Wednesday, February 13, 2019

The warm side of the door.

Our churches Bible Study cruise to the Caribbean is ending tomorrow.  The weather here has been warm and toasty--just beautiful.  However, I have not forgotten that less than two weeks ago we were in record breaking freezing cold Michigan.

According to news reports, Michigan hadn't experienced weather this cold for over 25 years.   During the cold, fringed days of January 2019, my family choose to stay inside as much as possible.  We choose the warm side of the door.

On most of those subzero days, I was curled up by the fire place with the heat pumped up to 70, wrapped in a blanket, with fuzzy socks on my feet.  On days like this, I am very mindful that the other side of the door isn't necessarily a warm and friendly place.

However, too often when I shut the door on the world and enter my comfortable home, I to easily forget that not everyone knows about, the warm side of the door.

There is a verse in John 10:9 (ESV) that says this...

"I am the door. 
If anyone enters by me, 
he will be saved 
and will go in and out 
and find pasture."

 I'm out of the country right now, and it's an easy thing for me, with my passport, to go in and out.   When I am in Christ, I have that same freedom.

The warm side of the door is awesome, no question about that, but if we don't go in and out we'll never find pastures.

Another verse that comes to mind when I think of pastures is...look unto the fields for they are ripe for harvest.

If we stay inside where it is warm and comfortable, we will miss all opportunities that are NOT on the warm side of the door.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

The Best Place

The Best Place

     My kitchen on any given morning is an obstacle course of "me first."

     My son, daughter-in-law and three grandchildren have been living with us for the past 20 months, and many mornings, we all are in the kitchen at the same time.  Oh, and let's not forget the dog.  She loves the kitchen in the morning too.
    Most of the time mornings in my kitchen are a skillful dance of toaster, stove, sink, fridge, coffeemaker, cupboard, table, dishwasher and out the door.  
     But there has been days when there is bumping, pushing, arms snaking around another person to get that coveted item just beyond reach, lots of 'excuse me's,' and pulling out a drawer ever so slowly until the person standing in front of it finally moves.  
     Mornings in my kitchen should be a reminder of the scripture in Mark 9:35 from the Message Bible.
     He sat down and summoned the Twelve. 
“So you want first place? 
Then take the last place. 
Be the servant of all.”
     Jesus reminds all of us in this verse that when we push for our own agenda, it isn't always the best thing to do.  When I push my way through the crowded kitchen, am I being a servant or trying to take first place?
     This whole idea is foreign to the 'me first' American mindset.  How can last place be first place?  Since when, did a servant become better than the master?
     But to the Christian, the words of Jesus should be our motivation.  His actions should guide us.  
     I wonder how Jesus would act in my kitchen on any given morning.  He'd probably stand back and wait His turn without pushing in for first place at the coffee maker, stove or sink.  He'd probably ask, "What can I do to help?"
     And in so doing, He'd have chosen, The Best Place.

*** On Wednesday, February 13th, I won't be able to post on Facebook because I'll be on a cruise in the Caribbean.  Yippee!  I will have a devotional that will be emailed to those who are following me through my website. If you haven't signed up for my weekly devotionals, you can do so by entering your email address at the right-hand side of the screen just above the books for sale. (If you are on a cell phone--scroll to the bottom and choose view web version to see the whole screen.)

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Slap Down

I'm not the type of person that enjoys or looks for a reason to debate with anyone about anything.  I'm not interested in getting into a verbal slap down--ever.  

Don't get me wrong.  I have an opinion, and for the most part, I think that my opinion is the right one.  (Don't we all!)

What I take issue with is...when someone baits me into an uncomfortable exchange after they ask me this question, "What do you think?"  

My mind desperately tries to communicate to my mouth, "Don't answer!"  "Don't give your opinion!"  "Don't share your ideas!" "Don't engage!"  "It's futile!"

Because in reality, the person doesn't really want to know what I think, unless I am in total agreement with them.  

I fall into this trap ALL-THE-TIME!  

But there is someone who is interested in what I'm interested in and who isn't waiting to pounce on me with a verbal slap down.
The Lord is concerned with every issue that we take issue with.  He actually does want to know our opinion.  He wants to know what's on our mind.

I read this scripture today in James 1:5 (NLT) and it rang true in my heart.
 "If you need wisdom, ask our generous God,
and he will give it to you.
He will not rebuke you for asking."

Maneuvering through the murky waters of what to say and when to say it or when it's best to say nothing, can be a challenge, but I have some great news for those seeking wisdom.  

When you ask the Lord for help, there isn't going to be a slap down.   

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

The Knot

I have a problem.  I freely admit, it drives me nuts!  It's knotted shoestrings.  There...I said it.  

"Knotted shoestrings drive me crazy!"

I cringe when I see a child wedge his foot into a shoe that is pinched shut with a knotted shoestring.  Instead of asking for help from someone more capable, the child forces his foot into the shoe and with laces dangling--hobbles away.   

Children have an uncanny ability to ignore a knotted shoestring.  They will go about their business--WITH A KNOT IN THEIR SHOESTRING! 

Not too long ago, my grandson had a knot in his shoestring and when I asked to help him get the knot out, he resisted.  I grabbed the shoe right off his foot, quickly used a fork to loosen the knot and worked it out in a matter of seconds.  I handed the shoe back to my grandson feeling PRETTY proud of my skills.  

There may have been a "Ta-Da" with arms extended.  That part's a bit foggy, but it sounds like me.

I was shocked when my grandson wasn't impressed with my abilities to annihilate knots!  

You know what?  He had grown accustom to having the knot in his shoelace.  He liked it that way.  He had learned to manage quite well with the knot

I couldn't believe it!  Is there anything better than a snug, newly tied, unknotted shoestring?  I think not.

Life's spiritual knots are something like shoestring knots.  Sometimes we are unable to get the knot out by ourselves.  We need the skillful hand of someone bigger and wiser to apply His knowledge to the mess.  

At times, like my grandson's knotted shoestrings, I too have tried to maneuver through life with spiritual knots that I thought were unnoticeable to anyone else.  I had learned to manage quite well with the spiritual, there and everywhere.  

My grandson taught me this about knots.  The longer we ignore them, the easier they are to live with and soon we manage our lives around the knots.

I needed help getting rid of my spiritual knots, just like my grandson needed help getting rid of his shoestring knots.   He couldn't get those knots out alone and spiritually speaking neither can we.

Lamentations 1:20 (MSG) tells us what life is like when we choose to live with spiritual knots.  

"O God, look at the trouble I'm in!  
My stomach is knots, 
my heart wrecked by a life of rebellion..."

When we hand our knotted, messed-up lives over to the Lord, this is what we have to look forward to.  Lamentations 3:20-25 (NLT) says this...

I will never forget this awful time...
Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this:

The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
His mercies never cease.
Great is his faithfulness;
his mercies begin afresh each morning.

I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance;
therefore, I will hope in him!”
The Lord is good to those who depend on him,
to those who search for him.

You don't have to live with knotted shoestrings, and you don't have to live with Spiritual Knots either!  

Are you ready to ask for help with your knots?  

His mercies begin afresh each morning!