Wednesday, July 30, 2008
It was a joy to find that many of them were content with the way they look (ok, I said I'd like to be taller and thinner...of course they pointed out that if I were taller, I would be thinner). None of them had any major changes. Now while I love them, none are perfect so it was a thrill to find out that they had not bought in to "Madison Ave's" view of how they should look!
I saved what I thought was the big one for last..."If you could be a millionaire (where money was no object!) but only live to 50 years old or just be reasonably comfortable (pay your bills, have a decent car, take a vacation once in a while) and live to 80 which would you do?" ALL of them said they'd live to 80...now if I had listened to TV, magazine and news articles I would have known that this generation is terribly materialistic and that the majority would pick millionaire. I'm so glad I didn't listen...they are more interested in living life than spending lots of money. I'm blessed to have a great group of kids and while I'd like to take most of the credit, it belongs where it belongs...with God and their parents. Thanks for sharing them with me!
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
When we are overly hard on ourselves we send our bodies the message that we're just not good enough. Whenever we do this, we damage our self esteem and sap our system of much needed energy. How can we love others if we don't love ourselves? It's a waste of time and energy that could be used in much more productive and positive ways.
Think about the last time you felt like you weren't good enough. Even just thinking about it can actually affect you physically, can't it? You may have done it often enough that you're used to it but that doesn't make it good for you...mentally, physically or spiritually. God does not intend for you to feel this way about yourself. Lift up a prayer that the Holy Spirit will help you to recognize when you start treating yourself this way. Whenever it happens, pray and remember the love that God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit have for you...how could you not be good enough if they love you?
Monday, July 28, 2008
Constructive criticism is helpful but should be given gently, privately and with love. Most of what we hear today whether it's in the newspaper, on TV or through the Internet is not constructive, it's just plain negative!
Wonder why? To many, if you have the opportunity to highlight what you feel are their negatives, you can make them "less human". Suddenly, you are better than they are and it is easier to hate. If practiced, this tendency can make you hard hearted and blind to any good the other person possesses. When you get to that point, you are no better than you perceive them to be...maybe worse.
All are created in God's image. While we may be far from perfect, we all posses the divine spark of God's love within us. Never forget to look for God's spark in others as well as yourself. Don't use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. Ephesians 4:29 NLT
Saturday, July 26, 2008
at the funeral of a friend
He referred to the dates on her tombstone
from the beginning to the end.
He noted that first came the date of her birth
and spoke the following date with tears
but he said that what mattered most of all
was the dash between those years.
For that dash represents all the time
that she spent alive on earth
and now only those who loved her
know what that little line is worth.
For it matters not how much we own
the cars, the house, the cash,
what matters is how we live and love
and how we spend the dash.
So think about this long and hard
are there things you'd like to change?
For you never know how much time is left
that can still be rearranged.
If we could just slow down enough
to consider what's true and real
and always try to understand
the way other people feel.
And be less quick to anger
and show appreciation more
and love the people in our lives
like we've never loved before.
If we treat each other with respect
and more often wear a smile
remember that this special dash
might only last a little while.
So when your eulogy is being read
with your life's actions to rehash
would you be proud of the things they say
about how you spent your dash?
by Linda Ellis
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Too often we will study what we're supposed to do to try and figure out what's best for ourselves instead of what's best for our neighbor. Doing the right thing is really a matter of following your gut instinct (which is also known as following the Holy Spirit's lead). As you go through life, you'll realize that time spent over-analyzing any one action generally just comes from fear of being hurt or ridiculed.
If we step across the street to lend a hand to our neighbor, we're putting ourselves on the line. One of the hardest undertakings you'll ever face is to become involved with a cause or another person because at that point you risk your own heart. Giving another access to our hearts takes trust since a heart is so easily wounded or broken...and it will happen. You'll find yourself disappointed because your effort is not appreciated or because others simply don't care.
God has not promised us a life without pain. If you choose to follow Him and be His representative in this world, you will be hurt. Jesus was. Each time you are hurt you will find that the experience makes you stronger and adds depth to your dependence on Him. We all know that God is the only One who will never hurt us or let us down.
He calls us to be in relationship with one another, through the joy and the pain. So the next time you ponder helping another remember " The Lord will reply, I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brother's of mine, you did for me." Matt. 25:40
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Only when we have the courage to cross the street and look in one another's eyes can we see that we are all loved by God and are members of the same human family.
It's so much easier to go "over there" and be Christ's representative. We don't know any of "them" and chances are we won't ever see them again. But what if we evangelise in our own town? The thought makes you nervous, doesn't it? It doesn't have to...
Evangelising doesn't mean you have to stand on the street corner Bible in hand and preach to those passing by. It means living your life in a way that shows Christ. Sitting down with a new student and making them feel welcome, sharing lunch with someone who forgot theirs, helping someone who is struggling with homework, an umbrella on a rainy day. There are thousands of ways to evangelise every day, where you live. It's just a matter of letting Christ's compassion shine through and treating another the way you'd like to be treated.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
But then, at some point, God manages to get my attention. Perhaps it's through a friend or co-worker or something I read, but more often than not, it's through a song. He knows me so well and knows that music affects my mood as surely as the sunshine in the morning. Even though it's quite old, one of my favorites is Count Your Blessings. Next time you're feeling down, read through these words or better yet, sing! I bet you'll move out of Pity and into Joy in no time.
When upon life's billows You are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged Thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings Name them one by one,
And it will surprise you What the Lord hath done.
Count your blessings Name them one by one.
Count your blessings See what God hath done.
Count your blessings Name them one by one.
Count your many blessings See what God hath done.
Are you ever burdened With a load of care,
Does the cross seem heavy You are called to bear.
Count your many blessings Every doubt will fly,
And you will be singing As the days go by.
When you look at others With their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised You His wealth untold.
Count your many blessings Money cannot buy,
Your reward in heaven Nor your home on high.
So amid the conflict Whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged God is over all.
Count your many blessings Angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you To your journey's end.
Monday, July 21, 2008
When was the last time you stepped out and did something that made you uncomfortable? Introducing yourself to someone you don't know, crossing the street to help someone in need or spending time in worship that is out of the ordinary.
Jesus does not intend for us to stay in our comfort zone and only do those things that we do well. By His teaching and His life He shows us how to reach out and grasp all that life has to offer. You may be hurt or rejected in the process but so was He. The mere act of trusting in Him will yield results that you cannot imagine. Your life will be enriched and new talents discovered. Follow His lead...
Sunday, July 20, 2008
This is the God who came to us in Jesus Christ, the One who stormed through Galilee, stilling violent rains, healing the disfigured and raising to life those whose bodies had gone stone cold dead. And when He did such things, He filled people with fear and awe--and an unwavering confidence in His power to deliver us from evil. by Mark Galli
Friday, July 18, 2008
When storms hit in our lives, do we look to our Captain? Do we trust Him to do what is best? When these times come upon you, ask these questions...Does God know what is best for me? Does He care? Can He get me out of this? Of course the answer is YES!
When we allow God His role as Sovereign of the Universe, we can rest assured that He will work out everything and be our strong guide. That doesn't mean his instructions will be easy, it does mean they will bring about what is best for us. There is no guarantee of smooth sailing in this life but we can have confidence in the fact that we worship Him who can calm the wind and the waves. He is the Captain of our lives.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
1st finger (Pointing finger): Pray for those who help you grow as a Christian, those who point the way. Minister, Sunday School Teacher, Youth Leader
2nd finger (Strongest finger): Pray for those with power and responsibility. Government and Civic leaders.
3rd finger (Ring finger): Pray for those you love and who are close to you. Parents, family, friends.
4th finger (Little finger): Pray for those who are weak or helpless or who are old and infirm. Those who are sick.
Thumb: Pray for those furthest away from you. The church around the world, missionaries, persecuted Christians.
Whole Hand: Pray for yourself. Admit the things you've done wrong and receive God's peace and forgiveness. Offer your hands to serve God through your life at home, school or work.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Through the years I have come to believe there are no coincidences. Everything happens for a purpose or a reason. In my mind, God had a reason for leaving out all the tiny details...so none of us could put ourselves above others because we had the same color eyes, the same color hair or the same skin tone. No one can say they physically look just like Adam and Eve.
Most people are not ridiculed for their hair or eye color, but many are because of their skin. Even though all skin starts with the same basic creamy white color. Our genes dictate how much blush red, yellow and sepia is added to create our skin color. That's it...all the skin tones on earth are created by a combination of those 4 colors in varying degrees. We all have them, just more of some than the other.
So if God did not tell us that Adam and Eve were black, white, brown, yellow, red...how can many of us be so confident that we are better than another because of our color mix? If God did not think it was important enough to mention, why should we believe it's important? Through Adam and Eve we can all claim one thing...we were made in His image. Let's act like it.
Monday, July 14, 2008
If you're not in a regular habit of prayer, start today. Give God one minute of your time before going to bed and when you first wake in the morning. Add a little time each day (even if it's just a few seconds). Spend this period of time listening and talking with God. Before long it will become such a part of your daily life that you won't want to live without it. Start small and grow, God is listening.
Saturday, July 12, 2008
The boy saw that it was a rattlesnake talking to him. The boy did not get scared, but said to the snake, "I can't pick you up. You are dangerous and could kill me." The rattlesnake asked, "Why would I want to hurt someone who helps me?" The boy replied, "My grandfather is wise. He told me never to touch a rattlesnake."
The boy and the rattlesnake argued for a long time. The rattlesnake told the boy, "Just carry me a little way. I won't hurt you." The boy felt pressure because the snake kept asking him to pick him up. The boy finally gave in and picked up the snake. Halfway down the mountain the rattlesnake said to the boy, "This is kind of you, but I am still cold. Please put me inside your coat to keep me warm." Because the rattlesnake had not hurt the boy yet, he put it inside his coat to keep it warm.
At the bottom of the mountain the boy felt something bite him and he was surprised. "Why did you do that?" the boy asked the rattlesnake. The snake replied, "You knew what I was before you picked me up. You knew that I had the power to hurt or even kill you. It is in my nature to harm. That's what rattlesnakes do."
This story is told by the Indian tribes in the Southwest. There are many lessons to be learned but one of the most important is that giving in to pressure can hurt you. Always do what you know is right.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
There are others who are content to accept a God who doesn't do much of anything. They believe in God without a doubt. They go to church regularly but don't really think that God is active anymore. They believe in God in Heaven, they just don't see God on Earth.
Both sides miss something---they miss God. Neither truly experiences God fully and neither truly experiences this life. One is stuck on seeking the extraordinary experience; the other is stuck on experiencing nothing more than surface-level ordinary.
The clear experience of God is found in the ordinary, everyday things. There's no need to doubt the awesomeness of those intense, lightening-bolt God moments, but relying on them in order to believe is like missing most of a movie. The Scriptures tell us over and over that we will find God where we seek Him. If we seek Him only in Heaven, we won't find Him on earth. If we seek Him only in the intense, dramatic turnarounds, we will miss experiences of God. But, if we seek God in the moment-to-moment loves and pains of life with all our heart, then we will experience Him fully .
Are you waiting for bolts from the sky or are you allowing our God and Savior to be a part of the smallest, most ordinary moment of every day?
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
There's a story that tells of a man who wanted to climb the highest mountain. He began his adventure after many years of preparation but since he wanted all the glory for himself, he climbed the mountain alone.
The night fell heavy in the heights of the mountain and the man could not see anything in the darkness. Even the moon and stars, covered by clouds, gave no light. All was black. The man continued to climb.
He was only a few feet from the top of the mountain when he slipped and fell. As he descended at great speed he could see only blackness and he knew fear. It was at this point that events from his life came to mind, both good and bad. He knew he must be close to the bottom and death when suddenly the rope tied around his waist pulled hard.
He was suspended by the rope but no longer falling, just hanging there. In that moment of stillness, he did the only thing he could, he cried out to God..."Help me!" Suddenly a deep voice came from the sky and asked "What do you want me to do?" The man answered, "Save me God!" God asked, "Do you really think I can save you?" "Of course I believe you can!" replied the man. "Then cut the rope" answered God.
There was a moment of silence and the man decided to hold on to the rope with all his strength. The story goes that the rescue team found the man the next day. Hanging from his rope, frozen to death. Only 10 feet from the ground.
We are all guilty of hanging on to our own rope instead of trusting God and cutting it. In our weakness, we believe in our own strength. By trusting in ourselves instead of God, we limit His power in our lives. We can't do much, if anything, about our past decisions but in the future, reach out and cut the rope.
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
I know you've all heard the phrase, Stop and smell the roses and I'm sure many of you feel it is out-of-date. But in today's "busy" world, it may be more relevant than ever.
Although I am not a morning person by any stretch of the imagination, I've worked at a job for the last 20 years that requires me to be there by 7am every day. Even though my body has gotten used to getting up, my mind never will. I can always think of a reason or two to stay in bed. Growing up, it was a rule in my house that no one spoke unless you absolutely had to!
Before work this morning it struck me that by getting up so early, I am privileged to be a part of one of the most beautiful parts of the day. Sunrise. I also felt God leading me to take a few moments to enjoy the beginning of the day. Stop, breathe deep and look at the world in the early morning light. It is cool and soft and reminds me that each day is a new beginning...I get a fresh start.
I think from now on, instead of trying to figure out a way to sleep an extra 5 minutes, I may just use that time to step outside and enjoy the possibilities that God has laid before me.
Monday, July 7, 2008
Growing old can happen to "young" people too.
Sunday, July 6, 2008
In that place between wakefulness and dreams, I found myself in the room. There were no distinguishing features except for the one wall covered with small index card files. They were like the ones in libraries that list titles by author or subject in alphabetical order. But these files, which stretched from floor to ceiling and seemingly endless in either direction, They had very different headings. As I drew near the wall of files, the first to catch my attention was one that read "Girls I have liked." I opened it and began flipping through the cards. I quickly shut it, shocked to realize that I recognized the names written on each one. And then without being told, I knew exactly where I was. This lifeless room with its small files was a crude catalog system for my life.
Here were written the actions of my every moment, big and small, in a detail my memory couldn't match. A sense of wonder and curiosity, coupled with horror, stirred within me as I began randomly opening files and exploring their content. Some brought joy and sweet memories; others a sense of shame and regret so intense that I would look over my shoulder to see if anyone was watching. A file named "Friends" was next to one marked "Friends I have betrayed." The titles ranged from the mundane to the outright weird. "Books I Have Read," "Lies I Have Told," "Comfort I have Given", "Jokes I Have Laughed at." Some were almost hilarious in their exactness: "Things I've yelled at my brothers." Others I couldn't laugh at: "Things I Have Done in My Anger" "Things I Have Muttered Under My Breath at My Parents." I never ceased to be surprised by the contents.
Often there were many more cards than I expected. Sometimes fewer than I hoped. I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the life I had lived. Could it be possible that I had the time in my years to write each of these thousands or even millions of cards? But each card confirmed this truth. Each was written in my own handwriting. Each signed with my signature.
When I pulled out the file marked "TV Shows I have watched," I realized the files grew to contain their contents. The cards were packed tightly, and yet after two or three yards, I hadn't found the end of the file. I shut it, shamed, not so much by the quality of shows but more by the vast time I knew that file represented.
When I came to a file marked "Lustful Thoughts," I felt a chill run through my body. I pulled the file out only an inch, not willing to test its size, and drew out a card. I shuddered at its detailed content. I felt sick to think that such a moment had been recorded. An almost animal rage broke on me.
One thought dominated my mind: No one must ever see these cards! No one must ever see this room! I have to destroy them!" In insane frenzy I yanked the file out. It's size didn't matter now. I had to empty it and burn the cards. But as I took it at one end and began pounding it on the floor, I could not dislodge a single card. I became desperate and pulled out a card, only to find it as strong as steel when I tried to tear it. Defeated and utterly helpless, I returned the file to its slot. Leaning my forehead against the wall, I let out a long, self-pitying sigh.
And then I saw it. The title bore "People I Have Shared the Gospel With." The handle was brighter than those around it, newer, almost unused. I pulled on its handle and a small box not more than three inches long fell into my hands. I could count the cards it contained on one hand. And then the tears came. I began to weep. Sobs so deep that they hurt. They started in my stomach and shook through me. I fell on my knees and cried. I cried out of shame, from the overwhelming shame of it all.
The rows of file shelves swirled in my tear-filled eyes. No one must ever, ever know of this room. I must lock it up and hide the key. But then as I pushed away the tears, I saw Him. No, please not Him. Not here. Oh, anyone but Jesus. I watched helplessly as He began to open the files and read the cards. I couldn't bear to watch His response. And in the moments I could bring myself to look at His face, I saw a sorrow deeper than my own. He seemed to intuitively go to the worst boxes.
Why did He have to read every one? Finally He turned and looked at me from across the room. He looked at me with pity in His eyes. But this was a pity that didn't anger me. I dropped my head, covered my face with my hands and began to cry again. He walked over and put His arm around me. He could have said so many things. But He didn't say a word. He just cried with me. Then He got up and walked back to the wall of files. Starting at one end of the room, He took out a file and, one by one, began to sign His name over mine on each card. "No!" I shouted rushing to Him. All I could find to say was "No, no," as I pulled the card from Him. His name shouldn't be on these cards. But there it was, written in red so rich, so dark, so alive. The name of Jesus covered mine. It was written with His blood. He gently took the card back. He smiled a sad smile and began to sign the cards. I don't think I'll ever understand how He did it so quickly, but the next instant it seemed I heard Him close the last file and walk back to my side. He placed His hand on my shoulder and said, "It is finished." I stood up, and He led me out of the room. There was no lock on its door. There were still cards to be written.
Saturday, July 5, 2008
The writers of the Old Testament weren't really concerned about the "how" of creation. Their concern was with the "who" and "why"...who set everything in motion and why do we exist? These were (and are) the important questions. The technical explanations didn't matter to them nearly as much as describing the relationship between the Creator and the created.
Scientists will never know the answer to all of life's questions and what they believe to be true today could very well change next week. Their study is like a puzzle without all the pieces and the picture is constantly changing. I am often fascinated by what they have to offer and what they can tell us about this wonderful creation we live on...earth. I can learn and understand and grow in knowledge of the natural world because I am sure that the Truth learned from studying God's Word is just that, Truth. It may not spell out the answers to a biology quiz but it gives me all I need to know to be in relationship with you and with my Creator.
Friday, July 4, 2008
This statement amazed the disciples and a little later in the chapter they asked Jesus "Who then can be saved (Mark 10:26b)?" To which Jesus replies "With human beings this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God (Mark 10:27)."
Too often we think of ourselves or others as good simply because they have not hurt someone or sinned in a way that can be seen. But God sees. No matter how "good" someone tries to be, they will always come up short. If we acknowledge our sin and ask forgiveness there is hope! All is not gloom and doom! By opening ourselves to the gift of grace, we allow God to change us and to make us into humans who more closely resemble His Son.
On our own we will never be good; but forgiveness through Christ changes us in God's eyes. He no longer sees our sin but Jesus. In all His Glory.
I would rather be known as forgiven than good.
Today we are all thankful that they took this chance and asked God's blessing upon it. By the blood, sweat and faith of all who have come before we live in a place that became the United States. Those entering from other countries can see the following on the Statue of Liberty "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breath free. The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door."
God Bless America.
Thursday, July 3, 2008
I love the music played on the 4th...the hymns and marches always manage to stir my heart. From the Battle Hymn of the Republic to the 1812 Overture (yes, by the Boston Pops on the side of the river complete with fireworks and cannon). In honor of Independence Day I wanted to print one of my favorite "patriotic" verses
Our Father's God to Thee,
Author of liberty, to Thee we sing;
long may our land be bright, with freedoms holy light;
protect us by Thy might, Great God, Our King.
(My Country 'Tis of Thee)
It says it all to me...we are blessed to live in this land and this land is blessed by God our Father. May we, as a nation, ever seek His face...
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
As we know, when Methodism first arrived from Britain, clergy were "circuit riders" and traveled mainly by horseback. They moved from town to town staying but a few days at a time. While there, they would preach, preform marriages, baptisms and tend to the flock. They would then be off to the next town on their circuit and would return a few months later.
Because of the rigors and hardships of this type of life and travel, these were primarily young men. Although they were inexperienced and perhaps lacking in a few of the social graces, they were passionate! This has been recognized as a time of some the most dramatic growth within the Methodist Church. It was all in the hands of young men who were eager to travel and willing to minister to those in need.
"Don' let anyone look down on you because you are young but set an example for all believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity" 1 Timothy 4:12
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
I spent quite a bit of time with her growing up and she always amazed me in the way she spoke and lived her faith. Was it simple? Yes. But then again, we spend too much time making faith legalistic and hard. She understood her place in God's kingdom.
She used to tell me of the Crucifixion. She would remind me of Jesus' entry into Jerusalem and how the Pharisee's were rebuking the crowds telling them to quit making so much noise. She always loved Luke 19:40--"I tell you," He replied, "if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out." This was the earth, this she knew. At this point she would talk of the earthquakes and darkness that covered the land when Jesus died and then would say, "That was the earth crying"...how vivid a picture of the pain of loss...
When she moved on to the Resurrection there would be joy in her voice as she painted a beautiful picture with her words. Simple woman, simple life, simple faith...isn't that what it is supposed to be?