seed as it is taught, a tiny speck, is really faith, or more a case of “I’ll believe it when I see it”.

Hebrews 11:1 begins Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” You never know, in the flesh, what the outcome will be, but when you die to self and yield to the will of God, you are acting in spirit and your spirit overcomes the doubts; the confines of the flesh. Just as the seed must shed it’s outer shell in order to grow and produce fruit. You can’t see it, but there is evidence that God will work it out.

I WANT to be a mustard seed.

I AM a mustard seed.

Won’t you join me; have faith that can move mountains; shed the outer covering of flesh by yielding to the will of the Father. Become a shelter and resting place for fellow Christians who may not know how to have the faith of a mustard seed.

And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him, And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented. And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him. The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it. When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. Matthew 8:5-10

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Jesus and the Father could say the same about us? God is looking for faithful; ones that won’t be deterred from the call by worldly things; ones who will “come out from among them and be ye separate”.

Mustard seed faith is tremendous faith, not a tiny speck 1-2 mm in size.

I am a mustard seed.

© Maxine Branthoover 11/02/2014

*original title “The Story of the Engine That Thought It Could” Rev. Charles S. Wing 1906 public domain

Read Full Post »

                                                             Apple A

THE SHINY, RED APPLE

Several months ago while shopping, I decided to buy a few apples. I only wanted two or three as my husband wouldn’t eat any. I went to the red delicious apples and very carefully made my selections. The color was perfect; the size was perfect and there were no defects such as bruising and such. We checked out and came home. I was careful when putting the apples away as to not bruise them. A few days later I chose one for a snack. I always cut the apples into wedges and sprinkle with salt when preparing to eat them. While the first one wasn’t as juicy as I’d like, it was tasty and satisfied my craving. A few days later, I got the second one ready to eat. It still looked fresh and perfect. I rinsed it and proceeded to cut the wedges. Imagine my disappointment when I looked at my perfect apple that I had just cut in half and saw that the core was completely black. I’ve seen rotten apples before, but nothing like this was. It wasn’t soft and mushy, or brown like you might expect. There were no worms or wormholes; no insects to be seen and the black had spread into the majority of the meat of the fruit, making it inedible. Much to my disappointment, I had to throw it away. I got the last apple and cut it, only to find it much the same way.

While in prayer with the Father this morning, He brought this incident to my mind; with the thought of how people are. We often see or even know people who seem to be in perfect health, yet they have a hidden cancer or other ailment in their bodies eating away at them; it may be so well hidden that even they do not know about it. Maybe it’s someone you admire who seems to have it all together; living a perfect life, but behind closed doors there is much heartache; burdens hidden from everyone but themselves. No one knows what is hidden in either case; the cancer no one wants to talk about; the personal issues—financial difficulties—addictions—relationship issues. On the outside everything is perfect. We may even long to be like them because we don’t have it that good. Our lives are a mess and everyone we know knows about it.

Then we come to the church member; the “Christian”; the pastor; those who seem “saintly”. On the outside they too seem perfect. They sing the right songs; read the right books; pray the right prayers; put the right amount in the offering plate…on and on they go, but inside they too have a cancer eating them up. They know it, but no one else does; no one but God. Their souls are as black as they come. Their cancer/disease is an unclean heart or soul if you will. They do all the right things, but have never once asked God to come in and cleanse their hearts. Yes, they’ve cleaned up the outside, decorated it with good looks and good deeds, but the inside is what matters. The flesh, or outside is going to die and decay no matter how perfect it looks; but the inside, the “core” is what lives forever and must, MUST be cleansed, purified and perfected. God isn’t concerned about the outside. If the apples I had chosen had gotten bruised or damaged in some way, that part could be removed and the rest still useful. But being bad from the inside and working it’s way out left it fit for nothing but the compost heap; the garbage pile. No one else can see the condition of your core; your inner being. But you know what’s there and so does God.

It’s time to stop trying to please and impress the world. If you have a few flaws on the outside, it’s okay. Flaws give character to many different things. The lessons learned thru those flaws have taught you the importance of trials and hardships. I’ve heard about someone who washed the outside of the teacup, but left the residue on the inside. It looked good, but no one wanted to use it.  Matthew 23:25, 26  Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.  Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. 1 Samuel 16:7 “But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.

If you were an apple set before God, would He see a perfect, beautiful, flawless fruit that had a rotten, black, diseased core; or would He see one with bruises and maybe some cuts and scrapes, but the core is pure thru and thru?

We can fix the outside, but it’s all deception and will not last. Only God can fix our core; replace it with Himself and we will have something that will never be corrupted, diseased or rotted. This isn’t about wearing the best clothes; having a nice house, car, bank account or a pretty face. It’s about making sure your inside—your core, matches the perceived perfection of the outside.

Which would you prefer; a few bruises on the outside with a perfect core; or perfection on the outside with a diseased and rotten core?

This story of the three apples also brings to mind the story in Zechariah 13 speaking of the two parts and the one part of the church that will be cut off during the tribulation because though they be “perfect” on the outside, inside they are filled with dead men’s bones. Only one part is pure to the core; which is what God is looking for, and Jesus will return for.

God knows all things, even the hidden things of the heart. Psalm 44:21 “Shall not God search this out? for he knoweth the secrets of the heart.” You may hide the truth from everyone else, but not God.
No wonder there is a thing talked about called “core values”. You can’t go with “what they don’t know won’t hurt them…it just might, if the truth were to come out.

Matthew 23:27, 28   “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.  Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.”

Zechariah 13:7-9 “Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the LORD of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones. And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the LORD, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein. And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God.”

1 Peter 3:4 “But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.

 

Apples 3 A

 

© Maxine Branthoover 03/06/2014

Read Full Post »

NOW I KNOW WHY

If you have read, “God Why Did You Let This Happen To Me?”, I’d like to relate some things that have happened to my mother-in-law.  She is 90 years old.  In her early 50’s she had several heart attacks.  During the last one she “died”.  I know many don’t believe in “near-death” experiences but I will relay this anyhow.  Her words are, “I was in the most beautiful place, with white light around.”  When the doctors and nurses “brought her back”, she was angry with them shouting “WHY DID YOU BRING ME BACK?  I DIDN’T WANT TO COME BACK!”  But God wasn’t finished with her.  She has been a faithful witness of His grace, mercy and love to many people since then.  One recent experience was with a “people greeter” at her local Wal-mart.  (yes at 90 years old, she lives alone; having “lost” her husband in the mid 90’s, and she still drove at the time.)  She had relayed her experience of the “near death”; the beautiful place; and the white light, to her.  The greeter in turn told her sons.  Soon afterward, upon visiting the store again the people greeter hugged her; told her that she had relayed the story to her two sons.  When Sunday arrived the two sons went to church with her, which they had not been doing, and at the altar call went forward in acceptance of salvation.

This past week, Mom was in the hospital for tests due to unexplained fainting.  While in there, she roomed with another woman who was having tests.  The woman told Mom she was scared.  Mom simply told her that when she felt afraid to talk to the Father and ask Him to put His arms around her.  Mom told her, “He’ll do it.”

When the woman came back into the room, Mom watched her and the woman fell asleep.  When she awoke, she turned toward Mom and said, “What you told me to do,  I did and I did and I could feel His arms around me.  That is why I was able to sleep.”

Mom has been wanting to go home ever since the last heart attack but God has not seen fit to do so.  She is so tired of living and I can imagine that because I get tired sometimes and I’m almost half her age.

After getting back home from the hospital, she was walking down the hallway of her home and prayed “Father I’m so tired, when can I come home?”  She heard Him speak to her and say, “There is one more”.

She has one more to reach through her testimony and she can go home.

I sent her a poem I had written in 1998 that describes how she feels and she thinks it is BEAUTIFUL.  “I Wanna Go Home” is also on our web site.

Yes she is 90 and yes she wants to go home, but she is blessed to stay and reach that one more.
There is a purpose for your trials and heartaches.  Trust God that He knows what He is doing and it will work to His glory if we allow it and use it to do so.

Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.
© 7/27/2010  Maxine Branthoover

Read Full Post »

HOW CAN WE IMPRESS GOD?

Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. Luke 18: 10-13 (Luke 18:14)

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Matthew 7:21-23

Make a joyful noise unto God, all ye lands: Psalm 66:1 also read Psalm81:1; 95:1, 2; 98:4,6; 100:1

Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Ephesians 5:19

O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: 1 Timothy 6:20

But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. 2 Timothy 2:16.

Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech: 2 Corinthians 3:12

But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Matthew 6:7

Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool:  where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest?  For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been,saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word. Isaiah 66:1, 2

When I was in school I was taught “when you want to write a story, use lots of descriptive words. They make the story more interesting.” Not that I had planned to become a writer, but it was part of the english class. After being married to Charles and doing some writing, he explained to me that editors had told him just the opposite: write like you talk. You are more believable if you do it that way. Yet another, a publisher, told me after reading one of the children’s books I’d written, that I needed to change it. His suggestions would have put it on an adult level rather than a child’s level; which made no sense to me. I wanted children to understand the story. If a child can read and understand it, then everyone can understand and read it.

I’ve read stories with the descriptive, flowery words, and the story line actually gets lost in the description…“the swift, clear, cold, babbling brook frolicked along it’s flowered path in the strangely, quiet, yet densely treed forest.” Now I know you probably followed along with that sentence; but did you truly get the picture? Probably; but simply stated, “the babbling brook ran swiftly through the forest” makes better sense to me and is much easier to read.

We’ve heard it said that there are mansions for everyone in heaven. Well, my recollection of the scripture is that there are mansions, yes, but Jesus said “I go to prepare a place for you”. Now, He didn’t say a mansion. Charles and I talked about this recently, and the type of people we are, a “cabin” would be a mansion for us; if that is the way we will live when we arrive; if our bodies are going to be like His glorious body, a “celestial” body.  I kinda doubt that, but this is another example.

Now, on with what I’m trying to say with all of this. The last scripture above tells us basically, how can we expect to “impress” God with our fancy words, our glamorous buildings, our fancy this and fancy that, when He’s the one who made the materials we use to “create” these things; even on to our prayers. The scripture shows us clearly how the Pharisee prayed…”Oh Lord God, most high, I thank Thee that I have done such a good work for You.  That I am such a perfect specimen of mankind that You don’t need to worry about me. I am perfect and I am not like the lowly man You see next to me who doesn’t even have the courtesy to lift his head to you…, …, …, I remain truly perfect, AMEN. (paraphrased of course)

HHHHHMMMMM………………………………

We have heard the flowery speeches called prayers from those “elite” Christians; those who have had some flowery writer write a prayer for them to memorize so they will look good and not embarrass themselves come Sunday morning should they be asked to “lead” in prayer.

When God called Moses, did He not know that Moses wasn’t an eloquent speaker? Moses tried to use that as an excuse but God didn’t buy it. He took away his excuse by allowing Aaron to speak for him, then after a while Moses realized he could do it himself.

Pretty words are nice, but they don’t carry anymore weight with God, nor do they mean anymore. Most of us would have to decipher the words before we could understand what someone was saying to God. Maybe they didn’t mean what we thought they meant. We are cautioned against such things. The most powerful prayers I’ve heard and you’ve heard songs made from them are the type such as “The Farmer’s Prayer” JD Sumner turned into a popular recitation. I’m surprised God doesn’t get confused about what we’re praying. Wonder if that’s possible. I know I’ve gotten confused listening to some of the prayers in church.

I like the example given when some one was told, “I don’t know how to pray. I’ve never done it, what do I do?” The response given was the best you could possibly give, “Put an empty chair near you or across from you, ‘pretend’ God is sitting in the chair. Now talk to Him like He was really there; just as you would your best friend. That’s what He is and wants to be.” It really does work. No fancy words, no false sincerity, just you and your best Friend having a chat. Isn’t that really the way it should be?

The publican in the scripture bowed his head in humility, recognizing the greatness of God, and his great need for God. He simply asked to be forgiven for the sinner that he was. The scripture completes the story that the publican returned to his home JUSTIFIED, because he humbled himself before God. No false “airs” here.

I’ve recently come to the conclusion based on what I’ve seen and heard from folks around me, that they want us to think God doesn’t answer prayer unless it’s “beautiful”. Yet God looks on the intent of the heart that uttereth the prayer…doesn’t He?

We singers and musicians tend to, at times, use our God given abilities to show what we can do rather than, “let me sing you a song that will tell you what God wants you to hear.” We want to go all the way up the scale or all the way down the scale to “impress” who? Where did the message in the song go? We don’t see it because of: “WOW, she went 2 octaves above the norm. You should have heard glass break!!!” We have those who “rattle the floorboards” with the depth of voice; those who would do good underwater with their lung capacity. Then there are those who play their instrument beautifully but, had they not given the name of the song they were playing, we would not recognize it. No chance for humming along, making melody in our hearts. Each trying to “out do” the other…but why? God’s message has always been simple and clear. We need to represent HIM with our talents. The message is lost in the acrobatics and theatrics. The same can be said for preachers and pastors…trying to yell louder than the others…some would make better auctioneers than preachers. Impressing God or each other? I remember Elijah on Mt Carmel and the prophets of Baal…the Baal worshipers were the ones with all the theatrics; Elijah made a simple, humble prayer to Jehovah God. He let God do the impressing.

We try to build the biggest and the best “temple” for God. Why? God told us long ago that He would not dwell in a house any more; and as the scripture says yet again, He made everything we use to build with, the lumber, the gold, etc, etc, He even uses gold for streets where He is, how could a crystal and gold chandelier impress ALMIGHTY GOD? We can’t impress Him and in reality we aren’t trying to…we’re trying to impress each other; see who can have the biggest church, the grandest Christian school, the grandest, the grandest, the grandest. No wonder we have a hard time getting lost people into the church. The only ones who would feel welcome in these places are the ones whose finances make them feel sanctified enough to come. I dare say the publican wouldn’t feel welcome in these places. If the members welcomed them, they would be so afraid of breaking something or maybe they forgot to clean their shoes. There was a story once of a little girl who was not wealthy by any means. “A sobbing little girl stood near a small church from which she had been turned away because it “was too crowded.” “I can’t go to Sunday School, “she sobbed to the pastor as he walked by. Seeing her shabby, unkempt appearance, the pastor guessed the reason and, taking her by the hand, took her inside and found a place for her in the Sunday School class”. There WAS room, she just wasn’t acceptable. The child was so touched that she went to bed that night thinking of the children who have no place to worship Jesus. She started saving her pennies, telling no one. Some two years later, this child lay dead in one of the poor tenement buildings and the parents called for the kind hearted pastor, who had befriended their daughter, to handle the final arrangements. As her poor little body was being moved, a worn and crumpled purse was found which seemed to have been rummaged from some trash dump. Inside was found 57 cents and a note scribbled in childish handwriting which read, “This is to help build the little church bigger so more children can go to Sunday school. The story had a happy ending though, her note made the church aware of what they had done and brought about a change of attitude; a change of heart.

We were on a television program a while back and the host mentioned that so many times the churches are like an ambulance traveling the roads…looking for the healthy and the well, they don’t want any sick or wounded in the ambulance to dirty it. Let’s keep it all nice and clean.

What kind of prayer will get God’s attention?

What kind of song does God listen to?

What kind of building will get God’s admiration?

What kind of heart will get God’s grace and mercy?

What kind of ‘works’ will pave the road into heaven?

Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: Isaiah 29:13

Jeremiah 2:5; Thus saith the LORD, What iniquity have your fathers found in me, that they are gone far from me, and have walked after vanity, and are become vain?

Matthew 15:8; This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.

Mark 7:6-9 He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men,…

Hhhhhhmmmmm.

Pharisee or publican……

© Maxine Branthoover 03/2009

Read Full Post »