Monday, December 23, 2019

Come to Jesus



Come to me all you who are weary and burdened

and I will give you rest.

Matthew 11:28

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.

Ephesians 2:8-9

Just moments ago I read a message about the things God could have asked of us in order to secure our salvation.  It made me laugh because of course, the point was that grace is a gift. Grace is not something to be earned, thankfully, because none of us is capable of earning it.  It also made me laugh because of some experiences my husband and I have had at different churches.

          In our search for a church home we visited a few places. One stands out as we attended there for several months. We were considering becoming members even though we weren’t quite sure it was the place for us.  Very quickly we would find out that it was not, nope, not at all. We met with the pastor and he outlined the things we would need to do to “qualify” for membership.  There were several items on the list one of which was to be “rebaptized.” Excuse me? Apparently the baptism that my husband and I received wasn’t “good enough.” Given the many ways I’ve seen the Lord work in my husband, in me and in us as a couple, I know that I am his child. God has already accepted me, adopted me. I’m good enough for God but not for this particular church.

          Reading that message this morning I was reminded of that and of conversations with other believers who have left churches for similar reasons. Those churches have standards and some of us just don’t meet them.

          God, who could, as the message I read made very clear, ask anything of us before allowing us into his family, asks only one thing. He asks us to receive Jesus as our Lord and Savior. He asks us to accept a gift! There are no hoops, no strings, no dotted lines on which to sign. There is simply grace.

          Our pastor is fond of saying, “All means all, y’all.” (Yes, we live in the South.) He says it over and over because we need to hear it over and over. Yes, Jesus loves me and that person over there who makes me crazy. All means all and all are invited in by GRACE.  Father, Son and Holy Spirit require less of us than most churches.  As a pastor I once knew used to say, “Now that’s good news!”

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Losing My Head


 

 

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:41-42

 


The little lady in the picture is the true representative of what too many of us feel at Christmas time. Every single year for the past four or five years, she has lost her head. (I was going to include the picture of the headless body but that felt a little gruesome.)
Each year when I set up her beautiful town house she somehow falls or jumps to the floor, causing the loss of her head. She has friends on her little perch, a young boy and another woman. Neither of them has ever lost a head or any other body part. They remain serenely on the house while poor Sally crashes to the floor.

          I call her Sally because it goes with stress and she reminds me of stress. Sally Stressed is freaking out over all that needs to be done while Susie and Sammy Serene serenade the neighborhood. 

          Can you relate to Sally? I personally think she is the epitome, the poster child, of secular Christmas.  She should be happily caroling but as she tries to sing she’s thinking of the cookies, the presents, the out of town relatives impending visit and the teacher gifts.

          Rather than taking a few minutes each day to think about, read about or pray about the event that took place in Bethlehem, Sally is focused on the externals, the must haves and have tos. Sally has a huge family.  She is very involved at her job and her church. Her plate is full and rather than let a few things go, she runs and runs until she’s dizzy and exhausted and then….. Her head pops off! Sally is a Martha.

          If she had taken a few minutes in each of those busy days to sit with Jesus, to think about what his birth means in her life, she just might have avoided the repair bench in my hubby’s office. Which is the inanimate objects version of the doctor, the psychologist, the wine aisle or the pharmacy.

          Christmas is coming.  The anniversary of the birth of Jesus will occur and be celebrated whether we are ready or not. Too many of us will run around like Sally and become Fill in Your Name Stressed.  How many of us will have prepared our hearts so that we can keep our heads?

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Make Room


 

While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her first born, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. Luke 2:6-7

 

No room available.  In reading an Advent devotional I came across this phrase, “Yet when the Son of God came into the world, there was no room for him.” Did you just gasp? I did.  My gasp was not based on events from thousands of years ago but on the state of the world today.  I think it is because of the way the sentence is written, “When the Son of God” (a name/title important enough to be capitalized) “came into the world” (a place in desperate need of help) “there was no room for him.” 

          No room for Jesus? Why? Who or what could be more important than Jesus? In defense of the inn keeper of Bethlehem, he didn’t know who he was turning away. Can we say the same? No, no we cannot.

          Maybe you’re saying to yourself, “I love Jesus. I make room for him.” Me too! Right up until I don’t…. In all things, all things, Jesus should come first. The crazy part is that some of the very things that supplant Jesus’ place in our lives can also be things he is calling us to do.  A prompt to spend some time in prayer or reading Scripture is pushed aside because we want to call a friend. No room… A prompt to call that same friend is pushed aside because I don’t feel like talking to her and I’d rather just watch TV/check social media/anything else. No room…..

          We read the story of the birth of Jesus and we think “Oh if that inn keeper had only known who was at his door!” Then Jesus knocks on our door. We know full well that it is him but we pretend we’re not home.

          We’re not bold or honest enough to say, “No room here. Sorry.”  We say, “Oh I just didn’t have time!”  “I was going to but something came up.” Translated, when the Son of God knocked on our door we said, “There’s no room here.”

          Make room! More and more lately I have stopped to make room, to choose the better over the lesser and to swing open my door.  It is so worth it! There is nothing that can compare to spending time with Jesus. Nothing! It’s also pretty amazing because when I set that time aside, when I open the door, when I say, “Of course I have room for you!” Jesus answers by filling me with joy, peace and energy. That task I was dreading is not so bad. That scary event goes off just fine. Sometimes I even feel like I have more time not less.

          I’ll say it once more… MAKE ROOM! (Yes, I understand that all capitals means I’m shouting.) You will never regret opening the door to Jesus.

 

Thursday, October 24, 2019

He Say, You Do


 

Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching.” John 14:23
 

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. James 1:22

There is a student in our school who never wears shorts, never.  We live in Florida and still he never wears shorts and is quite verbal about it. Even when he knows we’re going on an outdoor field trip, outside all day, no shorts. Or as he says, “No chorts!”

          Imagine my surprise when he said, in his heavily accented English, “Mrs. Searsha, look… Chorts!” (Mrs. Tricia, look…Shorts!)  I expressed my surprise and asked him why he was wearing them.

          “My God say!” He said, as if that should clear it up, which in retrospect it should have done.  When I asked what he meant, he told me that while he was sleeping he heard God say, “Fernando, wear shorts.” “So I wear.” He said with quite a bit of enthusiasm. “He say, you do!” He told me.

          He say, you do. If we all lived that way this world would be in much better shape.  The simplicity of it is absolutely beautiful. God says it and we do it. Done!

          Let’s make this our prayer today,

Lord, help me hear what you say and

further do what you say, today and every day that I am given.

In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Hello


Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

This is a bit of a departure from my normal message style. Something happened that I want to share with all of you, to encourage you to reach out in Jesus’ name.

          Yesterday I published a message on positive attitudes.  From that message I received a very heartfelt email from a sweet friend. She and I go back many years. We didn’t know each super well then. I met her because I was close friends with her brother. Through the years and the quick connect of social media, I have grown closer to her. This morning I read a message from her that tore at my heart.

          The odd thing is I have been reminded of her brother quite often this week. He resides in heaven now and therefore does not need my prayers, so I focused them on his family, in particular his sister. As it turns out, she does need my prayers.*  

          The point of sharing this here is to encourage you to give yourselves over to God’s will and timing. There is no way I could have known so many years ago when I became friends with the brother, that one day God would choose me to stand in the gap for his sister. (Ezekiel 22:30)

          Listen to God. Pray for the people he puts on your heart.  It will bless them but it will also bless you in ways you can’t begin to imagine.

          “A new command I give you; Love one another.  As I have loved you, so your must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  John 13:34-35

 

 

*(She needs your prayers too. To protect her privacy I won’t share her name but God knows who she is. Please say a prayer for her.)

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Positve Attitude



Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” Matthew 7:5

In our classroom we have a point system for behavior. The things done well earn points; things done poorly or in a negative way take points away and there are things that are just are, neither giving nor taking a point. Recently we added a category to the mix. It’s a potential point earner and the label is, “positive attitude all day/no tattling.”

          Our angels love to point out what the other student is doing or has done wrong. They also love to start arguments with each other and complain about our schedule. (Did I mention that they are pre-teens and ours is a special ED. classroom?) In an attempt to deter conversations about opposing sports teams, politics (Yes, politics, mostly the president.) and racism, we added the positive attitude point getter. It has yet to make a real impact but we remain hopeful.  

          Hopeful that the thought of an extra point will keep them focused on their own behavior with no thought to what the others are doing.  Drop the measuring stick and take off the judge’s robe. Pick up a mirror and take care of you. Oh, and do it without complaining or criticizing. Uh-oh!

          When I look at it that way it shines a light on my life. How many times a day do I judge my brother or sister’s speck and ignore my plank? How often do I engage in less than positive speech? I may not discuss the president but I am quick to talk about a co-worker, family member or friend. If only the whole world could do it my way! My friend Mary and I say that a lot. “Oh everyone should be like us!” It’s said tongue in cheek, usually after we’ve done or said something not terribly bright or helpful. Still, there’s a little truth. If I think I’m right, then it follows that I want you to think and do as I do.

          What if we looked at our behavior on a point system? What if I could get something for being positive more often than negative? What if rather than bringing discord or hurt, I could bring more smiles, joy and peace to the world?  What if I got something for that? Oh, I do! I get to give glory to God who enables me to be a peacemaker and further blesses me for doing it.

          Too often we forget that our actions have both immediate and eternal results. For just one day measure your thoughts and actions as if you were getting points or losing them depending on the nature of those thoughts and actions. In other words, for one day see how often your words and deeds bring glory to God. It’s been eye opening for me and I pray it will be for you as well.

 

 

Friday, September 6, 2019

Keeping Watch


 

So do not fear I am with you;

do not be dismayed, for I am your God.

I will strengthen you and help you;

I will uphold with my righteous right hand.

Isaiah 41:10

There is a huge difference in being watched and being watched over. Too many people have a concept of God as judge. They see him as standing nearby watching and waiting for the mistake, the sin that will surely come. When it does he will pounce. “Gotcha’!” That isn’t who God is or how he operates. God is omnipresent, yes, but he is here with us to protect us, guide us and love us.

          We love the words in Romans 8:38-39.  Nothing can separate us from God’s love. That’s sounds great but does he have to watch every move? Yes, yes he does.

          I thought about this the other day when I heard our kindergarten teachers talking about classroom visits from the administrators of our school. For the most part the ladies were rattled. One of the teachers new to our school this year, asked if they pop in often. The atmosphere at that lunch table was a little bit stressed, until one of them spoke and flipped the idea on its head.

          “I see it as them trying to help us. They come in, see what we’re doing and then from a different perspective they can tell us what to do, how to fix stuff that isn’t working.” She went on to say that she does the best that she can each day but it is very open to new ideas. She saw the drop-in visits as fresh eyes and new outlooks. She wasn’t at all threatened and her attitude gave her whole team a new way of seeing things.

          We love the idea of Immanuel, God with us, when we are sad, frightened or lonely. When we’re in sin or contemplating sin or simply just goofing off, we’re not so sure omnipresent works for us. Is God watching and looking for that mistake, that misstep, that sin, just so that he can punish us? No! No, he is not!

          The words of Scripture that tell us that God is always with us are usually accompanied by, “do not be afraid” or “do not be discouraged.”  God is not waiting to attack, he’s waiting to help. God loves us more than we can possibly imagine.

          I love Kelly’s take on the administrator drop-ins, there to help not criticize. I hope that more and more we can all see God’s presence in the same way, here to help, to guide and to lavish love.

         

Saturday, August 3, 2019

The Important Book


 
Your word is a lamp to my feet, a light to my path. Psalm 119:105

A year or so ago I gave my grandson Abram a devotional book that had some great science tie ins.  He loved it and when he and his dad finished reading it he told me that he needed another “important book.”  We were pretty close to Christmas so I made sure that one of his gifts was another devotional book.

          The other day he told me that his daddy is bad. I assumed my son had said no to something Abram wanted and I was partially right. The night before Abram had asked to read his “important book” and his dad told him he would have to wait. Abram has two younger siblings, one of whom is just a few months old, and he made his request right at bed and bath time on a night that dad was home alone with the kids. Abram is six and has the tenaciousness that is unique to boys of that age. Dad’s delay was not an acceptable situation.

          The end of the story is that dad did read from the book after the baby was settled down. Not a bad dad, just a busy one. Which Grammy pointed out to Abram. You’re welcome, Dad.

          What stayed with me was how attached Abram is to his “important book.”  It is a huge disappointment to him when they don’t get to read from it. He talks to me about the things he has learned from last year’s book and the current one. Reading from that book makes his day complete.

          Abram’s attachment to his book made me think. What if all of us adults, who confess Jesus with our lips, would be as attached to his Word? Does reading or not reading Scripture make or break your day?

          Isaiah 11:6b says, “and a little child will lead them.”  It would do us all some good to follow Abram’s lead and say,  “I have to read from my important book.”

Monday, July 22, 2019

God Only Knows


 

 
Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again; Rejoice! Let you gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4-7

 

Anyone who knows me, know that I am very skeptical of anything that presents itself as a formula to get closer to God. It’s as if we have to follow certain steps in a certain order to get His attention or receive His mercy. I am much more an advocate of crying out from the naked, transparent depths of my heart. Trusting that the God who created me and loves me is not checking the order of my steps as I run to Him.

          Today I’m going a little bit of a sidestep from that. This morning while praying three phrases came to my mind and heart and immediately I knew they weren’t just for me. Someone, somewhere who at some point, God will lead to this message needs to hear this.

So thankful
So blessed.
So encouraged.

 
Believe me when I tell you that this isn’t new. If you look at it, it is basically the “formula” of the Lord’s Prayer.  It is certainly following the format of the verses from Philippians.  We bring ourselves to God with thanksgiving. He answers with peace beyond our comprehension. How can we help but be encouraged?

          I hear all the time from people who, “just don’t have time to pray” or insist that they don’t know how.  Hmm… okay. Try this. Say thank You Lord. Then tell yourself, I am so thankful, so blessed and so encouraged!

          Those very brief words will draw you closer to God and only He knows what will follow.

         

Friday, July 12, 2019

A Pain In The Neck


 

Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character. 1 Corinthians 15:33

There is a season for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1

For the last several days I’ve had a lot of pain in my neck.  This isn’t the first time I’ve had this and I know eventually it will ease up. This morning while we were praying my husband prayed that God would take away the pain in my neck.  I absolutely appreciate his prayer and I am so grateful and thankful for his support but the first thought that went through my mind was, “Well, there goes somebody.”

          My Bible Babes and I have had a few discussions about toxic people. It is so hard to get rid of them. Sometimes because of them but just as often because we won’t let them go. As much as we complain and bemoan the toll that they take on our lives we have myriad excuses why cutting them off feels wrong.

          I promise you I fervently hope that my hubby’s prayer is answered.  I am truly tired of this pain in my neck. I do not want to hold onto this at all. However, there are some people in my life who do cause me to flinch and yet, I’m reluctant to let them go. I have, as I advise my Babes, assessed the value they have in my life. I have prayed for wisdom. I pray to be objective but here they are and here they stay. Why? Good question.

          It’s not just people either. There are circumstances, situations and things that cause me more anxiety or aggravation than they are worth but they still take up space in my life.

          We’re quick to recognize physical barriers or limitations in our lives but what about those people, things and situations that make it harder for us to live as we were created to live. Shouldn’t we recognize those as well and try to rid ourselves of them?

          Take a few minutes and ask God to help you identify your current “pain in the neck.” Then ask him to give you the wisdom and courage to let it go. Let. It. Go.

          There are enough pains in this life that we can’t avoid. Shouldn’t we try to avoid the ones we can?

         

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Son Bathing


 

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16

This very clever play on words is not mine. I am borrowing from Brennan Manning. Given what I know of him, he would be happy to share it with me and let me share it with you. After all that is the whole point of “Son bathing.”

          It seemed very appropriate that I would come across this term in a season when those of us who live in the sunny South are exhibiting signs of outdoor activities. We see glowing skin from days at the beach or pool as well as tans from hard work in the great oven that  is Florida in the summer. We see these changes in complexion and we comment, we inquire.  Have you been to the beach? Pool?

          How lovely it would be if as a result of our Son bathing people were seeing, commenting and asking? You look content in the light of all that is going on around you. Why is that? What a great opener for us to share the love and joy of Jesus Christ and to invite others into that love.

          Just the other day my poor sweet grandson was not feeling well. After a couple of days of being housebound, my husband and I suggested that he come outside for a bit and get some fresh air and sun. It seemed to help.

          My household/family has been in a bit of a difficult season lately. Around me are several relationships and circumstances that just aren’t right. It has been draining and there has been a huge temptation to simply give into the negative chatter that the enemy puts in my head. Thanks be to God I haven’t done that. Instead I have gone to the throne, to the Word of God and to prayer. The circumstances haven’t changed; in truth some are worse.  

          When my grandson seemed to need a boost we took him into the sun. Today I learned that I have been Son bathing through my difficulties and that has certainly helped me retain my joy.  I hope and pray that my light, the reflection of Jesus’ light is shining so that those around me can see it and praise our Father in heaven.

          Son bathing! Try it. It’s pretty amazing.

           

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Open Arms


 

Bur concerning Israel he said, “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and obstinate people.” Romans 10:21

This morning in prayer I was reminded of one of my most difficult students. This little guy had a hefty side dish of autism in addition to his more obvious syndrome. He could easily become violent, growling, hitting and scratching, with little or no provocation. On the other hand he had the sweetest smile, the best laugh (when it was a true laugh, not an evil one) and I believe a kind heart. I absolutely loved him. Still to say that I was a bit terrified of what he could do to me is not an understatement. Oh my boy!

          There were so many times as he was gearing up for destruction of property or persons, that I thought,  if I could just grab him and hug him close he would calm down. Not so. On rare occasions he would let me give him a hug. Admittedly I was leery, as we never knew when sweet would end and brutal would begin.  Still when he would approach me in a positive way I would give him a big hug. He seemed to like it, to crave it but it never changed anything.

          This morning thinking of him, I pictured our precious, heavenly Father holding out his open arms to us as we go about our destructive, self-centered way. Wouldn’t we be far better off if we would just sink into those open arms and accept the comfort and healing that are offered there?  Sadly, far too often, we don’t.

          Much like my little buddy we run, kicking and screaming in the other direction, the direction that brings pain and failure. Why? I think that answer is different for each one of us. Just like I have no idea why my little guy resisted the one thing he seemed to truly want, I have no idea why I resist the one thing I not only truly want but desperately need.

          For the months I worked with little man I was open to offering him affection and attention against much of the advice I was given. The best bet apparently was to just stay away from him but given his level of need that was not a possibility. My belief was that if I poured on love, eventually it would reach him.

          That is how our Father loves us, against all that seems logical. We run; he loves. We kick and scratch; he loves. We argue and act like brats; he loves. Maybe it’s time to just fall into those open arms and let that love transform us into who we were created to be.

 

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Discouraged


 

 


Saul answered “But am I not a Benjamite, from the smallest tribe of Israel, and is not my clan the least of all the clans of the tribe of Benjamin? Why do you say such a thing to me?” 1 Samuel 21

“Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.” Judges 6:15

Discouragement is an ugly, insidious disease.  Looking around and feeling that all you have attempted has failed, that every effort is met with defeat, every relationship a fraud and all hope just slightly out of reach is completely debilitating.  That being true, think of what a fine tool discouragement is for our enemy.  If we can only see what we can see and not what God sees, we sometimes, too often for many of us, have to ask, “Why bother?”

          For a long time Gideon has been one of my favorite citizens of the Bible.  He is quick to say to God, “Not it!” Like Moses before him, Gideon is pretty sure God has the wrong guy. To paraphrase he says, “So here’s the deal, my family is less than stellar. In fact we barely make acceptable and out of that crowd, I am the bottom of the barrel.  No disrespect intended but I’m not your guy.” But God (my favorite words) knows better.

           I easily relate to Gideon. My background is nothing to talk about, my current status is barely a status at all and yet, I have felt God inviting me into his plan. Why? I have no idea. What I do know is that I tend react like Gideon, Saul, Moses and so many others.  The problem is that too often the results of my efforts seem to be as I expected, the sad sorry product of the least of the least.  What results from that? Discouragement!

          It is in those times that I have to remind myself of another piece of 1 Samuel. In chapter 16 verse 7b it says, “People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”* The results of my efforts may not look like much to me but to God? They must be okay because he keeps coming back to me, giving me more opportunities.

          Discouragement is awful! It is so easy, so inviting to give up when things get tough, break our hearts, seem bigger or simply overwhelming. When that happens to you read about Saul, Gideon, Moses and so many others who didn’t see themselves as fit for Kingdom purposes.

          In secular terms remember this little gem.

“If your troubles are plentiful and your rewards are few.

Remember that the mighty oak was once a nut like you.”

*This is spoken of David, another least of the crowd who eventually becomes King.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

More Than


 

God rejoices over you with singing. The Lord your God is with you, the mighty warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
This is how we know what love is; Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.
1 John 3:16a
 

Years ago I played a game with my oldest grandson, Joey. The game was “I love you more than….” And we filled in the blank, each time upping the prize a little until Joey would say his current favorite thing, soccer, the Pooh movie, French toast or whatever he dearly loved at the moment and I would say, “You win!”

          This morning I was reminded of that game while in prayer.  I felt the deep love of my Savior and I thought, no matter how much I love God; he will always love me more. More. More than…..

          The last couple of months have been rather difficult as I have faced some hard truths and deep disappointments. Just yesterday I was given some news that has the potential to bring another less than happy change to my life. I’m doing my best to stay faithful and not let fear in, not give the enemy a foothold and that takes prayer. While praying to God for a wait and see positivity, I felt him telling me to love him more.

          That’s when the game I’ve played with Joey for years came to mind. If I am living as faithfully and responsively as I should, then in all sincerity I should be able to say I love God more than ________  and fill in that blank with anything  and everything.

          Sitting quietly for a moment I realized that is what this whole uncomfortable season is about, putting God first. I think that I do that, but then I realize that far too often I do not. My own comfort, my wants and preferences take precedence over what is truly the best part of my life, my relationship with my Savior.

          Play the game with God. List for yourself the things that God can say after “I love you more than….” Then make your own list. “Lord, I love you more than….”  Be honest, it’s just God and you. Then look at the places where maybe there needs to be a little change.

          This is a game you will always lose.  The good news is that loss is the best win you will ever experience.  God loves us more than we can ever imagine.  Even as we struggle with the things we don’t want to relinquish to God’s control, he loves us more than. More and more and more.

           

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

What’s Good?


 

Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8

…speaking to one another with psalms, hymns and songs from the Spirit. Ephesians 5:19a

Trendy phrases are not usually my friend. I love words. I take great delight in clever uses of words and phrases. Rarely do I ever embrace a trend that minimizes the meaning of great word or maximizes a small one. I’m still struggling not to cringe every time I hear the word, “selfie.” Lord, deliver me!  

          So, imagine my surprise when I was taken by a new and somewhat odd greeting. “What’s good?” I heard it first on a television show and was right in step with the character who, on receiving that greeting, needed it explained to her. At first I just found it odd. “What’s good?” sounds like something you ask a server in a restaurant. “So, what’s good here? Ah, the meatloaf. Okay.”

          On further inspection and exposure I’m now hoping this greeting not only catches on but is taken seriously.  I hope that unlike its predecessor, “how are you?” which can end in a benign response, that “what’s good?” will cause people to stop and think.  What is good? At this moment in time, in my life, what is good?

          The question leaves no room for a litany of woes. It does not open the door for “Ugh, it’s Monday!” or “I’m hanging in there.” as does, “How are you?” What’s good, asks the hearer to think and respond with something positive.

          Put yourself as the recipient of that question. “What’s good?” Maybe you’re on your way to the meeting you think will end your job. Or, maybe you’ve just come from the doctor who’s ordered more tests or the bank where the loan was denied. Worse, maybe you’re experiencing a little of all of the above. What’s good? Not much! Oh, but wait, what’s good? The sun is shining. I’m still here, breathing. I have people who love me.  Oh and someone just cared enough about me to stop and ask, “What’s good?”

          Even on the worst day, the day that looks a lot like the passage in Habakkuk 3:17-18, when there are no crops, no livestock and nothing is going right, you can respond, God, God is good. Habakkuk after listing all of his calamities says, “yet, I will rejoice in the Lord.”

                    It may feel trendy and odd but ask someone today, “What’s good?”  The question suggests a positive answer and that positive answer will brighten the day of the responder and the hearer.

 

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Leaving A Legacy


 

One generation will commend your works to another and shall declare your mighty acts. Psalm 145:4 

A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children. Proverbs 13:22


A legacy can be many things I guess. When I looked up the actual definition it said, “a gift or bequest.”  I’ve heard people refer to their legacy in terms of how they want to be remembered.  Never have I given much, if any thought about my legacy, until the other day that is.

          A couple of weeks ago I had the privilege of visiting my son’s church on a week when he was leading the worship portion of the service. My son, Jeffrey, is a very talented musician in many areas. He’s good at entertaining people but when he steps up to lead worship it takes his talent to an entirely different level. To say that he is anointed is not an exaggeration.

          So there I was at that service singing along with my boy (keep in mind he’s a foot taller than I and in his mid-thirties, my “boy”) when I realized, “Wow! I had a part in bringing this blessing to this very church.” It was definitely a proud mama, that’s my kid, moment. It wasn’t until just a couple of days ago that I connected that to my “legacy.”

          I was driving along listening to an old Third Day song that includes the lyric, “My light shines on.” The lyric repeats several times. As I was singing along I was reminded of watching Jeffrey sing, of seeing his gift. I did not give him that talent or further, the ability to use it so well for God’s glory but I did give birth to him.

          Jeffrey is my legacy, as are his brothers, Paul and Joseph and his sister Laura. They all have children of their own and it is my fervent hope that the seeds of grace that I planted in my children will continue in their children.

          Second Timothy 1:5 says,  I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also. Next to it in my Bible I have written, “I hope one day that it can be said of my grandchildren, 'your sincere faith that fist lived in your grandmother Tricia and in your mother Laura/Erin/Stephanie.'  I want my children and my children by marriage to have great faith and to pass it to their children.

          Some people leave fortunes, buildings, great works of art, music or literature. Maybe one of my children or grandchildren will leave something like that. Maybe one of them will cure a deadly disease or make some other huge discovery or invent something life changing. I will not be doing any of those things. I only hope that the faith I see in my loved ones now grows and grows and all of our lights shine on to reflect God’s glory.         

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Love Child


 

I have loved you with an everlasting love. I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. Jeremiah 31:3

Many years ago there was a Supremes song called “Love Child.” It told the story of children born to parents who had not bothered to get married before conceiving them. There was a lot of shame and humiliation implied in the lyrics. The singer is saying that she will not make that mistake or cast that shame onto her own child.

          Those lyrics may seem a bit odd in these days where children born outside of marriage are pretty much the norm. Still the message is there, we aren’t good enough based on the facts or circumstances of our early life. Sad. The sins of the parents should not determine the value of the child. Thankfully they don’t. Nor do our own sins determine our value to our Father.

          Read the verse above again. “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” It doesn’t say, “I have loved you, the child born to the two happily married people, the child who does everything right or the child who has never even contemplated sin.” No! It says “you.” Therefore whoever “you” are as you read it, this verse means you.

          Put your name in it. “I have loved you, ____ with an everlasting love.”  Do you see that?  We are all loved. I am a love child and you are too! Guess what? That’s not something to make us feel shame. That is the truly the best news ever!

          In God’s eyes, to be God’s love child, is to be fully protected, cared for and covered in love and mercy.

          A few decades ago “love child” had a different connotation. I can’t help but wonder how many of those children missed the message that they were loved and that they were wanted. That they had a purpose.  What I absolutely do not want is for anyone to miss that message ever again.

          Psalm 139 tells us that we are God’s creation, that we cannot move out of his sight or reach, that we are in fact, fearfully, beautifully wonderfully made. Genesis 1 tells us that we are made in God’s image. That is love for sure!

          Embrace the fact that you are a Love Child. Listen to that old song and know that you are the antithesis of every word it says. You are loved, no matter how you got here, when you got here or who helped bring you here. You are loved.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Love


 

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you; Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
 Matthew 5:43-44

It’s love day, Valentine’s Day, hearts and flowers, chocolate and cards day. People will spend too much money on things that will cost less tomorrow to prove the depth of their love today.

Is that what love looks like? Candy? Cards? Dinner? Flowers? I guess those can be symbols of love sometimes.  Real love however, doesn’t usually look like cards and flowers.

Our example of real love comes from Jesus. It isn’t covered in glitter or chocolate. It doesn’t come in a pretty vase or at a candle lit table.  While all of those things are beautiful and can touch our hearts, they aren’t love Jesus style.

Turning the other cheek, ignoring the insult, praying for the offender, helping a person whose beliefs are in complete opposition to our own and whose life view turns our stomachs, that is what Jesus love looks like.

Jesus love is covered in hurt feelings, unrealized expectations, mud, tears and blood. It’s persevering in the face of rejection. It is giving when there is no hope of reciprocation. It is selfless and unending.

Today I fully expect to receive a card from my husband. I have one for him too. We aren’t huge Valentine people but most years we remember to give each other cards. That’s sweet but yesterday my husband did a household chore that I hate! The card will undoubtedly be lovely and say something flattering.  That’s nice and I will absolutely appreciate it but not nearly as much as I appreciated his efforts yesterday.

Give big flowery cards, give chocolates, have fun today but love, really love, every day.  Love when it hurts and is inconvenient.  Love when you’d rather sneer, when the object of that love just makes you want to scream. Love when it takes everything in you not to walk away. Love, sometimes, by walking away, ignoring or turning the other cheek. Love as your heavenly Father loves you.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

No Bootstraps


 

Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me, you can do nothing. John 15:4-5

I had a great conversation with a friend yesterday. We haven’t really talked in far too long. In catching me up on her life she shared some hard things that are going on in her family.  At one point she mentioned that her husband had told her that another family member should “pull herself up by her bootstraps.” Uh-oh! While I get hubby’s perspective, the only answer to the disaster which is currently encompassing their loved one, is Jesus. My friend knows that and is trying to help her dear one to see it as well.

In our conversation I quoted the above verse to her. Bootstraps aren’t going to get us anywhere. Oddly during the conversation my friend had to refasten the strap on her boot a few times. Why? Well, obviously because it popped open but mostly because God is good all the time. There is no bootstrap, elbow grease or steely eyed determination that defeats an attack by our enemy. One source of victory is available to us, one, and that is Jesus Christ.

Clinging to that vine is what makes my life livable, at times quite enjoyable and most important, fruitful. Yesterday in that conversation, I hope that my sweet friend was blessed. I know she blessed me. She put her trust in my faith which inspires me to be even more faithful. She gave me the opportunity to pray for her in the moment and to carry her burden with her as we are instructed in Galatians 6:2.

If you are a person who believes that you need to make huge efforts, pull up bootstraps, prove your worth or whatever other cliché comes to mind, please stop. Please read the verse above again, especially the last line. “Apart from me you can do nothing.” Nothing. No thing. We live and move and have being in Christ alone. (Acts 17:28)

Put on your boots, big girl panties or whatever else helps you feel confident but never forget that your true confidence comes from being a child of God. (1 John 3:1)