Sunday, October 19, 2008

Can You Add Something Noticeable?

I must be really plain. Plain to the point of unnoticeable.

I have a limited wardrobe and wear basically the same things over and over.

Recently, I've made a few simple changes and the responses have been surprising.

For example, I have one outfit that looks very nice on me (or so I think). I've worn this outfit to both church and work. A few weeks ago, I wore the outfit to church with one small change. I added a necklace. Nothing more. Just a simple necklace. I received so many compliments on 'how nice' I looked that day. I repeated the same outfit with the same necklace at work a few days later. Same response. "You look so nice today."

Of course I resisted the urge to say "Oh as opposed to all the other days????" :-)

Another example of a small change with great impact involves my hair. If you know me at all, you know I rarely have a 'good hair day'. It's fine, thin, straight, non-existing (read balding in spots) hair. So one day, I simply pushed part of it behind each ear and left a tad bit hanging in front my ears. That's all. That's the simple change I made. But, oh my, the compliments I got. "You cut your hair! It looks great!"...."What did you do to your hair? I love it?" ..."Your hair looks good today. What did you do differently?"...Rare compliments for someone with my mane.

It took so little to have people take a second look and ask me questions about the changes they saw or thought they saw.

Little Lesson Life Expression
Isn't this a great opportunity that we have with our testimony as well? What small changes can you make in how you share Christ with others that will draw them to His message? What sincere thing can you do to attract them to what you have? What about in your church? What simple way can you serve the community around you so that they will want to take a closer look?

Proverbs 25:11 (The Message)
The right word at the right time
is like a custom-made piece of jewelry


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Are You Still Green?

The tree is beautiful. Fall is in full force here in Wisconsin. I've traveled here for business this week. Driving from the airport to the office, I traveled through the university campus and the beauty of the fall colors almost made me want to return to college.

Arriving at the office, I noticed the tree. The reds so rich. The oranges so bright.

But it was odd at the same time. It seemed the top half of the tree was red and orange while the bottom half appeared to still be solid green.

Why would only half a tree change?

I walked over to the tree and took a closer look. Sparsely among the dark green leaves, I spotted several yellow leaves...the more I looked, the more I saw. So the bottom half of the tree was indeed changing!

From a distance, I didn't see the yellow leaves. The brilliant red and orange ones out shined the yellow ones.

So many thoughts flooded my mind about the possibilities of Little Lessons from this tree. But I settled on this....

When the world looks at believers, what do they see? Do they see the changes that have happened in a believer's life? Or does their life look unchanged until you get up close and personal?

When the world looks at the church, does it look divided? Does it look like we just have some loud, outgoing, excited participants and the rest of the attenders are basically no different than the world is?

To me, we all go through changes when we accept our Loving Lord into our heart. Some are subtle changes that you can't see unless you look deep inside, like a 'good' person who gives up their selfish wants and let's Christ control their finances. They are the the yellow leaves you only see when you walk up to the tree. Others are radical changes, like the individual who is being held captive by the consequence of addictive behaviors who, upon accepting Christ, lets go of the addiction and lets Christ take control. Their change is the bright red and orange that you can see from a distance.

It's all the leaves being the color they are assigned that make the tree a sight to see.

Little Lesson Life Expression
Have your leaves started changing colors? Or are you the unchanged green leaves? Will you let the changes start in your life today? If you have not yet accepted our Loving Lord as Saviour, will you make that change today? If you have accepted Him but are not actively living the plan He has for your life, will you invite Him to bring more colors of change into your life today?

Matthew 3:8 (Amplified Bible) Bring forth fruit that is consistent with repentance [let your lives prove your change of heart]

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Can I Be Gay With You?

What were your thoughts when you read the title of today's Little Lesson? What did those six little words bring your mind to? (Note to parents: Today's Little Lesson may be rated PG instead of G.)

It's not what you think. I didn't say what you thought you read.

If fact, I simply want my word back.

In high school, I had a friend named Holly Gay. I loved her name. It always made me happy. See I knew her before the meaning of word in our society changed.

In elementary school, I had learned the meaning of the word gay. It was something bright, pleasant, that promoted a feeling of cheer. At the time, all children were meant to be gay. Holly was a delight to be around...always pleasant.

Then a few short years later, another group of people claimed that word for themselves. Suddenly, instead of gay meaning simply happy and cheerful, it meant you lived an 'alternative lifestyle'. Suddenly straight people no longer wanted to be described a gay...even though the former meaning of the word had held true for centuries.

Fast forward to my adult son's generation. They stole the word again. Now the word means "rubbish”. Or at least that's what the BBC Board of Governors has said. They have stated that in 'modern playground-speak' the word should not be offensive to 'gays'.

Oh but the media in America disagrees! This week I saw an public service announcement that encourages our young people not to use the phrase "that's so gay" to describe things that are stupid or rubbish. Why? It's not nice. It might hurt the feelings of those who call themselves 'gay'. So I have a question....did the homosexual community count my feelings when they took the happy meaning of gay away from me?

Side note: This Little Lesson is about the meaning of the word not about the lifestyle issues.

I looked it up. I am apparently a Sunday's child. Do you know about Sunday's children?
"But the child born on the Sabbath Day,
Is fair and wise and good and gay."

So I repeat...Can I be gay with you?

Little Lesson Life Expression
Our Loving Lord says what He means and means what He says. Will you do the same? Will you say what you really mean this week? Will you mean what you say? Will you choose your words for effectiveness and then stand by them never changing?

Matthew 5:33-37 (The Message) "And don't say anything you don't mean. This counsel is embedded deep in our traditions. You only make things worse when you lay down a smoke screen of pious talk, saying, 'I'll pray for you,' and never doing it, or saying, 'God be with you,' and not meaning it. You don't make your words true by embellishing them with religious lace. In making your speech sound more religious, it becomes less true. Just say 'yes' and 'no.' When you manipulate words to get your own way, you go wrong.


Thursday, October 09, 2008

What Can You Remember?

It was to be a zoo. Or perhaps a jungle. Monkeys, flamingos, lions, and, of course, tigers. I was to be a tiger. So chosen in tribute to my own two cats Tigger and Tiger. And perhaps in honor of my high school mascot from all those years ago.

It was actually crazy hat day at work. All of us leaders were wearing animal hats and either animal print shirts or camouflage. I had looked the previous weekend for a shirt to buy but didn't find anything that I liked. The night before crazy hat day I had planned to go to Wally-world and see if they had something camouflage in the sporting goods but....I never left the house that night.

So then it was zoo day, ah uh, crazy hat day and I had one question...what to wear with my tiger hat? Perhaps a solid brown shirt. I opened my closet to look. Suddenly I saw it and remembered. I saw my tiger-like print shirt that I have had for too many years to even try to remember.

Our Loving Lord does that for us. He provides the answers we need right when we need them. We make our plans. We think we will figure things out for ourselves. But when we come to the end of our selfish thoughts, He is faithful to be there reminding us of what we may already know.

Little Lesson Life Expression
What will you do when you have a need? Will you rely on your own thoughts and ways? Or will you rely on our Loving Lord to provide your need in His time?

John 14:26 (Amplified Bible) But 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, October 06, 2008

How Does Your Light Shine?

Someone 'got it'. They really got it. When I started writing Little Lessons from my Loving Lord, I prayed that people would get it. That people would start to see the little lessons that are revealed to them as they go about living their lives...and that they would start sharing their own insights with others.



Yesterday, I received an email from dear hubby's dad...who is a faithful reader. My pa-in-law shared his own little lesson. Now I'm about to share it with you...basically in his own words, slightly modified...



"Every Sunday at church, being the back seat Baptist we are, we always sit it the same seat. Well, it's not because it's 'our seat', it's just there and I take the offering each Sunday and that's where they always put the collection plate.

That's not it either ... I like to sit on the back row.


Anyway, the area we sit in has been somewhat dark...that was until they just completed some remodeling by installing a new wall behind us. As I said, it was always a little dark. There has always been light, however it's been out. Well, now they have fixed it and it shines right down on me.


Now I can't go to sleep when the preacher delivers his sermon!!!! 'cause now he can surely see me and could think I am not listening !!! LOL!!! Just a joke unless you ask my wife how many times she punches me in my ribs during the sermon.


Then it got me to thinking...God's light is on us every day of our life here on earth and it's up to us how His light shining on us is reflected to others around us every day. I recall the song we sang in Sunday school:

'This little light of mine, I am gonna let it shine.
This little light of mine, I am gonna let it shine.
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.

Hide it under a bushel - NO! I'm gonna let it shine.
Hide it under a bushel - NO! I'm gonna let it shine, Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine."



Little Lesson Life Expression

Are you reminded that everyday we reflect the Light to others around us as a witness? What does the light reveal about who you are as a person and how what others might see in you? How is your lite shinning today ? Will you shine bright everyday for Him?"



(Thank you Dad H.!!!)


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.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Getting The Unexpected

I went to Kohl's today. Don't you just love shopping at Kohl's?

I was a bit confused though. I had not been to this store in about two months. They had moved things around. Petites now occupy the space where my size used to be. I wondered around until I found clothes in my size. None of the garments on the rack shouted, "Buy me! Take me home with you! Come on, at least try me on!!!" So I headed back to the front door empty handed.

But something happened as I was leaving. I opened the door to leave and noticed a mom coming in pushing her baby in a stroller. I remember those days. One hand on the stroller and one on the door...how awkward it is to try to maneuver both with just two hands. So I did the only reasonable thing...I held the door open for her. She smiled weakly and said "Thanks." Then I saw another woman, this one did not have a child or any 'extra' baggage'. I held the door open for her anyway. She looked me in the eyes and her frown turned upside down and she expressed a surprised "Thank you." I smiled too. Smiled deep down inside as well.

As I walked to my car, I realized I 'got' something today. Something that didn't cost me a dime. I got the chance to add a small ray of Son-shine unexpectedly into someones life. AND...and I got a nice warm fuzzy feeling inside of me. Why? Because I got to practice what we teach children all the time but rarely think about as adults. I got to practice Ephesians 4:32a.

Little Lesson Life Expression
Will you take time today to be kind to someone you meet? If not, why not? If so, will you share with us the results?

Ephesians 4:32a (Amplified Bible)
And become useful and helpful and kind to one another,


Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Where Does Your Light Come From?

Dear Hubby was sitting on the love seat reading the paper. I was at the computer reading email. The computer desk and the love seat are very close neighbors. In fact, they share the same wall and the same light sources. Dear Hubby's aging eyes did not like the light in the room. He squinted at the paper and said, "We need better light in here. What happened to that lamp that use to be in here?" My aging mind does not recall the former lamp but I do recall the other light switch that is still on the wall.... So I walked over and turned on the switch which turned on the recessed light directly over his head. He said, "Oh, I knew that one was there but...."



But what? If you need more light, go to the source of the light and turn on the switch and let the light flow.



Why do we sit around wondering what is going on in our lives, in our homes, at work, in our churches, in our government, all the time sitting in partial darkness, when we have the source of light available to us? Our Loving Lord has set a lamp in our home to add light to our lives. It's His Word. It's called The Bible. Even those that do not own a Bible but are able to read this story on the Internet or in your email, can access several translations of the Bible at www.biblegateway.com. Some people choose to use a lesser light source or an alternative light source that leaves them at least partially in the dark. Our Loving Lord wants us to have the best light possible and has graciously provided it to us.



Little Lesson Life Expression:

What will you do today? Will you sit in the dark wishing for more light? Or will you pick up the Word of our Loving Lord today and find His light inside? Where will you find your light today? Where will your light come from?




Job 25:3 (Contemporary English Version)
Who can count his army of stars?
Isn't God the source of light?


Job 28:11 (New International Version)
He searches the sources of the rivers
and brings hidden things to light.


2 Samuel 22:29 (New International Version)
You are my lamp, O LORD;

the LORD turns my darkness into light.









Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Why Am I Going This Way?

Recently I stopped to pick up a someone on my way to church. We left her house and I headed due north on one of the main roads by her house. A road I travel often. A road I had taken recently. After driving a mile or so, I said "Where I am I going? Why am I going this way?" My church is basically due northeast, not due north, of her house and you take a completely different main road to get there. She has lived in the area for years and knows the roads like the back of her hand. I said, "Why didn't you tell me I was going the wrong way?" Her reply? "I thought you had found another, faster way to get there." I made a u-turn and went back to a road that led me back to the road that took me in the direction of church. I still wonder why she didn't at least ask me why I was going in that direction.

Often I meet people on my journey who are traveling in a 'different' direction than I am. People that are not on the straight and narrow path that leads to eternal life with our Loving Lord. Perhaps they are on the 'good person doing good things' path. Or the 'God is in all nature so why do I need corporate worship' path. Or some path that does not acknowledge that our Loving Lord Jesus is indeed the only way to eternal life with God. How sad would it be if I just sit in the passenger seat and let them drive themselves in the wrong direction thinking "they must have found another, faster way to the Savior?"

Little Lesson Life Expression:
What will you do when you encounter people who are using something other than the Word of our Loving Lord to find truth? Will you just let them go thinking that they may indeed have found the secret that answers all their questions? Or will you speak up and dare to ask the simple but difficult question of "Why are you going this way?" Will you be brave enough to share your concern and lead them back to the right path?

Psalm 19:7-9 (The Message)
The revelation of God is whole
and pulls our lives together.
The signposts of God are clear
and point out the right road.
The life-maps of God are right,
showing the way to joy.
The directions of God are plain
and easy on the eyes.
God's reputation is twenty-four-carat gold,
with a lifetime guarantee.
The decisions of God are accurate
down to the nth degree.





Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Follow-Up To The Challenge

It's harder than you think. Have you tried it? Does it make you want to stop asking the question?


When I issued the challenge I knew it wouldn't be easy. You see, I've done something similar before. In college. A friend initiated the challenge. Said "Next time someone asks you 'How are you?' answer with something off-the-wall." We responded with things like "Fine. Just worried 'bout this malaria." ... and believe or not, we got the 'usual' responses of "That's good." And sometimes, because people thought they heard us say the customary "Good. And you?" they actually responded with "Good, thanks!" Can you imagine consciously replying that way? Probably not but we are all so culturally programed that we do it automatically.

Back to this week's challenge...it's been hard for me. I barely had issued the challenge when I had 'the conversation' with a clerk in a drive-through. Hard to get to the real issues in a quick interaction. But I tried. Since then, I have stopped several people in their tracks. Especially when they start the conversation and I change the rules...

Them: "Hi. How are you?"
Me: "The day is going well. How's life treating you right now?"

Them: "Good."
Me: "Really? Anything particularly interesting going on?"

Most have replied with something like "Not really...things are pretty good." But they also walk away with a smile on their face, knowing someone was listening, someone was caring.

One sweet reader of these lessons even tried to trip me up to see if I would practice the challenge I issued. I think I passed the test. I wonder if that reader has changed their conversations this week.

What I have noticed over these past few days is that this challenge has started to change the way I speak. I've always known that one should think before they speak but this is different. I have considered the words coming out of my mouth just a tad bit more.
On a side note but related to really caring: I have a long-time precious friend that is seriously battling cancer. She is under new treatment that is presenting her with some new challenges. She lives too far away from me. I wish I could be there with her. I hope today that if someone asks her how she is doing that she would share her sufferings with them but more importantly I hope that the listener would really do all that they could to help her whether it's fluff the pillows, take her son to sports practice, give her some ice to help with the fever, or simply pray.

And I ask each of you reading this today to lift her up in prayer. God knows her name...He really does...she is a strong believer, a long-time child of the King. So please stop reading for a moment and say a prayer for her. Pray for her healing, wisdom for her doctors, strength for her caretakers, peace for her family, and whatever else our Loving Lord lays on your heart to pray.


Little Lesson Life Expression
Our Loving Lord wants us to be genuinely concerned about those around us. If all we offer them is idle chit-chat, how will they know we care? How will they know that we are concerned enough to bare their burdens? What will you do with the challenge today? Will you offer idle words or words of compassion and care?

Proverbs 16:21 (The Message)
A wise person gets known for insight;
gracious words add to one's reputation.


Sunday, September 21, 2008

A Different Lesson - A Challenge

Hello my friend...how are you?

Did you just mentally answer that question? If so, was it one of the usual suspect answers such as:

"Fine. And you?"
or
"Good. Thanks."
or
"I'm okay"?


How would you have answered if you had been honest with me? Would it have been something like:



"Awful. I can't cope with this anymore"
or
"I'm worn out from...."
or
"I have issues at work that are getting the best of me"?



Why did you not elect to be honest in the first place?


What? You didn't think I would care? You didn't think I'd want the truth? Couldn't handle the truth?


Why didn't you give me a chance? ... Oh really? Really? You didn't give me a chance because you didn't think I was really listening anyway? Sadly...maybe you are right.


Let's review a 'normal' passing conversation:


Adam: "Hey Eve! How's it going?"

Eve: "Fine. And you?"

Adam: "Fine. Fine. Just hanging out looking for some new duds to wear out here."

Eve: "Okay well I'll talk to you later. Bye."



WHAT? Adam and Eve fine??? If Adam's looking for clothes then they have already been kicked out of the garden and everything is NOT fine! They have lost their chance to live in that beautiful place. They are acutely aware of their sins. They have to start working the ground and, oh yeah, don't let us forget, Eve has just brought the pain of childbirth into the world. Things are not FINE!


So what does this have to do with us? I want to issue you a two-part challenge for this week. First though, let me be honest with you...this ain't gonna be easy for you ... or for me either!!!


Here is the challenge:
Part One:
When you ask anyone the question "How are you?" this week, really listen to their answer and work with them until they respond honestly to you. Get something you can work with. "Fine" is not an acceptable answer. Ask clarifying questions if need be "How's _____?" Fill in the blanks with things like your kids, your wife/husband, your job, that project, etc.

Once you have really listened you should be able to respond with this simple reply: "How may I pray for you?" Or "How can I be a friend to you through this?" I prefer the former but you may need the latter in some situations.

Part Two:
When you are asked that same question "How are you?" respond earnestly. Startle the person by speaking the truth. It will get their attention. Since they may not be believers, you may want to reply based on the work God is doing in your life. For example, if you are having marriage problems, you may respond this way...

Other person: "Hi. How are you?"
You: "Excited that God is working in some situations in my life."
or
You: "Thanks for asking. I'm honestly a bit tired from things that are going on at home. However, God is faithful and we are moving forward."

If you know the person is a believer, let them know how they can pray for you.

I promise you fearing the word 'fine' will stop people in their tracks. They will see you in a new way. They will see that they you care about people. Taking on this challenge will allow you to:

Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day's out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ's law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived. Galatians 6:1-3 (The Message)







Saturday, September 20, 2008

Are You Growing As You Should?

Baby gifts. How fun!

I have a baby shower to attend next weekend for a cousin on dear hubby's side of the family. As I was shopping for family necessities today, I found myself in a store where the mommy-to-be is registered. I checked the list and it had some interesting items on it but....I wasn't excited about any one thing in particular. So I perused the baby aisles. I looked a clothes, toys, bottles, all the usual suspects in baby shopping. :-)

Then I got inspired and knew what I was looking for. So I headed to that aisle and carefully picked up and put back item after item after item until I found just the ones I was looking for.

As I looked at these items, I had to keep in mind the actual recipient of the gift. The soon-to-be newborn child. I had to remember that, when she is born, she will only be zero months old. She will not be ready for items that are marked "18-24 months". Nor will she be ready for "9-12" months".

Does that mean I can't buy those? No. It just means that if I had picked out the ones for the older infants, she would not be able to use them for a while. So I compromised. I bought an item that can be used almost right after she is born and another one that she may have to grow into.

The Word of our Loving Lord has a message that fits you no matter where you are in life. If you are a newly born-again believer ... welcome to the family ... there is a message that fits you within the pages of scriptures. Encouraging words that will help you find your way in this new life. If you are young in the Lord, there are supporting passages that help you get up on your feet and start to run the race set before you. If you consider yourself mature in your spiritual walk, there are verses that will challenge you to your very soul and keep you moving until you reach the end of your journey.

Little Lesson Life Expression
Will you do a size check today? Will you see if you are still drinking spiritual milk from a bottle when you know you are ready for the rich meat of the Word? Will you seek our Loving Lord's direction on how to dig deeper to find the rich food for your soul and then share the gems you find buried with the others around you?

Psalm 27:3-5 (The Message)

3 When besieged,
I'm calm as a baby.
When all hell breaks loose,
I'm collected and cool.
4 I'm asking God for one thing,
only one thing:
To live with him in his house
my whole life long.
I'll contemplate his beauty;
I'll study at his feet.
5 That's the only quiet, secure place
in a noisy world,
The perfect getaway,
far from the buzz of traffic.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Does Anyone Knock Anymore?

Ahhh Yes! I just retrieved myself from a steaming hot over-sized bowl filled with bubbles and scented water. How relaxing.

More direct...I just finished taking a bubble bath.

As I was soaking and thinking, I was lost in a world of my own.

Suddenly, without warning, an uninvited person was in my bathroom. A man. And he was talking about something to do with the dishwasher water and how it obviously wouldn't mess up the running of my bath water as the tub was already full. So I looked up at my hubby and said, "Don't you know the concept of knocking?" Then I soaked a bit more while my heart returned to it's natural place in my body. I mean really. What was he thinking? Just showing up, quietly, unannounced, halting my deep thoughts, and bringing be back to the here and now?

Shortly after he left, left without completely closing the door, the door slowly opened again. I looked in the direction of the door. I saw a nose. A furry nose. Sigh. "Kitty cat, don't you know how to knock either?" I'm still not sure if it was Tigger or Tiger. I guess they sensed that they were not welcome to enter either if they didn't know how to knock.

In life outside the tub, things happen. Sometimes things happen that we don't like. Job loss, cancer, death, divorce, addiction...you understand. Many times we are just soaking in the bubbles of life and suddenly, without warning or explanation, trials show up unannounced and they don't knock. Our Loving Lord tells us that He has a plan for our lives. He knows these things are coming but still He doesn't make them mind their manners...and knock. We get startled. We get mad. We get embarrassed. We feel alone, ashamed, hurt, and more. God shows up in the midst of our situation but what do we do? How do we react? Do we welcome Him where we are or do we tell him to learn to knock first?

There we are in our circumstances...where God came in and didn't necessarily knock...and He didn't close the door all the way either...so it's still partially open...and, who appears at the door next? Perhaps it's a neighbor, close friend, or prayer partner. What do we do? Do we welcome in the one who came to be with us during our trial or do we push them away, reminding them to knock next time and wait for our invitation?

Little Lesson Life Expression
So what will you do the next time our Loving Lord interrupts your rest and relaxation? What will you do the next time He grabs hold of a thought you are having and leads your mind in a different direction? Will you welcome Him or turn Him away? Will you welcome the brothers and sisters in Christ that He sends to you and let them slip in through the slightly opened door or will you push them away and stay alone in your own little world?

Psalm 9:9-10 (The Message)
God's a safe-house for the battered, a sanctuary during bad times. The moment you arrive, you relax; you're never sorry you knocked.

Proverbs 15:10 (The Message)
It's a school of hard knocks for those who leave God's path, a dead-end street for those who hate God's rules.

Revelation 3:20-21 (The Message)
"Look at me. I stand at the door. I knock. If you hear me call and open the door, I'll come right in and sit down to supper with you. Conquerors will sit alongside me at the head table, just as I, having conquered, took the place of honor at the side of my Father. That's my gift to the conquerors!"

Monday, September 15, 2008

Will You Lift Your Paw For Food?

Tigger and Tiger, my two cats, always have food available to them. Delectable kitty cat food provided in a continual feeding system that holds about five days worth of nutrition. At the bottom of the feeder is a small tray. This is where they actually ‘feed’.

I have noticed lately that the tray is often ... empty. But. But! But…they are not out of food. When this tray gets empty, Tigger and Tiger often sit nearby, stare at me, and wait for me to ‘understand’ that they are out of food. It’s as though they are saying to me, “Get with the program woman and give us more food.”

All they need to do is stick their paw in the back of the tray area and move some of the food in the holder then food will cascade down and fill the tray with enough for a kitty-cat feast. Or…all they need me to do is shake the holder and the food will tumble down. I have sat with each cat and demonstrated for them how easy this is to do for themselves. But they don’t get it. They just want me to keep their tray filled so they don’t have to lift a paw.

How often do I do this to my Loving Lord? I see His Word sitting there, full of nutrition, full of food for my spirit. What do I do? Do I lift my hand and turn the pages? Or do I just wait for the next radio preacher to come over the airwaves and shake my soul?

Little Lesson Life Expression
What about you? Are you enjoying the continual feast that He provides or are you waiting for someone to feed you? Will you choose this day to reach in and grab the food that is readily available to you? Or will you go on starving yourself refusing to lift your own ‘paw’ to bring the food close to your heart?

Psalm 119:15-16 (KJV)

I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways. I will
delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Will Your Words Be Poison or Fruit?

Words.
I love words.
I love to use words and often use too many at the wrong time.
But I'm not alone in that...not at all.

I wonder what the world would be like if we all had Proverbs 16:24 as a life-directing verse..."Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones."

Lately I have found that many people, including me, say things that are not 'pleasant' or 'sweet to the soul'.

Oh but some people practically put my soul on a sugar high due to their sweet, pleasant words!!!

I met both types of women this past weekend at the North Texas Christian Writer's Conference. Let me tell you about the second person first.

Attendees at the conference had the privilege of sitting, one on one, with the presenters for 15 minute 'consultations'. This was my first writer's conference and I really wasn't prepared but I didn't want to miss out on 'free' advice from successful writers.

So the second day, I signed up for a session with a presenter that, while I didn't recognize her name, I had read at least one of her books...I knew this from the title. Sitting face to face, I shared my passion for writing these Little Lessons. I called them devotionals. I think I should have called them 'Daily Inspirational Pieces'. This day I had some samples which I had forgotten to take on the first day. Asking her to read one may have been a mistake. She immediately went to the writer's rule of 'show don't tell'. When writing, we should show you the story not just tell you the story. I know this rule. I attempt to follow this rule...but I also stay true to the style of writing that is 'my voice'. (I'm hoping I just picked a bad example to share with her.) Next, she zeroed in on 'who are you'? She implied that I had to be some recognized Bible scholar for people to 'respect' me in the published world. She didn't know me. She doesn't know anything about my background, my weaknesses or my strengths. She doesn't know what God has brought me through. Doesn't know if I have degree or not. She didn't know me but she 'put me in my place' nonetheless. So I walked away from that table with doubt. Doubt that I had any words worth sharing or any talent to put those words to use for His glory. There was not one word she spoke to me that would have been "sweet to my soul and healing to my bones".

So step back one day with me...Standing at the sign-up sheets, I read with interest that one of the presenters is also a member of CLASS, which is an organization for speakers. Speakers! Exactly where I feel God is leading me. Exactly why I feel He is allowing me the time to write and develop my voice, both in writing and audibly. I tell her about the kind of writing that I love to do and that I chose to sit with her due to her CLASS association. We chat. She asks questions. In a few short moments, she gets to 'know' me. She helps me to understand that I already am a speaker. I have presented during breakout sessions at women's retreats. I have taught on the corporate level. I have presented special lessons (outside of the curriculum) in Adult Sunday School. She encouraged me to change my business cards to include speaker...which I did that very night (I 'self-publish' my cards, hee hee). She encouraged me to join some of the speaker websites...which I will check out in the next few weeks. So we chatted some more about my writing...about my desire to write on a topic I can't yet write about, one that is very personal. I shared a few of the details with her and she immediately said "There's your pitch!" A pitch is what grabs the attention of an editor, publisher, and the reader. Through her words, I saw that I can embark on this next adventure and reach the right audience without airing all the dirty laundry that goes with it. I'm not promising you a book anytime in the near future...however, I do know see how it can be done and I'm seeking our Loving Lord's help to lay the foundation for that future book.

Two women...one conference...the words of one "Reckless words pierce like a sword" (Proverbs 12:18)...the other like a "honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones."

This morning, a precious friend at church stopped me on the way to our Life Group. Walking along the breezeway, she shared that, based on hearing me share my conversion testimony a few weeks ago, she felt that I was gifted with the ability to be a story teller...I gave her one of my new cards :-) ... WOW! Honeycomb words that confirmed for me the sweet words I had heard two days earlier and were for me words which demonstrated that our Loving Lord is indeed directing the words that I am blessed to be sharing with you.

Little Lesson Life Expression
What recipe will you use with the words you speak? Will they be sweet like honey or will you abandon our Loving Lord's advice and recklessly pierce those you meet?

Proverbs 18:20-21 (The Message)

20 Words satisfy the mind as much as fruit does the stomach;
good talk is as gratifying as a good harvest.
21 Words kill, words give life; they're either poison or fruit—you choose

.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Have You Trusted Him to Supply?


Think quick...how many times have you quoted the verse "...My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory..."

Too many to count? I thought so.

Now...

How many times....have you believed that verse to be true? Or have you chosen to fret and worry instead of standing on His promises?

When was the last time you saw that verse in action? What was your reaction? Was it confidence or stunned surprise?

I have to confess. I stand on this verse, what seems like, daily. Yet this weekend ... wow ... this weekend, I have lived it. Seen in full action. And, yes, deep down I was surprised.

First, I went shopping yesterday for a dress for the wedding. I know I haven't shared many Little Lessons lately, so most of you aren't aware of the 'never-ending search for the perfect mother of the groom dress'. So many things to consider: don't over-shadow the bride (I couldn't anyway!), don't clash with or totally match the mother of the bride, don't look like an old washed-up bridesmaid, blend in... I had always imagined myself in beige but it was suggested to me by the bride and groom that I get a dress within the color scheme of the wedding. I won't bore you with all the details...long story short, I wanted to find a silver and black outfit that would softly blend in with the wedding. Saturday, as I was walking into the first store of the day (which would be about the 20th store over several weekends), I prayed, out loud, "Lord, I really want a silver top to go with a black skirt. I know you know that. I also know that you have ordained my steps..." (Yes, this was my actual, out loud prayer.) ..."I know that you have gone before me on this day. I'm asking you and trusting you that I will find a silver top in this store." Please note, I didn't say 'buy' just find. Be aware of what you pray for so that you can recognize how He answers and provides for you.

I walked in the store and went to where the special occasion outfits were the last time I visited this store.

They ... were ... gone!!! Oh, my!

Then I glanced up on the wall and saw that they had simply moved everything to the wall displays from the circular racks. Whew!

I saw it. Silver on silver and very elegant two piece set that would go beautifully with a flowing black skirt. I almost started to cry. I let out a soft "Thank you Lord." But I also saw the shimmery black two piece set that had pink and silver mixed in. The primary colors of the wedding!!! I tried them both on. The silver was too big on me...and it was the only one they had. I had asked that God have a silver set in the store...not that it fit. :-) My 'need' was met in the second set that matches the colors of the wedding.

Then today...

Today I went shopping for bridal shower gift. As I shopped, I kept reminding myself that we need scotch tape. I picked out the gift, the wrapping paper and the card. I also looked for a bow and ribbons to match the colors of the wedding. I found white paper, a pink bow and silver curls but nothing in black. All I wanted to find was simple black ribbon that could wrap around the gift. Again, I prayed...it seemed this time the answer was 'no'.

After I picked up a few more things that I needed, I checked out and headed home. As I turned into the driveway... I realized it. No tape. I didn't have the desire to return to the store. I thought about asking my neighbor if I could borrow some. Instead, I prayed again. "Lord, you provided my need yesterday. Please help me find tape in this house today." I dug deep in three different drawers and found just enough left on two rolls to get the presents wrapped up.

While looking for the tape, I realized that sometimes when I think God says "no", He is simply saying "wait." In the second drawer that I looked for tape in, I found something special. I found just enough black ribbon left on a ribbon roll to finish off the wrapping of the gift. "My God will supply..."

Isn't our Loving Lord so cool that He would go before us and make sure that what we need is right where we need it when we need it? If I can trust him for, what others may think are silly little things, like finding a blouse or having enough tape to wrap a present, how much more can I trust Him to supply my real needs?

How long has it been since you let Him surprise you with His greatness? What can you let go of today, stop worrying about today, and turn over to Him? What is stopping you?


Philippians 4:19 - 20 (The Message) You can be sure that God will take care of everything you need, his generosity exceeding even yours in the glory that pours from Jesus. Our God and Father abounds in glory that just pours out into eternity. Yes.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Do You Use What You Bring Home?

I have, several times through my life, bought various 'beauty' items...soap that keeps the fine lines and wrinkles away...diet aids that 'melt the pounds away'....iron pills that should lesson my anemia.

Guess what? I now have fine lines in my face. I'm still overweight. My anemia still slows me down when I walk to far or climb too many stairs.

Why?

Did the products not deliver on their promises? That would be the easy answer to give. But, alas, it would be incorrect.

In most cases, I never used the products or if I did, I didn't follow the directions all the way through.

Do you feel that Christianity is this way? Do you think that "it's nice to hear all that stuff at church on Sunday or from other so-called Christians but none of it works for me"? Do you think the Bible is just an old book with no relevance today?

Let me ask you this... (Be prepared ... many challenging and thought-provoking questions ahead...)

What do you do with Sunday's sermon or Sunday School/Bible study lesson when you come home? Do you even remember the what the preacher spoke about? Do you remember the Biblical applications the preacher spoke on or do you just remember the illustration or the current event that he related it to?

And what do you do with your Bible when you come home? Does it get opened? Read? Applied? Or is it like my beauty supplies? Does it get brought home and left unused? Or if you do open it, do you 'follow all package directions' or do you pick and choose only applying what 'works' for you...what makes you feel good? Do you let it challenge you? Do you let it help you grow?

What will you do starting today? Will you find the Bible in your home and open it, read it, study it, apply it? Will you let it do in your life what it was designed to do?

2 Timothy 2:15 (King James Version) Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Do You Know The How And Have You ASKED?

Okay. I admit it.

I hate to admit it. But I do.

Those of you who know me personally, know that I'm rather conservative. I've even been called: old-fashioned, straight-laced, ... oh ... and out-of-touch.

I don't watch wild, racy television shows (as a general rule). I don't like movies where it's all about either foul language or sex and nudity.

So what am I admitting to? And why?

Well....

On occasion...

I have been known to catch an episode or two of ...

Desperate Housewives.

There. I said it. And let me tell you why I shared this with you today ...

On a recent episode, Lynnette, who has been through so much with cancer and the tornado and such, started out on a spiritual quest. It was sparked by seeing her neighbors going to church each week and she decided it was time to join them.

She chooses to go to Bree's church and afterwards drills the minister with a series of questions that embarrasses Bree.

Let me cut to why this particular episode merits a place in Little Lessons.

Lynnette chose to go to Bree’s church because she had seen Bree go through some tough times herself. At one point she says to Bree “I thought your faith helped you get through them.”

“It did!” Bree exclaimed brightly.
“How?” Lynnette answered quizzically.
Pause.
“It just did.” Bree smiled wide-eyed… unknowingly.

Later, they chatted some more and Lynette shared with Bree about the struggles she had been going through and Bree asked “Why didn’t you tell me?!?!?!”

And Lynnette replied…
Get this…
To me this is huge…

“Why didn’t you ask?”

Wow. Ouch.

Two powerful lessons jump out at me from this most unlikely source.

One is: We need to be able to put into words “How” our faith and trust in our Loving Lord gets us through the hard times in life. If someone asked you today, why/how your faith in Christ got you through your last trial, would you have a ready answer … or would you say “It just did” and leave them hanging?

The second is: We need to see and reach out to the hurting around us. And guess what? They are all around us. We need to ASK and LISTEN to the response. I get so tired of people who, when they find out about a struggle that a sister or brother is going through, simply respond “Oh, I know what you are going through” or “Oh yeah, we’ve all been there” or "I understand." Don't get me wrong...sometimes we do know what they are going through because we walked a very similar road. But most times, our struggles are just enough different from theirs that we really don't know exactly what they are going through. We need to listen. Listen for clues to their real pain. And offer real hope, support and encouragement.

Will you take time today to ask a friend if everything is okay in their world? When you do, will you really listen to them? And when you’ve listened, will you set aside platitudes and really share their hurting and pain. Our Loving Lord suffered to the death while sharing in your pain. Can’t you suffer just a little with a hurting soul today?

I want to share the verse Christ put on my heart for this lesson. Please stick around to read it twice. Once from the NIV and once from the Message. The NIV is the more familiar and is just the two verses that fit this. The Message is an expanded passage and may even bring a smile to your face.

Well I’m off to confession to confess my poor TV habits … no wait! We don’t have confession in my church. Guess I’ll just have to sit here and have a personal chat with my Loving Lord about this…

1 Peter 3:15-16 (New International Version) But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

1 Peter 3:15-18 (The Message) If with heart and soul you're doing good, do you think you can be stopped? Even if you suffer for it, you're still better off. Don't give the opposition a second thought. Through thick and thin, keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ, your Master. Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you're living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy. Keep a clear conscience before God so that when people throw mud at you, none of it will stick. They'll end up realizing that they're the ones who need a bath. It's better to suffer for doing good, if that's what God wants, than to be punished for doing bad. That's what
Christ did definitively: suffered because of others' sins, the Righteous One for the unrighteous ones. He went through it all—was put to death and then made alive—to bring us to God.

Monday, April 28, 2008

What is a Thorn in the Flesh?

I once heard a televangelist interview a Christian actress. The actress referred to her 'thorn in the flesh'. The televangelist replied "I got rid of mine! I just pulled it out." The actress referred back to scripture and stated that Paul asked three times for his to be removed but it wasn't. Was the televangelist saying that he was stronger than Paul?

Do we ALL have a thorn? What is a thorn?

I was sharing with a friend recently who has some very deep problems. The friend believes that their actions are okay because they are their thorn in the flesh.

What does the Bible say about thorns? When we think about them, do we do so in context?

Here is the passage from several different interpretations... 2 Corinthians 12:6-10 (Please don't skip over these. The subtle differences in wording are important.)

(New International Version)


6Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say.
7To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. 10That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

(New Living Translation)
6 If I wanted to boast, I would be no fool in doing so, because I would be telling the truth. But I won’t do it, because I don’t want anyone to give me credit beyond what they can see in my life or hear in my message, 7 even though I have received such wonderful revelations from God. So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud.
8 Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. 9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

(Contemporary English Version)

6Yet even if I did brag, I would not be foolish. I would simply be speaking the truth. But I will try not to say too much. That way, none of you will think more highly of me than you should because of what you have seen me do and say. 7Of course, I am now referring to the wonderful things I saw. One of Satan's angels was sent to make me suffer terribly, so that I would not feel too proud. 8Three times I begged the Lord to make this suffering go away. 9But he replied, "My kindness is all you need. My power is strongest when you are weak." So if Christ keeps giving me his power, I will gladly brag about how weak I am. 10Yes, I am glad to be weak or insulted or mistreated or to have troubles and sufferings, if it is for Christ. Because when I am weak, I am strong.

So whether it is referred to as a 'thorn' or it is referred to as suffering brought on by one of Satan's angels, in context, it seems to me to be something that we may have, that allows Christ to reveal Himself to us. Something that in our weakness, shows His power. To me, it is not an excuse to 'do what feels good' because it is just 'my thorn'. Paul asked for it to be removed but, reading between the lines, it seems he had to face and accept this struggle throughout his lifetime.

It seems to me that Paul was at the top of his game. He was having wonderful things reveal to him. He could have become conceited or worse. This 'thing' that he had or this 'thing' that happened to him, reminded him that it wasn't all about him ... it was about Him, our Loving Lord!

When he asked to have it removed, our Loving Lord reminded Paul of His grace. Reminded him of His sufficiency. And how did Paul respond?

Was it like our post-modern friends? Did he say "Cool! If you are not going to take this from me, then I'm going to milk it for all it's worth! I'm going to do my own thing and no one is going to stop me. I can do what I want 'cause I'm covered with grace!!!" Did he?

No. He basically said "Okay. I can deal with this weakness because when I'm weak, Lord, you can show your mighty, awesome, life-changing power! I'll gladly suffer this temptation, struggle, pain if in doing so, Your power can be shown!"

Yes, that's Sharon's interpretation. So let me share with you what The Message interpretation says...

My grace is enough; it's all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness. Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ's strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.

I believe "the gift" is the grace of Christ and the strength He provides. When we become weak in Him, we have the strength to say 'no' to temptation, struggles, and other 'thorns' in our life.

What does a 'thorn in the flesh' mean? How do you live with your thorns today? Have we become a 'do what feels good' society because 'it's just my thorn, ya know'? Is Christ's presence in your life showing the world that He is strong enough to help you through any temptation or is Satan winning the battle for your mind? Will you 'just let Christ take over'? Will you become weak to show His strength to your family, your friends, your community, your world?

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Prayer for the Unknown Person

Hello my friends and family. I have missed you. There is no excuse for my absence although I could give you many 'reasons' that I have not written. But I won't bore you. :-)

I'm not sure how many times I will write over the next four months but I will try to 'visit' you as often as I can.

I'd like to start my return with an open letter to a very special person...

Dear one that we love,

I wanted to let you know that I have been praying for you longer than you have been alive. I began praying for you before I knew what kind of person to pray for. See, I started praying for you when I was carrying my first (and it turned out to be my only) child. I didn't know if the child would be a boy or a girl so I didn't know if I was praying about a special girl or boy.

Once my son was born, I still didn't know you. You weren't even born yet. But I did know that it was a unknown, unnamed girl I was praying for. I prayed for your parents. I prayed that they would know how to raise you up to be a God-fearing woman. I prayed that they would be able to share the Christian faith with you. I prayed that they would instill values and morals in you. I didn't know you but I prayed for you and the parents that were raising you.

As my son started to date, I prayed even harder for you. As he considered who to 'hang out' with, I prayed that he'd meet you. I prayed that our Loving Lord would lead him to find you in the vast sea of people on this planet. I prayed that you would wait until he found you...that you would not commit to someone else before my son had a chance to let you be the answer to years of praying.

When my son met you and told us how special you were, my praying increased. I prayed that both of you would keep God first in your lives and love each other second. I prayed that he would treat you right and you would return the same.

Now that you are preparing to join our family, I pray constantly for you. My son often comes home with specific prayer requests for you or your family and I add those in as well. But mostly, I'm continuing to pray that you will be able to draw on all the years of preparation that have passed and will always be faithful to our Loving Lord and that you will be a prayer warrior in your own home.

Someday in the future when you carry your first child (my first grand-child) I hope that you will start right away praying for the special person that will someday be engaged to that child. I pray that you will pass along this tradition with any and all children that our Loving Lord blesses you with.

So my soon-to-be daughter-in-law, now I know who your are. Now I know your name. Henceforth I can pray for you ... by name. Our Loving Lord has always known your name, always known exactly who you were and who you were going to be.

Welcome to our family sweet Morgan.

Who do you need to be praying for? What do you need to be praying for? Why don't you stop where you are and lift that person or situation up to our Loving Lord right now? He's listening and He cares.

2 Corinthians 13:14 (The Message) The amazing grace of the Master, Jesus
Christ, the extravagant love of God, the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit,
be with all of you.


Friday, February 22, 2008

Do You Dream?

I dream.

I mean I have vivid true-to-life full-color wide-screen filmstrips that run through my mind as I am supposed to be rejuvenating my body through REM sleep.

Sometimes my dreams are simple and realistic.

Sometimes my dreams are far-fetched fiction concepts that 'might' make a great novel ... if the story would just complete itself.

You see ... that's where my problem lies. Most of my 'great American novel' type dreams are not finished before the alarm goes off. For example, a few nights back, I had a dream that something we all use every day didn't really exist. This could have been the basis for a science fiction book. The only problem was, even though I spent much of my night 'exploring and discussing' this missing thing, when I woke up, I had no idea what 'it' was. I woke up before the dream was ... finished.

We all have dreams. Sometimes we can envision the whole concept of the dream. Other times the dream is sketchy. We know the framework but we don't know the whole story. Sometimes one of the main themes is unclear.

But we are in luck. We know the Dream Giver and He knows all the details. He has the plans and abilities to see our dreams through to completion. There's only one catch. Your dreams have to line up with His.

Will you give your dreams back to the Dream Giver? Will you trust Him to fill in the gaps in your dreams? Will you see Him daily to ensure that your dreams are truly what He wants for you?

John 16:23b-24 (The Message)
23-24"This is what I want you to do: Ask the Father for whatever is in keeping with the things I've revealed to you. Ask in my name, according to my will, and he'll most certainly give it to you. Your joy will be a river overflowing its banks!


Sunday, February 17, 2008

Are You Shattered?

Last summer, dear hubby and I went on a cruise to Mexico for our silver anniversary. In the port of Ensenada, we purchased a beautiful plate with a lighthouse surrounded by rocks with wave crashing in on the rocks. This plate was hand painted. Literally. The painter used their fingers and fingernails to paint the picture. No brushes. Just fingers. The plate was placed on our mantel for all to enjoy.

For Valentines Day, dear hubby gave me roses. Beautiful yellow roses (my favorite) with coral tips. The flowers were placed next to the plate on the mantle.

On Saturday night, dear hubby and I had just got to sleep when we heard a loud crash. We rushed to the den and found ....

Pieces ....

We found five or six pieces of what once was an unbroken plate.

No. It did not jump off the mantle by itself. One of our 'lucky to still be alive' cats had gotten too curious about the roses and had climbed on the mantle and in the process knocked off the irreplaceable plate. Oh, I know we could possibly find a similar plate somewhere but it would not be the special plate that dear hubby picked out for us during our walk in Ensenada.

We picked up the piece and it looked like we might be able to glue it back into one piece. But it was late. Very late. So we headed back to bed.

As I lay in bed, knowing that we were both very disappointed about the plate, I did the only thing I knew to do ... I prayed. I said, "Lord, I know it's not possible but I sure wish we could wake to find the plate back in one piece." A little while later, I finally went back to sleep.

Then Sunday morning came.

We got up and went into the den. Our eyes seemed to be playing tricks on us. Sitting on the fireplace was our plate ... on the plate stand ... appearing to be whole again. But how?

Our son had come home after we went back to bed. He saw the plate in pieces and knew the significance of the plate and the emotional value of it. He pulled out the bonding glue and lovingly put the pieces back together. Restored. Almost as good as new. One small chip still seems to be missing but looking at it from across the room as I type this, I can't tell that the plate has ever been shattered into pieces.

Our son displayed an act of love for us that was an answer to our prayers ... prayers that he did not even know I prayed.

Is your life shattered today? Do you feel like you are in pieces? You, too, are irreplaceable. And there is a Son that is just waiting to put your pieces back together. The Son of the living God. Jesus. Our Loving Lord's blood was shed to give you hope...to give you a reason to go on ... it the glue that restores the pieces of your life. He knows your significance better than you ever will. And when He restores you, you will not be almost as good as new ... you will be better than new. You will be white as snow. Will you give the shattered pieces of your life to Him today?

Psalm 51:17 The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Would You Change Your Name?

Believe it or not, we are still visiting churches trying to find our home. Right now we are visiting a church that, you might say, is having an identity crisis.

The question is: who are they? They were started in the post-war 50's when 'memorial' was a popular name for a church, thus they were chartered as Memorial Baptist Church. However, over the years they moved to a beautiful campus in the heart of the metroplex where a fifty foot cross lets those driving by on the freeway know that the church is there.

In recent years, they have added what some might refer to as a 'tag line'. The Church at the Cross.

As we have visited, this church off and on for many months, I actually thought that the name was The Church at the Cross. Perhaps I thought that it was "The Church formerly known as Memorial Baptist". :-)

So at this time, they have a recommendation from the church leadership (Pastors and elders) to officially change the name to "The Church at The Cross". Yes, it will stay a Baptist church. No, Baptist would not be in the name.

Obviously, this is creating quite a bit of lively discussion around the church campus.

A name change is often very hard. I loved my maiden name as it was different. It had meaning. It literally meant "the mark of God" ... Godsmark. However, a change happened in my life (marriage) and now I have a new last name (Okay...not so new as I've had it for over 25 years).

I think God has been preparing His people at Memorial for this day for some time now. I don't believe much in coincidences but I firmly believe in God's incidents. In preparation for this time, some time back, He ordained that the SBC literature (put out by LifeWay which used to be called Baptist Book Store before they changed their name) would be a study of the book of Genesis.

I find this interesting on a number of fronts.

First of all, Genesis means the origin or beginning of something.

Next, we find a name change happen in Genesis 17:5. "No longer will you be called Abram ; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations."

Then, we find another name change just ten verses later in Genesis 17.15. God also said to Abraham, "As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah."

Do you think that our Loving Lord just might be using this to confirm for the congregation that name changes are okay? Do you think He might be using Abraham as an example? Just as Abraham was father of many nations, do you think that many may come to know our Loving Lord after, if, Memorial Baptist Church becomes The Church at The Cross?

I can't help but think of another name change that had great impact on the world. Saul to Paul. If Saul had never become Paul, how vastly different could Christian history have been?

Change is usually uncomfortable. Change can be hard. Lest we forget, change can also be very good and beneficial. What if the primary bread winner in your family had never changed into his or her current job? What if they had refused to change?

If you are a follower of our Loving Lord, you've already gone through some title changes. You were once called 'lost' but now you're 'saved'. You were once 'condemned' but now you are 'redeemed'. You have a new name of 'Christian'.

If you have never met my Loving Lord, if you don't know His saving grace, will you check out His invitation today? Then will you consider changing your name to His?

Finally, will each of you join with me in prayer for our brothers and sisters in Christ at this church? Will you pray that the hearts of the members will be open to what God wants them to do? Will you pray that they will put aside personal preferences and tradition and see where our Lord leads them?
Isaiah 62:2 (New International Version)
The nations will see your righteousness,
and all kings your glory;
you will be called by a new name
that the mouth of the Lord will bestow.

.


Friday, February 08, 2008

Are You What's Stopping The Flow?

At my day job we have those faucets in the bathroom where the water in the sink comes on automatically when you place your hands under the faucet.

Recently I noticed that quite frequently when I approach the sink the water comes on then I put the soap on my hands and lather well only to find that the water stops flowing so I can't rinse the soap off. So I pull my hands back ... and on comes the water. I move them back in and it goes off.

I feel like I'm on Candid Camera or something.

At home, our kitchen faucet also has a mind of it's own. Sometimes, rarely, you can turn on the water simply by lifting up the handle. Most times, you have to work with it to get it to come on. One way to get it to come on is to act like you are trying to prime the pump.

So again, you can lather up only to find that the water is not flowing.

I think sometimes those in ministry could feel this way. They start doing what our Loving Lord has called them to do only to find that the flow has stopped. The flow could be the funds to do what they were called to do. Or the flow could be the other people who need to volunteer their time to help. Or the flow could be the people who should be covering that ministry in prayer.

Are you what's stopping the flow? Is there someone in ministry that you should be supporting with your money, time, talents, or prayer? What's stopping you?

Nehemiah 2:17-18 (The Message) Then I gave them my report: "Face it: we're in a bad way here. Jerusalem is a wreck; its gates are burned up. Come—let's build the wall of Jerusalem and not live with this disgrace any longer." I told them how God was supporting me and how the king was backing me up. They said, "We're with you. Let's get started." They rolled up their sleeves, ready for the good work.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

How Is Your Sight?

Driving to work, I pass a yellow diamond-shaped sign that reads "Limited Sight Distance". The sign is there to let you know, that as you go up and over this small hill, you can't see what is coming ... what's beyond the hill ... can't see what's there until you are over the hill.

Life is often that way. We know the direction we are headed but can't see what is ahead of us. We can only go over the hill with faith.

In the recent storms in the southeast USA, a small Baptist college was hit by a tornado. The student's lives have been changed ... their plans have been changed ... the test they studied for over the weekend, doesn't matter today. Classes are cancelled until mid-February. 25-30 years ago, this could have been me. The college that was hit was Union University in Jackson TN. From their website, it looks and sounds like the college I went to in North Carolina. I feel for these students, the faculty, their local churches and the surrounding community.

Life is often this way. We make plans for today and tomorrow and then a storm blows in and disrupts our plans. We can only clean up the damage with faith.

Tomorrow, my local Christian radio station KCBI is going to be giving information on how you and I can help this college family. I believe the information is going to be shared throughout the morning show which is from 6 am to 9 am Central Time. You can listen to John and Terri live on the internet.

They made me cry (which is not an easy thing to do) as they shared about what they are planning for tomorrow. See, this month is Loving Christ, Loving Kids month at KCBI and all the kids in their listening audience are excited about it. However, KCBI is using this as an opportunity to help their youngest listener's understand that we often have limited sight distance and that we sometimes need to change our plans and follow our Loving Lord on faith.

Will you change your plans for tomorrow morning (2/8/08) and get near a radio or PC and listen to the Morning Show on KCBI and see if our Lord leads YOU to help?

2 Corinthians 5:7-8 (The Message) It's what we trust in but don't yet see that keeps us going. Do you suppose a few ruts in the road or rocks in the path are going to stop us? When the time comes, we'll be plenty ready to exchange exile for homecoming.