Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Are You Playing Too Fast?

I play a lot of Solitaire as a mindless activity. While playing, I get to think about the other things I need to be working on. I am actually inspired for my other projects while I'm playing. I know it sounds strange but for me doing a mindless activity allows my mind to focus on other things.

Now here's what happens when I play Solitaire. I usually start out quite well. Moving cards and moving on. Early on in the game I wonder "Will the cards fall in the right order for me to win?" I usually start out with rather low expectations of winning so I watch every card very carefully. I try not to miss any plays.

Then.

Then the cards all start 'playing'. I turn up all of the Kings. I play off all of the Aces. Then I get excited. I'm going to win! It's only 1/2 way through the game but I have this thing won! I am so proud of myself. Proud of the way I play this game. I am the Queen of Solitaire! Yahoo!

Then.

The cards stop playing. Nothing will play. I had got ahead of myself. Instead of playing the game one card at a time and seeing where it was going, I jumped ahead and claimed victory before I was ready.

As I see it, this is how we sometimes do with our walk with our Loving Lord. We start out tentatively, wonder where He might lead us. We carefully watch all of our 'cards'. We carefully put one foot in front of the other.

Then things start falling into place. This seems easy. Seems like we have everything under control. So we start running. Running without thought. Running on our own.

We forget that we are not in control. We forget that we need to continue to exercise caution in our steps. Yes we need to move out in faith however we need to move out in faith under His careful guideance, not on our own.

So the cards stop falling in place. Things are not going our way. What do we do then? Our Loving Lord is still waiting for us right where we left Him. We can't undo the cards that have been played but we can return to Him and hand the cards back over to Him and let Him turn them up for us as he sees fit.

Will you give Him your complete deck today? Will you let Him shuffle them up and redeal them according to His plan for your life?

Proverbs 16:19 (New International Version) Better to be lowly in spirit and among the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Are You In The Dark?

At my day job, the lights went out.

Suddenly all the overhead lights went out but our computers and lamps that were plugged into the wall power outlets stayed on.

In the parts of the building where we do not have lamps, it was dark.

It was strange to have no light to see what you were doing (except where there are lamps) yet to have power to run our PCs.

You know, that's exactly how we make it through life with the help of our Loving Lord.

Sometimes we feel like all of the lights have gone out. We've lost our source of income. Our health has declined. Our marriage has fallen apart. Our child has gone astray. Our world looks bleak and dark and we don't think we will ever see the light of day again.

But somehow we continue on. We find that we still have some strength. Some power. The power comes from being plugged in at the Source of all life. Plugged into the power of our Loving Lord.

Then we see the Lamp that is still lit. We remember that "Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path." Even when our world is full of darkness the Lamp still shines and the Power to go on is still available to us.

Are you walking in darkness today? Will you plug in to the Power? Will you let His Word be the lamp to shine light on your next step?
Psalm 18:28 (New International Version) You, O LORD, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

How Do You See The Grass?

Here in Texas, it's that time of year. Time for the grass to try to start coming back. Time that you want to see the deep, luscious green cover your yard.

And the time when many of us just see brown spots.

We spray. We pull. We yell at the yard and no matter what, it just doesn't green up.

Then we drive down the road and see empty lots. Unattended empty fields. And the lots and fields are beautifully green! How? No one is tending to those lots. No one is taking quality time to care for those lots. Why are they beautifully green?

Keep driving. Get closer. Look deeper.

What do we really see?

Weeds. Big, sprawling, bright green weeds.

What looks like green luscious grass is really just weeds.

Is that how it is with your life? Do you see empty, brown patches in your life? Lack of a loving relationship, money problems, low income housing, do you see these in your life and long for the 'greenness' of the 'grass' in other peoples lives?

What if you could look closer at their lives? What would you see? Would you see what looks like a loving relationship that is really filled with affairs? Would you see what looks like wealth that is really debt deeper than anyone can ever climb out of? Would you see 'fun' that is really alcoholism in disguise?

Here in Texas, if we ever get rain, tending to our yards on a regular basis, and occasionally reseeding, does usually pay off. After we spray the weed killer on the lawn, we eventually see green grass, not green weeds.

Will you stay home today and tend to your own yard? Will you look only at what you have and what our Loving Lord can do with what you have and not long for what your neighbor or the empty lot has? Will you let our Loving Lord spray His weed killing grace over your life so that the seeds that He has planted in you will grow?


Matthew 13:36-43 (New International Version) Then he left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, "Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field." He answered, "The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. "As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.."

Friday, March 16, 2007

Now What?

Do you know anyone that is holding on to something that they should let go of?

Perhaps the person has a bad habit like smoking or spending too much money playing the lottery.

Perhaps they do this because:
they wouldn't know what to do...
if they didn't do...
what they do.

So if they gave up the habit they would be in the situation of saying "Now What?"

Perhaps the person is holding onto a relationship that they should not be in. A couple who are dating but one is abusive. The abused wants to leave but doesn't know what they would do without the other person.

If they left the relationship they would find themselves saying "Now What?"

Perhaps the person is living an unhealthly lifestyle of adultry, sexual immorality, or sexually deviant behavior. They find so much pleasure in their lifestyle that the could not imagine giving up this activity.

If they gave up all of their 'fun' they know they would constantly wonder "Now What?"

What are you holding onto today that you don't want to give up? What would you do, how would you benefit in your relationships, if you did give that thing up?

There is One person who has something better for you. One person who can fill the empty space left when you give up what you don't want to let go of. One person that you can trust with your "Now What?"

Will you trust Him today? Will you let Him take away that habit, relationship, or unhealthy activity and then trust Him to provide His loving answers to "Now What?" Will you, simply put, trust our Loving Lord with your "Now What?"

John 13:7 (The Message) Jesus answered, "You don't understand now what I'm doing, but it will be clear enough to you later."

Acts 2:37-39 (The Message) Cut to the quick, those who were there listening asked Peter and the other apostles, "Brothers! Brothers! So now what do we do?" Peter said, "Change your life. Turn to God and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, so your sins are forgiven. Receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is targeted to you and your children, but also to all who are far away—whomever, in fact, our Master God invites."

2 Chronicles 7:13-15 (Amplified Bible) If I shut up heaven so no rain falls, or if I command locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, If My people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves, pray, seek, crave, and require of necessity My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

What Do You Trust In?

Have you ever had one of those days when you pray and our Loving Lord answers clear as day?

Let me tell you about my Tuesday morning drive to work this week...

Driving to work that morning I was praying about my day-job situation.

I L-O-V-E my job however it has no benefits at all and as I get older benefits such as disability, life, and retirement become more and more valuable to me. I'm trying to get used to this and make other 'financial' arrangements for these concerns as I believe this current career is a stepping stone to something else that God is preparing me for in the future that has even fewer 'fringe' benefits.

Anyway, as I was, um, uh, 'complaining' to God about this in my quiet thoughts and telling Him about how I'd feel more secure if I had disability insurance (although I don't expect to have to use it.), I spoke out loud and said:

"God can I trust you in this?"

and just in that moment, at that exact time, the song on the radio ended (...don't know the song, I was too busy 'making my request known unto Him' to hear the song or know what it was about...) and the DJ said :

"Where are you putting your trust in today?"

WOW! What a challenging and immediate answer! If I'm not putting my trust in our Loving Lord to handle my concerns then where AM I putting my trust? In that moment, I knew what I had always known...Yes, I can trust Him to take care of my today and my tomorrow.

What are you putting your trust in today? Are you putting your trust in your company? Your spouse? Your individual talents? Or are you putting your trust in the name of our Loving Lord? Will you put your complete trust in Him today?

Psalm 20:7 (NIV) Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Do You Understand What I Am Saying?

This past Sunday, my sister-in-law and I visited yet another local church. This church is situated on a large amount of land. As you drive into the church property there is a beautiful structure that looks like it could be the pastor's home.

So I ask her "Do you think that that is the pastorium?"
She starts to answer something that sounds like a yes but stops in her tracks and says "What did you call it?"
And I said "The pastorium."
She said "What's THAT?"
I said "Where the pastor lives!"
She said "Do you mean the parsonage?"
I said "Well you can call it that too."
She said "I've never heard it called a pastorium."

We go into the church, have a great time of worship, then meet up with her parents for lunch. Being that my in-laws are all life-long church going Baptist, I ask them...
"Are you familiar with the term pastorium?"
Father-in-law: "Nope"
Mother-in-law: "I think so"

So I explain that where I grew up, the non-Baptist preachers (Methodist, Lutheran, etc) lived in parsonages and the Baptist preachers lived in pastoriums. They all kind of thought I was out of my mind! This is a family with deep, deep Baptist roots! If anyone would know what the house a Baptist preacher lives in is called, it would be them.

So I started second guessing myself.

Then that night when my dear hubby got home, I asked him: "Do you know what a pastorium is?" To my shock and shame, my hubby of almost 25 years said: "No." How sad that I had failed to educate him. With that I decided it was time to find out if I was truly out of my mind or what...

Off to dictionary.com I went...

And this is what I found...

pas·to·ri·um /pæˈstɔriəm, –noun Southern U.S.
a Baptist parsonage.


YES!!!!

Exactly as I had explained it! It is a 'parsonage' for Baptist!!!

Whew... I wasn't completely out of my mind after all!

So the next test came on Monday afternoon...

On my daily drive home phone call with Mom I asked: "Mom, that house that was behind the church at Providence Village where the preacher lived, what did we call that house?" Confident that the woman that taught me so much about my faith would surely say the right word, I listended for her response...

She said "The parsonage."

I said "ARRGGHHH!!!! WRONG ANSWER!"

Then I sadly repeated the whole story from above without the definition. And she said: "Well, yeah we did call it that. I guess the preachers that weren't Baptist had parsonages. Our preachers lived in pastoriums." SO then I said "YES!" and told her about the dictionary.com part.

So here's what I have thought about with respect to all of the above...

If those of us within the church get confused with our terminology, how much more will the world be confused with our "church talk"? How much more effective could we be if we shared simply instead of as the Pharisee's using big words and fancy speech? What if I had just said to my sister-in-law "I wonder if that is where the pastor lives?" Simple, straight-forward, no confusion.

Will share the love of our Loving Lord as simply as possible today? Will you find someone that needs His love and instead of 'preaching' to them, will you simply say "I want you to know that Jesus loves YOU!"?

Psalm 19:14 (New International Version) May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Used with Permission

I subscribe to and read many motivational/inspirational emails that arrive either daily or weekly.

Some come from heartlight.org. These are very good. I get a few Bible verses each day. I get a Verse of the Day which can come from anywhere and Daily Wisdom which comes from Proverbs. And I get a quote of the day that they call "Quotemeal".

I get a weekly newsletter from Zig Ziglar that includes some great sayings. At the end of the sayings there is always something like "Published with permission by Tyndale House Publishers"

I get a daily email called God Issues. At the end it says "Copyright © 2007. GodIssues.org. All rights reserved."

Many times I consider including bits and pieces of one of the above in the Little Lessons from my Loving Lord stories. I do consider this but I don't do it because I don't want to infringe on any copyrights and I don't want to have to get permission to publish from the publisher.

I do however 'copy' part of my text everyday from a published source. The Author has given me permission to do so. He has even commanded that share what He wrote with you.

Are you following His commands today? Are you "going into all the world to share the gospel"? Will you share His Words with someone you care about today?

(Side note: I permit, even encourage, you to forward this text daily to anyone in your contact list that may need encouragement. You forward those 'get rich quick' emails, don't you? How about forwarding a few eternal reward entries 'used by permission'?)

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (The Message) Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God's way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.

Romans 15:4 (New Living Translation) Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us. And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Are You Fully Dyed?

We recently had a small flood in our bathroom. The commode bowl overfilled and spilled onto the floor. We had two bath mats in that area of the bathroom. One was dark blue and one was cream colored. By the time we found the 'flood' some of the blue color from the first rug had 'bled' on to the cream rug.

It appeared that the cream rug was ruined.

Both rugs were soaked and even though I thought I'd have to throw them out, I felt they needed to be dried in the dryer first. But they stank. So instead of just drying them, I washed them first. Yes, I washed them together. Dark blue with light cream. I washed and dried them together.

When I removed them from the dryer, I got a pleasant surprise. The 'ruined' cream with blue stains rug was now a nice light blue...all over. When the blue from the dark rug only partially covered the cream rug, the rug was useless. When the blue COVERED the cream rug, it became useful again. It had a new life. And it still looks good in my bathroom.

Many people go through life with just a part of our Loving Lord impacting their life. They 'play' church. Attend with no commitment. Do it because it is the 'family' thing to do. They go because the one they love goes. They have the influence
of our Lord in their life but they have not yet been completely covered with His shed blood.

What about you?

Are you going through life two colored? Do you still hold on to part of your life, refusing to let Christ shed blood cover you completely? Will you accept Him as Savior and Lord today and let His shed blood recolor you and make you useful for him?

Do you have friends that know of your walk and see you live for Christ each day but they are only getting what you 'shed' on them? They look useless. Will you share His love and His shed blood with them today? Will you lead them to the One that can make them beautiful and useful again?


Revelation 7:14 (English Standard Version) I said to him, "Sir, you know." And he said to me, "These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Who Knows Your Name?

Last Sunday I visited the church I had visited the Sunday before. As soon as I got there, a man I had met on the first Sunday greeted me by name. Then the pastor came over to welcome me, again by name. And several others said they were glad I had returned ... as they all called me by name. I remembered very few of their names but they all remembered mine. Well, to be fair, they only needed to remember one name and I had many to remember.

Recently I had lunch with some former coworkers. It was a surprise to many that I was coming to the lunch. As most of them arrived at the restaurant, they appeared to be happy to see me again. Most called me by name. It made me feel great to be warmly greeted by name when seeing old friends. One person in the group did not greet me by name. That person did not greet me with a smile either. They know my name but elected not to use it.

Does it make you feel special to hear your name?

There is an enemy that doesn't want you to feel all warm and fuzzy. He may purposely not use your name. He may even try to mar your name so that others will shy away from using it.

There is Someone who knows your name and always welcomes you. Someone who is always glad to hear from you.


Have you visited with our Loving Lord one-on-one lately? Will you take time today to thank Him for calling you by name? Will you call Him by name today as a way of showing your love for Him?

About your name:
Isaiah 49:1 (NIV) Listen to me, you islands; hear this, you distant nations: Before I was born the LORD called me; from my birth he has made mention of my name.

About His name:
Isaiah 9:6b (KJV) and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.