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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Prepared for Prayer



"If we look inward, and can say by experience that God has prepared our heart; we my look forward, and say with confidence that He will cause His ear to hear." Matthew Henry





This is such a blessed, comforting thought for if God so prepares and burdens my heart to pray for a certain thing so that indeed I do pour myself out to Him, will He shut His ear to my cry? It is the Spirit that gives such burdens that find no relief except at the Throne of Grace. So then we know when we leave the throne room what Hannah knew, "...her face no longer downcast" (1 Sam. 1:18). With our hearts now rejoicing at having been in God's presence, as was Hannah's experience, we know that we have prayed as 1 John 5:14-15 prescribes. "This is the confidence which we have before Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And we know that if He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him." We know we have prayed fervently and effectively as in the promise of James 5:16, "...The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much."

"...wherever God finds a praying heart, He will be found a prayer-hearing God; though the voice of prayer be a low voice, a weak voice, yet if it comes from an upright heart, it is a voice that God will hear, that He will hear with pleasure, it is His delight, and that He will return a gracious answer to; He hath heard thy prayers, He hath seen thy tears." Matthew Henry

Posted by Sharon Kaufman

Prepared for Prayer

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Quips and Quotes Depository

6/29/2013 - "We do not earn or merit anything by taking refuge in God. Hiding in something makes no contribution to the hiding place. All it does is show that we regard ourselves as helpless and the hiding place as a place of rescue." John Piper

5/28/2011 - "Oh, that we could all see and feel how repugnant, how offensive, how abominable it is to blackball our Maker, to ignore him and distrust him and demean him and give him less attention in our hearts than we do the carpet on our living room floor." John Piper 


5/02/2011 - "If you are not content with what you have, you would not be satisfied if it were doubled." —C.H. Spurgeon


3/03/2011 - "Blessed is the man who is done with chance, and who never speaks of 'luck', but believes that, from the least even to the greatest, all things are ordained of the LORD." Charles Spurgeon


2/10/2011 - "Trials squeeze our hearts and show what’s inside, as squeezing a sponge reveals the contents." Mark Altrogge 


1/29/2011 - "To forgive without upbraiding, even by manner or look, is a high exercise of grace - it is imitation of Christ." Robert C. Chapman


1/17/2011 - "God has not called us to be attorneys acting in our own defense but beggars before the throne of grace, refusing to leave until bread is forthcoming." C. John Miller from his book Repentance and the 20th Century Man.


12/18/10 - "You may write my life across the sky; I have nothing to conceal."
C. H. Spurgeon in relating to his wife what she should write regarding his biography


11/30/10 - "Up, sluggard, and waste not life; in the grave will be sleeping enough." Ben Franklin


11/21/10 - "...rise up in me, O, Living Water, unto eternal life. Artesian spring of grace, come forth with such compelling and propelling force that my thanks will not be miserly but geyserly… Not like a slow drip, a babbling brook, a meandering stream, but like a geyser… a gratitude-geyser." Scotty Smith, Founding Pastor of Christ Community Church in Franklin, TN 


11/16/10 - "I was but a pen in God’s hand, and what praise is due a pen?" John Bunyan


11/6/10 - "By perseverance the snail reached the ark." Charles Spurgeon


10/27/10 - "After much praying, waiting, weeping, God...comes with His hands and heart full of mercy to His people. He loves not to come empty handed to those who have sat long with tearful eyes at mercy's door." Thomas Brooks (Puritan preacher)


9/22/10 - "All the compassions of all the tender fathers in the world compared with the tender mercies of God would be but as a candle to the sun or a drop to the ocean." Matthew Henry


8/30/10 - "Just as water ever seeks and fills the lowest place, so the moment God finds you abased and empty, His glory and power flow in." Andrew Murray
8/10/10 - "God creates out of nothing. Therefore until a man is nothing, God can make nothing out of him." Martin Luther


8/2/10 -  "Nothing exposes our selfishness and powerlessness like prayer. In contrast, little children never get frozen by their selfishness. Like the disciples, they come just as they are, totally self-absorbed. They seldom get it right...Your heart could be, and often is askew. That's okay. You have to begin with what is real. Jesus didn't come for the righteous. He came for sinners. All of us qualify. The very things we try to get rid of - our weariness, our distractedness, our messiness [selfishness] - are what get us in the front door! That's how the gospel works. That's how prayer works." Paul E. Miller from A Praying Life.


7/2/10 - "Ministry...can create a mask of performance, the projection of success. Everyone wants to be a winner. In contrast, Jesus never used His power to show off. He used His power for love. So He wasn't immediately noticeable. Humility makes you disappear, which is why we avoid it." Paul E. Miller from his book A Praying Life.


6/17/10 - “Suppose you open your mouth wide in prayer. “I cannot,” says one. Well, open your mouth and God will fill it with prayer and then, when you have prayed the prayer that He has given you, He will fill it with answers! God gives prayer as well as the answer to prayer! Only open your mouth and, as it were, make a vacuum for God to fill. God loves to look for emptiness where He may stow away His Grace.”


6/7/10: "Our wickedness shall not overpower the unspeakable goodness and mercy of God; our dullness shall not overpower God's wisdom, nor our infirmity God's omnipotence." John of Kronstadt


5/20/10: "Only God can justify the ungodly, but He can do it to perfection. He casts our sins behind His back; He blots them out. He says that though they be sought for, they shall not be found.” C. H. Spurgeon


3/5/10: "God's Spirit and God's truth afflicted me in my comfort and comforted me in my affliction. As a result of this hard year, however, God and His gospel became more real and relevant to me than ever before. I've never felt so dependent on Him. He's never been so big; I've never been so small. The idea that Jesus plus nothing equals everything ceased being a cognitive truth for me - it became my functional lifeline." Tullian Tchividjian


10/1/09: "Come fire and cross, come crowds of wild beasts; come tearing and mangling, wrecking of bones and hacking of limbs; come cruel torments of the devil, only let me attain unto Jesus Christ." Ignatius (first-century church father, martyred in the Roman Colosseum)


9/24/09: "There's no other way the world is going to see the supreme glory of Christ today except we break free from the Disneyland of America and begin to live lifestyles of missionary sacrifice that looks to the world like our treasure is in heaven and not on the earth." John Piper


6/4/09: "I know not the challenges that face me among the peoples who live for death. I do know, though, the grace of the Savior that has called me to die but for life." Anna Bowden, missionary to India in the 19th century.


5/28/09: " 'He will freely pardon' (Isaiah 55:7). All these thousands of years God has been multiplying pardons, and yet free grace is not tired out...It is foolish to think that an emperor's revenue will not pay a beggar's debt." Thomas Manton
5/21/09: "I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we only will tune in." George Washington Carver


5/14/09: "This is the heaven of Heaven - that the soul will be filled up with God...love God, and be satisfied with His presence." Thomas Manton (Puritan preacher)


5/07/09: "God doesn’t call the qualified; He qualifies the called." Unknown


4/30/09: "God writes the Gospel, not in the Bible alone, but also on trees, and in the flowers and clouds and stars." Martin Luther


"God has two textbooks - Scripture and Creation - we would do well to listen to both." Francis Bacon


2/26/09: "We must humbly worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). When a person, yielding to God and believing the truth of God, is filled with the Spirit of God, even his faintest whisper will be worship" A. W. Tozer


2/19/09: "Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, it only empties today of its strength." C. H. Spurgeon


2/12/09: "The tree of God's promises will not yield its abundance of fruit till shaken with the hand of prayer." Thomas Watson


2/05/09: "He who would glorify his God must set his account upon meeting with many trials. No man can be illustrious before the Lord unless his conflicts be many. If then, yours be a much-tried path, rejoice in it, because you will the better show forth the all-sufficient grace of God." Charles Spurgeon


2/29/09: "We should revel in the joy of believing that God is the sum of all patience and the true essence of kindly good will. We please Him most, not by frantically trying to make ourselves good, but by throwing ourselves into His arms with all our imperfections and believing that He understands everything - and loves us still." A. W. Tozer


1/22/09: "If we insist on keeping Hell, or even earth, we shall not see Heaven. If we accept Heaven, we shall not be able to retain even the smallest and most intimate souvenirs of Hell." C. S. Lewis


1/15/09: "In every step of our Christian growth and maturity, and throughout every aspect of our Christian obedience and service, our greatest foe is pride and our greatest ally is humility." John Stott
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Posted by Sharon Kaufman

Quips and Quotes Depository

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Franciska - Chapter Five













This photo:

Back row: Frederick, Herbert (my grandfather), Helen, Rhinehold, HelmuthFront row: Franciska, Rudolph, Emma, Hermann





When we last left the Meyer family, they had just moved to Colorado where Hermann's brother resided and pastored at the Beebe Draw Baptist Church. Hermann filled in preaching when his brother, Ewald, was absent or unable to preach.

Hermann and Franciska were devoted Christians. They were consistent in their walk with God and bore testimonies of being honest and fair-dealing in the communities in which they lived. Though they lived all days of the week in this manner, Sundays were set apart as special for the family. Both parents saw to it that Saturdays were spent in preparation for Sunday so that the day could be enjoyed by all. The shoes were shined - 9 pairs - the children studied their Sunday School lessons, food was prepared and other work that pertained was done. Early on Sunday morning, the cows were milked and other necessary chores that had to do with the feeding and comfort of the livestock, but the rest of the day was spent at the worship services and at home relaxing.

The children and grandchildren remember that devotions were held morning and evening throughout the week in the household. The Bible was read and prayer was offered. After the last prayer, Hermann would rise and give Franciska a kiss.

Though Franciska enjoyed recording Hermann's poetry and acting as a "sounding board" for his sermons, she also found pleasure in many other activities centered around her home and church. She was very accomplished in many forms of needlecraft. She knitted socks and sweaters for the family on her own knitting machine. When a sweater or pair of socks developed a hole, Franciska mended it good as new. She also crocheted intricate fillet patterns in throws, doilies and tablecloths, obtaining the patterns for these pieces from Germany through mail order, as well as many of the supplies.

A garden was a necessity during this era and Franciska enjoyed tending to both the vegetable and flower gardens, naming her flower garden "Schwester", which translated means "sister". With her love for flowers, she made sure there were always some blooms in the house as well, adding beauty and grace to the home. She had no lawn. Instead what would have been planted as lawn, she planted in flowers. Even in her latter years, she enjoyed keeping her lovely pressed glass bowls filled with bouquets.

Franciska especially enjoyed reading frequently and expressively to her children and husband. The family also took great pleasure in singing together. To make the chore of dishwashing go faster and to distract from the tedium of it (since there were many dishes to wash three times everyday), Franciska would initiate singing as the family washed and wiped the dishes.

Though they were devoted Christians, Hermann and Franciska did have their faults. My father's sister, my Aunt Francis (named after Franciska) reported, that Hermann... "admired the legs of pretty girls and would say as much to Franciska, whereupon he would receive a sound scolding!"

And there were the little quirks also. Franciska thought it was important to enunciate English words clearly and would grow somewhat frustrated with Hermann because of his careless mispronunciation of words. He called tooth picks "two pigs". And when he took eggs from his chickens into town to sell, he, in broken English would announce, "I have dirty-six eggs today". Franciska would correct him, "Du muss nicht sagen 'dir-ty eggs, du muss sagen thir-ty eggs!" (You must not say 'dir-ty eggs, you must say thir-ty eggs!)

One granddaughter recalls her memory of Franciska.
"Grandma was good to me and very loving. The house was neat, and everything was spic and span. She was a very devoted Christian...president of the North American Baptist Missionary Society for 30 years. Sometimes she would say someone should not have bought something for her, but should have given the money to the missionary society. She saw to everyone's needs...Grandpa was the head of the house, but she had a strong personality - no shirking work."
Franciska also organized the Women's Missionary Society at the Beebe Draw Baptist Church, serving as its president for 25 years. The women involved in this ministry met often in her beautiful Schwester Garden, appropriately named for, as mentioned, in English it meant "Sister Garden". It was a place that was both restorative and motivational.

Many times Franciska acted in the capacity of a practical nurse. She cared for her mother-in-law while she and Hermann were still in Germany. Setting aside concerns for her own health, she frequently nursed people in South Dakota and Colorado with illnesses such as tuberculosis, scarlet fever and diphtheria, often leaving her own home to stay in the home of the ailing one. Amazingly, she functioned as a midwife, delivering the first babies of each her daughters, Helen and Emma, in her own home, following the custom in Germany for a daughter to go home to Mama to have her first child delivered.

My great-grandmother was a woman concerned with the physical and spiritual needs of others. She delighted in counseling younger women, living out the charge of Titus 2:3-5 for older women to teach and train the younger women. She reminds me of the woman in 1 Timothy 5:9-10, who, though a widow, had spent her married years loving her family at home and in the body of Christ: "...the wife of one man, having a reputation for good works...she has brought up children...she has shown hospitality to strangers...she has washed the feet of the saints...she has assisted those in distress...she has devoted herself to every good work". That was Franciska.

Chapter six of Franciska will feature the farm where the family finally settled and the work that was done there.

Posted by Sharon Kaufman

Franciska - Chapter Five

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Casting "If" to the Wind


“If” God is willing,
“If” God is able;
“If” is the word
By which prayer is disabled.

“If” – such a small word
Looms great in our minds,
Obscures all God’s promises
And makes faith go blind.

"If” feeds on ignorance
Of not knowing God;
Not knowing His willingness,
So deep and so broad.

"If” is a small word
That grows to be king.
This king then enthrones
“Uncertain” as queen.

“Uncertain" the Queen,
Nurtures twins “Fear” and “Dread”;
“Worry” feeds them their breakfast,
“Anxious” tucks them in bed.

“King If” then dispatches
His henchman named “Doubt”
To hunt down “True Faith”
And force “Confidence” out.

But sincere prayer by faith
Is what God longs to hear,
Anxious thoughts need be banished,
For Christ to draw near.

So cast “If” and “Uncertain”
Out into the wind,
Uproot and dethrone “Doubt’,
On Christ now depend.

For then and then only
Can faith settle down,
And hope with great confidence
Truly abound.

You’ll find God so willing
And certainly able,
His goodness so broad
As you feast at His table.

When faith conquers “If”,
And trust drives away doubt,
When God’s glory and goodness
Are what you’re about.

A glimpse of Your Savior,
You’ll view from your knees,
And find your kind Father
Hears all His child’s pleas.

SKK

R.A. Torrey said, "One of the most frequent usages of 1 John 5:14-15, which was so manifestly given to bring confidence, is to introduce an element of uncertainty into our prayers. Often, when a person is confident in prayer, some cautious brother will come and say: 'Now don't be too confident. If it is God's will, He will do it. You should add, "If it be Thy will."' Doubtless, there are times when we do not know the will of God. And submission to the excellent will of God should be the basis for all prayer. But when we know God's will, there need be no 'ifs'. This passage was not put into the Bible so that we could introduce 'ifs' into our prayers, but so that we could throw our 'ifs' to the wind and have confidence and know that we have the petitions which we have asked of Him."

"This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him." 1 Jonh 5:14-15
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Posted by Sharon Kaufman

Casting "If" to the Wind

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Franciska - Chapter Four

If you remember from chapter three, the family made a move to South Dakota in 1899. This location was chosen because two of Herman’s aunts lived there.

The trip from Nebraska was an arduous, long 360 mile journey. That, by today’s modes of travel, is nothing. But moving along slowly in a covered wagon for 360 miles with seven children and livestock in tow would take much endurance. The wagons only covered 12 – 20 miles on an average day, so it would have taken anywhere from 18 – 30 days to make the trip.

My grandfather recounted one of his memories of the trip, “When we – that is my folks – moved to Avon, South Dakota from Nebraska we crossed the Missouri River on a flat ferry boat...crossed…with our 3 wagons and 7 others besides. It was a broad flat boat with railings almost all around propelled by a steam engine built on that great platform, and while crossing it belched great volumes of black smoke; it didn’t go fast but we got across alright.”

Traveling in three covered wagons, two of the sons, Rhinehold (called “Ray”) and Herbert (my grandfather) were given the great responsibility of leading several mules on horseback. They had difficulty keeping up with the wagons because the mules were stubborn and traveled slowly or not at all if they had such a mind.

At times the mules were so immoveable that the boys would lose sight of the little wagon train. At those times, in fear, they wondered if they would ever see their parents again. But all family members made the journey safely. It is interesting to note, however, that these two boys were only 8 and 10 years of age at the time, Herbert being the youngest. What a great weight of responsibility for such small boys!

In South Dakota a farm was rented and Herman raised corn, wheat, oats and had pastures of grasslands – I assume for livestock to feed on. He supplemented the crop income, if a crop was actually produced and sold, by painting buildings and digging cisterns.

Franciska and Hermann’s relatives – his two aunt’s families – helped each other in the fields, threshing grain and working together six days out of the week. On Sundays they worshipped and served together in the German Baptist Church in Avon.

The family continued to struggle in South Dakota as they had in Nebraska. As mentioned in the last chapter, two more children were born there, Gustav and Arthur, but died in infancy. My grandfather, Herbert Meyer, remembered that one child died as a result of drinking tainted water. This hardship, coupled with the same crop difficulties they faced in Nebraska, had to have been extremely disheartening.

About this time, Hermann’s brother, Ewald, who had come to America shortly after Hermann and having settled in LaSalle, Colorado, began urging Hermann and Franciska to join him there. Ewald was the pastor of the Beebe Draw Baptist Church in LaSalle and also farmed. He implored Hermann, “Why, with all those boys you could really make money raising sugar beets.”

But these moves were difficult for Franciska. Imagine her weariness with seven children to care for and the continued struggle she faced with each of the little ones that were laid to rest over the years. There was also the burden of farming, which the wife shared in most of the time. I’m sure she was doubtful after so many moves, each with its accompanying disappointment, that their lot would be any better in Colorado. Despite her initial reluctance, however, in 1904 the livestock and farm machinery were loaded onto a railroad car and the family of nine picked up and moved to Colorado.

Once there, Hermann and Franciska joined the Beebe Draw Baptist Church, where Hermann’s brother, Ewald, pastored. Hermann began farming again and he also preached at the church when his brother needed him to fill in. But Hermann not only preached at church, he made sure also that no one left his home without an encouragement from the Scriptures.

Hermann also enjoyed writing poems in his native German language for special occasions. These verses Franciska faithfully recorded for him. During dinner one evening Hermann suddenly sprang from his chair and motioned for Franciska to follow him. They went in the bedroom and shut the door. I'm sure the children wondered about this, but they stayed seated at the table nonetheless. Sometime later the bedroom door opened and Hermann and Franciska joined the children again. They then listened as Hermann read the poem he had just composed and that Franciska had recorded.

Max, a little boy born in Culbertson, Nebraska, died less than a year after the family moved to Colorado. He had contracted diphtheria and was so ill that the doctor was asked to come to attend him. Unfortunately, the doctor arrived, but was completely intoxicated and could therefore do nothing to help little Max. It may have been too late anyway by the time he arrived. Sadly, on Valentine’s Day, 1905, Max died, having just turned six years of age a few days before. The family had a photograph taken soon after this loss. Perhaps Franciska felt a need to have a tangible record of her children that remained after having given Max over to the grave. (For those of you who read the first three chapters before this chapter was posted [Feb. 16th, 2008], you remember that this was stated to have occurred in Culbertson in chapter three. However, I had the chronology wrong and apologize for the confusion.)

In all of her struggles, I’m sure there were times when Franciska felt like giving up. After all, she had surrendered 6 of her 13 children over to the grave. She had faced the near starvation of her living children and the failure of one crop after another. She had seen her husband labor strenuously, long hours each day to get a crop into the ground only to watch it sprout and then die in the blasting heat of an arid summer dust storm.

I wonder what Scriptures Franciska turned to in order to find solace? Perhaps she was familiar with Habakuk 3:17-18: "Though the fig tree should not blossom and there be no fruit on the vines; though the yield of the olive should fail and the fields produce no food; though the flock should be cut off from the fold and there be no cattle in the stalls, yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvaion." Did she read Isaiah 41:10? "Do not fear for I am with you; do not anxiously look about for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Or Psalm 34:18: "The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit."

But Franciska's story does have many years of joy. In chapter five we will discover that now, after much past difficulty, with the family settled in LaSalle, Colorado, at long last, they were able to prosper. We will also get to know Franciska a little better – how she spent her time, what she enjoyed doing at home and how she ministered in the body of Christ.

Posted by Sharon Kaufman

Franciska - Chapter Four

Friday, February 15, 2008

Thy Slave and Not My Own



I have not loved Thee deeply, Lord
I am still too much my own.
I say, “Thy will be mine, O God",
But when duty calls, I groan.

To be real, sincere, devoted, Lord,
To Thee and Thee alone;
To be in deed, not merely words,
Thy slave, myself dethroned.

O Savior, Thou hast loved me so;
For me Thou didst atone.
Why do I pamper silken self?
King, have Thy rightful throne!

Help me, O God, to crucify,
No selfishness condone;
The King of Kings died for hell’s slaves
Such love must be made known.

So through me, O my God, I pray
May Thy sweet love be shown.
I long to love Thee deep, my King,
Thy slave and not my own.

SKK
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Posted by Sharon Kaufman

Thy Slave and Not My Own

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!


































TRUE LOVE
...the meaning of it is found in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a:

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous. Love

does not brag and is not arrogant. Love does not act

unbecomingly. Love does not seek its own. Love is

not provoked. Love does not take into account a

wrong suffered. Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness,

but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things.

Love believes all things. Love hopes all things.

Love endures all things. Love never fails...

Posted by Sharon Kaufman

HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!

The Weak Praying for the Weak

This was my journal entry from 2/5/03:

From Psalm 35:13-14: “…when they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth; I humbled my soul with fasting, and my prayer kept returning to my bosom. I went about as though it were my friend or brother; I bowed down mourning, as one who sorrows for a mother.”

Right now there are so many who are struggling in the church my husband and I attend with life-threatening or debilitating illnesses. Should David's prayer not be the way we pray for those who are thus weighed down? Yet how often I am too busy to bother and do not feel compelled in this manner. And my tendency is to fast only when the matter putting me on my knees is my own situation.

Can I pray the way David did by stirring something within me to do this good work? Of course not, nor does God want me to. But look again at what David says, “…and my prayer kept returning to my bosom…” This is the prompting of the Spirit of intercession. Only He can burden a heart like this. And when He does, we pray, for we must. The urging is too great not to.

God has given us seasons of prayer like this. But then all too often we faint and the burden loses its intensity. We become discouraged, cold-hearted and cease praying, or struggle to pray with little or no fervency. But there is still a throne of grace to bring our weaknesses to. “Therefore, let us draw near to the throne of grace so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Heb. 4:26)

This is what we need! I cannot even pray rightly without this help. I am weak and sense no urgency or fervency to pray – to intercede for those who are in need of my requesting of the God of grace for them. But I can ask for God to burden my soul as He did David’s. I can draw near to the throne and find the grace to help me pray for those who are too weak to pray for themselves.

This is a work of the Spirit and will God withhold from me the very thing He has promised? (Luke 11:13) Never! But instead, by His Spirit, He will stir within me the very purposes He wishes to accomplish through my prayer. He will tell me what to pray for and that prayer will keep returning to my bosom. When the Spirit urges us in this manner, we can also rest assured that He will accomplish that which He burdens us to request of Him.

May we, though weak with mere feet of clay, by the throne of grace find help and strength through the power of the Spirit of intercession to pray fervently for the weak (sick and infirmed) among us. God will strengthen the supplicant and the sick one to the praise of His glory.

“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?" (Luke 11:13)

Posted by Sharon Kaufman

The Weak Praying for the Weak

Saturday, February 9, 2008

The Composer and Conductor of Creation

“…our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases." Psalm 115:3

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between God's sovereignty and His providence, if, indeed, there is a difference? I did and because I was scheduled to teach a class on the attribute of God's sovereignty the question became imminent. Regardless of the class, I really wanted to know how to think about these two aspects of God's character. After studying these themes in the Scriptures and reading a few commentaries this is the understanding I came to:

The difference between sovereignty and providence is that sovereignty concerns the being of God; it is a constitutional part of His nature. He is independent of all other beings. He does whatever He pleases and holds complete and eternal dominion, authority and power in His universe. Sovereignty has to do with who God is.

Providence concerns His sustaining activity in creation; it is God working out His plan in His universe. Had God sovereignly chosen not to create the universe, providence would not exist either, but God would still be sovereign. Seen in this way, providence is the stage of God’s sovereignty. Sovereignty is His attribute - who He is; providence is His activity - what He does in creation.
The analogy of an orchestral composer/conductor provides a picture that illustrates, somewhat, God's sovereignty and providence:

1. We start with a composer/conductor. He is a composer/conductor, whether or not he has an orchestra to direct. (God was sovereign before creation. Rev. 4:11; Job 38:4)

2. The composer/conductor has written and arranged in advance, with great detail, a song to be played by the orchestra. (God's predetermined plan for creation. 46:10-11)3. The composer/conductor has provided everything each musician needs to produce the sound the composer/conductor wants - the music itself, an acoustically efficient room to practice in, a sound-proof room for private practice, an income, etc. (God has provided for man's needs. Ps. 136:25-26; Acts 14:17)

4. The composer/conductor uses minor chords, dissonance, and sour notes to enhance the song in order to display his proficiency. (Man's sin, trials, tribulations and temptations work for God's glory. Rom. 8:28; 9:17)

5. The song has been written for the composer/conductor’s pleasure and fame – to display his excellence as an orchestral conductor to both the orchestra (creatures here below) and to the audience (all heavenly beings). (To God be the glory! Rev. 4:11)

6. Each musician has his specifically prearranged part to play. (Predestination. Pro.16:4; Eph. 1:11-12 )

7. The composer/conductor is in control of every aspect of the song – timing, strength, softness, rhythm, harmonies, solos, tone stress, etc. to bring about the purpose for his song. (God is in complete control of the details to bring about His ends. Pro. 21:1; Acts 2:22-24)

8. The composer/conductor determines when each musician will play and cues him in. (He determines our times and locations. Acts 17:26)
9. All musician's eyes are on the composer/conductor, watching and heeding his cues. (All men have an internal and external witness of the God of creation. Rom. 1:18-20)

10. Each musician plays his part freely – is not coerced, is not a puppet. (Man is not forced to do what he does. John 3:19)

11. All musicians are responsible for their shortcomings – a missed rehearsal, a bad attitude, a wrong note played, a failed cue, a part not learned… (Man is responsible for his thoughts, words and deeds. Rom. 2:5-8)

12. All instrumental parts work together to fulfill the composer/conductor’s intentions and pleasure for the song. (God is working all things after the counsel of His will for His pleasure and glory. Rom. 8:28; Is 46:10-11 )

13. The composer/conductor is most pleased and revered when the musicians enjoy playing his song and the audience delights in hearing it. (As John Piper says, "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him." Ps. 36:7-10; 63:1-8)

14. The song resounds back to the composer/conductor and… (Every knee will bow... Phil. 2:9-10)

15. He takes the bows and gets the glory and no one complains. (...and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of the Father. Phil. 2:11)

So, the composer/conductor in his personhood represents the Sovereign God. How he interacts with his orchestra represents how the Sovereign God acts in the ordering of His creation.

May we cooperate enthusiastically with Him as He sovereignly ordains and directs our lives. And may we, till the last note is played in His loving arrangement for us, give all glory to Him and in unison with all of the creation applaud and praise Him for His incomprehensible love in calling us to be instruments of His grace and mercy.


Posted by Sharon Kaufman

The Composer and Conductor of Creation

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Franciska - Chapter Three

We left Franciska in Baltimore with her husband and three year old son, Helmuth, having just arrived from Germany on Sept 28th, 1886. Hermann had $700 in his pocket when they landed in the U.S. He was fascinated with Baltimore because it reminded him of Germany. But since he and Franciska had firmly decided on Nebraska, they soon continued on their journey.

When they arrived in Nebraska they settled in the small town of Beatrice. One of the first things they did was to join the local church. They were drawn to Beatrice because other German immigrants had settled there. It wasn’t long, however, before they picked up stakes and moved to Palisade, Nebraska.

Here, the couple homesteaded, erecting a sod house. Agriculture was somewhat familiar to Herman for he had farmed in Germany and had some experience operating steam engines and also threshing machines which were used to harvest wheat. He was kept busy six days out of the week with this new venture.

On Sundays the neighbors crowded into Hermann and Franciska's tiny 2-room sod house for Sunday School and church services. Franciska was troubled about the large man who came to the meetings. It seems that he enjoyed stomping his feet rather vigorously to the music and she was concerned that he might break through the floor boards and fall into the dugout beneath. Though that never happened, this bird’s eye view into the worship services that were held in their home reveals the fact that these were no stogy meetings, rather, they were full of life and obviously enjoyable. Franciska's reaction to this man's energy is a confirmation of this for she was not critical of his expression of joy, only concerned for his safety.

Five more children were added to the family in Palisade – Helene Anna Marie (1887), Reinhold Gottlieb (1889), Herbert August (1890; my grandfather – my father’s father), Frederick Wilhelm (1892), and Rudolph Ewald (1894). Now with five more mouths to feed there was greater pressure upon Hermann to see that his crops would provide for the needs of the family. But this was not the case. The land was of very poor quality. Scarcity of food became a problem and at times they barely survived. With nothing but crop failures year after year due to very dry conditions the Meyer family was forced to move several more times, to Culbertson first, still attempting to farm, but the conditions got no better.

This was the land that was portrayed by American land developers as heavenly. In Germany, ads were posted on street corners picturing a chicken with a fork stuck in it, as if all one had to do was grab a utensil and eat. Now reality was before this couple and trusting God in the midst of the famine (literally) was not an easy thing to do. These were very difficult times for the family, sometimes barely staying alive because of a lack of food.

Three more children were born in Culbertson – Emma Amalia, Hannah and a little boy, Max. Hannah, however, died in infancy, meaning she may have been as old as one or two, as were the two little girls who died in Germany just before Hermann and Franciska left for America. It was also said of them that they died in infancy, though Hedwig was one and Hermine was two.

With one disaster following another we might wonder where God was in all of this. Did He not love Hermann and Franciska? If His love is measured only in doses of material prosperity and "good times", then we would have to say that He did not love them. But God's love does not work that way. Romans 8:38-39 assures us "that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." No difficulty can separate us from His love. His love is upon us in the midst of the difficulty which, in fact, is designed by His hand of love for us. He draws us to Himself through the difficulty to pour Himself out in comforting billows upon our grief-stricken hearts.

In Jeremiah 32:40-41, Gods tells us, "I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them; and I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me. I will rejoice in doing them good...with all my heart and all my soul." What we think is good and what God knows is good are sometimes two different things. He is in the process of training us. But everything, pleasant or unpleasant, that comes to the child of God is from His sovereign hand of goodness and love - even the deepest, most heart breaking situations.

Did Franciska bear up under this great distress by remembering that nothing would ever, could ever or had ever separated her from her Heavenly Father's love - that, in fact, the trial was even His love expressed working for her good and His glory? She must have settled there on that truth for she never stopped serving her Savior out of a heart full of love for Him.

In 1899, 13 years after having arrived in America, following many sad experiences, including times of near starvation, the family traveled in three covered wagons, crossing the Missouri River into South Dakota to join relatives who lived there. Here they attended the Avon Baptist Church and continued farming. Two more children were born in South Dakota, Gustav and Arthur, but both died in infancy.

With every move, the family became part of the local church. Their life was centered there, and they regarded it as an extension of their immediate family. Hermann and Franciska served wherever they were needed. They regarded the church as precious – as the manifestation of Christ. With such heartache to endure, surely the church was a wellspring of compassion and stability for this couple.

Chapter four will follow and will tell a brighter story as God works to establish a stable residence and livelihood for Hermann and Franciska's family.

Posted by Sharon Kaufman

Franciska - Chapter Three

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Franciska - Chapter Two

When we left Franciska she had become a recipient of God’s goodness. She was a teenager when God saved her. Having been born into a Catholic family, she now faced new challenges. Because she was a serious disciple of Christ, her grandparents, with whom she’d enjoyed a close relationship, now disinherited her, giving her portion of their wealth to the Catholic church.

In her adolescence, she had already experienced the cost of following Christ. Because she had tasted of His rich mercies and grace she was willing to give up family relationships and temporal comforts. Earthly riches paled in comparison to God’s love for her. Difficult as it must have been, she accepted her grandparent’s severe judgment rather than deny her Lord the right to rule her heart. She knew the power of the risen Lord which enabled her to commit to this heartbreak. She also knew the empowering of the Spirit of God who was working in her both to will and to do His good pleasure. I wonder, did she sing Be Thou My Vision because she certainly lived it:

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine inheritance, now and always;
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart;
High King of Heaven, my treasure, Thou art.

When Franciska was 20 years old, she married a man named Hermann Gustave Meyer. There were 2 ceremonies, the first of which the state required, performed by a state official. But in another ceremony on May 29th, 1882, shortly after the state ceremony, Hermann and Franciska recited their vows again to their pastor in the presence of their church family and loved ones. This was done because of their desire to honor the Lord in their marriage – making Him central from the onset. They considered May 29th their wedding anniversary.

For awhile the couple lived with Hermann’s mother, Anna, and cared for her before she died. Then because they wanted to spare their children the cruelties of German life with its wars, the couple immigrated to the U.S. in 1886 with their only surviving child, Helmuth, who was 3 years old. Two other children, both girls, Hedwig, age one, and Hermine aged two, died shortly before Franciska and Hermann left for America.

The story behind their daughter’s deaths is mysterious. It seems that as the couple was preparing to leave for America, a woman with whom they were acquainted, having no children of her own, approached Hermann and Franciska asking that they give their daughters over to her rather than take them on the arduous trip. They, of course, refused. The woman, at that point, angrily predicted that the girls would never make the trip, that they would, in fact, die before the Meyers departed.

How this unkind prediction became reality is not known. The details were not recorded or verbally passed down to subsequent generations. But it certainly makes one wonder if the angry woman had a part in the sad outcome. It is not known. What is obvious, however, is that the enemy of Franciska's soul was certainly at work trying to instill unfounded fears in her. But overall, God was working out His sovereign plan for her and her husband.

Though she was no stranger to calamity, Franciska now desperately needed to cling to the truth that God was still good and even this circumstance was wrought out of His love for her. “Though He slay me,” Job said in his affliction, “yet will I trust Him.” Though she undoubtedly struggled, Franciska ultimately consented to God’s sovereign hand molding her, remembering His goodness displayed to her through Christ’s sufferings for her. We know she submitted because of her lifelong testimony of love for her Savior. Bitterness was not a part of her life.

Regardless of this sad turn of events, the Meyers did leave for America as scheduled on a passenger ship called the S.S. Donau in the summer of 1886. Of course they traveled in steerage, the lower-most part of the ship, like most other immigrants. The trip itself was grueling and long. Steerage offered no fresh air and the atmosphere was heavy with darkness, dampness and foul odors. Along with all of the other immigrants, the Meyers slept in narrow bunks stacked three high. Food was served in one enormous kettle from which each family portioned out their share into a bucket. From this common bucket the family ate. There were not even simple amenities such as tables or bathing facilities. Chamber pots served as the "indoor toilets" and of course added to the stench of the crowded hold. For weeks this was the lot of Hermann and Franciska and their little three year old boy, Helmuth, as the ship tossed and turned over storm-impacted waters.

With all this unpleasantness I am sure dry land - any dry land - would have been perceived as blessed relief. But what really awaited them in America? They believed they were destined to arrive in a land of promise and opportunity, but the facts will reveal quite a different scene. The information from which they derived their plan, which was to homestead in Nebraska, was flawed. Land developers in the U.S., at that time, were advertising extensively, even in Germany, praising Nebraska as a wonderland, although Americans knew it as the “Great American Dessert”. Because of these glowing reports, by the time the Meyer’s disembarked the ship in the U.S., they were determined to settle there. So upon their arrival in Baltimore, after a bit of a respite, they began making arrangements to move on to Nebraska to homestead.

Chapter three will unfold the story of Franciska and Hermann's American advernture.

Posted by Sharon Kaufman

Franciska - Chapter Two

Monday, February 4, 2008

Franciska - Chapter One

I’d like to introduce you to a real woman - real, not only in the sense that she actually existed, but real in the sense that she truly lived out God's design for her as a woman.

Her name was Franciska. I became acquainted with Franciska after my father went to be with the Lord in May of 2003. It was then that I acquired and began reading some of the family history books. Franciska, I discovered, was my great-grandmother – my dad’s father’s mother. This is chapter one of Franciska’s story.

Franciska Agnes Maria Hoenow was born into a wealthy Catholic family on January 6th, 1862 in Berlin, Germany. At the tender age of 5, her mother passed away, overshadowing her young life with a dark cloud. Franciska was the only child at the time.

Soon after his wife's death, Franciska's father remarried. It was customary in Germany at this time for a widower to marry the sister of his dead wife. So, true to custom, Franciska's father married his wife’s next youngest sister. Sometime later she became pregnant. She had a healthy baby, but she, herself, died in childbirth. Franciska’s father then married the next sister, who was already pregnant with his child. She gave birth shortly after they married. This time the baby died, but the mother lived.

Franciska was not treated well by either one of her "aunt-mothers". They resented her and treated her accordingly. She felt rejected and unloved. Her second aunt-stepmother did not try to hide the fact that she favored her own children over Franciska. Though she was the oldest child, a position deserving of respect from her siblings, Franciska was made to walk behind the youngers. Add to this her father’s immorality and the family deaths, including her own mother’s, and we begin to sense the strain of grief that was laid upon this girl at such a young age. In light of Franciska's sufferings, I am ashamed at how little it takes for me to offer objections when my life is slightly uncomfortable.

One positive aspect of her young life was that she received an excellent education and in her adolescence was apprenticed to a milliner (hat designer and seller). She learned this trade well and enjoyed it immensely. Franciska also began to keep a diary of sorts. She called it "Poesie" (pronounced poe-EE-zee) which is the German word for poetry. She began making entries in this little book from the time she was 12 and continued until she was 19. "Poesie" was a type of autograph/photo book which must have been a good distraction for Franciska during this period of her life.

But as a teenager, with all of the difficulties she had faced in her early years, Franciska desperately needed some good news. That’s when God graciously intervened by sending someone her way to share the wonderful message of the gospel. She was convicted of her sin, received Christ as her Savior and experienced God's mercy and forgiveness.

Happy day for Franciska! She was a good woman at that point. Now that God had imparted His goodness to her through the new birth, she was ready to learn how to walk in the good works He had prepared for her from before the foundation of the world. Ephesians 2:10 would be the expression of the remainder of her life. "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them."

This began with her attendance at a local church. Franciska was soon baptized by her pastor and added to the fellowship of the Konig Strasse Baptist Church in Berlin.

Stayed tuned for chapter 2. Here's a preview: "Because she was a serious disciple of Christ, Franciska's grandparents, with whom she had enjoyed a close relationship, now disinherited her, giving her portion of their wealth to the Catholic church."

Posted by Sharon Kaufman

Franciska - Chapter One