Wednesday, June 28, 2006
What are your thoughts?
Monday, June 26, 2006
Empress came to me as an undomesticated young cat without a home. I rescued her from several kids who were chasing and tormenting her in our neighborhood, and we formed a close bond in the years that followed.
I remember with fondness the many days and hours we spent together. She climbed trees with me and settled on my lap as the leaves rustled around us. We raced each other across our back field, and Empress spent countless hours curled up on my chest as I read. She was one of the few cats that came when called, and I never lost the feeling of privilege when she walked across the floor to me when she heard my voice.
I loved her very much, and I know she loved and trusted me in return. God gave me His best when he brought Empress into my life.
Here are a few things I wrote about Empress when she first came to us.
Note: The "Raccoon" mentioned is my Empress. She quickly wore out her first wild name for the majestic one she carried for the rest of her life.
April 6, 1999 8:40 p.m.
I found a cat in my front yard. It has been following me. I fed it some of my cat’s food, and it ate it. I then gave it some water. I finally had to go in the house, because it was so late. I just came in a few minutes ago. I opened my window to see if the cat was still in the yard. It was. It jumped on my window sill! I left my room for a minute, and when I came back, it was in my room! I named the cat Raccoon, because it has a striped tail. I hope it stays in my yard tonight.
April 7, 1999 10:25 p.m.
Last night Raccoon got in a fight with a big black cat. The cat was twice as large as Raccoon. Mom opened the door and stopped the fight. Raccoon came to my window one more time before leaving the yard. This morning I looked all over for her, but I did not find a thing. Raccoon came back today. David found her on the back porch. Raccoon is whining right now. I hope the black cat does not come back.
April 8, 1999 10:45 p.m.
We changed Raccoon’s name to Empress because of the way she walks. Susanna thought of the name. Dad said I get to keep her! He even bought cat food for her. Empress cannot be in the house because of Charity (our other cat.) It is late.
April 10, 1999 11:40 p.m.
My little cat is doing fine.
April 20, 1999 11:28 p.m.
Empress had kittens! There are two gray ones, a black striped one, and a yellow orange one. Everyone likes the yellow one best, but I don’t know. I think I like the gray ones. It is late.
June 12, 1999 10:30 p.m.
Empress wakes me up at dawn.
June 15, 1999 10:20 p.m.
I also made a box for Empress. She really likes it.
August 11, 1999 9:35 p.m.
Elizabeth Moore loves her cat Empress. Empress loves her owner Elizabeth Moore!
October 6, 1999 1:15 p.m.
Empress is better than ever. I hope someday she will be able to live mostly indoors. Charity is doing better about my cat.
Saturday, June 24, 2006
Our Father in heaven,“Our Father in heaven.” Jesus instructed us to address the God of the Universe as Father. God has many names and titles such as King, Lord, Master, Jehovah, The Almighty, etc, but none are as endearing and personal as Father. The picture of a loving father holding and instructing, talking with and enjoying his child powerfully illustrates our relationship with God the Father.
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
God wants us to be open with Him and share all of our problems and joys with Him. He cares for us more than any earthly father could, and our Father wants us to be comfortable approaching Him as a little child would run to his father.
Fathers naturally want what is best for their children and desire to bless them. God is the same way. He delights in hearing our godly requests and providing for our needs.
Matthew 7:7-11 states this clearly,
"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”God is not only our Father but our Father in Heaven. He is the Supreme Being – the Ruler of Heaven. We are not to lose any reverence by considering Him on too earthly a level. Instead, we are to show reverence and submission – the same attitude that is expected of a child towards his father.
“In heaven” does not mean that He is confined to the heavens. He created the earth and everything in it. King Solomon declared in1 Kings 8:27, "But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built!” The Earth is His footstool (Isaiah 66:1). “In heaven” declares His greatness and might. It also reminds us that heaven is our final destination and true home.
Our Father is great and worthy to be praised!
Thursday, June 22, 2006
United Supermarket, Albertson’s, Discount Foods, Walmart – all of them within two miles of our home. …And a new Dutch grocery is opening around the corner.
A trip to the market isn’t even a trip. I drive within 50 yards of these places many times each day. Generally, I’ll drop by our favorite market – the Oklahoma chain – five or six times a week. A bag of this, a bottle of that.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about where our food comes from. What was its point of origin? Under what conditions was it grown? Or stored? Or shipped? What additives allow packaged goods to remain packaged so long before consumption?
We’ve heard about some folks in Canada who made a decision to eat only food produced within 100 miles of their home. They tried this for one year, and it has launched a movement. Now, my questions are related to how my buying habits impact farmers, ranchers, and producers in my own county. Is there a downside to the convenience I’ve always enjoyed and taken for granted?
When asked about the most important commandment, Jesus answered, "…You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:29-31
Love God entirely. Love your neighbor the way you love yourself. The Lord says there is nothing more important.
Most people are committed to their own success. Am I committed to my neighbor’s success if he raises a crop or produces goods locally? Perhaps my love for God is somehow intertwined with my love for neighbors in ways I hadn’t considered. I’m not sure where this will lead our family, but I have sensed God’s pleasure when I buy from local farmers. We’ll be doing a lot more of that.
Sunday, June 18, 2006
Saturday, June 17, 2006
His faithfulness has been evident in my own life this week. God showed His power and foresight while dealing with a frustrating and irritating piece of equipment – my bicycle.
This bike is typically a source of enjoyment, but it is also a way to deliver newspapers. I use it almost daily; the brakes are engaged nearly 120 times each day (not including my own recreational biking).
With this style of riding a lot can go wrong very quickly. Brakes go out, gears break, tires go flat, ball bearings fall out and scatter, and the bike is eventually replaced. My last bicycle fell apart so quickly that I was displeased about getting a new one so soon. It was necessary, however, and I purchased my new bike.
There were only a few problems. The handlebars were attached backwards, and several other things did not seem to be right. Two of the four screws that secure the handlebars would not tighten. After a few adjustments we were satisfied that it could be ridden, and we left the screw problem for later.
Bad idea. The front screws fell out, and the back ones were put under extra strain. They loosened, and one of them became stripped. Only one screw was holding my handlebars up now, and it refused to stay tight.
It was at this moment that a bad situation appeared to get worse. My bike tipped over. Whatever gumption that little screw had left gave out.
Here I was at the half way point of a route that takes me an hour to complete, and my bike was broken down. I was behind schedule, and it was now inevitable that my customers would receive their newspapers late.
The fall of my bicycle caught the attention of a lady sitting on her porch swing across the road. She asked if everything was alright, and I explained my predicament. She assured me that her husband could fix it when he arrived home within the hour. It would take more than a little fix, but I thanked her, left my bike in front of their house, and ran to finish my route on foot.
After an exhausting finish I returned home and collapsed. I hardly considered what the woman had said about her husband fixing my bike. In my mind I was already planning a trip to the bicycle shop the next morning - no easy task since the shop is almost an hour away.
It got worse. A trip would be impossible until Saturday because of the odd summer hours of the repair shop. I could not walk my route all week.
Unknown to me, God had provided a plan that I could not have imagined. My customer was a mountain biker. He had the part I needed (the stem) and the knowledge and inclination to make the repair!
Some would say that it was all a coincidence. They could say it was chance that my bike happened to lose its last bit of competence in front of that particular house.
I think not.
Psalm 37:23 declares, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.” It was the one house that could help me, and God made sure that there was someone outside to see my need and offer help. They became an instrument of the Lord.
I learned that…
…God provides the answer.
…I need to rest in Him.
…My bike is very important to my job!
…Always carry a water bottle. It was the only thing that kept me going as I ran my route.
…God will see that everything happens at the right time and place.
…God cares for every aspect of my life.
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
God had a plan for the life of Moses Smith. Even his injury was a blessing. It kept him from participating in one of the most shameful military actions in American history – the burning of Atlanta and Sherman’s plundering march to the sea. General Sherman is known for being the “first modern general” for engaging in “complete war against the enemy.”
God had spared Moses’ life, and he was now on the mend.
Patsy was not a stranger to tragedy. As she wrote later in life,
"But by God's mercy and grace I improved so on the 4th day of January '66 I was married to a Miss Patsy Wheeldon. Tho only 16 years old proved to be the right girl in the right place for surely God gave me one of his best”
1866 was also the year that 22 year-old Moses Smith joined the Baptist Church at Pulton, Indiana. After telling of his experiences in the war, Moses was baptized by Elder E.J. Delp.
“I was only 12 when Mother died. I went after Uncle Graten the eve she passed on. After she couldn't talk any more she held up her finger and we understood she wanted the ring my brother Charlie had given her. He was in the army and couldn't get home. I put the ring on her hand. She smiled so sweetly and soon left us for her home in Heaven, in a few days brother Charlie came and it seemed more than he could bear that he couldn’t see mother. To make it worse he had to leave his wife and two small children and go back to the Civil War. So his family came and lived with us until Brother came back safe.
“I was saved soon after my Mother's death. I remember well that Aunt Nancy Sneep was singing the old song "And We'll Cross the River Jordon By & By." It was a
happy time in my life and I am hoping all my loved ones will be ready when Jesus calls for them. I'll continue to pray for all my loved ones while I live. An Evangelist, Lydia Sexton was doing the preaching when I was saved.”
Moses Smith had felt burdened at times to preach the gospel of the God who had so wonderfully saved him, but due to poverty and perceived inability this would be put off for some time.
This changed when Moses and Patsy’s young son Lambert died in October 1870.
Soon after this Moses preached his first sermon to a crowded house. Most of his hearers came out of curiosity, for as he said, “it was a very wicked place.” The Church of Rosedale, Pulaski County, Indiana licensed him to preach, and he was ordained the following year as a pastor.
Moses worked hard to spread the good news. He pastored in 22 churches throughout his life and held 71 protracted meetings with 782 conversions. He organized with others to help 8 churches and helped to ordain 45 ministers and deacons.
Some of his hardest years were spent among the Indians as a missionary. The Smith family spent 8 years with the Miami and Pottawatomie tribes on the Mississinawa reservation.
One of the stories he told relates to a freezing baptism. It was a cold February day with 6 inches of snow on the ground and frost flying in the air. There were 7 to baptize. A white girl named Mary Bolen requested that she be baptized in Jascina Creek. Her parents had refused to help, so it needed to be close to the Bolen home.
When Moses announced the decision to baptize in the creek there was some dissent.
Moses threw his overcoat over his shoulders, and they all walked a quarter of a mile down to Jascina Creek. After singing and offering the prayer Mary was baptized. Moses then rode two miles in an open rig to the river. His wet clothes froze on him. Prayer was offered again and the other six were baptized.
“One of the Indians got up and said, "River." The old white brother got up and said, "Bro. Smith, I would like to be baptized in the river." I knew somebody had to be disappointed and I thought it better to fall on me. So I said "we'll go to the Creek and Baptize sister Mary and then to the river and Baptize the others.”
Moses and Patsy Smith had eight children who outlived their parents including one who became my great-great-grandfather Jesse Moses Smith – a son presumably named after the courageous black servant who had borne such a strong witness to the life of young Moses Smith.
“When I came out of the water my limbs had no more feeling than if I had had none, but to the dear Lord be all the praise and honor, for that is nothing to compare with what he has endured for me.”
I thank God that I have a godly heritage. Moses and Patsy lived out the command to teach their children the blessings and grace of God. Psalms 78:4, 6-7 define the obligation that the Smiths had for their children.
“We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders that he has done. ...that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments.”
As Moses wrote in the letter to his children,
In his closing statements Moses Smith referred back to his own godly parents. Jezeriah was born again of the Spirit at age 19 and baptized by Mr. James Black of the Long Lick Baptist Church. J. Q. Smith faithfully attended that church for 66 years. He was a deacon there 47 years.
“And now with this Brief statement I want to thank God with all my heart for his fatherly care over me and amid deserved wrath. And as I am near approaching my seventhieth year there is no text that more complies with my feelings than Eph. 2:8-9 "For by Grace are you saved thru faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God not of works lest any man should boast."
“And now to my dear children - four boys and four girls, I want to ask you to accept of my thanks of taking counsel and guarding against the evils of the world. That you have been raised to manhood and woomanhood without any stain on your characters, which would have been a reproach to me and to your dear Mother. Glad to believe that you have all accepted Christ, for he all and in all, If it should be God's will to take me and leave your dear Mother, I would want her to have, as I believe she would, your love and sympathy, as she has been a dear companion, true, tried and faithful and Earthly speaking she is all to me and all to you. She, I presume will have sufficient of this world, but there are some things that are very needful that money won't buy.”
Moses said of his mother, "I think she was the finest Bible student of any woman I ever saw." Cynthia was saved by grace in her 17th year. She was baptized into the fellowship of the same church that she attended until her death on her 91st birthday.
A relative wrote these words after his death at the age of 86 years,
We shall miss his kindly face, miss him in a thousand ways, miss his tender loving care, miss him always everywhere. He was a man of the old type, the kind that held honor, truth and love, above all his first thought being of his Lord and Savior. He was loved and honored by all who knew him and enjoyed conversing with his friends on the Bible. How much this community owes him and such as he can never be estimated, though it would be a pleasant task to trace his influence through some of the more direct channels to hold him up in these degenerate days in the various roles of husband and father, neighbor and friend, and to speak of the children he has reared to perpetuate his name and emulate his virtues. Suffice it to say he lived nobly and died peacefully at an advanced age. The reaper found him as a shock of corn, fully ripe for the harvest. A short time before his passing he called for the "The Old Time Religion" to be sung, which the daughter played for him on the Victrola. He asked Brother VanZandt to read the 90th Psalm and have prayer. He was conscious to the last and greatly enjoyed these services. Not for him be our tears, rather let us crown his grave with garlands. Few of us will live as long or as well, and fewer yet will the angel of death greet with such a loving touch.
Moses Smith left instructions asking that his precious Bible be put in the coffin with him at his death. It speaks well of the gospel of Christ that God’s message of repentance and salvation can bridge every culture and cross every boundary. The same Bible that ministered to a Confederate follower of Christ departed the field in the possession a Yankee brother in the Lord. God’s Word has the power to teach and uplift regardless of what state or nation you come from. His eternal message remains the same. God is good and worthy to be praised.
Saturday, June 10, 2006
According to one source, “Chickamauga was one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War.” The Yankee Army lost 58,000 (28%). The Confederate army was victorious but also suffered astounding casualties with a loss of 18,000 men.
As Moses Smith described it, “The fighting was desperate from starting to finish.” Even the French were astonished by the carnage. The Paris Figaro wrote;
“The two armies meet and fight and slaughter each other with the utmost fury. Then they fall back and reorganize for another general massacre. Positively, the war will end when the last man is killed."
This battle was difficult both emotionally and physically for Moses Smith. On the evening of September 19, 1863 the 6th Indiana Regiment’s line was attacked by Confederate General Hiram T. Walker and his men. They were driven back, but the damage on the North’s side was immense. The Colonel and twenty or thirty others fell. As Moses looked around, he saw that all of his bunk mates were killed, wounded, or taken prisoner. It was now very dark, and the regiment received orders to lie down.
Moses had come to a turning point in his life. He was overcome by his need for a Savior, as he realized that he was not ready to meet the pure and holy God of the universe.
“I fell on my knees and asked the Lord to save my soul, not that I feared death so much but I could not bear the thought of going into the presence of God in my sins. He there and then saved me.”
The next day’s fighting was desperate, but Moses lived through it and faced the battles and campaigns of the subsequent months with a new attitude. There was something different about Moses Smith. As he wrote, “The remainder of my Service seemed lighter, as I thought a great deal about the Lord.”
Command of the 6th Indiana Infantry now fell to General George Henry Thomas or the “Rock of Chickamauga.” In July 1864, almost a year after the battle that changed Moses Smith’s life, the Battle of Peach Tree Creek took place in Fulton County, Georgia. It was during this conflict that Moses found what would become a cherished possession for the rest of his life -- The Holy Bible.
It had belonged to fallen Confederate 1st Corporal J.B. Sloan of Tennessee.
Moses wanted to read God’s Word very much, and he picked the Bible up. It was extremely large at 6” by 10”. A soldier’s concern would usually lie with making his pack as light as possible, and the Bible would be difficult to carry on the march and in battle. The benefits of owning a Bible outweighed the inconvenience of carrying extra weight.
The previous battles had all taken place with the goal of capturing Atlanta, Georgia, and now the actual siege began against the city. General Sherman not only attacked Confederate lines but bombarded the city with his long range guns. 20 civilians were killed, and many more were injured. In one of most shameful acts in the long list of Yankee atrocities, Atlanta would later be unmercifully demolished and unjustly burned.
On the battlefield, meanwhile, Moses Smith became sick or wounded on August 25, ’64 and left for dead. He waited out what he imagined to be his last night on this earth at peace with his Savior and using his newfound Bible as a pillow.
It was not his last night. God still had plans for the life of Moses Smith. As he wrote years later;
“About nine O'clock God directed as I think, a good Samaritan that way in the person of W. R. Smith of Gen. Woodstaff who took me up put me in a rig and sent me to a hospital at Marietta, GA.”
Moses was mustered out of the service on November 22, 1864. His health was an absolute wreck, and his condition was so dreadful that he had to be tied down at night to keep him from clawing and inflicting more damage on himself as he slept. It took a long time to recuperate, but he rallied under the vigilant care of one of the “good old Mothers of the Lord.”
Check back later to read Part Three of The Conversion of a Soldier and find out what became of Moses Smith after the war.
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
He sold the wheat and left the corn. The team was stabled in Mr. Schafer's stables. Moses Smith enlisted in the infantry of the 6th Indiana Regiment, and the army left immediately for the front. On September 20, just a day after enlistment, Moses and his regiment arrived in Louisville, KY. Smith’s Regiment was the first to pass over the Ohio River into Confederate territory.
Although raised by Christian parents, young Moses had not yet accepted Christ as his Savior. I can only imagine the concern this caused Jezeriah and Cynthia Smith. Moses soon found out the grim reality of war, and his first experience in battle came at Shiloh in April of ’62.
The Battle of Stone River took place over seven days in December and January ‘63. Moses saw many people killed and dying but thought little of it. It was during this winter that God began to do a miraculous work in the heart of Moses Smith.
In his own words (grammar and punctuation are original to the document);
“The Doctor of our regiment had an old negro, who stayed at headquarters named Jesse. He was religious & would pray at night when in Camp after roll call, one night at eight O'clock we heard Old Jesse Praying. One of the boys said, "Let us go up and stop that," So he started & some twenty of us followed him to see what he would do. Forming a ring around the old servant, Dun Schubert picked up the Doctor's saddle put it on old Jesse who was still praying, and said he would ride. I have heard thousands of prayers but nothing to me like that one. He continued to pray until Schubert removed the saddle and started for his Quarters, without uttering a word. There and then for the first time I was convicted of sin. I carried those convictions until we went into the battle of Chicamauga September 19 & 20.”
Check back later for Part Two of The Conversion of a Soldier.