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The story continues here . . .

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(Credit to Milt Rodriguez, from whom I first heard this parable.)

Taki gazed out across the cool green lawns, admiring the rocky outcroppings which her landscape artists had created for her enjoyment. The sun could not reach her where she reclined, shaded by cypress trees and just beginning to be sleepy. A gate rattled and Taki looked up, expecting to see her serving girl bearing refreshments, but the man who strode through her gate was a stranger. A mild surge of alarm awakened in her breast. As he approached, she stood, watching him. He didn’t appear to be dangerous, and no one had ever hurt her. He was most likely some maintenance man she had yet to meet. By the time he reached her, she felt only curiosity.

The handler spoke in a low, soothing voice as he clipped a collar around her neck. Taki supposed she must be going to see the vet for one of her frequent check-ups and followed willingly. The vet had a quiet, gentle manner, and always offered treats when she had finished with her examination. Taki liked her. But this new human turned the wrong direction, and Taki immediately took notice. She had never been led in this direction before. She peered around her with interest as they walked. A few moments later, they stopped and the man tossed a bit of food into a crate that sat in the back of a vehicle. Taki knew this trick. He would close the door after she leaped in and she would be stuck there for a time, but it was not too great a price for a treat. What did she have to do besides sleep? And a crate was as good a place as any to do it. She gracefully jumped into the box, and in a few moments they were off, bouncing down the road.

Taki didn’t care for the bouncing, and with the back gate of the vehicle closed, she couldn’t see what was going on outside. It seemed that they bounced and bounced for a very long time. She felt the sun must have passed halfway across the sky by the time the jarring and jolting finally stopped. The rear gate of the vehicle opened and the handler snapped the leash back onto her collar. The sun, high and hot, washed out any brightness of color her surroundings might have had, but it felt good on her back as she leaped out into the light.

In every direction she looked she saw space. Openness. Nothing but golden grass and hot, sharp wind. Taki crouched in fear . . . not terror, not yet, but she had never seen such a place, never felt such a huge expanse around her. Always, Taki had been encased in a womb of walls — not too close, but not so far away as to fail to offer protection, insulation from the things happening around her quiet enclave. Here, she saw no walls at all, and so far as she could tell, nothing at all happening around her, either. Only the vast open expanse of nothing. She pressed her body against the warm ground and made herself as small as she could.

Every muscle taut, Taki furtively took in those sights she could see without moving, and smelled the smells. These were not the loud smells that drifted over the walls into her yard at home . . . smells of humans and food and the nearness of many kinds of animals. These smells were subtle, wafting scents of grasses and heat and the occasional hint of another animal. The smell of the Land Rover still lingered, and of her handler crouching nearby, quietly waiting . . . for what?

More later . . . .

Note to those of you reading on this page . . . my blog is moving to http://www.journeyintotheson.com. I’ll post the rest of this story there.

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Life From the Hand of God

Life From the Hand of God

I just posted this to my new URL. To read the post, click here!

Love, Cindy

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We looked at the fifth sign in the book of John this week in our Ekklesia. I’ll share more in a couple of days, but I thought this verse list was interesting and enlightening. I put it together with E-sword and the Treasury of Christian Knowledge, which is mostly a list of cross-references. I thought Job 9:8 particularly interesting. I hope you’ll enjoy looking through this and perhaps asking God to speak to you through these portions of the word.

Matthew’s Account
Immediately He made the disciples get into the boat and go ahead of Him to the other side, while He dismissed the crowds. After dismissing the crowds, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. When evening came, He was there alone. But the boat was already over a mile from land, battered by the waves, because the wind was against them.

Around three in the morning, He came toward them walking on the sea. When the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost!” they said, and cried out in fear. Immediately Jesus spoke to them. “Have courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

“Lord, if it’s You,” Peter answered Him, “command me to come to You on the water.”

“Come!” He said.

And climbing out of the boat, Peter started walking on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the strength of the wind, he was afraid. And beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out His hand, caught hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”

When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. Then those in the boat worshiped Him and said, “Truly You are the Son of God!” Once they crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret. (Mat 14:22-34 HCSB)

Mark’s Account
When evening came, the boat was in the middle of the sea, and He was alone on the land. He saw them being battered as they rowed, because the wind was against them. Around three in the morning He came toward them walking on the sea and wanted to pass by them. When they saw Him walking on the sea, they thought it was a ghost and cried out; for they all saw Him and were terrified. Immediately He spoke with them and said, “Have courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

Then He got into the boat with them, and the wind ceased. They were completely astounded, because they had not understood about the loaves. Instead, their hearts were hardened. When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and beached the boat. (Mar 6:47-53 HCSB)

John’s Account
When evening came, His disciples went down to the sea, got into a boat, and started across the sea to Capernaum. Darkness had already set in, but Jesus had not yet come to them. Then a high wind arose, and the sea began to churn. After they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea. He was coming near the boat, and they were afraid. But He said to them, “It is I. Don’t be afraid!” Then they were willing to take Him on board, and at once the boat was at the shore where they were heading. (Joh 6:16-21 HCSB)

(Job 9:8 HCSB) He alone stretches out the heavens and treads on the waves of the sea.

(Job 9:11 HCSB) If He passes by me, I wouldn’t see Him; if He goes right by, I wouldn’t recognize Him.

(Psa 77:19 HCSB) Your way went through the sea, and Your path through the great waters, but Your footprints were unseen.

(Psa 93:3-4 HCSB) The floods have lifted up, LORD, the floods have lifted up their voice; the floods lift up their pounding waves. Greater than the roar of many waters–the mighty breakers of the sea–the LORD on high is majestic.

(Hab 3:8 HCSB) Are You angry at the rivers, LORD? Is Your wrath against the rivers? Or is Your rage against the sea when You ride on Your horses, Your victorious chariot?

(Hab 3:15 HCSB) You tread the sea with Your horses, stirring up the great waters.

(Luk 24:28 HCSB) They came near the village where they were going, and He gave the impression that He was going farther.

(Rev 10:2 HCSB) and he had a little scroll opened in his hand. He put his right foot on the sea, his left on the land,

(Joh 14:18 HCSB) I will not leave you as orphans; I am coming to you.

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As I sat quietly, hoping to hear something from God, a picture of a wild rose opened wide with the pollen exposed came into my mind. This is what I believe I heard:

As the blossom clothes and glorifies and helps to identify the rose bush, so I have clothed you with beauty, My saints. The rose bush without the blossom remains a rose bush. It does not become more or less a rose bush because it bears or does not bear blossoms, but beauty and fruitfulness (which is produced by beauty) are the whole point of a rose bush. Oh yes, the bush is delicate and lacy and lovely on its own. Its leaves are unsurpassed for intricacy of design and even its thorns are a treat to behold. Yet without bright blossoms, who notices a rose bush amongst the aspens? Only those seeking it. But everyone sees the blossoms.

Therefore, whoever seeks the rose bush will find it, but even he who does not seek will notice the bright pink roses. There is a time for blossoms and a time for buds. There is a time for root and branch to grow, and for the bursting forth of new leaves.

A new, small rose bush may have a few blossoms in its first year, but its strength must be reserved for growing. Unless conditions are harsh and the bush senses it will die soon. Then it must mature quickly and produce fruit if it can, with seed.

But if the bush will live, it is best for it to grown and allow blossoms to come forth as they come.

The blossoms that clothe the bush are the righteous deeds of the saints–they are the fine, snowy linen worn by My bride, the beauty of the flowers that attracts insects and bees and birds–all of which feed on the flowers and cause them to produce fruit.

And the fruit is good for eating and for the sowing of new seed. The seed is produced by being and by drawing nourishment from the stalk and the root.

Artificial roses can be beautiful, but they do not produce pollen and nectar, nor do they have a fragrance to attract. They may attract some less-discerning with their intense colors, but they have nothing to offer for the hungry. There is no food, no fragrance, no feeding the spirit, and no fruit and no seed.

Cultivated roses are a little better. They have life, of sorts, though it must be supported by all kinds of outside intervention; sprays and pruning and fertilizers and work. Wild roses grow of themselves. All who are around them see, and marvel that such beauty can spring forth in unusual and unexpected places. Wild roses know the seasons and the times; when to bloom and when to fruit. Cultivated roses that survive in uncultivated times do so by going wild. Some can and some can’t. Some survive and some do not, and some are better gone. But the seed–the seed knows its way back to the wild.

All that you need is within you. Do not fail to listen to the voice of My Spirit within you. My seed is in you. Let it lead you back to the forest glen–to the sunlit hollows where the wild roses thrive.

This is a message to the organic church. If it makes no sense to you and you want to understand, please feel free to ask any questions you’d like.

Blessings, Cindy

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For the last year or so, I’ve been practicing making bread. I’ve been fascinated with the idea of bread, partly because of the image of Jesus as our bread of life. Anyway, this is a little off-topic for me, but occasionally someone asks me for my bread recipe.

I’m going to give you a basic recipe for a boule. That’s a loaf you form by hand and bake without a pan–preferably on a stone. It makes good pizza crust, foccacia, or bread sticks, too. You can do all sorts of things with this recipe, but that would make for a long, long post, so let’s just start with this.

1 C sourdough starter
1 1/2 T dry yeast
2 T kosher or coarse salt
2-3 T ground rosemary (opt.)
3 1/2 C lukewarm water
4 1/2 C unbleached or bleached all purpose white flour (more or less)

Mix your dough the day before you want to bake if possible. It’s more convenient, and it will taste better.

I’ll tell you how to make the starter at the end of this post. Let it sit out and warm up if you have time, then pour one cup of it into your bread bowl. Add the commercial yeast if you want to. It makes the bread rise more enthusiastically. Add the water and whisk it all together until the dry yeast dissolves. You can let it sit for a while (15-30 minutes) at this point to give the yeast a head start, but you don’t have to. Add the rosemary (or other herbs of your choice) and the salt. (note: Salt and some herbs can inhibit the yeast, so don’t over-do it.)

Add the flour a cup or two at a time, stirring it in as you go. Make sure you have a cup or two sitting by when you start mixing with your hands so you can pour it in without gunking up your flour canister if you want more. If you’re using a heavy-duty mixer with dough hook, be careful you don’t over-mix. You don’t have to knead this bread, and it will work better if you don’t. Keep adding flour until the dough isn’t sticking too much to your hands. It will be a little sticky, and you can oil or wet your hands if you like to alleviate this. You don’t want to over-do it with the flour, or your bread will become tough.

Oil the ball of dough and cover it with plastic wrap or a damp tea towel. Place it in the refrigerator or other cool place overnight. It doesn’t have to be really, really cold–a chilly basement would do fine. Allowing the dough to rise overnight enhances the flavor greatly.

Next day, punch down the dough, let it warm up if necessary, cut off a piece the size of a grapefruit, and form it into a boule (that’s chef-talk for a ball) or a long narrow loaf (like French bread or baguette or similar). If you’re going to use a baking stone, place the loaf on a bed of cornmeal on a cookie sheet, pizza peel, cutting board or something like that to rise. Otherwise, just put it on an oiled pan/cookie sheet/etc. Set your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Place a stone inside to preheat with the oven if you have one. Put a pan on the lower shelf that’s big enough to hold one cup of water (don’t fill it yet). Wrap up the remaining dough and keep it in the fridge for 3-4 days, or divide and freeze it.

Let your loaf rise for about 20 minutes, then slide it off onto the stone in the oven. Nudge it with a spatula if it doesn’t want to move. Or just put your pan in the oven if you haven’t got a stone. Pour one cup of water into the pan on the bottom shelf and close the door. Unless you made a really big loaf, 35-40 minutes should be about right. The bread should feel firm but not brick hard. Getting the timing right takes a bit of experimentation, and it will vary with the size of your loaf, your altitude, weather, etc. After awhile you’ll get the hang of it.

The water in the pan will create steam in your oven and give your bread a nice, crackly crust. I know it’s difficult, but let your bread cool on a rack for at least 10-15 minutes before cutting it, or it will be too soft.

Now for the starter . . .

I mix my starter 1:1 flour and water (more or less). Actually, it’s been such a long time since I started my starter that I forget the exact proportions. It doesn’t really matter. I like it the consistency of pancake batter. You can leave it out on the counter covered by a strainer or cheesecloth until it starts to grow something, but being an impatient sort, I added several tablespoons of commercial yeast to mine. You could add other kinds of yeast, like wine or beer yeast or the lees from wine you’ve been fermenting. That will give it an interesting flavor right away.

So I mixed up my flour and water and yeast, covered my mixture with a sieve, and set it on the counter for several days. It will bubble up, so use a tall container. You’re leaving it out to give it a good chance to grow a healthy population and also to collect any wild yeasts that happen to float by.

At this point, your starter is worth using. Use it in the recipe above or any bread recipe you like. Just remember you’ll have to increase the flour in the recipe because of the wet starter you’re adding. And if you increase the flour, you should also increase the salt a little bit. I don’t expect my starter to make the bread rise–it will do it, but I always add dry yeast also–whatever the recipe calls for, or perhaps a bit less.

When you use a cup of the starter, replenish it with a mixture of 1/2 C flour and 1/2 C lukewarm water. Adjust these proportions to your liking. If you don’t make bread for a week (horrors!), you can pour out a cup of starter and replenish as above. After a while, the yeasts use up all the starch and start to die off unless you feed them. If you find it’s not as bubbly as you like, toss in an extra tablespoon of commercial yeast anytime. Guard this starter. The longer you have it, the better it will taste. Share with your friends, but don’t forget to replenish it. If you leave it sitting too long, it will develop a layer of greeny brown water on top. Pour this off or stir it in. The starter hasn’t spoiled, and yes–it’s supposed to smell like that. That’s what makes it good! 🙂

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Joy . . . what is that? We seek happiness, maybe even ecstasy, but joy? Isn’t that myth? Legend? Even in Middle Earth or Narnia we only read of joy having happened in some misty time of antiquity. Joy isn’t believable even in fantasy. But joy is a thing that grows in us, or should. God gave me this today, and I hope it will remind you that joy is not out of reach. You only have to look in the right place for it.

My Word to you is JOY. Just as My own joy is not dependent on outer circumstances, so your joy also comes from within. Many of you have yet to experience that joy that comes from within–joy irrepressible and full of glory, that comes despite everything that would raise up a standard against it.

My Word, My Son, brings with Him this joy, but you must walk by and in Him. If you walk by your own strength, will you not be weary and heavy laden? Burdens are light when you travel with Me. Weeping will come too, but when it is finished–when the night has fled away–joy comes from despair. and a heavy heart gives birth to a buoyant spirit. In Me, all things are “yes,” and all desires are granted. Walk with Me together into joy.

Seek in Me your joy, and you will find it in abundance. In this world, those things you substitute for joy will not sustain you. They are faerie glamour, and turn to sawdust and ashes even as you eat them. They do not sustain your heart, but merely numb it for a moment. When their spell wears off, they leave you destitute of strength, starving in the midst of plenty, for you no longer eat the real food or drink the real drink.

No faerie glamour can ever satisfy. No one feeding on the things of this world can be strengthened thereby. These only prevent you from taking the true meat and drink. They deaden your spiritual senses and brutalize the true and real part of you–the LIFE–that powerful, ethereal, essential, dawning LIFE which I have implanted within your spirit. Think of the power released by one atom when it is opened . . . that is nothing to the LIFE force, the SEED I have planted within you.

Do not neglect so great a salvation. Do not allow yourself to be distracted by that which is NOT. Focus on the seed I have planted in you. Warm yourself by its heat; water it with your tears. Keep it safely covered in a dark and secret place until it springs forth of its own. Nurture and cherish it, for it is your Life. This is My Life in You. Live by This.

God has been dealing with me not to value the things of this world. It’s not that they’re bad or evil–some of them are very nice in their own way. It’s just that they’re nothing. In the old faerie tales, the fey could could use their power of glamour to make dead leaves look like a sumptuous feast, but they were still dead leaves, and it did no good to eat them. None of it was real. That’s the way this world is. If we seek its goods and pleasures we’ll find that in the end what we have is precisely nothing.

Grace and Peace, Cindy

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