Tuesday, February 27, 2007

What Is Happening With Your Story?

I have the special privilege of getting to talk to my Mom almost every day as I drive home. (Don't worry I use my bluetooth and keep both hands on the wheel and both eyes on traffic.) I ask her about her day and she asks about mine. Quite often when I share a story about my day, she will respond with a very encouraging: "Are you going to put that in your blog?" Sometimes I do.

Most preachers that I know keep a keen eye on their children. Not just so that they behave properly. The preachers keep a keen eye on their children so that they don't miss any potential sermon illustrations that the children's activities may provide. You know it's true! How many sermons have you heard where the primary illustration was provided by the pastor's family? Right?

Many of my co-workers, friends, and family have made special appearances in this blog. Some of them (I think) avoid me so that they won't accidentally do something that will show up here. Others get excited to see their name in 'print'.

People who participate in criminal activity get noticed as well. They make the news either on TV or in print. Their story gets told but not necessarily in a 'good light'.

Everyone is being watched by someone to see what you are doing and how the watcher might make something of it. Whether is a preacher looking for a sermon illustration, a co-worker looking for something to 'hold over your head', a friend looking for something to blog about, or a news crew looking for a story.

Someone else is always watching you as well. Someone sees everything you do. Someone can make something out of whatever you do. Someone can make something great and eternally significant out of what you let Him do through you.

What story will you be a part of today? Will you cater to the newscasters, the blog writers, or the preachers? Or. Or will you cater to the One person who can make your story part of the greatest story every told?

Matthew 13:34-35 (The Message) All Jesus did that day was tell stories—a long storytelling afternoon. His storytelling fulfilled the prophecy: I will open my mouth and tell stories; I will bring out into the open things hidden since the world's first day.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Where Are Your Weapons?

Did you read the email about the soldier in the war that was face-to-face with the enemy and decided to set aside his armor and face the challenge of on his own? The story of how he did not pick up his weapons even though the weapons were within his grasp? How he wound up surrendering to the enemy because he ignored his weapons?

What? You missed that story?

You mean you didn't get it in your email inbox like 200 times? You didn't get the chance to rush over to snopes.co, to see if it was true or not? Hmmm....

Don't bother checking snopes.com. You won't find the story there.

The soldiers is indeed in the war. And the war is real and he faces real enemies.

The soldier is in the army of our Loving Lord and the enemy he faces appears in the area of inappropriate Internet content. The soldier faces temptations to read inappropriate content, to act on that content, to submit to the enemy's influence in his life.

The soldier has weapons sitting very near his computer. He has multiple versions of the Word of our Loving Lord. Even without lifting a finger, he has another weapon at his disposal...prayer. He also has the weapon of accountability. He can pick up the phone and call a trusted advisor to walk him away from the temptation the enemy presents.


But what does he do? He goes straight to the PC and starts surfing. He does not take the time to put on his full armor. He faces the enemy on his own, with full armor and weapons right within his reach. And he is taken captive and submits to the enemy.

And that is a true story! The soldier has confidentially shared his story with me.

What about you? Are you like that soldier? Do you head out into daily battle against the foes of this world with your armor back at the house? Do you try to stand alone forgetting the weapons that are within your grasp?

Are you wiling and ready to come back to the base camp? Will you, today, submit to our Loving Lords leadership and let him rescue you from behind enemy lines? And once he rescues you, will you commit to the code of His army and put on your full armor each and every day?



Ephesians 6 (The Message)13-20

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. And don't forget to pray for me. Pray that I'll know what to say and have the courage to say it at the right time, telling the mystery to one and all, the Message that I, jailbird preacher that I am, am responsible for getting out.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Can You Smell That Aroma?

I love the song “Breathe” by Michael W. Smith. As I was drawing my bath on Sunday morning before church, I was singing “This is the air I breathe. This is the air I breathe, your holy presence living in me.” As I was singing, the aroma of the bubble bath fragrance filled the room. Immediately I recalled the song “Sweet, Sweet Spirit” written by Doris Akers and sung by many, many people…”There’s a sweet, sweet spirit in this place and I know that it’s the spirit of the Lord”.

The air that I was breathing was allowing me to enjoy the smell of the sweet aroma of the bath fragrance.

The ‘air’ that I breathe, which is our Loving Lord’s Holy Spirit, allows me to enjoy His ‘sweet, sweet spirit’ that fills the air when we worship and praise Him.


Will you take time to today to breathe in His sweet, sweet spirit? Will you share His presence with others as you go through the day today? Who do you know that needs to breathe in the sweet aroma of His love? Will you be the vessel to carry that aroma?

2 Corinthians 2:14 (NAS) But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Can You Remember?

I love writing these Little Lessons from my Loving Lord. I really love it when an idea comes to mind and I have the PC right in front of me and I can write the story right then and there.

But sometimes the lesson comes to me in an inconvenient place.

Sometimes I get the idea while drawing my bath (that lesson will be written about soon) or while driving (note to all: don’t text and drive!) or while sitting in church (pay attention to the sermon, don’t drift off) or while doing some other activity away from the computer. Or I will get the idea when I’m in a hurry to get somewhere and I don’t have time to stop and write!

This happened to me this past Sunday. While getting ready for church I had four lessons come to mind. And each of them was a good one…or at least I think so. In fact THIS little lesson was one of them. (You can let me know if you agree.)

So what do I do when I get several ideas for Little Lessons at one time but can’t write them down? I use a variation of mnemonics. I pick a key word from each concept and then remember the first letter of each one. For example, some of the Little Lessons from Sunday included the Black Donnelly’s, the lesson on remembering, the story on directions to the church and one about aromas.

So I thought Directions, Aroma, Donnelly’s, and Remember. DADR. I could remember DADR long enough to write the words down once I got to a piece of paper or to the computer.

Then.

Then I would most likely be able to remember what each of those words meant in respect to a Little Lesson. And that is what happened. I remembered the words. I typed them in a Word document. Then I wrote simple sentence fragments to remind me what the Little Lesson from each word was.

And hopefully with those fragments, I would not forget what I needed to write and I would be able to share the Little Lessons over the next few days.

And that is how it has worked. I’ve written about the two D’s and the R (this entry) and the A will most likely come tomorrow … unless He teaches me another more imperative lesson today.

So how is it with you? Do you hear our Loving Lord lead you but you forget what He said before you get to where you are going? Do you hear him teach you but you forget the lesson before you put it into practice? Do you want to remember Bible verses but think your memory is too weak?

He can help you! He wants to help you! Will you trust Him today to honor what he says in John 14:25-26?


John 14:25-26 (Amplified Bible) 25I have told you these things while I am still with you. 26But the Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, Standby), the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My name [in My place, to represent Me and act on My behalf], He will teach you all things. And He will cause you to recall (will remind you of, bring to your remembrance) everything I have told you.


Monday, February 19, 2007

Why Is That The Name?

If you watch TV, you may have seen an advertisement for The Black Donnelly’s.
This is the story of four Irish brothers.
Four white brothers.
Four white guys called the black Donnelly’s.
In our age of political correctness, I was surprised by the lack of uproar over such a name.

So off to the Internet I went.
To learn more about this show.
Learn why they might call this show what they call it.
I got a history lesson.

In the 1840’s in Canada, there was an Irish family that had migrated from Ireland. This family participated in an ongoing feud resulting in their massacre by a mob.

According to wikipedia.com, Irish society was split “into three classes: Catholic Whiteboys, Protestant
Orangemen, and Blackfeet. Blackfeet were Irish Catholics who refused to adhere to the rigid Whiteboy code and were severely mistreated by the Whiteboys for their perceived treason. The Donnellys were Blackfeet and thus caught in the middle between the Catholic/Protestant battles.”

Because of the choices of this family, they will always be known as the 'black' Donnelly’s. It’s an interesting story about the feud and the blackfeet.

It’s easy to ruin a good reputation with one misdeed. It’s very hard to repair a bad reputation even with many, many great acts. What we do today can positively or negatively impact our families for generations to come.


Will you choose to guard your reputation today? Will you make choices that will benefit your children and your children’s children? Or will you yield to the temptations we all face daily and let future generations suffer for your choices?

Exodus 20:5-6 (NIV) You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand {generations} of those who love me and keep my commandments.


Joshua 24:15 (KJV)And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

Are You Getting Mixed Messages?

As many know, I have been seeking our Loving Lord's direction regarding a new church home. Being that most churches that I might want to visit and/or join with don't advertise on big billboards or on TV, I have looked at two seminary websites to see where the men they have trained are serving. If I find a church, within reasonable distance of my home, that has one of their graduates as pastor, then I look to see if the church has a website. From the information on the website, I decide whether or not to visit the church. Or, if I have questions about the church I will send an email to see how they respond to my questions.

Such was the case with the church I wanted to visit this past Sunday. I found the church through the alumni section of one of the websites. I checked out the church's website. I liked what I saw. I had a few questions so I sent an email to them. And waited. No answer. Then I called the church office to ask the questions. I got the answering machine.

That's when the mixed messages started.

You see the website had a map with directions to the church in a building on a side street. The answering machine said that they were meeting in a skating rink. The website said the service started at 10:30. The answering machine said the service started at 10:00.

At this point I could have said "Their right hand doesn't know what their left hand is doing so why would I want to go there." However I felt that God wanted me to check out this congregation.

On Sunday morning, I still did not have the answers I needed. I still wanted to visit this church. The church is a church plant from another church in the area. So I called THAT church. The lady that answered said that she didn't know exactly where they were meeting but she knew that they were not in the skating rink anymore. Her daughter goes to the church I wanted to visit. She gave me her cell phone number. I called it. Twice. No answer. I guess she already had her phone on silence for church.

What to do? Mixed messages from different sources. Answering machine says this. Website says that. Parent church doesn't know for sure. These are 'man-made' answers. I needed the definitive authority.

I did the only thing I knew to do. I stepped out in faith. I had on good authority (parent church) that they weren't in the skating rink. So I went with the website time and place.

I got there. To the right place. On time. And I had a great morning of worship. I stepped out in faith and our Loving Lord led me right where I needed to be.

Are you getting mixed messages in your life? Is your Bible study teacher saying one thing while your devotional book is implying something different? Is the doctrine you were taught as a child conflicting with the teaching of your local church today?

The Word of our Loving Lord NEVER CHANGES! His truth is the always the same. When men give you their interpretation of Biblical teaching, you may hear/read mixed messages. IF SO, go to the Source. Go the authoritative Word. Men are fallible but God's Word is infallible.

If you think you are getting mixed messages, our Loving Lord may be trying to teach you to rely more on HIM and less on others. He may want you in His Word more. He may be trying to speak directly to you!

Will you listen? Will you trust Him? Will you read his Message instead of using someone else's thoughts to learn His thoughts and His ways? Will you step out and faith and follow His lead?

Hebrews 13:8 (NIV) Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
1 Peter 1:25 (Amplified) But the Word of the Lord ( divine instruction,
the Gospel) endures forever. And this Word is the good news which was preached
to you.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Looking For Your Refund?

Taxes.
Income Taxes.
We work. We earn a paycheck. Our employer takes out taxes.
Our employer takes away 'our' money in the form of taxes.
We want 'our' money back!
So once a year we do what we can to get as much of 'our' money back as possible.
When we think we will get a refund we file early and do whatever we can to get 'our' money back quickly.
Even if we have to PAY more money to get it back in one day.
After all, it's 'our' money, right?

Good works.
Most children of our Loving Lord do good works.
Most of us use 'our' time or 'our' money to do good works for our Loving Lord.
Most of us know that there is a reward for doing good works here on earth.
Doing good works here on earth in the name of and for the glory of our Loving Lord.
Our reward is in Heaven. The Word of our Loving Lord says so.
We want our reward today. We want our friends and family to see us get our reward while we are still here on earth.
After all, it's 'our' reward, right?

We do receive blessings here on earth. Our Loving Lord does bless our giving and our good works here on earth. However, our reward in Heaven is eternal and our rewards here on planet Earth are corruptable. They can be corrupted by our pride, our greed, our sinful nature. We can be tempted here on earth to use our pride to say "Hey look at me! Look at what I did! Look at how big my reward is!" But our rewards in Heaven will all honor and glorify our Loving Lord for eternity.

Where are you looking for your refund from the good works you paid in? Are you looking for rewards here on earth? Or are you saving for the future? When you help someone today with your time or with your money, will you trust Heaven's IRS to invest that wisely? Will you trust Heaven's Chief Accountant to manage your heavenly IRA so that when our Loving Lord calls you home your reward will be ready and waiting?

Matthew 6:19-21 (The Message) Don't hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or—worse!—stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it's safe from moth and rust and burglars. It's obvious, isn't it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Between The Lines


THE
READ
LINES

____________
WRITE
____________

I was having an email conversation with someone recently. I thought it was going well. We were discussing something that he wanted to tell me about. I had many questions. I was curious to receive the responses. We had one problem. He was very excited about the topic and I was only supportively curious about what he was excited about.

We had a miscommunication somewhere along the line. I was asking my questions waiting for his answers and his tone changed. It changed when he told me that he didn't know how to "read between the lines". I kind of thought that that was funny as I don't know how to write between the lines.

If I try hard I can write between the lines in one of two ways...

THE
WRITE
LINES


So do you see it? "Write" is between "The" and "Lines" so I was able to "write" between "the lines." The other way is shown at the beginning of this entry where the word "write" is shown in between two lines.

Are you trying to
THE
READ
LINES?


In your life are you trying to read more into it than is really there? Or are you trying to read between the lines of your life's lessons? When you sit down to read the Word of our Loving Lord, do you take it as face value or do you try to find something that isn't there? Will you listen to Him as He speaks to you today and take what He says strictly at face value?


1 John 5:9-10 (The Message) If we take human testimony at face value, how much more should we be reassured when God gives testimony as he does here, testifying concerning his Son. Whoever believes in the Son of God inwardly confirms God's testimony. Whoever refuses to believe in effect calls God a liar, refusing to believe God's own testimony regarding his Son.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Your #1 Fan

I got roses.

I got yellow roses.

At work, I got yellow roses.

Not from my dear hubby. Not from my son. Not from a 'secret admirer'...

I got roses at work from "Your #1 Fan".

For no special occasion, I got roses at work from "Your #1 Fan".

They made me feel special. Reminded me that someone cares about me. Me. Someone thought about and cares about me. Enough to send me flowers.

YOUR #1 Fan cares about YOU!

Your #1 Fan also sends you beauty everyday.

Your #1 Fan sends you a sunrise every morning even when the fog is so thick you can't see your hand if front of your face. It's still there. He sends you a sunrise faithfully. Through faith you can always see it.

Your #1 Fan sends you a sunset every night even when the clouds of your life are so thick that you can't see through them. His sun still sets. You can trust Him enough to know that the sun did set and the sunrise is on the way.

Your #1 Fan sends you flowers and soft rain and sunshine and gentle breezes for no special occasion. Just to let you know He is thinking of you. Just to let you know He cares.

Will you take sometime today to 'stop and smell the roses' that our Loving Lord is sending you today? He really is your #1 Fan!

James 1:17 (Amplified Bible) Every good gift and every perfect (free, large, full) gift is from above; it comes down from the Father of all [that gives] light, in [the shining of] Whom there can be no variation [rising or setting] or shadow cast by His turning [as in an eclipse].

Monday, February 05, 2007

Out Of The Herd

We went to the rodeo last weekend. The annual stock show and rodeo is a really big deal around here. I had never been. There were many Little Lessons that I saw throughout the day. I'll share just one today.

One event in the rodeo is the cutting horse competition. Have you ever seen this? A small herd of cows are brought into one end of the arena. The 'cutting horse' singles out one cow to 'cut' away from the herd. The cow does NOT want to be cut away. It seems to know there is safety in numbers. They want to hang with the other cows. They don't want to be set apart.

So the horse begins the job of separating this cow from the herd. The cow tries to go back. The horse uses intelligence, speed, and ability to make quick starts, stops, and turns to prevent the cow from going back into the herd. Two other horses help to keep the cow away from the herd once the it is cut out.

In most of the competition, once the horse and its rider got the cow separated for the required amount of time, that cow was allowed back in the herd and another cow was 'cut out'.

But one was different. That cow was cut out of the herd and, with the help of two other horses, found its way to the other end of the area. It was separated so far from the other cows that it seemed that he forgot about his herd. He stayed there until it was time to leave the arena. No longer influenced by the 'popular cow' opinion.

Isn't this what our Loving Lord has done for us? We start out trying just to fit in. To be like everyone else. Then He rides in and pulls us out of our messes. We are OK with it for a while but then we miss our old 'friends', our old 'ways', our old 'haunts, we want back in the pack. We want to be part of 'popular culture'. We don't want to be 'set apart'. So we head back in. Try to return to our old ways.

Since, once we accept Him as our personal Lord and Savior, we are secure in His hand and He can't let go, when we try to go back in, He is there just like that cutting horse, staring us down, blocking our path back, leading us where we need to be.

What herd are trying to get back into? Old drug habits? Old attitudes? Old rebellion? Old gossip? Old negativity? Old adultery? Old selfishness? Old lies?

Will you let Him 'cut you out' of your old life today? Will you let Him lead you to the other end of the arena, and keep you there, away from the herd that He rescued you from?

Psalm 4:3 (King James Version) But know that the LORD hath set apart him that is godly for himself: the LORD will hear when I call unto him.

Friday, February 02, 2007

What Are You Adding?

Someone very special to me started using a new product to better their health. They are very, very excited about this product. Understandably so as they have seen some good benefits from using the product.

For a while, we had been communicating back and forth via email discussing the various benefits of this new product. Then this special person wrote “Thanks to Jesus and this product my mind is very clear now.”

So I bantered back, “Well I’m glad you found the product. Because if Jesus alone can’t clear your mind, I’m glad that this stuff can help clear it. LOL!”

Now this special person is rock solid in their knowledge of our Loving Lord. They are fully aware that it is Him alone that fulfills all our needs.

While this was a jesting conversation between two people, many people are still looking for the “and…”

What is your “and”? Are you trying to find satisfaction in life by looking to Jesus “and a good job”? Or Jesus “and your small group”? Or Jesus “and your spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend”? Or Jesus “and food”? Or Jesus “and your favorite talk show host”?

What is your “and”?

Will you let go of your “and” and trust our Loving Lord completely to clear your mind, fulfill your needs, satisfy your longings? Today’s verse reminds you that it says “and my God will…” Not “and my God, plus this or that, will…” Will you let Him be all you need Him to be? Will you start today?

Philippians 4:19 (Amplified Bible) And my God will liberally supply (fill to the full) your every need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

Explanation

Some of you noticed that I didn’t write in my blog for over a month. There were many reasons. One reason I would like to share with you.

Although I’m not always successful at it, I really don’t like to do anything to hurt anyone’s feelings. It seems I have always lacked something in the area of tact so I manage to unintentionally hurt feelings.

With my blog, I want to be an encouragement to all. However, sometimes my best stories have the potential to hurt someone’s feelings or make them feel bad or just plain embarrass them. In spite of that the Little Lesson is still in the story and I still feel that the story needs to be told.

So to that end…I now state…in advance… my apologies to anyone that may take personal offense if I use a story that you are a part of. I will continue to try to hide the ‘identifying’ facts.

So the next few Little Lessons will be stories that should have been written over the last month but weren’t … even if you are part of the story, I hope you will be blessed and encouraged by them all.

{{{{HUGS}}}} to all!