Kentucky Wonder

My grandpa, Elmer G Biddick, spent a lot of time in cornfields. When he was 11 years old (1905) he sold his first bushel of seed corn from his father’s fields to his neighbors. By the time he was in high school, he had gone into business for himself. He was the first to grow his own hybrid seed corn in Wisconsin. He was quite a man with a long list of accomplishments.

But I remember Grandpa, especially at this time of year, for something else.

When I see packs of seeds at the garden center, I look for this one:

bean

Grandpa had a garden in his back yard and he always planted Kentucky Wonder Beans. I don’t know why. They must have been top quality and dependable, just like him.

When he was approaching 90 years of age,
I asked him what kind of birthday cake he wanted.
His answer: “Kentucky Wonder Cake”.

Those beans must have been really good.

God bless all the seed-planters and garden-growers this spring.

May all the gardens be wonder-filled.

“Now the Lord God had planted a garden…” Genesis 2:8

garden

Cryin’ Out Loud

“Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, rebuke your disciples!’ ‘I tell you,’ he replied, ‘if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.'” Luke 19:39-40

I’ve never heard a rock say anything. They are usually pretty quiet.

As Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, people became caught up in the moment. They cheered for Jesus, waved palm branches, laid a red carpet. As usual, the Pharisees were tsk-tsk-ing. The church leaders were repulsed by this jubilant show and told Jesus to rebuke his followers. Instead, Jesus rebuked them. He said, “If the people kept quiet, the stones along the road would burst into cheers!”

Has it ever happened? Have the people God created ever been so silent in their praise for Him that the rocks just have to step in and give a shout? It did happen, just five days after the Palm Sunday party. Skip ahead to Friday at about 3:00 p.m. The Lamb of God took away the sins of the world, and the Lion of Judah roared from Zion, “It is finished!”

Then it was quiet.

Aside from a few weeping women and some soldiers milling about,
it was deathly quiet.

There was no “Hosanna!” or “Halleluia!” from the disciples.
In fact, there were no disciples.

There was no “Blessed be the name of the Lord!” from the crowd.
The crowd had gone home.

So the stones cried out.

rock

Matthew put it this way: “The earth shook and the rocks split.” The Greek word for rocks is petra, which means BIG rocks or boulders; not pebbles or skipping stones. Rocks were the only part of creation that got it! They heard the victory shout from the cross and couldn’t bear the silence, so they cried out until they split.

May the people of God never be silent! For cryin’ out loud, we can’t be shown up by a pile of rocks when it comes to praising our Risen Savior!

April Lit List

Here is the stack of books I read in April. My grandpa made that little stool for me when I was little. It still makes me feel special as I imagine him hammering in all those tiny nails.

FullSizeRender

  • The Memory of Old Jack, by Wendell Berry — Old Jack Beechum is a Port Williams pillar, the oldest one left of his generation. His story is told through his memories, which become more real as he gets closer to crossing over to Jordan. His crusty exterior is explained by the disappointments in his life, but his tender heart keeps breaking through, making him one of Berry’s most endearing characters.
  • The Art of Neighboring, by Jay Pathek and Dave Runyon — The authors are pastors in Denver, Colorado, who asked their mayor, “What can we do to help our city flourish?” He responded, “The majority of issues that our community is facing would be drastically reduced if we could just figure out a way to become a community of great neighbors.” Huh. Sounds kinda like Jesus. You know, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Sometimes you need to hear it from the mayor. What if Jesus meant to actually love the people who live right around us?
  • 40 Days of Decrease, by Alicia Britt Chole — This book was a Lent devotional that I picked up on a whim and, boy, am I ever glad I did. It was deep and profound and made Lent extra meaningful. I will pull this one out again next year.
  • A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman — I’ve seen this title on several recommended reading lists, so when I noticed the book on the “7 day checkout” shelf at my public library one Thursday, I decided to see if I could conquer the deadline. It was a hefty 337 pages; I finished it on Saturday. It was light and easy, but I didn’t stop once to copy out something worth remembering.
  • Unoffendable, by Brant Hansen — I had this on my Lit List in February, but I read it out loud to PB in March and April. Don’t be surprised if you see it again in May or June. It’s that kind of book.
  • 24/6, by Matthew Sleeth, M.D. — I started this book last fall, got derailed, and picked it back up in April. “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy” is the only commandment that begins with “remember”, as if God knew we would forget. And it seems we have. Dr. Sleeth points out that stopping and resting are part of God’s design for people to live well. I needed that reminder.

Happy reading!

A good book on your shelf is a friend that turns its back on you and remains a friend.

10 Things I Learned in April

1. I’m easily fooled. PB got me twice on April 1st.
PB: Sitting on Broadway with a flat. I’ll try to get back by 11:00.
Me: Oh no! Want me to come down? Hey, aren’t they new tires?
PB: No, I got it. They are!
PB: April Fools.
Me: Got me. (mad face emoji)
PB: 2nd one today, honey. Be more careful.
Me: I just trust you completely to never lead me astray.

2. Butter Pecan Creamer is pretty darn good. I know, I know, those creamers are full of chemicals and preservatives and calories and artificial flavoring. But I don’t drink Pepsi or Spotted Cow or 5 Hour Energy. This is my one indulgence. I refuse the guilt.

3. Eric Thames. Hottest hitter in baseball in April. For the Milwaukee Brewers. Nobody saw that coming, which makes it all the sweeter.

4. This is more in the category of something I’m going to learn. I ordered 20 pounds of Alaskan salmon. I’m going to learn to like salmon. My daughter and son-in-law have a side business selling premium quality Alaskan sockeye salmon, so, of course, we bought some. You should too. Check it out here. My grandchildren thank you.

5. Maundy Thursday was my favorite day this month. I thought about the evening service all that day, anticipating the quiet hour. It’s the best part of Holy Week for me because we simply spend sixty minutes sitting in a quiet sanctuary. Few words are spoken, soft music plays, people pray hushed prayers. We come to the table. God is present.

6. Sometimes I need to read a book three times. I read “Unoffendable” by Brant Hansen in February because lots of people seemed to be offended by lots of stuff. Then I read it out loud to PB in March and April because it was such a good message. Now I guess I need to read it for me.

7. Newborn baby boys smell just as sweet as newborn baby girls.

8. Jesus enjoyed a party. He was invited to lots of them because he was not a party dud. He turned water into wine at a wedding reception and kept the celebration going. Although 120-180 gallons of wine might have been overdoing it a bit. (Six stone jars, each holding 20-30 gallons.)

9. Spending part of a weekend with young women in their 20s and 30s made it pretty clear that I’ve bumped up a category or two. It was an honor to watch them take hold of faith and desire to live it out.

10. Quote of the month: “You go where you’re sent and you stay where you’re put and you give what you’ve got.” Jill Briscoe

april

This Is What Happens

This is what happens when Eli comes to visit.

IMG_3376

Every car in the house is lined up just so.

This is what happens when Ella comes to visit.

IMG_3375

Every person is set up right where they are supposed to be.

Especially the twin babies.

This is what happens when two dear friends come over and take care of six kiddos for a couple hours so the rest of us can go out for dinner. Bless them. They brought ice-cream.

IMG_3389

IMG_3391

IMG_3393

IMG_3394

IMG_3392

IMG_3395

This is what happens when you have four kids and they grow up to be pretty great adults.

FullSizeRender-4

Easter’s One Word

PB said that Easter can be summed up in one word:

^

^

^

^

^          ^         ^         ^         ^         ^         ^

^

^

^

^

^

^

^

^

^

^

 

 

 

 

surprise - 2

surprise-1

Surprise, Death!

“For the last enemy to be destroyed is death.” 1 Cor. 15:26

Surprise, Powers of Evil!

“He triumphed over them by the cross.” Col. 2:15

Surprise, Soldiers guarding the tomb!

“The guards were so afraid they became like dead men.” Matt. 28:4

Surprise, Women in the garden!

“The women hurried away, afraid yet filled with joy.” Matt. 28:8

Surprise, Disciples!

“Jesus stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.'” Luke 24:36

God is in the surprising business.

tomb

Production

A magazine came in the mail last week at church. Every day we get all kinds of fliers and special “one time” offers and free publications in the mailbox.

This one caught my eye. And made me cringe.

FullSizeRender.jpg

When did church become a production?

Why does the church need “Chroma-Q Color One 100x colored spotlights to reach NEW heights of performance”? Do smoke machines really “enhance the worship experience”? Is it necessary to have Xpression Live CG graphics in order to “elevate a sermon”?

Why does my heart ache as I thumb through the pages of this magazine?

I admit, planning an Easter worship service tends to make pastors and worship leaders think they have to pull out all the stops. Resurrection Sunday is supposed to be the biggest, best, loudest celebration of the year, right? We want to create an amazing worship experience so all those people come back again sometime before Christmas. The pressure is on to give parishioners goose-bumpy moments and to, well, produce.

Then I got my own goose-bumpy moment.

The first Easter morning wasn’t a production. In fact, it was pretty quiet. A few women in a graveyard, an empty tomb and — Surprise! — Jesus showed up alive! There was no angel choir, no smoke or spotlights, no graphics in the sky.

Easter is not about putting on a good show for a sanctuary full of people. The church full of people IS the production. We have an audience of One. Each person in the pew is part of the praise team, part of the message, part of the celebration.

In Jesus’ final words to His disciples He said the way to produce is to abide.

Apart from Him, we can do nothing. (John 15:5)

No matter how spectacular the music, the message, and the meal,

on Easter the spotlight belongs on Jesus alone.

spot