A Mild Winter So Far
Yesterday there were tracks from birds and deer and racoons in the snow around the bird feeder. I think one of the neighbor cats even sauntered over and nosed curiously around. The other night I came in from a late meeting walking slowly and carefully on the ice and snow covered ground and stopped to listen to coyotes howling from the north woods. Sounds carry far in the winter when snow is on the ground and leaves are off the trees. It’s been a mild January on Bittersweet Farm. I haven’t plowed yet though it might have been a good idea to push the last snow off right away before it turned to ice. Every time I go down the icy steps I chastise myself inwardly that I did not build a handrail on the back steps on any one of the balmy days off last summer.
The birds are noisier on warmer days. Yesterday, working at my desk, I could hear geese passing over more than once. I love the sound and sight of that. The fields around Bittersweet Farm, the trees, and the buildings are all covered with white and sparkle when we are blessed with sunshine. The sun lingers a little longer before sinking beyond the trees west of here every night and we savor every extra minute of golden light on the snow. The forecast looks pretty tolerable for the rest of January, mild for Michigan. We don’t mind.
Satan is at Work. God is at Work.
I do hope you and yours are safe and well during the Covid-threat and civil un-rest and general upheaval. Yesterday I told the Bethel Congregation that since the fear of the Lord has been declining the fear and anxiety about everything else have been increasing. I reminded them that during these times they can choose to move toward God–closer to God or they can move further away from Him. I reminded them that during times like this Satan is at work to discourage people, divide churches, friends, and families. But we have seen that God is powerfully at work. In times like these wise, Spirit-filled Christians will try to enhance their spiritual sensitivity and their awareness of what is happening in the world around them good, bad, and ugly and nudge everyone they meet a little closer to Jesus.
There are people everywhere around us in need of our help and our encouragement. Yesterday it was cold and snowy and I noticed a lady in a convertible (not the best choice in Michigan). Her back window was torn out. Someone had tried to tape it and glue it but it was gapping open and icy air was pouring into the car. That must have been discouraging, clutching a hot drink to compensate for a cold interior. I said a prayer for her, and one thanking God for a car with a good heater, windows that were not broken, heated seats and a nice sound system. Most people have troubles and pressures that are harder to see than broken windows. I often pray that God will help me see them the way He sees them.
Where Do You Get Your Books?
Pastor Larry Whiteford, Pastor Ron Ayers, Pastor Jim Evans, all gave me huge chunks of their pastoral libraries when they retired from active preaching ministry. Last year Dad gave me a couple sets of commentaries. They are precious to me because I remember them from his shelves and remember him pouring over them in his study preparing for his messages.
Others have gifted me, knowing my love of books. Since I was fourteen years old I have worked and spent much of my discretionary money on books, most of them related to ministry, pastoral work, preaching, Bible study, and nature and personal memoir.
For about ten years we lived in Knox County, Ohio where we started a church. We had four of our eight children when we were living there, Heidi, Hannah, Daniel, and Wesley. We lived in the countryside. The county seat and nearest city of any size was Mt. Vernon. In Mt. Vernon Mr. Clinker was a retired professor who had converted a small two-story house into a little bookshop on a side street in town. In the years we lived in Knox County it was only open on Monday’s … maybe it was only open on Monday nights.
Mr. Clinker was a quiet man. Kind. Generous. A Christian. Every room of the little house was full floor-to-ceiling with books. I would visit on Monday’s sometimes I would bring along one of the kids to browse with me. We would talk about books and I would bring my stack up to the counter and Mr Clinker would look at them and add up the prices penciled inside the front covers. On more than one occasion the conversation would go something like this: “Let’s see those books come to 24 dollars. Do you have a ten? We will call it even. He once saw I was interested in two large multi-volume sets of commentaries and insisted that I take them with me and use them. “They are not doing anyone any good just sitting there on the shelf,” he said. Over the years, whenever I see them I think of him and his little Owl Creek Books.
I did a little search today, when he came to mind. We left Knox County in late 1997. Mr. Clinker when to be with the Lord at 91 years old in 2011. Do you have any special stories about how you acquired the books you treasure?
Until next time, stay well and warm and don’t forget to take time to read good things. To stimulate your appetite for reading watch The Guernsey Island Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society if you have a Netflix account. It’s a delightful story about stories.
January 19, 2021