Patience Please {6.25.16}

Well, once again I was made plainfully and painfully aware that I lack patience. Sometimes I think I have patience. I do seem to be a patient driver – that counts, right? Well, that’s the only thing that comes to mind where I have acted patiently. Unfortunately, when I decide to do something, I want to do it NOW. Which is ok unless it’s something I need help with. Sometimes I wait for help, when I simply realize after trying that I can’t possibly do it myself. However, yesterday was not one of those days. I was cleaning and rearranging furniture in our guest room. No surprise – I rearrange furniture often. Well, I decided to move a book shelf. I wasn’t sure exactly where I wanted it. Again, no surprise but I’m sure a frustration for those involved when I do need help. I am usually not really sure where I want things until I get them there and take a look. Can anyone relate? patience Anyway, back to my story of yesterday. I was just going to move it a couple of inches and see how that would work. So, rather than unload everything, I just pushed. Evidently I was only pushing from the top. I heard something pop and walked to the other end and realized something broke loose. So, I unloaded the shelves. Then I proceeded to push again – this time determined to move it out of the room. Wrong move – another series of sounds let me know that I had made matters worse. Before I was done, I had a couple of boards pulling away from the shelves and had torn a piece off the corner. Now my dilemma got worse. I pulled up on one end and it came loose from the bottom. Now I had a book case that swayed one way and the other. I couldn’t turn it over on its side because the bottom was staying put. YIKES. I hate when that happens. So, I finally got it out into the hallway (still now sure how) and propped up both ends with small furniture pieces so I could finish my rearrangement and cleaning. Realizing that all of this could have/would have been avoided if I had simply waited until my husband got home to help me. But, that would have been a few hours. Who can wait that long? Evidently, not me. Patience Please.

Patience: The capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset:

I have very carefully avoided praying for patience because of that old saying “be careful what you pray for”. But, God can find a way to teach us even when we don’t ask for it. Maybe even more so when we don’t ask for it.

Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

Now I was praying that I could avoid a lecture from my husband that he would have helped me if I had only waited. You see, I have a track record of this type behavior. When returning from the grocery store I hang as many plastic bags on my arms as I possibly can and still hold my arms up – just to shorten the number of trips so I can get done and move onto something else. Not good habits, not proud of them, but the truth.

Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

Well, he was forgiving and I did not receive a lecture. He simply took the furniture apart, carried it to the garage and tore it down to be reused in something else. He was certainly patient with me. Maybe he’s gotten used to it after almost 40 years of marriage – think that’s it? Regardless, it was a lesson learned – again. Hopefully it sticks with me longer this time. By the way, the room looks nice. All’s well that ends well.

Daffodils and Doves {3.20.16}

Today is Palm Sunday and the first day of spring. I welcomed the day with joy! daffodils Yellow daffodils are in full bloom in my front garden and the doves are again cooing on our porch roof. It is hard not to smile when you see sunshine and spring flowers. They don’t usually last very long but while they are here it is beautiful and fragrant. I love the hyacinths because they smell heavenly but the daffodils are bright and cheerful.

Song of Songs 2:11-12 “See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land.”

dove

This dove was not scared at all by my face in the window with a camera but both eyes are on me.

Psalm 104:12 “The birds of the air nest by the waters; they sing among the branches.”

Job 12:7-10 “But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.”

So, as you wake up tomorrow morning (even though it is Monday and for most it means back to work), let the beauty of creation speak to you of God’s goodness and join in the praise! I assure you that it will create a cheerful attitude. Happy spring!

Encourage a Child, for Goodness Sake! {3.17.16}

What does it mean to encourage? What is goodness?  This is what the Webster 1828 dictionary says:

ENCOURAGE. To give courage to; to give or increase confidence of success; to inspire with courage, spirit, or strength of mind; to embolden; to animate; to incite; to inspirit.
GOODNESS. The state of being good; the physical qualities which constitute value, excellence or perfection; as the goodness of timber; the goodness of a soil.

Children have been on my heart and mind a lot lately. The children in my family, community, state, nation, and the world at large. I believe our children are in crisis. The lines between right and wrong are blurred. Sometimes there seem to be no boundaries at all. Even if they don’t act like it, or even think it, children need boundaries and want to know that we care enough to set and keep them. Families are falling apart. We are all busy, distracted, and caught up so much in our daily “to do” lists that sometimes we don’t even have time to think, let alone listen to our children. {I know this first hand I am sad to say.} The responsibilities we have before us are daunting to say the least. With our fast paced world, we accomplish much but feel the need to do even more. We don’t seem to get away from our work and technology. When was the last time we turned off our phones and TV’s and communicated with each other, or played a game? Do we even know what to say? Are we anxious about what we are missing on Facebook or Twitter while we are “unplugged”? encourage 2

We all need encouragement – you do and I do. But, what about our children? They need encouragement too, not just direction and discipline. Maybe we are in situations where we do encourage our children on a regular basis. I pray that is true. But, what about the children around us (in our neighborhoods and communities)? Is anyone encouraging them? We can be the ones to take a positive interest in them. We often times we see admirable qualities in action and can encourage, even if we don’t know them. I have seen admirable qualities in our neighborhood children. I have commented on it to some of their parents, but really don’t remember telling the child. They are the ones who need to hear it the most. Sometimes we see an admirable quality that is being used in a negative way. We can comment on that in a positive way as well. It just takes a little finesse (and Holy Spirit’s guiding). I encourage you to think about what some of those qualities might be: determination, steadfastness, kindness, play well with others, integrity, or compassion…you fill in the blanks. Then, encourage someone.

encourage teen 2And, let’s not forget our teenagers. They may be the most vulnerable to negative influences. Think about it…they have temptations to evil all around them. Most of us adults really can’t imagine the pressure they live under every day. Someone is always trying to sell them something – beauty, fame, money, drugs, sex – you name it. All we have to do is turn on the TV to see it. We all, even as adults are bombarded by what we are told by the media – how we need to live and look, what we need to have and do, etc. Think about the teens who see these same ads. Their brains aren’t even fully developed yet. Their reasoning is often times not as good as ours, and ours gets mixed up. They, like all humans, want to be loved and appreciated. If we don’t feel it in a proper way, we’re subject to temptations of the evil forces who promise it (whether face to face or through internet deceit). Their hormones are racing, adulthood is just ahead, and they are finding their way. Perhaps they are the most targeted and less equipped to fight the battle. How do we relate to teens? Do we ignore them, try to avoid them, or encourage them to goodness?

1 Thessalonians 5:14 says, “And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone.”
Hebrews 3:13 “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”

I wonder how many opportunities I have in a given week to encourage a child. How many have I wasted? As God has put this on my heart, I hope it will prompt you to keep your eyes open for children who need an encouraging word from you. So, let’s encourage a child, for goodness sake!

The Magic of Music {3.7.16}

I know, music really isn’t magic but it does seem to have the power to transport us, doesn’t it? Sometimes it’s to another place and time, sometimes it’s an attitude or emotional change. At least in my life, music speaks to my heart and it speaks loudly.

When my children were toddlers, I took them to the Disney Magic Kingdom. We all had a great time but the one thing I remember (aside from how cute they were in their Mickey Mouse hats) is going on a boat ride through a tunnel while the song “It’s a Small World” played. I can’t hear that song even today without smiling. Something about it lifts my spirits no matter what. Can you ever hear the “hokey pokey” song without thinking of a roller rink? And for me, when I hear a John Philip Sousa marching song, I quickly get in step and think of picking up a baton and marching down the street in a parade (loved those days). When I want to spend quiet time with God, I often sing “In the Garden” to myself (I sound better that way – silently). I’m sure we all have memories tied to songs. It can bring to mind wonderful times, sad times and let’s be honest – sometimes we just like the beat. music notes

The other day I caught a bit of a TV show where Loretta Lynn was performing live. She sang one of the songs on an album recently released. I’m not sure of the title of the song but the chorus was: “Everybody wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die”. In the song she talks about Hezekiah and Jesus but mostly I remember that chorus. There is so much truth in that verse.

Just yesterday we traveled to two funeral homes for services. One was for an elderly relative who had lived a fairly long life and suffered greatly toward the end. It was a comfort to her immediate family that her suffering had ended. The other was for a young 10 year old boy. That is always much harder to understand. While he lived three years longer than expected, to us it still seems like his life was cut short. “Everybody wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die” However, he had godly, loving parents who introduced him to God and he accepted the gift of salvation and was baptized. He was truly going home. Even though his life was filled with physical problems, doctors, hospitals, etc. he was a very happy child. What a precious smiling face he had and the smile went all the way up to his brown eyes.

While I thought of Loretta’s song in the physical sense, it has much more meaning in the spiritual sense, doesn’t it? We all want to go to heaven but do we really want to die? We are called to do just that – die to self and live for Christ. That’s not easy to do – in and of ourselves. But oh the freedom when we allow the power of God to transform us into His likeness. Through the death and resurrection of Christ, we have the privilege of coming into a personal relationship with God. That should make us sing for joy!

“Sing to the Lord a new song, sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, praise His name; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous deeds among all peoples. For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise, He is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before Him, strength and glory are in His sanctuary.”  Psalm 96:1-6

So, what song are you singing today? Is it a song of praise and joy for a God who loves you? Does it bring a smile to your face and joy into your heart? If not, ask Jesus into your heart. You will be singing a beautiful new song from here into eternity.

Let’s Sing!

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire {2.29.16}

liar pants on fireLiar, Liar, Pants on Fire. Just a silly rhyme of children? Maybe not. We all probably said that as children (and I have to admit I still say it occasionally when joking with others). But, until this week I never did make the connection between being a liar and fire. It finally hit me that this saying must have come from scripture. We know who the “father of lies” is – Satan.

John 8:42-44 “Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here. I have not come on my own; but he sent me. Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

So, we know where lies originate. They are from Satan himself. We all fall into that trap and have said a lie before, haven’t we? A “little white lie” maybe? But, lies are serious to God, like all sin. Our sin may start small but can grow and spread like crazy. Before we know it we find that our sin identifies us. We don’t want that! Look what John saw and wrote for us in Revelation. Liars are among sinners specifically mentioned.

Revelation 21:1-8 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new”! Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars – their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”

There is good news in the above scriptures but the last sentence is hard when you think about the cost of choosing unwisely. God had a perfect plan for mankind to live with Him in the Garden of Eden but through the lies of the devil/deceiver, sin entered in. God cannot co-exist with sin. He is light and sin is darkness. Thankfully, He made another way for us to live with Him now and forever – Jesus Christ, our redeemer. God does not send anyone to hell. People end up there from their own choices. Satan didn’t start out there but he and some angels turned against God. Hell was created for them and thus, all of their followers will have an eternal dwelling place there as well.

Jude 1:6 “And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home – these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgmhellent on the great day.”

Luke 10:18 “He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.”

Matthew 25:41 “Then he will say to those on his left. “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”

Matthew 13:40-43 “As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.”

We had an experience recently where we tried to help someone. Even though options had run out for this person and bridges had been burned with family and friends, the lies continued. One lie piled on top of another and another and another and it kept up for several days. The lies were brought out into the open and proved but even then, the lies did not stop. This person continues to lie and we don’t understand it. No matter what the truth is, a lie is worse. One lie leads to another and another and before you know it I think you can start believing your own lies. Besides all that, it seems like way too much trouble to try to remember all the lies! Lies hold us in bondage for sure. I can’t even imagine the stress. But, THE TRUTH WILL SET US FREE.

John 8:31-32 “To the Jews, who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

John 14:6 “Jesus answered, “I am the way, and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Jesus is the truth. There is such freedom in being true and truthful, isn’t there? Oh, the freedom we can have in Christ – awesome freedom, freedom from sin’s control. To live for Christ is freedom. To live for sin is death. We must choose. Will we choose Jesus and Heaven or Satan and Hell?

angels in heavenIn Revelation, John tried to describe the vision he saw but when I try to imagine it, I realize I can’t. Even those of us with the best imagination can’t fully grasp the reality of heaven. We know it will be wonderful. We know it will be beautiful. We know there will be no more tears or pain. We know we will all want to worship God. But, we really can’t imagine how wonderful. At the same time, we really can’t imagine the horror of hell. We know it will be never ending torment and fire. We know there will be gnashing of teeth. We know there will be horrible pain and no relief. But beyond that, we really can’t grasp just how horrible it will be in hell. These realities should cause all of us to pause and reflect or adjust our priorities. We must share the good news and hope we have in Jesus – before it’s too late.

So the moral of this story is…

If you don’t want your pants on fire – never, never be a liar.

Outside our Control vs. Out of Control {2.25.16}

This week we have seen things in the news that are totally outside our control. Tornadoes and blizzards are certainly things of which we have no control. Only God can control the wind and rain, sky and stars, ocean waves, etc. We can try to be prepared for possible trouble but it is outside our control. We are totally dependent on our Creator. His power is evident in nature.

There are other things outside our control. We can’t control what other people think, say or do. We can’t control whether or not disease or disaster come our way. What we can control is how we deal with situations that are outside our control. Our attitudes and heart are within our control. We can show hope or despair. We can bring a smile or a frown. We can love and forgive or hate and grow bitter. What do we want people to see as they watch us live your lives? Light or Darkness? I believe that many times our greatest witness is when we go through trouble and don’t lose our hope or joy because it is in Christ and through His power. People notice that.

There are also things in our lives which are totally out of control. When I look around me I see that families are falling apart by any number of sins. Sometimes it’s drugs, sometimes greed, sometimes infidelity, sometimes selfishness. You name it – sin is out there in full force. It seems to me that everyone I know either has these issues within their own families or the family of someone they know. When we turn on the TV we see many examples of people whose lives are out of control. We sensationalize it. We have many TV talk shows to exploit it. They wouldn’t be on if we didn’t watch. What is it about those types of shows and news stories? Do they make us feel better about ourselves? It’s an illusion if we do. We are often our own worst enemies. It’s sometimes hard to really look in the mirror of our hearts and souls because what we see isn’t pretty. But, it’s necessary to be real with ourselves, isn’t it? After all who are we deceiving? God already knows and probably others do as well.

Satan is a deceiver and he can be very subtle. Sometimes we don’t even realize our behavior is a sin because we justify it. We also tend to judge other people by our own lives instead of judging our lives against Christ, our example. Murder is a sin. Theft is a sin. Gossip and gluttony are also sins. Hmmm. We don’t like to look at sin that way, do we? It is hard to understand another person’s sins if we don’t struggle with the same things. I don’t understand how a parent can choose drugs over their children. But, I don’t walk in those shoes. What I do know is that if we give sin a chance, it will rule our lives. I think the old saying is, “Don’t give Satan an inch or he will take a mile.” The good news is that we don’t have to give in to sin.

“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful, he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.” 1 Corinthians 10:13

prayer in hands of godWe must be in prayer asking God to help us each day to choose well. We must also pray for others to do the same.

“As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you. And I will teach you the way that is good and right.” 1 Samuel 12:23

So whatever it might be in your life that seems outside your control or out of control, give it to God and watch Him work in your life, as you surrender it to Him. If we do our part, He will certainly do His. Keep on praying…