Sunday, December 24, 2006

Rescued from the Fire

I recently had lunch with two former co-workers. They both have an interesting new job. They basically rescue items from buildings that have caught fire.

As I understand it, when after a house fire is completely out, the insurance company calls the dry cleaning company that these two work for. Then they go in and pack up anything that seems like it can be salvaged...from clothes to beanie babies. Then they take the items back to the dry cleaner and try to 'clean' everything that they recovered. They inventory the things that can not be salvaged and clean whatever can be redeemed.

It's dirty work. After working in a burned home, they come out smelling like smoke. When they start the cleaning process, they get filthy dirty.

Why?

All to help get someones life back to normal. They are willing to get smelly and dirty to help some one else redeem what is valuable to them.

As I was leaving lunch that day, the Bible teacher on my car radio was talking about people who accept our Loving Lord just as 'fire insurance'. Fire insurance is a 'must have' but it is something we honestly, sincerely hope we never have to use, right?

Much like my friends that work for the dry cleaner and clean up dirty, smelly possessions, I have another Friend that left the comfort of His home to go and clean up dirty, smelly lives. He goes in and takes inventory of all the things in your life that need to be cleaned up. What's different with Him is that everything He inventories is absolutely redeemable.

Do you know this friend? He is my Loving Lord. And He is so, oh so much, much more than a fire insurance policy! He is love in action. He left the comfort of Heaven to come to a be born in a small town and to be placed in a smelly manger when there was no room in the inn. He left that smelly manger to prepare to die on a rugged cross. He left that rugged cross to be buried in a cold, dark tomb. He arose from the dead to leave that cold, dark tomb to go back to Heaven to prepare a place just for YOU! He did all of that and much, much more so that you can live a fully redeemed life.

Will you go beyond seeing Him as your fire insurance policy? Will you willing expose your weakest points to Him so that He can redeem you from what ever is burning inside of you? Will you thank Him for all He has done for you by living for Him each and every day? Will you give a gift to the "Greatest Christmas Gift of all time"...give Him your life...completely?

Luke 2:7 (New International Version) and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

John 14:2 (New International Version) In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

What Is In A Holiday?

Have you gotten as many of them as I have?

emails saying "shop here" because this store says "Merry Christmas"

...and...

emails saying "don't shop there" because that store only says "Happy Holidays"?

I'm sure you are not surprised to find that I prefer to hear "Merry Christmas" over ...

"Season's Greetings" (Season's? Which kind weather or food? Seasons like 'season with pepper and allspice? Or Season's like spring and summer? When it becomes autumn, should I wish someone a new Season's Greeting?)

or

"Happy Holidays" (Are we really that lazy that we have to combine Christmas and New Year's so that we don't have to say "Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year"?)

And yes as we drove through our city recently and saw the banner hanging up on the lamp posts that said "Season's Greetings" and "Happy Holidays", I did look at dear hubby and say "So is the city going to be open on December 25th? If it's just another one of 'the holidays" and they are open throughout Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, why should they be closed on 12/25?

However... all that may be being petty...don't you agree?

See my favorite Christmas song is called "A Little Boys Prayer". Have you heard it? I think it has actually been around for a while. In the chorus a little boy asks his daddy "Can we have Christmas all the year long, tell stories of Jesus and sing all his songs? Something was special in our house today. Can we ask Jesus to stay?"

That's what it's all about.

Asking Jesus to come in and stay!

It's not about protesting against a store that doesn't say Christmas. It's about sharing Christmas's Guest of Honor with those who don't know him.

It's not about worrying whether the banners on the city's light post proclaim "Season's Greetings". It's about shining the Light of Heaven throughout our city.

If our country removed Christmas from the list of federal holidays (as some are requesting they do), how would that change you? Do you only celebrate his life on this one day? Or do you only share from your abundance at the end of the year?

Will you choose to let Jesus stay all the year long? Will you decide to give to others (including those you love as well as those in need) throughout the year as a way of sharing God's love? Are you willing to let go of the stress of the holidays by making them holy-days and letting everyday be Christmas?

Psalm 145:2 (The Message) Every day I will praise you and extol your name for ever and ever.

Luke 6:38 (The Message) Give away your life; you'll find life given back, but not merely given back—given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity."

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

In the Mix

Tonight I made sausage balls to take to work tomorrow. The recipe is easy!

Ground sausage
Grated cheese
Baking/biscuit mix

Mix and/or knead ingredients together until you can form the mixture into one inch balls and bake until brown.

I put the baking mix in a large mixing bowl. Fine, very loose ingredient. Then the grated cheese. A more coarse ingredient, small individual pieces. Finally the sausage. A thick lump of an ingredient.

To look at these three items, you'd never image that they could ever blend together to produce an edible item. The baking mix is so fine it does not want to cling to the cheese. The cheese is a bit more loose but it only wants to cling to other pieces of cheese. The sausage, oh the sausage. It does not want to break apart or let either of the other two items intermingle with it.

So I have to take my hands and work the sausage loose then pull in the cheese then my hands have to keep kneading to get the baking mix to cling to the other two ingredients. My hands keep pulling in the loose pieces to help them blend into the mix. With patience, it all comes together and when it does nothing can separate it back out. Once blended together you can not pull out any one of the three basic ingredients.

When we come together as the family of our Loving Lord, we all come from different backgrounds.

Those of us who grew up in the church tend to look at those 'in the world' as too different from us. We say we have nothing in common with 'them'. We stick together for protection against 'them'. (sausage)

Those of us who came to know our Loving Lord after 'living hard' tend to look at those from the church background as 'goody two-shoes' who don't know what we've been through'. We tend to want to keep our individuality. We want people to accept us as we are with scars and all as we try to 'fit in' this new life. (cheese)

Others of us just come and go not sure of who we are or why we are here but we are sure that this is where our Loving Lord wants us. We don't really want to 'stick' to anything. We just want to be in the mix. (baking mix)

Then the Holy Spirit starts working. The 'hands' knead us all together. He breaks apart our life long clicks by introducing some one slightly different through a Bible study or prayer group. He puts us beside a Godly "grandmother type" at work and she accepts our individuality and brings us in to the fold at her church. He lets us hear of a new House of Worship that is on fire for our Loving Lord and He gets us excited so we 'stick'. The hands of our Loving Lord knead us all together and we become one in Him. Then when you try to find the original ingredients you can't. All that you can see is Him.

Are you stuck with the sausage and refusing to break free from the clique you grew up with? Will you let Him knead someone different in your life today? Are you course grated cheese that doesn't want to stick to anything that isn't course like you? Will you let Him use you as He mixes you in with those that have known Him a long time? Are you the baking mix that is easily blown from place to place? Will you let Him blend you in where He wants you to be?

1 Corinthians 12:12-13 (The Message) You can easily enough see how this kind of thing works by looking no further than your own body. Your body has many parts—limbs, organs, cells—but no matter how many parts you can name, you're still one body. It's exactly the same with Christ. By means of his one Spirit, we all said good-bye to our partial and piecemeal lives. We each used to independently call our own shots, but then we entered into a large and integrated life in which he has the final say in everything. (This is what we proclaimed in word and action when we were baptized.) Each of us is now a part of his resurrection body, refreshed and sustained at one fountain—his Spirit—where we all come to drink. The old labels we once used to identify ourselves—labels like Jew or Greek, slave or free—are no longer useful. We need something larger, more comprehensive.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Breakfast or Treats?

This week at work in lieu of a big Christmas covered dish lunch, we are bringing in some food each day then having a pizza party on Friday.

We divided everyone up into four groups. On Monday group 1 would bring in breakfast items. Tuesday group 2 brings in snack foods, Wednesday group 3 breakfast again and Thursday group 4 snacks again.

I was asked which I wanted to bring in. Snacks or breakfast. I said "snacks" thinking I'd bring in Chex mix or something like that.

The group assignments were handed out. I was in the Wednesday group. Breakfast, not snacks. Oh well, I'd make do. I asked the committe person what happened. Oops! Just a mistake. I said it was OK and made plans on what breakfast items I will bring.

I told my Mom about this and she reminded me of a simple recipe that I enjoy making. It turns out breakfast was a better list for me to be on!

Sometimes we ask our Loving Lord for what we want and we get something different. It's not a mistake. It's a blessing. He knows our needs better than we know our wants. He always knows what is best for us.

What conversations have you had with our Loving Lord lately that turned out differently than you expected? Do you trust that His answer was better for you? Will you take time this Christmas season to thank Him for knowing you better than you know yourself?

Matthew 7:9-11 (New International Version): "Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!"

Friday, December 15, 2006

How Bright Do You Shine?

I heard the song on the radio yesterday morning. You know the story. Funny reindeer with a bright red nose. No one wants to play with him. He's too different from them.

Then things get foggy and what makes him different, makes him valuable. His difference shines a light in the fog. He becomes very loved by those that follow the light.

Do you ever feel like him? Do you ever feel that because you stand by your convictions (sexual purity, abstinence from alcohol, pure speech, etc) that people see you as too different? Do you feel that they leave you out of their 'reindeer games' because what makes you different, makes you 'no fun'?

Then.

Then fog enters their lives. Something goes dreadfully wrong. A fatal diagnosis. A family member is arrested. A job is lost. The fog is so thick they think they'll never see daylight again. What do they do?

They look for a Light to guide them. They remember their 'friend' who has a funny bright shine about them. They come to you. They trust you. They know that you know the Way, the Truth and the Life. They ask you to shine your Light in their fog. You now have the privilege of leading them to THE Light.

Will you commit to remain pure during this holiday season? Will you keep your light shining as you attend Christmas and New Year's parties? When friends experience 'holiday depression' will you shine light in their fogginess?

Matthew 5:14-16 (The Message) "Here's another way to put it: You're here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We're going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don't think I'm going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I'm putting you on a light stand. Now that I've put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you'll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven."

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Remember Me?

A few weeks back we visited the church where my dear hubby went to church when he was in elementary school. While there he noticed a man that looked very familiar. Hubby was sure this was a childhood friend that he had not seen in well over 25 years. So he asked...and was correct. The 'boy' had not changed much since he was a child. We made arrangements to spend a day with him and his family. Many years have passed since my hubby and this friend lived in the same town but you could not tell it from the non-stop conversation.

Today at my day job, our Admin Manager was in the Business Manager's office when a sales rep came in. The sales rep introduced himself and immediately the Admin Manager recognized him. He was a childhood friend from her neighborhood up north. According to her "he had not changed a bit" since they were little. The Admin Manager wanted to visit with the sales rep/childhood friend as soon as the sales meeting was over. She wanted to catch up.

Our Loving Lord is also the same that He was when we were little. He is easily recognizable by anyone who has ever met Him. If you haven't spent time with Him in a while, look up, He is standing right there. He welcomes your conversation. He wants to catch up.

Will you spend time with our Loving Lord today? Will you have conversation with Him through prayer? Will you spend time listening to His Word?

Hebrews
13:8
(NIV) Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Bookmarks and Shortcuts

My day job is in a 'deadline driven' industry. Our employees are encouraged to perform their responsibilities as quickly and accurately as possible. To help them do so, we teach them 'shortcuts'. Shortcuts are keystrokes on the PC that allow them to do something quicker.

You may use shortcuts if you use any Microsoft product. For example, pressing the Ctrl key and the letter A at the same time (also known as 'control-A') will select all the text in the active window. You could also select all the displayed text by removing your hand from the keyboard, grabbing the mouse, moving the cursor to the top of the page, clicking and holding the left mouse key, and dragging to cursor to the bottom. Obviously 'control-A' is quicker.

In my day job we also encourage our employees to 'bookmark' websites that they use regularly (or should use regularly). When the bookmarks are set, the user simply types 'Alt-A' and then types the first letter of the website (or uses the arrow keys to move down the list) until the desired site is selected. Without bookmarks, the user would have to type the entire URL into the address line of the browser. Or use Google.com to find the website again...which takes more time and can lead to distractions when another website catches your eye.

Bookmarks and shortcuts get the job done much faster. And in our industry that is a good thing.

In my Bible, I have several bookmarks. I use them to help me quickly find a passage that I want to remember within the next few days. When I use my bookmarks, I go directly to the passage I'm looking for without getting distracted by other passages that catch my eye.

In our spiritual lives we often try to use shortcuts to get to where we want to be faster. We think that we can find a nice formula to spiritual success (Prayer plus living right equals no problems/easy life). We don't want to 'walk through the valley of the shadow of death' on our way to spiritual maturity. We want to bypass or shortcut any trials that make us stronger. We want instant spiritual muscles!

Another example of a spiritual shortcut is when we use a daily devotional book to get a 'quick fix' of spiritual food without actually opening the Word and reading the related passages to see what our Loving Lord my be trying to teach us that day.

Using bookmarks in the Word or shortcuts like devotionals can help us. There is nothing wrong with using them. Sometimes perhaps oft times, however, we need to set aside the bookmarks and shortcuts and dig a little deeper. We need to get out the concordance and find the other related passages. We need to set aside time to read an entire chapter or entire book not just the one verse associated with the devotional.

This week will you choose to set aside the bookmarks and shortcuts and see what distractions you can find within the Word? See what catches your eye as you read scriptures that you have not read or not read in a while?

1 Chronicles 28:8 (The Message) And now, in this public place, all Israel looking on and God listening in, as God's people, obey and study every last one of the commandments of your God so that you can make the most of living in this good land and pass it on intact to your children, insuring a good future.

Friday, December 08, 2006

What's In A Name?

When I was little, I learned of a girl named Sharon that everyone called "Shay". I liked that name! In fifth grade, I was going to a new school. A chance to get all my new friends to call ME Shay. It didn't work. The name did not stick. Guess I didn't look like a "Shay". A few special people do call me Shay or Shay Kay every now and then. It works for them to call me that. If you are not one of those people and you try to call me "Shay" today, I probably won't even look up. It's not my name. I loved the fact that one old friend used to call me "Sharona" like in the '70s song. It works for him but not for anyone else. It's not my name.

When we were naming our son, my husband wanted the name Michael. Michael was the name of his oldest brother that died very young, before any of the other children were born. I like the name Michael but not the nicknames associated with Michael...Mike, Mikey, Mickey. I agreed to the name under one condition. He would be called Michael. And he was...until my brother entered the picture and started calling him "Mike". Michael was in upper elementary school when this started happening. Michael loves his uncle and immediately loved his new nickname. Now, as an adult, all his friend know him as Mike. Most of the family still calls him Michael. Both names work for him.

This week, in a haste to get a business related email out, I shortened someones name to the common nickname for that person. Samuel (not his real name) to Sam. Very innocent. Just a quick response and slip of the typing. Samuel responded rather abruptly "Do not call me Sam. In the future only refer to me at Samuel." He obviously doesn't like the commonly used nickname at all.

Our Loving Lord has many, many names. I don't think He minds which name we use when we call on Him...as long as we DO call on Him. We can call him Abba, Jehovah, Jehovah Jira, Yahweh, Elohim, Adonai, the Way, the Truth, the Life, Bread of Life, Light of the World. We can also call Him "Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" and more.

Aren't you glad that the Maker of the Universe knows you by name and doesn't care which of His many names that you use to call upon him? Will you take time today to reflect on His many names and what impact they have on your life? Jehovah-Shalom is the name that provides you with peace. Jehovah-rapha the name that lets you know He can heal you. Or just simply Jehovah. I AM. He indeed is...is all that you need. Will you speak His name today?
Acts 2:21 (KJV) And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.


Thursday, December 07, 2006

Have You Tasted This?

One member of our family is a very picky eater. When he eats a sandwich, it is dry. He doesn't eat chili. He doesn't like sauce on anything. If I fix a meal and he doesn't like what we are eating, he will eat a sandwich or something instead.

Rarely, very rarely, will he ever try anything new.

Tonight I made a shrimp pasta dish for supper. It had Dried Tomato and Garlic Pesto on it. Not something Mr. Picky would want to try under normal circumstances. But I tried anyway. I suggested that he at least try it. I gave him two bites. He tried it.

To my delightful surprise, he said "I want a full plate of that!!!" He stepped out of his food comfort zone, tried a dish he had never tried before, and his taste buds thanked him.

Are you a picky eater at our Loving Lords banquet table? Do you only eat the plain, simple, easy parts of His Word?

Will you step out of your spiritual comfort zone and try part of His plan that you have never tried before? Will you decide to give beyond your comfort zone? Pray deeper and more sincerely than you ever have before? Will you decide to go to the inner city and serve meals? Will you visit a shut in even though you don't 'like' nursing homes? Will you let your spiritual taste buds thank you for exposing them to the blessings of our Loving Lord?

Psalm 34:8 (The Message) Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see— how good God is. Blessed are you who run to him.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Gas Prices

Before the election, gas prices went way down from where they were when they were at their highest. Everyone said that they would skyrocket after the election.

Gas prices, at least in our neck of the woods did go back up...a little...at their highest prices for regular unleaded gas around here could be found for just over $3 a gallon. Just before the election you could find it for around $1.90 a gallon. So that brings us to 'since the election'.

One day last week, I stopped to buy gas. The sign displayed the price as $2.10. I pulled up the pump and started putting gas in my car. I looked at the pump...and...it displayed the unleaded price as $2.05. What? I looked at the sign. Sign said $2.10. Looked back at the pump. Pump said $2. 05. I thought to myself...hmmm...why did I get so lucky? When I finished pumping the gas, I looked back at the pump. The display read "Update in process" or something like that. Then the price was suddenly $2.10. Cool! I'd saved five cents a gallon.

That afternoon, driving home, I passed the same gas station. Now the price was $2.14! I thought to myself "COOL!" and I felt that once again I won a part of "God's Lottery" (That's what I call it when you unexpectedly find money that you need...when God supplies according to His riches!)

Of course, this nine cent price hike in just one day caused people to start grumbling about the price of gas going up. People do tend to be vocal when gas prices rise.

However, today I noticed that that same gas station's prices had dropped below $2.10 again. And I started thinking about the fact that people rarely talk about when gas goes DOWN a nickel or more and they usually complain when it goes UP that much.

Why? Are we that programmed to talk about the bad and that untrained in talking about the good?

Aren't we the same way, quite often, with our Loving Lord? When things are sailing along, going our way with nothing spectacular happening, how often do we say "Hey God must be smiling on me. He's must love me. I'm going to praise Him for my normal life"? Not often. Yet when things go 'bad' for us aren't we quick to say to anyone who will listen "Poor pitiful me. I must deserve what God is doing. He must be really needing to teach me a lesson. I must have done something wrong for life to be like this." Aren't we quick to say "God where are you?" when someone suffers a loss but slow to proclaim "God I feel your presence." when things are going along smoothly?

Shouldn't we praise Him out loud, from the rooftops all the time? Shout His goodness when things are looking good for us?

Then quietly seek Him out when we hit rough waters. Seek Godly counsel to get us through without complaining loudly and 'tarnishing' His reputation. (No letters please, I know we can't tarnish our Loving Lord.)

Do you know the adage "Praise in public, criticize in private"? Will you praise God's goodness to everyone you meet today even if you are at a low point in your life? Then will you take those burdens, those low points, to him one on one, in private, and lay them at His feet? Will you?

Exodus 9:16 (NIV) But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

How Do You Cross The Line?

As I drive to work each morning, I slow down through at least two school zones. Well I slow down through every school zone I go through but some mornings I go a route that takes me through two school zones, other routes take me through more.

One thing I have noticed is that, probably for fear of a very high priced ticket, practically everyone slows down to the required 20 miles per hour. And they stay there throughout the school zone. Then they cross that white line at the end of the zone and their true personality shows up!

Some continue to drive slow for bit, not sure what just happened, not realizing they had been released from the limit of the zone.

Some accelerate so fast that you'd think they had been shot from a rocket. They can't get back up to SPEEDING fast enough. Eager to move on to the next place they need to be.

Some, probably most, resume normal speed through a smooth, acceleration which causes no one to notice that they have resumed normality.

Noticing this, I thought about how those of us who assemble in the house of our Loving Lord on Sunday mornings act in much the same way.

We slow down for an hour or so as we go through the 'worship zone". Then as some of us leave the worship center, we mosey around the building not sure what just happened. Not really trying to fellowship with other believers. Just going through the motions of leaving and heading home.

Some of us bolt for the door. Can't get to the restaurant for lunch fast enough. Glad we passed through that 'zone' so we can get to where we really want to be.

Some of us leave and resume normal life slowly leaving behind the 'worship zone' and smoothly accelerating into every day life without anyone noticing that we have resumed 'normality'.

The school zone to most people is an inconvenience. They are in too big of a hurry to notice the future of our country walking to school to absorb the knowledge they need to be successful in life.

Unfortunately, for many, church is also an inconvenience. They are in too big of a hurry to notice the investment that is being made in their future. They fail to increase in the knowledge of the one who will lead them throughout life.

How do you cross the line at the end of the Sunday morning worship service? Will you make the decision to slow down in the 'worship zone' and notice what our Loving Lord is trying to show you? Will you take those lessons through the day and through the week with you?

Psalm 46:10 (Amplified Bible) Let be and be still, and know (recognize and understand) that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations! I will be exalted in the earth!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Anticipated Needs, Unused Gifts

Well over a month ago, maybe over two months ago, I noticed that our shower curtain had torn at that top. You know the part where the holes are that go into the hooks. About a third of the holes no longer did their jobs. The curtain was falling off of the rod.

So the next time I was at the store, I purchased a new one. A heavy duty one with metal reinforced holes. That same evening, dear hubby said to me "We need a new shower curtain. That one is in pretty bad shape." Imagine my delight when I was able to produce on the spot exactly what he was asking for. In fact I was able to present to him a better shower curtain than he expected. Since we were obviously on the same wavelength about this need, I was sure he would either take down the old one and put up the new one in short order as a way of showing his gratitude for me having anticipated his request or he would ask me to help him put it up.

So I placed the curtain in the bathroom and waited.

And waited.

I moved it next to the bathtub, perhaps as a hint, and waited.

Then today, I decided that I must want that shower curtain up more than he does. It had been long enough. So I took down the old one and put up the new one.

A little while later he commented "I see you put up the new shower curtain" and I said "You noticed"...then he asked "When did you do that?" and I replied that his answer would be in my blog. :-)

While I was hanging the curtain, I learned the Little Lesson that I hope you see as well.

Our Loving Lord knows our needs before we ever ask. He has everything lined up so that when we "let our request be made known unto Him," He is ready to supply that need "according to His riches in glory." Not according to what is on sale. Not according to what He has left over. Not according to His ability to match what we already have. According to His RICHES in glory.

So you make known your request and He supplies your need, then what? What do you do with what He gives you? Do you say "Hey thanks! Glad you're on the same wavelength with me" then set His provision down and wait to see what He is going to do next? Do you just wait to see if and when He is going to take the next step so you can thank him for "doing His job"?

Or do you acknowledge His goodness, accept His gift, and get into action? Do you take the next step and let our Loving Lord lead you as you use the gift He so graciously preselected for you?

This week will you reflect on the gifts He has given you and then will find those gifts, tangible or intangible, and pull them out and put them to their intended use?

James 1:17 (NIV): Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

How Do You Feel About Christmas?

I hate Christmas.

Well maybe hate is a bit strong of an emotion to express how I feel.

And maybe the object of that emotion is not Christmas but what we in our country do with that time of year.

The most common question this time of year seems to be "what do you want for Christmas?" and the most common statement is "You know what I want for Christmas is..."

According to a poll on about.com "close to 90% of respondents find the whole season to be stressful!"

Isn't this supposed to be a joyous time? Don't we desire to have a "merry" Christmas? Merry means full of cheerfulness, joyous in disposition or spirit. Don't we, in speaking of Christmas and New Years combined wish people "happy holidays"? Happy means delighted, pleased, or glad. While one definition of holiday is "a day on which work is suspended by law or custom" another definition is "a holy day".

Yet I all I see is bad cases of "I want-ism" and stress that overrides any chance of people being either happy or merry. Everyone is excited to have a day off from work but what is 'Holy' about the season?

I have no problem with the concept of giving gifts. It really is more blessed to give than to receive. I like giving gifts. I don't particularly need it to be limited to one day a year though. And shopping for gifts for special people in my life does not stress me out. Having the world tell me that I have to make my Christmas list early and I have to buy gifts for 'x' number of people, well that I don't get into.

In trying to reconcile what I go through this time of year, I 'googled' the root of the word Christmas and was directed to dictionary.com and found this:

Christmas is from the Old English words Cristes moesse, 'the mass or festival of Christ'. The first celebration took place in Rome about the middle of the fourth century. The exact date of the Nativity is not known, but even in pre-Christian times the period from December 25 to January 6 — now known as "The Twelve Days of Christmas" — was considered a special time of year. The abbreviation Xmas, thought as sacrilegious by some, is entirely appropriate. The letter X (chi) is the first letter in the Greek word for Christ.

So according to the dictionary, Christmas is a "festival", a "celebration" of "the Christ". Of our Loving Lord. Now I know that this is not news to me or most of the readers of this blog.

I love Christmas.

Love is not to strong of an emotion to express how I feel.

And the object of that emotion is Christ and why we celebrate on that day.

I'm not suggesting that you don't buy anyone any gifts. Gifts are given throughout the Bible. To see some examples go to www.biblegateway.com and use the "Quick Search" to search for 'gifts'. What I am suggesting is that we focus more on our Loving Lord and less on what the world pressures us to focus on during this blessed season of the year.

As we move through this month and approach this holy day, the day we set aside to remember the birth of our Loving Lord, will you commit to set aside the view of the world and bring to the forefront the real Reason for the Season?

Matthew 2:11 (NIV) On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

What Steps Do You Take?

A while back I posted a messy place about cleaning the fireplace room in our home. This room also contains the computer desk. Well the computer desk was starting to get out of control again. One family member said "That desk is getting out of control again. I would clean it up but I don't know what half that stuff is." So I said "just work on the half you know what it is and I can do the rest" Then they said "I don't know what to do with half of it"

So knowing that they at least new "what" half of the stuff was and "where" half of that half went, I said, "Let's take a look" We picked up the first piece of paper. Trash. In the trash it went. Then the next, a list that we needed to keep. It was placed in the holder at the back of the desk. And so it went until about half of the desk was again clear.

Because they didn't know what to do with EVERYTHING, they had chosen to do NOTHING. Instead of doing what they knew to do, they did nothing.

Are we ever guilty of that in serving our Loving Lord? Do we look at His Word and say "there's no way I'll ever know what to do with all of that so I won't do anything for Him?" Or "I don't understand all of what it says so I won't pay attention to any of what it says?" Do we stop short of doing SOMETHING because we can't do EVERYTHING?

Will you pick one thing He wants you to do and just do it?


Proverbs 20:24 (The Message): The very steps we take come from God; otherwise how would we know where we're going?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Everyday Things

So far we have seen how we can see our Loving Lord in everyday SITUATIONS...today we are going to look at how we see Him in everyday THINGS.

Remote Control - We use the remote control to call up a channel or turn down the volume. Prayer is our spiritual remote. Without physically touching our Loving Lord, we can call on him to take control of our situations and to change what needs to be changed.

Sponge - A sponge will try to soak up any liquid it comes in contact with. Our Loving Lord wants us to be sponges that soak up His word every chance we get.

Leaf Blower - Around here, leaves fall like snow in a heavy winter. They are annoying and try to get into everything...your car, your house, your pool. So you get out the leaf blower to push the leaves out of your home and out of your yard. The Holy Spirit is our spiritual leaf blower. He wants to come in and blow all the annoying sins out of your life and out of your home.

Cooking Spray - When we coat a pan with cooking spray, the food rarely sticks to the pan. When we coat our lives with prayer and reading the word, sin rarely has a chance to stick to us. Even though we are constantly exposed to temptations, we are able to avoid getting 'stuck' on the evil that surrounds us.

Soap - Ahhhh, a nice hot soapy bath makes a body feel soooo clean! Repentance is the soap that makes our souls feel just as refreshed and clean.

Keep your eyes open while you go about your day. There are items and situations that you encounter everyday that can show you Little Lessons from my Loving Lord.
Jeremiah 29:13-14a (NIV): You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you," declares the LORD

Monday, November 27, 2006

Who Calls The Plays?

This past weekend was football, football, and more football. There were some important match ups. My hubby's favorite pro team was playing for first place in their division. His favorite college team had their traditional Thanksgiving Friday rivalry game. And our favorite high school team played in the match up of the year! Two state champs from last year met up in the second round of the play offs. We were the underdogs. AND we were winning with less than four minutes left in the game.

Then our team's coach sent in a play that turned the momentum of the game. We turned the ball over to the other team within easy scoring range...and score they did. They took the lead...and we lost...by one point.

Many people blamed the coach for the loss. They pointed to that one play. Some were even saying he should be fired. The fans and other observers seemed to easily overlook the mistakes the players themselves made. Mistakes like three back-to-back "off-sides" penalties during ONE down. Or the missed extra point that, had the kicker made the kick, the game would have ended regulation in a tie. Had the play worked, the coach would have been the hero. Since it didn't, they wanted to kick him out.

This coach is a good solid coach. He took the team to the playoffs the year before last, to the state championship last year and to an undefeated regular season this year. But one call. One call late in the game. One call that seemed to be a 'bad' call. One bad call and many wanted him out.

Who calls the plays in your life? If you are a believer, then our Loving Lord has the job of calling the plays in your life. His word says that He directs your paths. Do you find it easy to give Him praise when you like His play calling? Find it easy when you seem to be living a winning life?

What happens when He calls a play that you don't agree with? What happens when you are looking to the sidelines, reading His signals, running the plays He calls, the scoreboard says that you are ahead, you are winning, and then He sends in a play you don't like? You read the signals to indicate in an illness you didn't plan for? Or a crime that impacts you or your family? Or a financial crisis that you didn't expect?

All of the sudden you find yourself in an apparent loosing situation. What do you do? What do you do with the Coach? Do you give Him credit for the successes He has coached you through or do you give Him a pink slip because you don't like His most recent call? And what about your part? So He called the plays but did you execute them properly? If you are in a tough situation, is it because of His play calling or because you chose to play it your own way?

Our Loving Lord is all-knowing and although you may feel hopeless in your current situation, remember you are only running one play right now. The next play He calls for you may just be a step in the right direction or it may be the play that leads to victory. Either way, you CAN trust Him to call the plays today and everyday!

Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

What Is That Worth?

Recently in a city near here, a piano was on display that used to belong to John Lennon. The piano, because it belonged to Lennon and because he composed one of his famous songs on it, is currently valued at over two million dollars.

The person who now owns this piano knows and respects the value of the piece. He protects it.

I have a piano that I got for Christmas when I was in the fifth grade. I doubt that it is worth even two thousand dollars.

Also recently in a city near here, a racing suit that was worn by the late Dale Earnhardt, Sr. was taken from a locked storage closet. Because Dale wore the suit, it is valued at approximately one hundred thousand dollars.

The owner of this suit is distressed that it is missing. He knows the value of what he has lost.

I have a couple of nice outfits. I doubt that any of them are worth even one thousand dollars.

When something simple is connected with someone important, value is instantly added to the thing. The same is true with our lives. Left to ourselves, we are not worth much. However, since our Loving Lord laid down his life for us, we are now worth more than we can ever imagine.

Our Loving Lord has paid a price for you. Have you given control to him? Are you letting him hold you in his hand and daily guide you? Or has someone or something else taken control of your heart? You are worth more than all the priceless pianos in the world. You are worth more than any outer covering you could buy. Will you recognize your value today?

1 Corinthians 6:20 (Amplified): You were bought with a price [purchased with a preciousness and paid for, made His own]. So then, honor God and bring glory to Him in your body.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Preparing for Giving Thanks

Today a mother is dealing with the fact that her unlicensed teenage son and his sister went for a joy ride very early this morning and flipped the car into a house. There but for the grace of God go I.

Today a mother will rejoice over a child home from college for just a few days. There but for the grace of God go I.

Today a family is morning the loss of a woman who was killed in an early morning apartment fire. There but for the grace of God go I.

Today a woman is preparing for a Thanksgiving weekend wedding.There but for the grace of God go I.

Today a homeless woman in our city is wondering if she will be able to find a free meal on Thanksgiving day. There but for the grace of God go I.

Today a woman is preparing a Thanksgiving feast for all her children, grand-children, and great-grandchildren. There but for the grace of God go I.

As I prepare for Thanksgiving day my life seems rather normal, almost uneventful. And I thank God for that. When we think of Thanksgiving, we are reminded to be thankful for being exactly where we are. If we are in the midst of struggles (a child in trouble with the law, loss of a family member, unsure where our next meal will come from) we have an opportunity to look to our Loving Lord and seek His provision for our needs. If we are living life to it's fullest (successful family, family expanding, more than enough food for any and all) we have an opportunity to praise Him for his goodness and to remember that we have what we have because He supplies our needs.

I am thankful for my hubby and my son. Both are hardworking, dedicated men. I'm thankful that our Loving Lord has provided for our needs. I'm thankful that I do not have all the stress associated with being responsible for a big family meal tomorrow. Please understand that I do miss the big family gathering however I am at peace that we don't have to deal with all the 'fuss' associated with the day. I will be able to relax and give thanks to our Loving Lord for having me right where I need to be today.

Will you join me in thanking Him for his grace? If you are lonely or just missing the traditions you are used to this holiday, will you thank Him for placing you where you are? If you are in the midst of a crisis, will you take a moment to thank our Loving Lord in advance for seeing you through it? If you are preparing for the big meal and all the guests, will pause and thank Him for your family and friends, thank him for providing the food and the strength to bring it all together? Will you thank Him that he has not given you more than you need but that He has met your needs?

Philippians 4:11-12 (NIV): I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

How Is Your Connection Working?

We are in the process of changing our Internet Service Provider (ISP). The new provider has an 'Elite' level of service that is supposed to be faster access to any information you are trying to find on the Internet.

This was supposed to be a simple and painless process. They send me their modem. I plug in all the cords and cables. I boot up my PC and voila! I have lightning fast, high powered Internet service.

The reality was the first modem they sent me was d-e-a-d! I took all the time to complete all the steps to connect the cables and then plugged in the modem to the power source and nothing! Nothing happened at all.

So I called tech support. First Level Tech Support had me take the modem and its power cord to another room in the house where the electrical outlets would be on a different circuit breaker. Guess what happened? That's right. Nothing. No lights on meant no power which meant (as I had said originally) the modem was dead! They transferred me to Second Level Support.

Second Level Support said I probably needed a new modem. You think? So they contacted 'returns' for an approval to send me a new modem. 'Returns' agreed to send me a new modem that I would get in five to seven days. I was so glad I had not yet cancelled my previous ISP. I would not want to be five to seven days without Internet access. Fortunately, the modem arrived in three days! As soon as it arrived, dear hubby took it out of the box and plugged it in...LIGHTS! YES! A working modem! We now had a possibility of using our new ISP.

This morning I installed the new modem. All the right lights lit up. Now on to the software part. I went through the prompts on the screen. Everything 'seemed' to be going just fine. Then I launched my new browser and promptly received all kinds of error messages like "page can not be displayed" "Click refresh to try to active this" "Go away you don't know what you are doing" ... OK maybe not that last one. The strange thing was that I could use my old browser with my new service but not my new browser with my new service.

I had the high power to access the Internet but not the correct interface or browser to connect to it. So once again I called Tech Support. First level support. They asked all the usually obvious questions that of course I had already tried on my own. Their conclusion was that I could keep using my old browser and their service. Hmmm. NO! I was paying for this new service complete with browser so I wanted all I had subscribed to.

So this time I asked "Do you think Second Level Support could help with this?" and First Level guy said, "Uh yeah maybe. Do you want me to transfer you to them?" Was I gonna say NO?!?!?! I don't think so.

Second Level Support did indeed have the answers. We had to uninstall and reinstall the software. Somehow the software had failed to install completely and correctly the first time. Upon reinstallation, the service and browser worked as expected.

So what Little Lessons did my Loving Lord show me through this? Several!!!!

1) We always have access to the information we need without needing an ISP. Our Loving Lord is all-knowing.

2) We don't have to worry about our modem going bad as we connect with our Loving Lord. The Word of the Lord never changes

3) We don't have to ask a first level support tech to transfer us up the line as we approach His throne. Because of the sacrifice of our Loving Lord, we have direct access to the most knowledgeable One in the universe. We ask Him directly and He answers.

4) There are some dead modems out there. The world will try to tell you differently but the only way to the Father is through the Son. Good works alone are a dead modem. Just trying to live a good life is a dead modem. Giving your money without giving your heart to Christ is a dead modem. There is no replacement for the One who replaced us on the cross.

5) When we plug in where God places us, something happens. All the lights come on.

6) Sometimes when we connect (pray, read the bible) and access the highest level of support (God) we realize that our software (mind, way of thinking, habits) has become corrupt. We need to let Tech Support (God) lead us through uninstalling the bad versions and reinstalling right thinking and right actions.

Proverbs 2:6 (NIV): For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

What Do You See?

It was very, very windy here today. So windy that many flights into and out of our airport did not operate. As I was driving to work, the wind was blowing hard.

I said to myself "Wow! Look at the wind!" Then I thought "No. That's not the wind I'm seeing, that the result of the wind blowing." The trees were swaying because the wind was blowing. Leaves were running across the road because the wind was blowing. I could see what the wind was doing but I could not actually see the wind! I knew the wind was there but I couldn't see it. I could see its amazing power but not the wind.

Although I have heard many times that you can not see the wind, that thought only became real to me today. When I got to work and could see the blades of grass swaying as much as the limbs on the trees, I kept looking thinking I would soon see the wind!

I have not seen our Loving Lord but I have seen what He is doing. I have seen people healed because my Loving Lord is real and is working. I have money concerns disappear because my Loving Lord is real and is working. I have experienced peace in the midst of stress because my Loving Lord is real and working. I can not see my Loving Lord but I can His amazing power working all around me.

Do you struggle because you can not see our Loving Lord? Do you doubt His existence just because you can not see Him? Will you start today looking to see His amazing power at work and trust His existence?

John 20:29 (NIV): Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Separation

I have what I consider to be a good habit.

When it’s time to go to bed, some people fall asleep as soon as their head hits the pillow. I don’t. Left on my own, I’d toss and turn for hours. Now, if I could watch TV as I’m trying to drift off, I would be out rather quickly. However, my dear hubby needs it very quiet as he enters la la land.

The ‘good’ habit that I have developed is that I pray myself to sleep. My mind is usually very busy rehashing the events of the current day or looking forward to the events of tomorrow. So I rein in all those thoughts and take them to our Loving Lord. And like the disciples, I usually can ‘not keep watch with’ him for very long (Matthew 26:40 NIV).

However during my going to sleep time of prayer, I always find a way to be touching dear hubby. Either my knee is on his leg or my hand is on his arm or some other light touch. In my wee mind, this gives power to my prayers. Why? Because He promised “that if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 18:19 NIV) And I’m confident that what I’m praying, my dear hubby agrees with, right? OK maybe he doesn’t agree on everything but still it is a comfort to pray ‘with’ him while we both fall asleep.

Well, last night my son worked the overnight shift and today dear hubby had to work an early morning shift. When he works early mornings, he goes to bed early…and I don’t. So in order that we would not disturb each other (me disturb him when I got in bed or him disturb me when he got out), he slept in our son’s room (remember he was at work all night). I went to bed…alone…and again started praying myself to sleep. It didn’t feel right. I couldn’t touch dear hubby. I couldn’t agree by touching him. I felt a bit alone.

Not completely alone though…my girl cat, Tigger, came in cuddled with me. Sadly, I didn’t think she’d count as one of the “two of you". Still I welcomed her touch. Still I prayed and prayed myself to sleep.

I was separated from the one that I love to pray myself to sleep with.

I was NOT separated from the One that I love to pray to while falling asleep.

What is more important to you today? The love of a human touch or the love of our Loving Lord? If you are single, are you focused on finding the love of our life or the Love that gives you life? Are you separated from someone you love today? If so, are feeling separated from the One who loves you?

Romans 8:35 (NIV) Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?
Romans 8:39 (NIV) neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.


Monday, November 13, 2006

Confirmation

I'm going to go down a slightly different path today.

I want to share with you some of the ways our Loving Lord is confirming what is being written here. I feel it is my honor and privilege to partake in a ministry such as this.

If you have been reading here since the beginning, you know that the desire to write has been in me for a long time. One of the reasons I didn't write before was fear. Fear that the writing would not be good enough. Fear that people would not 'get' the way I write. Fear that things that make sense to me would not make sense to others.

So when dear Teena challenged me to step out in faith on this journey, fear had to take a back seat. Our Loving Lord has confirmed to me that this blog is ministering to others in many ways such as:

  • An friend became a new reader when she was sent the link to the blog. That days blog was on cancer. This friend told me immediately after reading the blog that she too is living with it. The timing was not coincidence. It was confirmation.
  • An old friend let me know that the verse of the day was right on time for another decision she is facing. The whole point of this blog is to find the lessons we need in the everyday events of our lives. This old friend was doing the every day thing of reading the blog when she discovered direction for her decision. Confirmation we are on the right track.
  • I wrote the blog last Friday (A Fall) and spoke of walking in the dark unless we read the word of God and referenced Psalm 119:105. Sunday we visited the church my hubby grew up in and the preacher preached the same point using the same verse. Confirmation of the parallels to scripture.
  • One friend is encouraging me to submit to an article to a Christian publication. This confirms to me that someone does want to read this blog :-) :-) :-)

So the questions I have for you today are these... Will you commit to pray for this ministry? Will you pray that all of the honor will always go to our Loving Lord? Will you pray for me as I prepare to prepare the paperwork to see if there is interest on behalf of the publication? Will you pray for the editors that will read the submissions? Will you share with your friends the link to the blog (stowebear.blogspot.com) so that they too can be challenged and encouraged in their walk with our Loving Lord?

Zephaniah 2:3 (NIV): Seek the LORD, all you humble of the land, you who do what he commands. Seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you will be sheltered on the day of the Lord's anger.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

A Messy Place Part 2

So I spent much of the day yesterday cleaning the heart of our home, the fireplace room. From there I went to the dining room table. The gathering place for all things clutter in our home. I spent a great deal of time sorting through the mess and it is better but it is not near as neat as the first room we worked on.

This morning I got up and went into 'the big room'. The big room is where we spend the time when we are not in the fireplace room. Now if you think the fireplace room was a mess and the kitchen table was cluttered, you should see the big room. Yikes! I seriously think it is beyond help. There's so much to do. Where do you start? It seems the only way that room can ever be cleaned is to do what they do on those TV makeover shows. Take EVERYTHING out and only bring back in what needs to be in there. Oh, well, maybe next weekend I can attack at least part of it.

The fireplace room to me is like our heart. It seams easy to give your heart to our Loving Lord. To let Him wash your heart and make it clean and new again.

The big room is like our mind. We have so much junk in our minds, don't we? We get 'junk' from the radio, TV, co-workers, politicians, books, movies, billboards, and more. In our minds, we try to work things out our way. Our mind is where our self-centeredness lives.

So what do we do? Do we try to keep a clean heart without uncluttering our mind? Do we think that one can be clean and holy without the other one also being clean? Do we give up completely because we want to keep our minds for ourselves and just give God our heart?

Our Loving Lord requires all we are and all we have. It's all His anyway, right?

Will you invite our Loving Lord to come in and clean you from head to toe? Will you let him take out all of the junk and replace it with His will and His ways?

Psalm 51:10 (NIV): Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Romans 12:2 (The Message): Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

A Messy Place

Our place has become a mess. If you know me, you know I lay claim to being one of the worst housekeepers in the country. I've tried to be better without much success. The outside of our home is lacking someone to care for it as well.

So we come to today. I had all morning to 'do something about our place'. But where to start? The front of the house needs to have weeds pulled and bushes trimmed. The walkways need to be swept. The leaves need to be raked. One option for this morning was to take care of the outside more people see the outside than see the inside. To the rest of the world, our place would look good if we worked in the yard.

The other option was to work on the inside. I spend much more time inside than out. I see the impact of neglecting or cleaning the inside. But where to start? Too many things need to be done. I knew we could not get all of it done. Nor could we get most of it done.

We decided to start on the inside. To go in one room and really attack the things that need to be done. As the owners of the house, we see the inside. We live on the inside. The room we worked on was the room we spend the most time in. It's not the biggest room nor the smallest. It is however the center of the home.

So the question comes to me...What if someones life is a mess? What if someone is messed up on the outside as well as on the inside, where do you start to clean up? Do you start with the outside? Get a haircut and new clothes? Put down the smokes and alcohol? So when the world looks at you they see someone who looks like they have it all together but they have no idea how messed up inside you are?

Or do you clean up the inside? Change your thinking patterns from self-centered to God-centered? Renew your mind to sync with the mind of Christ? If you have accepted Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, He is in you. He lives on the inside. He is the owner. He knows how messed up or how clean you are on the inside. Your external appearances can't fool Him.

If you only clean up the inside and stay messed up on the outside, problems can arise in that the world only sees the outside and if the outside is too messed up, they may not be able to see Christ in you.

If you only clean up the outside and stay messed up on the inside, your facade will eventually crumble.

Perhaps you feel like I did about my place. You can't do it all at once. You are probably right. You can't. BUT!!! Through Christ you can. Just start in your heart. Be sure your heart belongs to Him. Trust Him with the inside and the outside. Walk in His ways.

Philippians 4:13 (KJV) I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.
Psalm 51:10a (KJV) Create in me a clean heart, O God.
Luke 16:15 (NIV) He said to them, "You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God's sight.





Friday, November 10, 2006

A Fall

I fell.
I fell in my backyard.
I fell in my backyard in the dark.
I fell in my backyard in the dark while walking over ground I know very well.

I know the ground well and still I tripped.

I went out to turn on the light in the pool. (I like the way the pool looks at night with the light on.) Then I decided to turn the pump on for some extra cleaning time. Between the light switch and the power switch, I fell. (Yes it hurts.)

I came in and told Hubby about my fall and immediately he asked "You didn't have a flashlight?" I said "No. I know that path so well. I've done that many times and never fell." But still I fell.

How often do we fall in life because we forgot the Flashlight? Do we go our own way knowing the path, knowing what is ahead, but due to lack of Light we get tripped up? When we start out with God's Word leading us, He lights the way and keeps us out the dark places. His Word lets us see the things that might trip us up. Will you turn on the Light before you head out next time?

Psalm 119:105 (KJV): Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Perfection?

Our high school football team won their final regular season game tonight. The finished with a "Perfect 10 and O" record. Undefeated!!!

Now I have some questions for you. Were they perfect on every play? Was every game perfect? The answers are both NO. They made many mistakes in their games. They had penalty flag thrown in probably every game. They missed tackles. They dropped passes. The quarterback got sacked at least once this season. They did not play perfect in every game but they finished with a perfect record and undefeated. Once the win was recorded, none of the mistakes mattered.

Isn't that how it is with life? Once we accept Christ, we know the outcome of the season. We win. We are perfect. We are no longer defeated. Does that mean that we will act perfect everyday for the remainder of our lives? Not likely. Even as children of our Loving Lord we are capable of making mistakes. We may 'drop the ball' on charity. We may 'fumble the ball' while reacting to stressful situations. However, when we keep our eyes on the end-zone, keep running toward our goal, with the help of our Teammates, we win! We finish perfect. We finish undefeated.

Colossians 1:28 (NIV): We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Stains

I do not like doing laundry. It's not the 'doing' of the laundry that I don't like as much as it is the outcome of when I do laundry! The purpose of doing laundry is that you take dirty clothes, put them in the washer with detergent, run the washer, move the clothes to the dryer, run the dryer, take out the clothes and they are ready to wear. Right?

Not with my laundry. Too many times the clothes go in and then come out with stains or discolorations that just can not be explained. I don't use bleach. I dissolve the laundry powder prior to putting the clothes in. I stopped using dryer sheets as it was suggested that they may be causing the discoloration. Still they go in not discolored and come out discolored.

So I do what all good wives do when this happens...I talked to Mom! Mom looked over some of the damaged goods and suggested that she apply some stain remover and try washing them again. We did. However, the stains persisted. If doing laundry is going to ruin our clothes, you can see why I just don't like doing it!

In my humanness I have failed to protect the cleansing process. Even though I follow all the steps as handed down through the years, the stains persist. Stain removers do not help.

Our Loving Lord takes in our dirty souls, applies the stain cleansing blood of Jesus, and we come out clean. He remembers no more our sins. His stain remover works every time. When we go in the washer (repent), He supplies the power and cleansing agent (forgiveness through the blood of Christ), and we come out clean.

Has some staining agent slipped into your life? Will you ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you the things that are staining your witness or are staining your family? Once revealed, will you step into our Loving Lords laundry and let Him make you clean?

Jeremiah 31:34b (The Message): They'll know me firsthand, the dull and the bright, the smart and the slow. I'll wipe the slate clean for each of them. I'll forget they ever sinned!" God's Decree.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Things To Do Today

As we pondered what to do today, it seemed like we had many options. My husband and my brother wanted to play golf together. We considered going to a movie. We had the option of just vegging out and enjoying our vacation day.

The things we KNEW about today were: 1) My brother had taken the day off and was spending it with us. 2) At some point my brother would need to vote. (Hubby and I had early voted.) 3) We were on our own for all meals as Mom and Dad were both working the poles all day.

We had our own desires of what to do today...and that was play golf. My hubby, a life-long golfer, and my brother who recently found a love for the game, have never had the opportunity to play together. I was going along for the ride. We had planned this day for weeks. However, last night the weather forecasters dashed our hopes for enjoying a round of golf today. When we got up this morning, we checked the radar. The rain was still to the west. If we hurried they could probably still play. We went to the course anyway hoping they would get to play at least 9 holes. When we got there, the sky told the whole story. No chance of getting 9 holes in this morning.

We decided to go home and visit for a while and perhaps try again after lunch. Lunch time approached and it was still raining.

We shifted to plan B. We decided to grab lunch and then go to a movie instead. When we arrived at the fast-food place (we wanted to drive through and eat on the way) the line was almost back to the street. No time to eat. We decided we would just eat popcorn at the theater then grab dinner afterward. When we arrived at the theater it was still raining.

We watched the movie and ate our popcorn. When we came out it was still raining. We went to eat and when we came out, it was STILL raining. At this point we all agreed it was good that we didn't try to get the 9 holes in. It would have been miserable. This morning we glanced at the sky and kept holding on to our desires instead of seeing the reality and moving on.

How long does it take you to look at the obvious around you and know the right thing to do? Do you heed the warning the night before? Do you wake up and hear the forecast again and then know the right thing to do and do it? Do you go in a different direction and based on the outcome of going then finally know the right decision to make? Do you hold on to what YOU want to do? Or do you adjust and do what is best for the situation?

John 7:24 (Amplified): Be honest in your judgment and do not decide at a glance (superficially and by appearances); but judge fairly and righteously.





Monday, November 06, 2006

Walking Paths

Today I had the privilege of visiting two parks that I have not visited in years. Both parks have walking paths that run along rivers.

We left to visit the first park shortly after breakfast. When we got to the park, we picked up a map and headed out. Along the way, we wondered "Are we going in the right direction?" so we consulted the map, checked our bearings and sure enough we were still on course. We finished the trail without incident.

Oh, I forgot to mention, I have not been exercising regularly and since I finished the 1.5 mile trail with no problems, I was feeling GOOD! I was even starting to think "I may have to do this walking thing more often!"

So we all got back into the car and headed to the second park. Now in years past, I have visited this park many, many times and felt pretty sure I knew where we were going and what we would see. This park did not have maps available but that was OK. So we headed off down the trail. We walked and walked looking for one particular place in the park. We came to several 'forks' in the path and kept near the river. We did not find the point we were looking for before my legs started hurting. Bad! We finally realized that we needed to head back or I might not be able to make it back.

We decided the cause of my pain was one of two things: Lack of preparation or lack of training. Lack of training because I have not be exercising or lack of preparation in that I had not hydrated between the two short hikes.

Those of you who exercise on a regular basis probably think nothing of these two short hikes that were each probably less than 2 miles. However for someone who has not stretched these muscles in quite some time hiking around 4 miles in one day is quite an effort.

I learned from the second hike that, if I am going to continue to walk for exercise, I need to prepare and to hydrate. It is not good for my body to just start walking without stretching and having plenty of water handy.

Like my walking, what do you need to start doing in your life? Like stretching before I walk, how do you need to prepare? Like drinking plenty of water and taking a bottle with me when I walk, how will you ensure that you have on the inside what you need to be successful on the outside?

Ephesians 6:13-18 (The Message): Be prepared. You're up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it's all over but the shouting you'll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You'll need them throughout your life. God's Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other's spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.


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Sunday, November 05, 2006

Habits

I've heard it takes about 21 days to make, or break, a habit.

The American Heritage Dictionary gives many definitions of the word "habit". There are two that apply to today's theme:
  1. a recurrent, often unconscious pattern of behavior that is acquired through frequent repetition.
  2. An addiction.

I have been writing these Little Lessons for three weeks now, 21 days. I have missed one day in each of the three weeks. However, as I have said before it is OK to take a day off each week, right?

The most recent one I missed was yesterday. (Did you miss me?) :-) The thing that is different this time was that I had withdrawals yesterday. I really 'needed a fix', needed to write. I had many Little Lessons to share with you. (Hopefully I will be able to recall them all and share them with you over the next few days.)

I wanted to write, needed to write, but I did not have access to a PC all day yesterday. I feel that I missed out on something. I am sure that we both missed out on a blessing because my habit, my recurrent pattern of behavior that was acquired through daily repetition, was temporarily broken.

There are many good habits in life that we need to develop. Many good habits that, when we perform these habits, have a positive impact on other people. When we skip performing these acts, we all miss out on the blessings associated with performing that habit.

Let's look at some examples: Praying. When we "pray without ceasing" we improve our relationship with Christ and with others. When we only pray sporadically, we treat our Loving Lord more like Santa Claus (Lord I need, Lord I want, Lord please do) Bible study. When we are in the Word daily we receive daily nourishment and feed our mind with the things of our Loving Lord. When we are not in the Word regularly, we starve our souls and fill our minds with things of this world. Giving. When we give regularly, our Loving Lord uses those gifts to do His work and He has promised to pour out blessings when we do. When we don't give regularly, the Bible says we rob God.

What good habits do you need to spend the next 21 days developing? Do you need to find more positive things to comment on and suppress more of your negative thoughts? Do you need to set aside time each day to pray? Do you need to be more aware of what you are putting into your diet so that you are eating healthier? Do you need to spend more time in the Word? Do you need to follow a desire that God has put in your heart by doing a little thing each day that fulfills that desire?

Find someone to hold you accountable in developing that habit. Each of you hold me accountable in the development of my 'habit', especially Teena. (Thank you Teena!) Take the first step. The first few days are usually the hardest. Take it one day at a time but do it. Start today!

Hebrews 10:25 (NIV) Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

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