Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Have Mercy

Image result for have mercyI'm pretty good at figuring out when I've been wronged.  Yes, I have a keen talent for that.  One could even say that I've perfected that gift.  But, that talent comes to a screaming halt when I'm the offender instead of the offended.  

There has been many occasions that I've been the offended and the offender all within the same week.  Okay, fine--day! When I have a day like that, I try to be aware of this truth.  

When I understand the depth of mercy that has been extended to me, I should all the more be ready to extend mercy to others.  

Yeah, right?  That sounds awesome in print, but as I've said many times before, I'm a slow learner.

No one, including me, would intentionally hurt another, but sometimes we do just that.  I've had a few occasions when I've been hurt, or hurt someone else and when that happens, I usually withdraw to one of there places.  
  • I might avoid that person with the hopes the problem will go away in time.  You know, give'm the silent treatment.  
  • Or, I can take the bull by the horns and let that person know why this was all their fault in the first place.  
  • Or, this rarely used one, I can humble myself as quickly as possible and make things right.  
In 2 Corinthians 4:8-9, I think Paul understood all these tactics when he wrote:

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; 
perplexed, but not driven to despair; 
persecuted, but not forsaken;
 struck down, but not destroyed...(ESV)

I'm not sure how you're feeling today, but I'm encouraged that even in my humanness, God isn't crushing me, driving me to despair, causing me to feel forsaken or willing to let me perish.  

(Content Sigh!)  

But, I do know this, my day will always be better, when I choose to Have Mercy!  





Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Abundantly

Image result for putting cherry tomatoes in your pocketFor many years, we had a garden in our backyard.  It was a good producer of cucumbers, zucchini, squash and tomatoes.  When the harvest was abundant, I remember walking out to the garden to pick the goodies and pretty much without fail, I'd arrive in the garden empty handed.

I knew there were plants producing an abundance of produce, but there I stood in the midst of all that bounty with nothing to carry the abundance of vegetables back to the house.

If this would have happened only once, it wouldn't be such a great illustration, but this happened to me time and again.  There I stood, looking at the vegetables around me and totally unprepared.  So, I'd improvise by putting the small stuff like cherry tomatoes in my pockets, then I'd turn the bottom of my shirt up and fill that to overflowing with larger items. I'd carry the abundance to the house leaving a trail of vegetables behind me.

Why didn't I go to the garden with the expectation of the bounty that awaited me?

Why wasn't I prepared to receive what I knew was waiting for me?

This little gardening memory got me thinking about the abundance of good things the Lord has for us.  Do we come prepared to receive or do we stand and look around in awe, but never take what the Lord has prepared for us?

In 2 Corinthians 9:8 it says, And God is able to make all grace overflow to you so that because you have enough of everything in every way at all times, you will overflow in every good work.

Don't stand in the bounty of everything the Lord has for you and be unprepared to receive!  Take what the Lord has for you, then in return use it to overflow your blessings on others.







Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Follow Me!

On Wednesday nights in the summer, my preschool class at church would often go outside to play.  The church has a nice fenced-in playground not too far from the exit door near the classroom.  Even though the playground is close, it's still far enough away that we have this little rope with hoops for the children to hold on to--to keep everyone together.

Image result for walking preschool hoopsEvery time we leave the church building, I instruct the children to follow me and hold on to their colored circle until I open the gate of the play area.  I give this warning each week with the hope that there will not be a stampede or injuries on the short walk to the playground.

That's how it's suppose to work--but it rarely does.

What usually happens is when the playground is in the children's line-of-vision someone drops the rope and runs for the playground.  Usually, this sparks a chain reaction and I'm left holding the rope while children bolt.

I observed an interesting thing when this happens.  As soon as one child breaks the chain, there is always at least one or more who will follow suit.  While I'm yelling, "STOP!  STOP!"  I learned a lesson from these little humans.  All of us are either following someone or someone is following us.

The Aposple Paul said this in 1Corinthians 11:1 (NIV)

Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.  

Paul's statement was to new Believers who weren't sure what person or principles they should follow. To end the confusion, Paul takes the responsibility to be their example by saying, "Follow me."

Today, not a lot has changed.  We still find things to disagree about and even seasoned followers of Christ are sometimes confused as to what is permissible and what isn't for a Believer.  Still, each of us must navigate through this life choosing who we will follow.

In the craziness of life, it's always good to stop for a moment and ask before you bolt, who am I following?  And where are they leading me?





Wednesday, September 5, 2018

What's That In Your Hand?

Have you ever felt self-doubt?  Have you felt  incapable of the task? 

I know I have.  A few weeks ago, I stood in a worship service and I heard these words spoken to my heart. 

What's in your hand?  I felt it was from the Lord.  

He continued.  It's what I want.  Give it to me.  I can do more with it than you ever could.

After these words ran through my mind, I immediately saw in my hand the 3rd book that I'd just finished writing.  (Yes!  I finished my third book...Hillbrooke God's Rewrite and the editing has begun.)

I have been working on writing this book for over a year.  There were times I laid it down for months because I didn't feel capable or knowledgeable about the topic.  My own self-doubt and insecurities rose to the surface.  It seemed nearly every time I was ready to completely give up on this book, I'd get an email from someone who had read one of my other books.  Those emails contained fuel for my depleted engine--words of encouragement.  

I don't like to think I'm a needy person, but I think most of us have struggled with feelings of inadequacy, especially when we feel the task before us is outside our comfort zone.     

In Exodus 4:2 Moses, had his own battle with inadequacy.  Reading this verse, I realized I'm a lot like Moses.  I really do like anonymity--just like Moses liked his quiet life in the desert.  He didn't want to be seen, recognized or asked to do public speaking.  But God had other plans for this desert dweller.  After Moses gave God all his excuses, God asked him. 

...“What is that in your hand?” He said, “A staff.” (Exodus 4:2)

We all have things we may feel insure about, but God is saying to each of us, What’s in your hand?   For me it was a book, but I wonder what's in your hand

Moses could have easily said, "Nothing."  He could have thought, God can't possibly be talking about this piece of junk wood.  Yet, God has the capability to use what we make available to Him in spite of how we interpret our own limitations. 

So maybe the better question to you today isn't, "What’s in your hand?" ...but, "What's your excuse?"

How much did that cost?

I know it's rude to ask how much something costs, but it's a curiosity that we all have.   Most of us have the decorum to h...