Thursday, April 24, 2014

In the Yoke with Jesus

Matthew 11:28-30
  28 Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”


As I was listening to someone sing verses 29 and 30, I really began to think about what those words were saying.  I wanted to know something.  How could a yoke that is normally bulky and heavy and used to pull burdens be comfortable?  How could a burden which is just that—a burden be light and easy to carry?  Was Jesus speaking figuratively?  Did he mean that our loads of responsibility and trials would seem not so difficult and weighty on our hearts because we ask Him to help us?  Did He mean that when we would remember what He did for us—dying on the cross, accepting unjust punishment, taking the blame for what He didn’t do, listened to forgive those who mocked Him—our present circumstances would pale in comparison?  When I tried to find cross references for these verses, it appeared that this statement is recorded only in Matthew.  The closest similarity was found in John 7:37 and 38 where Jesus says, 
"If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.  He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly will (shall) flow rivers of living water.”  
John 4:14 that was stated before helps to further explain this: 
But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.”   
In this verse, Jesus did not mean that we would never be physically thirsty, but that we would be satisfied—our spirit would be satisfied and completed by the help of the Holy Spirit.  Jesus would be all we really need.  Perhaps comparing this to the yoke and burden passage will help reveal the meaning.  We know Jesus did not mean we would no longer have to physically carry heavy burdens—because that is a part of life and living.  What he could mean is our spirit-internally we wouldn’t have to be plagued by worry and grief about overwhelming responsibilities and challenges.  Jesus wanted us to realize that He wants to help us carry these loads, He wants us to share them with Him so He can take care of the brunt of the load.  Part of the definition for yoke in the Concordance also said to balance.  This would again imply: Jesus taking off some of the pressure from the burden we have.
   The Illustrated Dictionary of the Bible brings out another meaning.  It said, “In New Testament times the phrase, take the yoke of, was used by Jewish rabbis to mean, ‘Become the pupil of a certain teacher’.  In this case, Jesus also may have been encouraging His followers to learn from Him-the gentle, wise teacher of useful advice/commands. 
    I will end this study with verses that I started with, but this time it will be copied from the Amplified Bible.
    “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest.  (I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.)  Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quite) for your souls.  For My yoke is wholesome (useful, good-not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant) and My burden is light and easy to be borne.”  
 Matthew 11:28-30

If these verses are referring to Jesus as our teacher and us as students, Jesus is a great teacher who doesn’t give out assignments that are impossible to finish, nor is He arrogant, but listens to us.

Also, the reason we are overburdened, is because we are not yoked to Christ or trying to pull ahead of Him rather than with Him.  If we share the load rather than trying to do it all on our own, the load is easier to handle because we’re letting Jesus help us.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

A Special Little Boy and His Attentive Horse

Yes, I do have Down Syndrome, 
that may be,
but that difference to some
my horse doesn't see.

Compared to those my age
I look quite small
but on my horse's back
I look quite tall.

I can make my horse go 
I can make him stop
I like to ride him fast
and then go slow.

Some cannot understand
the words I say,
but my horse doesn't mind
he listens anyway.

When I see him standing 
by the gate
it means he knows 
his hay is late.

I don't know that,
so instead
I walk up to him
and give a pat.

Wally is my sister's horse,
but I like to think he's mine,
of course. 

Friday, April 4, 2014

Hey, Mom..Dad...I want to take a trip to Kentucky!

You what?!

Yes, that was basically what one of my parent's response was.  Recently I found out about a place called Higher Ground Ministry.  It's a place in Kentucky that was started by a girl named Brystol who wanted to minister to people with horses.  For those of you who read my blog, you may have noticed by now how I like to compare horse things to spiritual things.  Have a flash back with me as we go back to 2012 for my High School Graduation.  I had done a riding/training demonstration with my horse and explained how the horse's relationship with the trainer is like our relationship with God.  The horse must choose to submit itself to the trainer in order for the trainer to accomplish amazing things with it; just as we must submit ourselves to God in order for Him to accomplish His amazing plan for us.

That was so much fun!  As I look back, I see how little I really knew then, and how much I have learned since.  Anyway I am praying about volunteering at least one week sometime this year or next year at Higher Ground Ministries in Kentucky .  I am really excited that there is someone else out there that has a life that is only a dream at the moment for me.  To be able to help out with a ministry like this and learn all it takes to do something like that would be such an amazing opportunity!  I will post more as details unfold.

Change Your Horse (and yourself)...One Step at a Time

      The biggest breakthrough in the riding and training of my horses came from three simple words: control its feet.  The first time it exasperated me.  How could I control my horse's feet when they were constantly moving and I couldn't see where they were from the saddle?  
      It started with correcting my horse for a step forward by moving it back into position.  Then putting a foot back into position when a foot stepped left or right.  Then I started to tell my horse how many steps a foot was allowed to take.  The more I put more thought in this, the more confused and frustrated I became because it took a lot of work and focus.  As I stuck with it, I learned to push aside my fears of doing something wrong, and embrace the opportunity to try.  Once I began seeing changes in my horse's behavior, it was then I began to see how valuable this advice was.  For example if I stopped giving my horse's feet direction, they would stop.  If I corrected a foot  for moving more than what I had asked it to, the horse began to slow down, hesitating to think about my cue before moving.  Granted this didn't happen immediately, but it did as I stayed consistent.  For my athletic and energized pony, the more control I had over her feet the more calm and attentive she became.   For my lazy and easy going horse, the more control I had over his feet the more athletic and respectful he became.  Getting control of my horse's feet and understanding  how the position of their feet affected my horse's movement has enabled me to keep my horse's attention and prevent myself from getting out of balance with my horse.  Eventually this understanding will enable me to do more difficult and advanced maneuvers such as spins and lead changes.      
     This one step at time concept has also applied to making changes in my own life.  As I continue to study God's Word, accept instruction from other wise mature Christians, and desire to live a life that reflects Christ, I see so many areas in which I fall short of God's standards.  Rather than getting discouraged and choosing not to try changing, I can take small steps in the right direction.  For example, choosing to speak with a pleasant, friendly voice when I would rather just be silent because I'm finding it hard to love that person or choosing not to complain or get sullen when a parent is not in favor of my idea.   Instead of getting all anxious and upset about the so many things that I'm not getting done or  want to learn, I am learning to stop and ask Jesus to help me focus on the steps I need to take to get an overwhelming or unpleasant task accomplished.  I am learning that great things are done, one step at a time.

"A man's heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps."---Proverbs 16:9

"Direct my steps by Your word, and let no iniquity have dominion over me."--Psalm 119:133

"The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and He delights in his way."
--Psalm 37:23

"Does He not see my ways, and count all my steps?"--Job 31:4

For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps:  Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth, who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness--by whose stripes you were healed.
1 Peter 2:21-24

Here are the words to a song that continues to be an encouragement to me as I grow up.

Little by Little
by Ron Hamilton

When mountains tower rugged and high,
rise to the challenge look to the sky.
Trust in the Lord and start out to climb;
reach for the goal one step at a time!

Growing in Christ takes work every day;
reading your Bible learning to pray.
Build godly habits, seek help divine;
great things are done one step at a time! 

Little by little inch by inch
By the yard it's hard,
by the inch what a cinch.
Never stair up the stairs;
just step up the steps.
Little by little inch by inch

"It's a cinch!"

 "For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little there a little."   Isaiah 28:10