Tuesday, September 01, 2015

A Word From Pastor Mike - Bread That Lasts

I am way, way behind on passing on sermons from my husband. Here is one from awhile back...

John 6:27 "Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you."

John 6:35 "I am the bread of life...Whoever comes to me shall not hunger."

Bread is a staple of life for most of the world. Here are some "fun facts" about bread:
  • Bread is probably the one food that is eaten by every race, culture and religion.
  • It takes 9 seconds for a combine to harvest enough wheat to make 70 loaves of bread.
  • Each American consumes 53 pounds of bread per year.
  • 1 bushel of wheat will produce 73 one pound loaves of bread.
  • In 1997 Kansas wheat farmers produced enough wheat to make 36.5 billion loaves of bread, enough to provide each person on earth with 6 loaves of bread.
  • Farmers receive approximately 5 cents for each loaf of bread.
  • In 1995 a team of bakers from Wheat Montana Farms Bakery set a Guinness World Record.  They harvested and milled wheat from the field then mixed, scaled, shaped and baked a loaf of bread in 8 minutes 13 seconds.
  • Breaking bread is a universal sign of peace and fellowship.

In the next few weeks our gospel readings from John 6 will focus on "Jesus the Bread of Life".  Here are some "fun facts" about bread in the Bible.
  • We don't know if Adam and Cain made bread but they were tillers in the ground. God told Adam, "In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread."
  • One of the first mentions of bread in the Bible is in Genesis 14. Melchizedek, King of Salem, brought out bread and wine and blessed Abram after a victory over several kings.
  • At the Oaks of Mamre Abraham received three visitors. He bowed before them and asked if he could bring them a morsel of bread.
  • In Genesis 25 Jacob stole Esau's birthright with stew and bread.
  • In Exodus the Jewish people were to bake unleavened bread for they were to leave Egypt in a hurry. They didn't have time for bread to rise.
In the Gospels, bread plays an important role in the life and ministry of Jesus.

The first temptation Jesus faces from Satan in the wilderness is to turn stones into bread. Man does not live by bread alone.

  • The Lord's Prayer - Give us this day our daily bread.
  • Feeding of the 5,000 involves bread.
  • Disciples are sent out without bread on a mission.
  • Disciples forget bread for one of their boat journeys.
  • Jesus reminds Pharisees that David took the Bread of the Presence when hungry, teaching them that Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath.

Jesus went to the Feast of Unleavened Bread. He took the bread, blessed it, broke it and said, "This is my body..."

In the time of Jesus, bread was a fixture in the Jewish diet. If you had flour, you baked bread. Jewish women baked bread every morning and bread was consumed throughout the day. In the morning, bread baking started again.

In the Gospel Jesus took a common element from Jewish life, made a pronouncement, an authoritative statement, "I am the bread of Life. Whoever comes to me will never hunger." At that point a discussion about physical and spiritual bread began.

What we see in John's gospel is that people are often too literal. They don't understand what Jesus is trying to teach them. Their main concern was their next meal.

Here is a brief synopsis of what Jesus was saying to them: 
  • God has sent me to nourish your spiritual hunger.
  • If you believe in me, in my teaching, in my death and resurrection for you, you will never be spiritually hungry again.
  • This bread, my life that I give to you, will lead you to eternal life.
Unfortunately, the crowd wouldn't understand this. Some would grumble, some would question. Some of his followers would leave. The teachings of Jesus were too hard. He said things like, "unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you." Jesus wonders if the 12 disciples will leave, too. Peter responds with the great confession, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life" and "We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God."

We humans are interesting. We can be asked, "What is most important to you?" and then "How involved are you in what's most important to you?" How do you actually spend your time?

If an average American lives to 78.6 years, we will find that we spend: 25 years sleeping, 10.3 years working, 9.1 years watching TV-2 years are just commercials, 3.66 years eating, consuming 35 tons of food, 4.3 years driving, 3 months waiting in traffic.

An average person will walk 110,000 miles, 4 times around the world. Some will spend 1 year of their lives deciding what to wear and 8 years shopping, 1 1/2 years doing their hair.

On the other hand, when asked what is most important people will respond with:
  1. God
  2. Love
  3. Family
  4. Music
  5. Health
  6. Friends
  7. Food and Drink
  8. Happiness
  9. Knowledge
  10. Parents
But if God is most important, why does the average Christian spend only 15-30 minutes a week in prayer? 57% of Christians read the Bible 4 times a year or less while only 26% read it 4 times a week. Only 20-30% of Americans attend worship weekly. That is not a very good track record for us.

The truth is, we humans are mostly busy living our lives. The thing we do the most in life is sleep, but nobody except insomniacs puts that as the most important thing in life.

Invite God into your busy life. See the things you do, like working and cooking and cleaning, as spiritual things you do and not just tasks to be completed.

I don't think it does a whole lot of good to feel guilty about not praying, worshiping or Bible reading enough. Just start again, be positive and ask for God's help.

Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.

I am the Bread of Life. Whoever comes to me shall not hunger.

God sent Jesus to nourish our spiritual hunger, our spiritual lives.

If you believe in me, in my teaching, in my death and resurrection for you, you will never be spiritually hungry again.

This bread, my life that I give to you, will lead you to eternal life.

God is calling us. God is drawing us to the Bread that lasts.

Monday, August 31, 2015

From Buffalo to Bluegrass

After climbing Independence Rock Friday, we drove on to our destination for the night, Lander, Wyoming.  We had tasty dinner then needed to walk it off a bit. We just took off touring downtown at dusk.  We found this sculpture, which I really liked.  Wyoming is full of buffalo depictions but so many of them have buffalo in violent scenes. This one just seemed quite peaceful.  Maybe that is why I liked him so much.

Lander is not a large town.  I think it is quaint and adorable.  We found a lot of people out walking and enjoying the perfect evening.

The next morning we drove just a few miles out of town to The Sinks.  I hope you can read this very informative bit of information about The Sinks, where water disappears underground for a few hours.

I think it is really cool down there.  The river flows down and just disappears.

This photo was Mike's idea. He likes planning out interesting shots like that.

The area is loaded with boulders.  I'd like to see that place in the Spring when the snow is melting on the mountains. It comes flowing over all those boulders at times.

A quarter of a mile down the way there is the area where the water reappears, The Rise of the Sinks. It is marked "no fishing".  People buy food there to feed the fish, though.  A family with little kids was there throwing fish food over, resulting in a lot of swirling and splashing with all those fish competing.

Do you see that sandbar down there by the fish? Magpies hung out down there. Apparently they like the fish food also.

The weird thing in that canyon is that the North wall looks like this,

And the South wall looks like this.  Why, you ask? Because the North wall gets the most sunshine and so its snow melts and is gone too quickly to grow much.  The South side is more shady so keeps its moisture longer.  Interesting, huh? Really, I was standing in the same spot when I took that photo above, then turning to take this photo below.  It is sort of a bipolar canyon.

After we left the sinks area, we drove on up into the mountains. We saw lots of people riding bicycles up the mountain. Why? Why do people do that? It didn't look like fun to me.

Then, we saw this guy hiking... ON CRUTCHES!  Impressive!

We went higher yet and found a lake.  Do you see those mountains in the distance with the snow on them, above the timber line even? That, my friends, is the continental divide.  

This is my guy.  I enjoy adventuring with him.

We headed back down into Lander and wanted to grab a quick bite before heading back home. We spotted a little bakery/cafe and stopped in. What a lovely surprise we found there!  There was a sweet bluegrass group playing. They were wonderful! I found out, from their mother, that they are a group of 4 siblings from Texas.  They are called the 4 Proches. 

We both really enjoyed listening to them play. The youngest brother could really go on that banjo!

Here's a link to one of their YouTube videos.
I hope you also find them charming.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

24 Hours of Adventure!

One thing I love about Mike is that he is often up for a quick adventure.  Yesterday we had a window of opportunity, 24 hours, to have an adventure.  So, we did!

We headed West... further West.  Our first stop was to Independence Rock. We've been there several times before and always enjoy the experience.  We like walking the trail around it and we like climbing up on top. This first photo was taken from the top.  Those are red ants on that rock!

 Independence Rock is such a unique place.  It has names pioneers scratched into the stone as they moved West!  Now, there is a highway nearby with truck after truck cruising by. Then, though, travel was a different story! Can you imagine travelling 5 months in this early RV?

OK, now is when you come to learn just how lazy I really am.  Instead of telling the story of Independence Rock myself, I took photos of the signs along the trail.


And one more...

I hope you can read those.  If not, here's the condensed version: People followed the trails (think Oregon and Mormon) for months. Getting across Wyoming could not have been easy. This huge rock was a landmark they looked for and it has a little stream nearby.  Many wrote/scratched their names into the rock and some of those names are still easy to see today.  We are allowed to climb up to the top and wander around.

It is a bit of exercise to get to the top, but so worth it for the view!

See, I told you their names are still visible!

 I like the little pools up on the top.

You must be very, very brave to get across the deep crevices!
OK, well, it seemed like a dangerous crevice at the time. 
Mike was laughing at me.
That wasn't very nice, was it?

The trail around the bottom was also beautiful. 
We could see lots of little cave like areas, formed from fallen rock.
We did not go in.
We have heard there are lots of rattlesnakes around there but 
decided we didn't need that much adventure.

We were only there for a short time, then it was time to move further West. 

As we drove along we enjoyed sparkling conversation. You may not know this about Mike but he is a great conversationist.  (My computer is telling me either that isn't a word or I am misspelling it. Oh well. It's my blog, I do what I want!)  After 37 years of marriage you might think we have run out of things to discuss.  Mike sees to it that we don't have that problem. He asks important questions like, "Do you think a sprinter would be frustrated on the moon?"

Where does he come up with this stuff?

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Day Trip to the Relatives

We woke up to a town covered in smoke today!. As bad as it was here this morning, I worry for those living closer to the Big fires.


Today I had the joy of riding with Maria (daughter) ...

and Eric (son-in-law) 

and my beautiful granddaughters for a trip to the town where my Mom lives.  It was a lovely time.

It was a really windy day up there but the girls wanted to be outside a lot anyway. 

Elise made a friend.

Cordelia got a lot of exercise! 

My sister came over. Elise and Cordy gave her lots of snuggles and she gave them both beautiful sweaters she had knit for them.

My niece, Stephanie, was in town. It is always great to see her. She graduated from college
this past Spring and is on the verge of some exciting changes.

We also got to see my nephew, Steven. Doesn't he look like a musician? Maybe that
is because he is. That kid can play a trumpet like nobody's business!

My Mom has a new puppy who was quite the hit. His name is Charlie and he is a fun little guy! 

My Mom and the girls had some mandatory fun in Mom's beautiful playhouse, AKA "she shed".
Looking at this photo I just want to say, "Isn't my Mom pretty?"

Conversation snippets from today:

When my Mom asked Elise what she expected to learn when she starts Preschool she quickly said she would learn about God and Heaven, then added that Grandma Rose is in heaven.  Everyone said, "Aaaaah."

Elise had a LOT to say today. During one long conversation with her she told me that "humans make sense and animals make sense but towels can't talk because they are not alive."  Ok, then.

Having a lot of grandmas can be confusing for little girls. Today Cordelia referred to me as "Plain Grandma".
When I repeated the term with a question mark in my voice she explained that I was a "non-great Grandma".  Funny little girl.

It has been a fun day!

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Prettiest Rainbow I Ever Saw!

Last night we were at the home of some friends, standing our on their deck, when a little storm blew through. With it came the brightest, prettiest rainbow EVER!  At one point it was a full double rainbow... So beautiful. I took a lot of photos, trying to capture the breathtaking beauty. None of the photos captured it but you have to give me points for trying.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

More Montana - Helena!

Another fun part of our trip to Montana was a little exploration of the capital, Helena.  Even though Helena is the capital, it is not a very large town. It actually was really pretty quaint.

I need to tell you, in case you don't know, the correct way to pronounce Helena.
It is NOT Hu-lane-uh.  It is Helen (like the name) + Uh (like you can't think of what you want to say next. Really.

One of our first stops was to the capital building itself.

Is that really the governor sitting there? I am not sure. There was a sign welcoming us in but we aren't technically Montana citizens right now so it seemed rude to interrupt him. So, we may or may not have spotted the governor.

Capital buildings are great places to see interesting architecture.

We pretty much had access to all the big rooms as nothing was going on at that time. Mike & I were there in the 70's when our high school sent two classes to watch the legislature in action. I don't think I learned anything then but I'd like to sit in on it now. I'd pay more attention. Back then, I think I was mostly paying attention to Mike.

That is not a real couple up there... it is a statue.

There! Now you can see Mike and Maureen Mansfield. They were very friendly.

Can you see that flower garden? It is in the shape of the state of Montana!

The next day we went through the nation's saddest mall. There were so many empty stores!  The hallway felt dark with all the darkened spaces.

After that, we went on a touristy "train" ride. Here's our engineer who went around greeting folks before we started our tour of Helena.

I love being a tourist. There is so little pressure to be "cool".  Good thing.

We saw a lot of interesting homes!

Many were old mansions with historic stories to go with them. Too bad I can't remember which home belonged to whom. It would have been a more interesting blog, wouldn't it?

He drove us down their "walking mall". They have a hilly downtown area and they've made it an outdoor mall where there are several blocks with no cars allowed. Trains WERE allowed.  Our engineer cheerily rang a little bell and store owners came out to greet us and to remind us to come back later to check out their stuff.  We did.  It would have been rude if we had not.

Aren't they friendly?

This cathedral was beautiful.  Our engineer told us a tale of a pilot flying his little plane between those steeples!  We were told that military pilot was quickly reassigned to the infantry. Who knows how much truth was in that story. Did he turn the plane sideways or what?

We also returned to the cathedral and went inside. They give tours but it was pretty quiet at that moment.

Really beautiful...

I think the ceilings were the most fascinating.

I loved the old, old buildings downtown.

We had a delightful little time in Helena.  I wouldn't mind living in a place like that.

Next up...Gates of the Mountains!