Sweet Tea and a Distasteful Flavor

“There’s a Fly in my Tea! The Importance of Maintaining a Christian Testimony;                By Crystal L. Ratcliff;  CrossLink Publishing 2016

A Book Review

Crystal Ratcliff, has presented a metaphor we can probably all relate to whether we drink our tea sweet or otherwise. Flies are pesky and dirty. We don’t want them crawling on the rim of our glass. The metaphor fits perfectly for the subject of this 11-session Bible study about our witness for Jesus. The cover design adds beautifully to the “ewwww” factor.

Maintaining a sweet, pure Christian testimony, says Ratcliff, means doing many things she believes we can learn from the life of the Apostle Peter. Her first lesson, however, gets someone off on the right foot before the study begins. She challenges her readers to examine their lives in light of their personal salvation and person relationship with the Lord. Since the book is meant to be studied with others, discussing these answers honestly can only be of benefit to each member and to the group itself.

Ratcliff’s style is relaxed and her tone is friendly. She expects the audience is women and that they share their stories within a group. However, the study could be done independently, if necessary.

The fact that Crystal takes the student right into scripture helps them to see how it relates to other scriptures. The lessons include just enough related verses to help the reader understand the lesson and how the lesson should be applied. An aspect of the study I appreciated was her openness regarding her own failings. Done in a safe environment, sharing what keeps us coming back to Jesus for help aids in discussion.

Subjects covered over the eleven-session study are trusting God totally; keeping my focus on God; walking in the Spirit in relation to how we spend our time; and believing who Jesus says he is versus the world’s view of him.

Ratcliff also mentions the tendency Christians have to witness about their church rather than being a sweet and pure witness for Christ alone. In her own way she says we would do better to point people to Jesus rather than a specific church body or denomination.

No church is perfect, she says, because no people are perfect. We all need to learn to pray more faithfully, forgive more quickly, and serve in love. But “our goal in studying this,” she says, “should be to protect ourselves from being an ‘offender.’”

To some readers, “There’s a Fly in my Tea” will seem like a course in Bible 101. If that’s the case, let me suggest you become the person Jesus commanded you to be and disciple others by leading them through this short study. Those new to the Christian faith will certainly get some of their questions answered. Recruit a couple of your more mature Christian friends to join in and they will help teach the younger women, which is a biblical principle taught by Paul.

The narrative sections are refreshing to anyone who even remotely understands the importance of a relationship with Jesus. The lists of questions at the end of each chapter (never more than 6-8) are just challenging enough to keep us teachable.

 

The reviewer received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through the BookCrash.com book review program. The opinions expressed are those of the reviewer.

 

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After That Pause…A Page

Recently I decided to make my blog more like the website I hope to make it on another day. Including a photo of myself works. Including a ‘follow’ button and links to recent posts also works.

Another page under “Author Stuff” is something I needed. My introduction to myself is short and (I hope) somewhat humorous. It’s my way of letting you know who I am in a lighthearted way. “Published Stuff” is for the people who want to know a little more about the “author” mentioned in that page.Snoopy at typewriter

I’ve been writing for ghmsngrg years and this page addition includes information about past and present writing efforts. Sure, I’ve had other jobs. Retail experience in a grocery store, cleaning lady, secretary, bookkeeper, waitress, and proofreader, to name a few. But writing is a career for me, not just a job.

So hover over “Author Stuff” and take a look if you’re so inclined. Thanks for being a regular reader. As always, your comments are welcome.

On Pause…

p90x-the-pause-button

The writer of this blog has an apology and an explanation for my absence in the past few weeks. “I’m sorry” to all of my readers who come by to check in and see nothing new. I’m sorry for myself because posting here enriches my life.

Lately, I’ve been preparing for and recovering from an elective surgery. I’ve also been preparing to move to a new home. In sorting priorities, the blog came in lower on the list.

Next week, when I’m settled into my new apartment, I hope to be back. Perhaps I’ll even share a little about the journey I took with the surgery. There’s actually some funny stuff to tell. Some blessings as well. God is good.

Be a blessing to someone today.

Paula

 

Romans 2:14 (Physics, Baseball, and Faith)

Just in time for the All-Star Game, Bejai posts another great word picture to explain a faith concept. If you trust God and are a baseball fan, this one will be especially meaningful.

THE RIVER WALK

Gratitude for this picture goes out to Steven Dunn, the NY Post, and the greatest hitter of all time: Derek Jeter Gratitude for this picture goes out to Steven Dunn, the NY Post, and the greatest hitter of all time: Derek Jeter

Even Gentiles, who do not have God’s written law, show that they know his law when they instinctively obey it, even without having heard it. (Romans 2:14)

Read: 1 Chronicles 16:37 – 18:17, Romans 2:1-14, Psalm 10:16-18, Proverbs 19:8-9

Relate: I was listening to a sermon last night where the preacher was using an illustration of how a physicist from Yale University wrote an article in USA Today (I believe) demonstrating why hitting a 90 MPH fastball is a physical impossibility. According to the preacher this article stated that it takes about a seventh of a second (.15) for stimulus response. That is also the length of time it takes for a bat to be swung into position once motion has started. It also takes an absolute bare minimum of…

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Psalm 146:3-5 (What Does Love Have To Do With It)

Signed in to reblog this on my own site and disappointed to see the rainbow header on WordPress. I do not appreciate this free blogger site speaking for me.
This post, however, says some things I have been thinking through for the last couple days. I may step on toes, but I also want to make it clear that I don’t avoid LGBT people. I don’t hate them. I’ve tried to think about what I would write IF I wrote and Beejai has done it so well, I will share his words today.

THE RIVER WALK

Supreme Court Ruling

Don’t put your confidence in powerful people; there is no help for you there. When they breathe their last, they return to the earth, and all their plans die with them. But joyful are those who have the God of Israel as their helper, whose hope is in the Lord their God. (Psalm 146:3-5)

Read: 2 Kings 13:1 – 14:29, Acts 18:23 – 19:12, Psalm 146:1-10, Proverbs 18:2-3

Relate: On Friday five unelected officials overturned with finality thirty-one different state’s constitutional amendments in a highly controversial ruling that same sex marriage is a right guaranteed under the fourteenth amendment to the US Constitution. Each of the dissenting judges wrote opinions to this decision. One of them wrote:

A system of government that makes the People subordinate to a committee of nine unelected lawyers does not deserve to be called a democracy.

The strikingly unrepresentative character of the body voting on today’s social upheaval…

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Happy Father’s Day, Daddy… and Mama

I follow Storyshucker exactly because he tells a story so well. Today he brings to mind memories of my own father, who passed away three years ago. If you are a father…or a mama…Happy Father’s Day.

Storyshucker

With Father’s Day coming up this Sunday I’d like to acknowledge the obvious individual…Mama.

She still laughs remembering Daddy’s funny stories. He artfully told his silly tales and endless supply of jokes to keep everyone entertained. Daddy could be truly funny and Mama was the first to laugh. After sixty years of marriage there’s no doubt she’d heard his material several times over but Daddy loved to see people laugh and Mama wouldn’t have him disappointed. She loved him and laughed hard at his jokes, chastised his colorful language, and coyly prompted him to repeat her favorites. Daddy enjoyed making others laugh and Mama happily served as the perfect straight man even if she occasionally found herself the brunt of his playful banter.

An aunt grinned and asked Mama, “How in the world do you live with him?”

“It ain’t easy.” Mama answered, shaking her head.

Daddy’s vegetable garden was perfection…

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Joshua 14:10-11 (The Old Soldier)

This daily devotion from Beejai (I posted another of his a couple weeks ago) is another way to develop a Fruitful Life. God’s plan for us doesn’t go into retirement. Please go on over and read more of The River Walk. It will be worth it.

THE RIVER WALK

Old Soldier

Now, as you can see, the Lord has kept me alive and well as he promised for all these forty-five years since Moses made this promise—even while Israel wandered in the wilderness. Today I am eighty-five years old. I am as strong now as I was when Moses sent me on that journey, and I can still travel and fight as well as I could then. (Joshua 14:10-11)

Read: Joshua 13:1-14:15, Luke 18:1-17, Psalm 85:1-13, Proverbs 13:7-8

Relate: Imagine for a moment that you are employed at the army recruitment office. It is the late 1930’s and although it isn’t official, everybody knows that we are gearing up to join the fight against Hitler. Many of our best soldiers and pilots have already hopped over to Britain and joined in the fighting. Now the brass over you is creating recruitment quotas because we need to swell the ranks. You have been given orders…

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Luke 12:51 (Not Peace, But…)

I follow The River Walk blog each day. While Beejai’s style is different, this post reminded me of one I wrote not too long ago, “Claim Your Religion.”

“Joe” is one of those who would be in the category of losing so much more than we even think of losing if he claimed Christ as savior.

Thanks to The River Walk for its challenging message each day.

THE RIVER WALK

Not peace but

Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. (Luke 12:51)

Read: Deuteronomy 32:28-52, Luke 12:35-59, Psalm 78:56-64, Proverbs 12:24

Relate: One of the friendliest guys I have met recently is a man I am going to call Joe. Joe is a Muslim but the way IS is acting almost makes him want to be an atheist. He says that what they are doing comes more from the hadiths (the traditions of what Mohammed said that grew up mostly two centuries after his death). This conversation mostly sprang up after he heard that I got a degree in Bible. Joe started asking me questions about what Christians thought about Isa (Jesus). Mostly I let him lead the conversation and just answered as I could, but when the conversation started moving off in a different direction I turned and asked “Joe” a question of…

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I Can Hear It Now

Today’s Feature For Friday is again about food. A snack food that has been compared to social media. I suppose it’s true; the more generous you are with it, the more people you attract.

Popcorn. Do you think of

a) Jiffy Pop
b) Microwaved
c) Theater-popped
d) Air-popped
e) All of the above

When popcorn pops, it creates not just a sound in the ear, but an aroma in the nose. The unique treat in your hand belies the soft crunch you’re about to feel between your teeth (and the nasty hulls stuck there later on). Popcorn is a sensual experience only the eater can describe.

I come from the era of Jiffy Pop, but my family could neither afford it nor would one package have fed our large family. We popped our kernels from a bag the old fashioned way.

f) In a pan on top of the stove

My earliest association of popcorn involves Mom serving up the surprise, usually on a Saturday night. The seven of us–Dad and we six kids–would be sitting in the living room watching TV when, all of a sudden, “It” would begin.

Pop! Pop! Pop! POP-POP-POP! POP-POP-POP-POPPITY-POP! An unmistakable sound, those kernels hitting the lid of a pan. Mom couldn’t hide now what she was up to. And inevitably, one of us would hurry to the kitchen to confirm and report back, “We’re having popcorn!”

By then, the aroma of those tiny popping kernels wafted through the house; we needed no one to tell us. Imagine six kids full of anticipation for a rare treat. Then Mom came first with a bowl for Dad and, in turns, a bowl for each of us children. She’d give the popping another go because one pan didn’t feed everyone.

popcorn time

I confess that I can eat popcorn until it’s coming out of my ears (pun intended). At a movie theater, I’ve actually had friends with whom I’m attending keep tabs on me. Or talk me down from the ledge of even getting in line to purchase a bushel basket of it.

Whew, I just walk in the door and I’m a theater popcorn junkie. How can those youngsters at the concession stand possibly feel good about trafficking refills for a paltry fifty cents (or whatever the going rate is now)? Dripping with butter, for me, it’s a cross between Mom’s love served in a bowl and Paula Dean’s favorite recipe.*

Now, just in time for my blog post–I’ve wanted to write about popcorn for a couple weeks–the New York Times publishes an article about scientists “discovering” the mechanics of popcorn popping. Is this really news? Did no one ever figure this out before?

As if the average kid about to get a bowl of air-popped, Jiffy Popped, microwaved, or theater popcorn cared. **

At heart, I’m a kid when it comes to popcorn. It reminds me of sitting with my sibs and the folks watching the boob tube. That truly felt like family time. I didn’t need bowl after bowl of it to enjoy it. I didn’t need the buttery-flavored junk on top or the special toppings they offer these days. It didn’t have to come quickly like microwaved popcorn.

The sound and the scent were enough. And Mom knowing just when it was a good night to treat us. That’s another sensual experience, I suppose. One that evokes pleasure in my heart.

Somewhere, kids must still be sitting in living rooms listening to the poppity-pop out in the kitchen while Mom prepares to serve up a little fun and love. I know this because I see that popcorn can still be found in kernel form on supermarket shelves; the kind you have to pop without a microwave.

Why not pick up some popcorn–your choice–this weekend and enjoy the treat with your family? Don’t forget the dental floss.

*I realize that’s not real butter, only some buttery-flavored concoction but still…
** Actually, my geeky grandson would probably love to study the principles of corn popping.

River Language

The elements for today’s Writing 201 poetry assignment:

  • ‘Water’ as the prompt
  • Haiku as the form
  • Simile as the device

Haiku takes several forms, with each form defined by how many lines it contains and how many syllables are in each line. This poem takes the three-line 5-7-5 form. I chose a river because I’ve always enjoyed the experience of watching and listening to the movement of a river, whether large or small. There is no obvious simile in this poem.

shot-of-reeds-growing-in-water-1

 

 

River Language

Slow river murmurs

secrets to the shore, and in

the reeds, it giggles