Sunday, July 6, 2014

Discerning the Will of God

The will of the Lord is for you to do right —
To honor His Word and to walk in the light,
There’s no need to fret about finding His will;
He’s spelled it out plainly for you to fulfil.

What town you should live in; your house and your car —
And whether to move or just stay where you are,
The job you should get and what projects to start
Are rarely the issues most dear to His heart.

Your sanctification’s His primary goal;
Your spiritual health and the state of your soul,
So flee fornication and lusts of the eyes —
Away with all anger and malice and lies!

Be filled with the Spirit, not drunken with wine,
For this is our loving Creator’s design.
And work with your hands all the while it is day
To bless other folks and to earn your own way.

The will of the Lord doesn’t change over time,
Or blow with the wind and adjust to the clime.
The counsel of God remains steady and true —
What stood long ago He means also for you.

To author confusion is not His intent.
He means what He says, and He said what He meant,
So open the book He has placed in your hands.
Then read and believe — and obey its commands.

It’s never God’s will when a verse twists or bends
To justify sin or your own selfish ends,
But when at face value the Bible you take,
It still gives you freedom some choices to make.

The path that you choose must allow you to do
The things that are written — and strengthen you too,
To add to your faith every virtue and grace
That helps you to run and to finish the race.

If you are not able to keep the Lord’s Word,
Your view of His will is undoubtedly blurred.
How much you have prayed doesn’t matter a scratch,
If what the Word says and your actions don’t match.

Acknowledge the Lord by obeying His voice
And making the Bible the base of your choice.
Trust Him, not yourself, and He’ll guide and protect;
Your choices He’ll honor; your steps He’ll direct.

~ Nita Brainard


Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Will of God

When I posted about how all things work together for good, I mentioned that the blessing of God is no proof that a course we have taken is "The will of God" in the sense that he preordained our path. While reading the book of Joshua I was struck by how clear an example of this the Lord gives us by including the story of the Gibeonites in the Scriptures. 

Gibeon was a chief city of the Hivites. The expressed will of God for the people of Israel was for them to extinguish the people of the land of Canaan, including the Hivites. (Deut. 7:1) Deuteronomy 7:2 says: "thou shalt make no covenant with them." Nonetheless, the men of Gibeon disguised themselves and deceived the Israelites into forming a league with them, contrary to the will of God. Joshua and the princes of Israel "asked not counsel at the mouth of the Lord." (Josh. 9:14). If they had sought counsel, the Lord would have instructed them not to trust the deceivers, and they would not have made that covenant. Once, however, the league with Gibeon was formed, it was God's will for Israel to keep her promise. (Psalm 15). He honored the choice of his people, even when they had obviously made the wrong choice. How much more will he honor the choices of his people when they are making their decisions based on the principles of Scripture!

God did not direct Joshua to make the league with Gibeon. He had been left out of the decision making process. Nonetheless he blessed Israel and even used the league with Gibeon for Israel's good. (Rom. 8:28). Five kings of the land came out against Gibeon. Honoring the newly made covenant, the Israelites went to war in Gibeon's defense, and "the Lord fought for Israel." (Josh. 10:14). God so blessed them in the battle that he cast down great stones from heaven upon their enemies. (Josh. 10:11). In this battle the sun and moon stood still. The Scripture records that "there was no day like that before it or after it, that the Lord hearkened unto the voice of a man." (Josh 10:14).

God can and will turn even our bad choices to good account, for "we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." (Rom. 8:28).

                                                                                 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Road

I took the road less travelled by —
      Not consciously I chose,
But followed, without knowing why,
      The path that upward rose.

It hasn’t been an easy course,
      My progress often blocked,
But I look back without remorse
      For walking where I walked.

When stumbling in some dip or hole,
      To passion much inclined,
I’ve felt the weakness of my soul,
      And seemed so far behind.

I’ve wondered if I’d chosen right
      To take a path so rough,
But viewing now in clearer light,
      I see ‘twas well enough.

I overcame the dips and rocks,
      And many trials withstood;
The stones I thought were stumbling blocks
      Were there for my own good.

They made me stronger in the race,
      And though I wasn’t fast,
I made some progress by God’s grace —
      And I'll reach home at last.      

~ Nita Brainard



Sunday, May 4, 2014

Following Dreams

Follow your dreams is the cry of our day. We all have dreams. There is nothing wrong in that. But there are different kinds of dreams, and they should not all be treated alike.

Some dreams are directly from God. If you have a dream from God, as Joseph had, you should hang on to it and not despise it --- But hanging on to a dream is a different thing from following it. If Joseph had been following his dreams, he wouldn't have chosen slavery in Egypt --- and he probably wouldn't have had his dreams fulfilled.

Most of the dreams that people love to follow are not from God at all and have nothing to do with Him and His concerns. They are not necessarily wrong things --- just self-centered things. These, if we hang on to them at all, must be held with a loose hand by those who die to themselves and follow Christ.

Other dreams that godly people cherish really are centered in God and the things that pertain to Him. They are dreams for His work to be done His way. --- But often our perception of 
what is His work
and
what is His way
is skewed. There is no perfection under the sun, but our dreams tend to be idealistic and are often intermingled with selfish prejudices. Because of this, even these dreams must be held with a loose hand, so they can be refined as our minds are renewed by the word of God. They should only be followed to the degree that they conform to the things which the Bible commands us to follow:
                       The Lord Jesus  Luke 9:23; John 10:27
                       The things which make for peace Rom. 14:9
                       That which is good 1 Thess. 5:15; 3 John 1:11
                       Those who follow Christ 1 Cor.s 11:1; 2 Thess.3:7-9; Heb. 13:7; Rev. 14:13
                       Righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness 1 Tim.6:11
                       Righteousness, faith, charity, peace 2 Tim. 2:22

For a poem about dreams not followed, see Dreams.


Saturday, April 5, 2014

Wings

A friend recently posted this quote about the caterpillar with wings. It reminded me of a couple of poems I have written. "My Wings" is posted on Prayerclub.net, but I'm posting here the one I like better.

An Itch to Fly

The butterflies all flit around,
But woe is me, I’m tightly bound.
I can’t get free. I can’t get loose
To give my wings their proper use.

Yes, I have wings. I do, I know.
They itched so as I felt them grow.
They itched, and now they itch the more,
And long to open up and soar.

Why have these flight devices grown,
But only itched and never flown?
What purpose are my bound-up wings?
Not used to fly, they’re worthless things!

They itch, they ache, they throb, they burn,
They pant and pine to have their turn
For freedom in the boundless sky,
Where they can spread themselves and fly.

But trapped inside a chrysalis,
Such opportunities I miss.
My wings don’t fly; they barely twitch,
And oh, they itch, they itch, they itch.

~ Nita Brainard

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Charlotte Elizabeth's Horse Ride

Before  Charlotte Elizabeth became a prolific Christian writer and the author of many anonymous tracts, she spent some time in Nova Scotia where her best friends were her horse and her dog. Though not a horsey person myself, the following poem made a deep impression on me when I read her autobiography many years ago. Not able to find it online, I decided to post it myself for my friends who love horses and for those who, like me, are inexplicably captivated by the abandon and comradery so beautifully expressed in this poem. She composed the following lines in the early part of the 19th century while riding a dappled gray Arabian named Fairy.  Marco was her dog.

I know by the ardour thou canst not restrain,
By the curve of thy neck and the toss of thy mane,
By the foam of thy snorting which spangles my brow,
The fire of the Arab is hot in thee now.
'Twere harsh to control thee, my frolicksome steed,
I give thee the rein -- so away at thy speed;
Thy rider will dare to be wilful as thee,
Laugh the future to scorn, and partake in thy glee.
Away to the mountain -- what need we to fear?
Pursuit cannot press on my Fairy's career,
Full light were the heel and well balanced the head
That ventured to follow the track of thy tread;
Where roars the loud torrent and starts the rude plank,
And thunders the rock-severed mass down the bank,
While mirror'd in crystal the far-shooting glow,
With dazzling effulgence is sparkling below.
One start, and I die; yet in peace I recline,
My bosom can rest on the fealty of thine;
Thou lov'st me, my sweet one, and would'st not be free
From a yoke that has never borne rudely on thee.
Ah, pleasant the empire of those to confess,
Whose wrath is a whisper, their rule a caress.

Behold how thy playmate is stretching beside,
As loath to be vanquish'd in love or in pride,
While upward he glances his eye-ball of jet,
Half dreading thy fleetness may distance him yet.
Ah Marco, poor Marco -- our pastime to-day
Were reft of one pleasure if he were away.

How precious these moments! fair Freedom expands
Her pinions of light o'er the desolate lands:
The waters are flashing as bright as thine eye,
Unchain'd as thy motion the breezes sweep by;
Delicious they come, o'er the flower-scented earth,
Like whispers of love from the isle of my birth;
While the white-bosom'd Cistus her perfume exhales,
And sighs out a spicy farewell to the gales.
Unfeared and unfearing we'll traverse the wood,
Where pours the rude torrent its turbulent flood:
The forest's red children will smile as we scour
By the log-fashioned hut and the pine-woven bower;
Thy feathery footsteps scarce bending the grass,
Or denting the dew-spangled moss where we pass.

What startles thee? 'Twas but the sentinel gun
Flashed a vesper salute to thy rival, the sun;
He has closed his swift progress before thee, and sweeps
With fetlock of gold, the last verge of the steeps.
The fire-fly anon from his covet shall glide,
And dark fall the shadows of eve on the tide.
Tread softly -- my spirit is joyous no more,
A northern aurora, it shone and is o'er;
The tears will fall fast as I gather the rein,
And a long look reverts to yon shadowy plain.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Variation on the Felt Slippers

When I tried to make my felt slippers by memory, I happened upon a variation that doesn't require cutting after the felting. It still leaves the ankle free, but comes up higher in the front.


You cast on 6 extra stitches. Then after you work the heel, you decrease 5 of those stitches across the instep when you do your second decrease along the side stitches of the gusset. Decrease the last stitch on the last decrease row of the gusset. Here are the modified instructions:

Instructions:

2 3.5 oz balls worsted weight wool
Double points and/or 24" circular needle, size 11 Double points recommended for toe. If used on the whole slipper, they should be at minimum 8" long.
Using two strands at once, CO 48 stitches. (for woman's narrow CO 46) [for men's medium or large CO 51] Join, being careful not to twist stitches.
Knit one round. [for men, k 3 rounds]
Knit 24 stitches (22) [26]. Work back and forth on these 24 stitches to create the back of the heel. Work 15 rows stockinette st. (Knit one row, purl one row.) End with a purl row.
Turn Heel:
Slip 1, K13 (11) [15] K2 tog, k1, turn
Slip 1, P5 (5) [7], P2 tog, P1, turn
Slip 1, K6 (6) [8], k2 tog, K1, turn
Slip 1, P7 (7) [9], p2 tog, P1, turn
Continue in this manner until all stitches are used up. End with a purl row. (For narrow sizes, the last decrease row will be a knit row. P1 row before beginning gusset.) There should be 14 (13) [16] stitches on needle.
Make Gusset:
Knit 7 (6) [8]. Place marker, if using circular needles. Switch needles if using double points. K7 (For narrow size, K2 tog, then knit 5). Pick up 10 (10) [11] stitches along side of heel flap. Place marker, or switch needles. Knit across 24 (24) [25] stitches, placing them on one needle, if using double points. Place marker, or switch needles. Pick up 10 (10) [11] stitches along other side of heel flap. Knit 7 (6) [8] stitches.

You are now at the center of the heel. This will be the beginning of your rounds. You should have 17 (16) [19] stitches on each side of heel.
Round 1: Knit to within 2 stitches of marker {or the end of the first needle.} K2 tog. Knit the 24 (24) [25] stitches that form the top of the foot. After next marker, {or at the beginning of the 3rd needle} K2 tog.
Round 2:Knit.
Round 3: Knit to within 2 stitches of marker {or the end of the first needle.} K2 tog. Knit the stitches that form the top of the foot, decreasing 5 stitches over the course of the 24 (24) [25] stitches {19 (19) [20] stitches remaining.} After next marker, {or at the beginning of the 3rd needle} K2 tog.
Round 4: Knit

Repeat Round 1 then Round 2, 3 (3) [4] more times until there are 12 (11) [13] stitches on each side of heel. On the last round, decrease one stitch in the center of the instep. You will now have 42 (40) [44] stitches total. From here the pattern is the same as the original slipper pattern. 

Knit around and around to the desired measurement from the beginning of the gusset {where you picked up stitches.}:
For woman's small: 7" 
For woman's medium: 9"
For woman's large or men's medium: 11"
For man's large: 12"

Decrease for toe. Double points will work best here. If you are using a circular needle, you will have to pull up the cable as you go. In other words, pull out a loop of cable without any stitches on it, so you can reach the stitches on the needle to knit them. {It is a hassle, but it is only after years of knitting that I acquired double points in the larger sizes. If you only do an occasional project of this type, the circular needle will work.}

For women's regular size:
Round 1: *K 5, K2 tog* repeat around.
Round 2 and all even rounds: Knit
Round 3: *K4, K2 tog* repeat around
Round 5: *K3, K2 tog*, repeat around
Round 7: *k2, K2 tog*, repeat around
Round 9: *K1, K2 tog*, repeat around

For women's narrow:
Round 1: K3, K2 tog, *K 5, K2 tog* repeat between * to end of round.
Round 2 and all even rounds: Knit
Round 3: K2, K2tog, *K4, K2 tog* repeat between * to end of round
Round 5: K1, K2tog, *K3, K2 tog* repeat between * to end of round
Round 7: K2tog, *K2, K2 tog* repeat between * to end of round
Round 9: K2 K2tog *K1 K2tog*, repeat between * to end of round

For men's or wide slippers:
Round 1: *K 5, K2 tog* repeat between * around until 3 stitches are left. K1, K2 tog.
Round 2 and all even rounds: Knit
Round 3: *K4, K2 tog* repeat around until 2 stitches are left. K2 tog
Round 5: *K3, K2 tog*, repeat around K last stitch
Round 6: *K2, K2 tog*, repeat around, K last stitch
Round 7: *K1, K2 tog*, repeat around, K last stitch

Cut yarn with long tail. Thread on tapestry needle, and sew through stitches on needle. Pull tightly into a circle and sew up. Weave yarn ends into work.

Make flower to put on woman's slippers. Use one of these patterns, if desired:
Five Petal Flower
Easy Flower

Felting Instructions:
Place items to be felted in a pillow case. Tie shut. I use a rubber band or hair tie. This keeps the wool fuzzies from getting in your washing machine. Set machine to smallest wash setting, hot water, and most vigorous speed. Put pillow case with wool items in the machine along with a heavy piece of cloth to increase the agitation. I use an old drapery panel. Allow to agitate 15 - 40 minutes. The time needed will vary according to your wash machine, the water temperature, and the yarn used. I use two wash cycles, or about 24 minutes.  Do not spin out. Spinning may cause creases in the fabric that can not be gotten out. I leave the machine open, so the spinner will not activate, and cover the machine with a heavy cloth. Pull pillow case out of water. Squeeze out excess water and rinse in cold water. Remove slippers. If they need more shrinking, return them to the pillow case and put them back in the washer. If not, squeeze out the water, stuff with towels and allow to dry. They can be stretched a little, if needed.
(Be sure to pull the fuzzies out of your pillow case before throwing it back in the washer to spin out)

These slippers were left in the washer through the spin cycle, and you can see a crease across one of them. This cannot be removed, and it is the reason for NOT spinning felted items.