June 26, 2017/Hairsbreadth

Two years ago, we suffered and survived a weather ‘event’. I say the word event because whether the ‘weather experts’ want to call it ‘straight winds’ or a tornado, we lived through and witnessed the force and power of nature up close.

We learned a lot going through this experience. Half of our house was destroyed. Trees blocked all the streets leading to our house. Our handicapped bathroom was gushing water from broken pipes and had fallen down into the crawlspace below the house. The giant oak tree that we’d adorned with its very own ‘face’ had been lifted up and crashed through the bedroom landing right on the bed where we slept. My dog’s wire crate was crushed into mere inches. We had no power for a week. I found that it took three 64oz. water-filled soda bottles to do a quick hair wash and ‘bird bath’.

We came within a ‘harisbreadth’ of dying. The definition of hairsbreadth a very small space or distance. Had the storm arrived four or five hours later, we would have been killed in bed.

When the storm hit, I had grabbed the dog and her leash and fled to the hall (inner space/no windows/well protected. My husband was checking out the storm and saw the row of trees in our backyard snapping like twigs and quickly joined me as we prayed for the protection of our daughter and family who live one house away.

Once the storm was over, everyone gathered outside. We had lost trees, roofs, and parts of houses–but not one person was  injured. Seeing all the damage, we gave thanks for not one person was injured.

Have you ever noticed that when tragedies happen, governments suddenly decide that it is ‘okay’ to pray? Suddenly, these same entities that want nothing to do with religion or God allow dignitaries, politicians, and leaders to acknowledge God?

We lost a lot of ‘stuff’ in a storm.

We wondered, as many do, “Why us? Why, God? Why now?”

Our handicapped bathroom shower (which was an older one-piece unit) has now been replaced with a modern tiled shower and bench. Our bedroom lay out was redesigned so as to make it much more friendly if my husband eventually must use a wheelchair. Windows were installed that allow more light. Blinds that are easy to open and close replaced drapes.

We went from the “Why?” to “Thanks” when praying.

God’s power can be taught and meditated upon with one simple sentence from Matthew.

Matthew 10:30-But the very hairs on your head are all numbered.

Think about it–our God knows the numbers of each and every hair on the head of every single person on earth.

The power of a storm is enormous…but the power of God is INFINITE.

As we walk through the storms of life, be ASSURED that Christ Himself has acknowledged His Father’s power…and His love for us.

There is a purpose in every earthly storm that comes our way. We may not see it at first. We may not see it while we are alive. But we are to be confident that the God who knows exactly how many hairs are on our head on any given day is watching over us…and He loves and cares for us.

June 24 & 25/Responsibility

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all admit when we are wrong and take our ‘licks’?

Today’s news mentions a difficult situation where blame is being tossed back and forth for a death. This is serious business. It would be easy to attach blame quickly. So many times we rush to judgment based on what we read online.

But is what we read online true?

That is the question.

Lately, we tend to see opinions posed as facts.

Complications arise when people make decisions without getting all the information needed. Governments do the same. Imagine a doctor who ‘presumes’ where a tumor is positioned and begins cutting. He will be ‘searching’ through your body. That isn’t good. That is why the discovery of radiation by Madame Curie was such an aid to medicine. Now we have all kinds of imaging. Doctors have more clarity when they operate because they can ‘see’ where the tumors are so that they can remove them. Even the, doctors can get some surprises!

If we could get to the facts, it would be much easier to assign the responsibility and come up with the proper punishment. Old Testament laws did make certain situations easier. If your neighbor’s ox got onto your property because you were a lackadasical owner and didn’t keep your fencing up it was your fault. If your ox escaped through no fault of yours and did damage you had to pay damages–but not as much.

The phrase: SEEING IS BELIEVING is popular. None of us want to be tricked in real life…no matter how much we may enjoy going to witness the tricks of a magician as entertainment.

God sees all…and, as Jeremiah points out to us He has everything under control.

Jeremiah 29: 11-For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 

Confessing a mistake is never easy but it simplifies our lives. Saying, “I am sorry,” or “I was wrong” means accepting swift responsibility for our actions. The longer we wait, the harder it is…and, often the harder the punishment.

Rely on God’s wisdom and direction. Accept the responsibility of your actions and confess your faults. You will be wiser and happier..

June 23, 2017/Stumbling Blocks

One of the very big issues in the early church involved eating. As many foods were offered to other gods (or idols) during this time period, a lot of Christians were wondering how they should act if they were offered these foods as part of a meal.

This may seem a bit foolish to us now–until we stop and realize that we still face these type of issues. Is it wrong to drink wine? What about someone who is on Weight Watchers faced with attending a great church suppers? How do we treat a pregnant teenager who isn’t married?

Paul offers his take on how we should approach getting beneath the surface of such matters in 1st Corinthians 8:  Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth. And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.
But if any man love God, the same is known of him. As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one. For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him. Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled. But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse. But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak. For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol’s temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols; And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ. Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.

Paul tells us not to get so focused on action but on spirit. We all know about ‘intentions’. Offering food to idols in those days wasn’t abnormal. What is more, Paul makes it clear that these so-called ‘idols’ have nothing compared to our knowledge of God. He makes it clear that God provides food for us and that it is not the FOOD that is the problem–it is the IDEA of that offering.

We may not have a problem with eating this food for it means nothing to us–but for others, it may seem as if we are acquiescing in acknowledging these gods as having values. To someone who is a babe in faith, this may pose a real problem.

IF we tempt another with an action we know may cause them a greater chance to sin, then we must truly try our best to avoid putting said temptation in their way.

Many times, people use these verses on drinking alcohol–but there is more here to think about. There are a host of choices in life that tempt us–alcohol, gambling, sex, food, money, etc. Then there are other things…like politics. Want to see someone cause a big argument in a few seconds?

Look, we can hash out all these issues as to whether they are right or wrong in the sight of God (and often do) but the REAL issue Paul wants us to address is where we are in SPIRIT. We KNOW how to push the buttons of other people.

Paul is trying to get us to look at a complicated issue and bring simplicity to it. When you KNOW what you are doing (eating a big piece of cake in front of someone who just began dieting? Serving wine to someone who just returned from an AA meeting? Bragging about your new home to someone recently foreclosed upon?) you are, in fact, offending the tenets of our faith.

Christians are not perfect. We should, however, do what we can to try to please God…that means truly listening and caring for our brothers and sisters in Christ AND others. Take time today to truly listen to those around you and do your best to provide an example of upholding the Christian spirit in love and understanding.

 

June 22, 2017/Why It Has Got to Stop/Why It Will Never Stop…

I’m writing this on the 20th as I just read about another youngster committing suicide.

This has got to stop.

This young child was twelve.

TWELVE!

A young girl with her entire life ahead of her was being bullied.

I know a lot about being bullied. I was bullied in high school. We didn’t call it that then. We called it what it is: My high school days were hell. To this day, I hate going back in that school…and I have to as my grandchildren will attend there.

Bullying is another word for square pegs. We, the square pegs of society didn’t fit in. If only I could grab these kids that are being bullied and tell them that THEY are the winners. They are the ones who won’t follow the crowd. Who won’t be ‘cool’. Who won’t cave into the ‘Everyone else is doing it’, or ‘Everyone else is thin,’ or ‘Everyone else gets better grades, or is dating, or is pretty, or is having sex, or has things come easily, or are better at sports, have more ‘bulk’, have grown taller, etc.’

I wish I could do that but I can’t. Not to my grandkids or yours. Not because I don’t want to but because during puberty you don’t always listen to adults…especially when they mouth platitudes like: “You’ll get through it,” or “Sticks and stones,” or “Just tell somebody.”

You won’t tell somebody because that admits what you are already feeling: INADEQUATE.

So how do you survive? What can you do? What can parents do?

For one thing, GET YOUR CHILD OFF SOCIAL MEDIA. PERIOD. Yes, I know that kids have to use computers. Heck, teachers don’t so much teach as give assignments and check work online. Parents can loot at their child’s grades online. FINE. But no child needs Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat, Instagram, etc.

We are, and have been, robbing our children on their innocence. They don’t need to watch CNN…nor should they. You don’t need to see an atrocity happening in real time. It’s bad enough reading about it fifty years later.

Some say, “Keep the kids busy.” Sure, that helps..but all the love and the business only goes so far. There are still hours of the day when these children are put in the position of a black lamb among white sheep; a smaller chicken in a flock. They will be shunned and pecked simply because of being different than the others.

You can do a few things, however. First, praise them for who they are: beautiful creatures created like NO ONE ELSE. God made them who they are for a purpose and a reason. Who are we to question Him? Who are ‘they’ to question Him?

Second, talk to them. Search out books that show real people who achieved much by being different; by taking a path unlike others; by seeking a purpose and a joy that gives them the passion to ignore the bigots and bullies.

Thirdly, allow them to talk and show them that surviving is the greatest ‘pay back’ you can give to a bully. Show them what it will be like when they come back a success. I learned early not to pray for vengeance. My prayer became: GOD, HELP ME TO LIVE LONG ENOUGH TO SEE WHAT GOES AROUND COME BACK AROUND.

It works.

I have been in that position where I was wronged…and eventually, I watched as that person was paid back. God handled it. I must admit to satisfaction upon seeing HOW He did it. To be honest, I actually pitied my enemy. The lesson they had to learn was hard.

Lastly, read the verse below–whether Jew, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, athiest, agnostic, purple-people-eater, whatever. In this matter, it is advice that is worthy of study. In our effort to become so politically correct and not offend, we are losing the ability to provide an ethical and moral grounding to our young people.

Romans 12:14-21-Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

Understand what Paul is saying here: You put coals on the head of your enemies by doing good to them and for them. Overcoming evil like bullies begins with not only liking yourself but them.

Impossible?

Maybe.

Maybe you can’t stand them in person but you can find it within yourself to pity them. To wonder what has gone so wrong in THEIR life that they work to try to make yours a horror. Then take whatever bring you joy and peace in your young life and infuse yourself with that passion and be strong. Find a mentor: in your school, your church, your family, your friends and let them know you feel inadequate. I’m betting money you will learn that they see things in YOU that have overlooked.

Sometimes the race is to the swift. Sometimes it is to the strong. MOSTLY, HOWEVER, PEOPLE OVERLOOK THAT THE RACE ITSELF IS THE JOURNEY.

You are like no one else. You have value…so much value that God created you from His love. Satan saw to it that we have selfish sins like PRIDE which evolves some into bullies. God, however, saw to it that we could overcome such evil through His love for us in sending His Son.

When I was young, I would have given anything to be a round peg. I am so THANKFUL that I fought through. I wouldn’t change being a square peg for anything now!

June 21, 2017/Painful Changes

 

I think my body hates me.

Seriously.

In a short time I will enter the ‘golden’ years of Medicare…or is that the ‘rusty’ years? Such changes come with age. Your social life becomes tales of doctors you see and the people you meet in their waiting rooms. Your eyes grow spots and cataracts. Your belly grows on its own. Your bathroom habits start to become as important as they were when you were a toddler. And the pain…Oh, the pains that suddenly spring out of nowhere.

When I was young, my husband often tried to stay past my curfew. We had a step-down living room with a huge grandfather clock right near the two stairs. Anyone walking into the living room caused that clock to shake just enough to rattle the large weights. Now, I was living home and attending college and my parents had their bedroom down the hall with a closed hall door…(talk about trust here!), but there was many a night when my husband tried to sneak past that clock so as not to reveal that he had overstayed my curfew.

I look back on that time with great fondness. We may have thought we were getting away with something but that clock gave us away EVERY time.

So it is with our walk with God. Job gives us a great example here.

Job 14: 14-22- If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come. Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee: thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands. For now thou numberest my steps: dost thou not watch over my sin? My transgression is sealed up in a bag, and thou sewest up mine iniquity. And surely the mountain falling cometh to nought, and the rock is removed out of his place. The waters wear the stones: thou washest away the things which grow out of the dust of the earth; and thou destroyest the hope of man. Thou prevailest for ever against him, and he passeth: thou changest his countenance, and sendest him away. His sons come to honour, and he knoweth it not; and they are brought low, but he perceiveth it not of them. But his flesh upon him shall have pain, and his soul within him shall mourn.

No matter what we may believe we can escape while alive, death comes to us all.

One day God will call. Until that day, we are prone to dealing with the sorrow, pain, and sin of normal life. Many walk on knowing that we are being ‘worn down’ stones with no hope. It is the way of the human…until we find Christ.

Suddenly, there is an open door that allows us the grace to endure pain for we understand that it is temporary. Jesus tells us that in John 14:2-In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

Pain is not fun. It isn’t pretty. It sucks you dry. Those that endure it, suffer. Those that witness loved ones undergoing pain, suffer.

It does, however, come to us all–much like aging.

Christians, however, have the answer to Job’s question: If a man die, shall he live again?

The answer is Yes–for whosoever believeth in Jesus Christ shall not perish but have  everlasting life with Him in Heaven where we will be free from the bonds of sin that were the cause of our pain.

June 20, 2017/Cracked

Okay, I’m old, old-fashioned, and admit that I am easily shocked. I know it has been around for some time and another fashion will take its place, but I have NO wish to see some man’s ‘crack’ butt sticking out from his pants. (And I don’t want to see any woman’s thong crack, either.

There are some things that should be personal.

When I was younger, the only crack we worried about was the one on the sidewalk..and then we were busy stepping over it so we didn’t ‘break our mother’s backs’ as the saying went.

There are other ‘cracks’ you deal with as you age. The crack of bad hips and knees. The saying: “That cracks me up,” meaning laughter. The one that goes: “I’m cracking up,” which means you are losing your marbles (if you ever had them…)

But today I’m reminded of an old saying that my friend’s mother used to use. (I made her repeat it so I could write it down as otherwise, I might not remember.

Her saying goes like this: “Friendship’s like a teacup, costly rich and rare.
Once broken may be mended by the crack is always there.”

It’s true.

It is difficult to mend broken relationships. Much as you may want to forget a hurt completely, it is very difficult to do so. Yet, God clears our slate COMPLETELY.

1 John 1: 8-10-8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

We are vessels that easily ‘crack’ through sin. Repair, however, is simply a matter of confessing what led to the cracks and asking God to forgive us as Jesus taught. Amazingly, Jesus declares that once we are repaired, God will never ‘see’ that crack again.

That does not mean that we don’t bear accountability or responsibility for whatever sins we may have committed–that is OUR burden to fix. But God erases whatever cracks we may have when we seek true repentance.

I have a new saying: “Human are like china, sin always makes us err. Jesus offers God’s repentance, with just a simple prayer.

June 19, 2017/Award Me

My youngest granddaughter was promoted from sixth grade the other night, and I’m still trying to get over the ‘ceremony’.

What has happened to schools?

This was a celebration of selfish applause–from the parents, principle, board of education, and society.

Each and every class had ‘awards’ for Math, Science, Most Improved, Social Studies, and ELA (that is English/Language Arts for those in the know.)  There were twelve classes. Then there wer thirteen additional ‘special’ awards given by various groups. After sitting through all that, we had to have the individual teachers come up and read the names of their students AGAIN so they could stand. (They went to desks outside the auditorium to actually pick up their diploma.)

Beside the ignorance of parents who couldn’t follow instructions and had to scream, yell, and cheer for ‘their’ student you had to battle the huge bouquets of flowers and shield your eyes from the outfits worn by both students and parents.

This is SIXTH grade.

It would be hard enough to swallow at high school but at least you expect it then.

When did we decide that going to school and performing your best needed special recognition? When did we decide that we had to jump through elaborate hoops to celebrate a small passage of time and study?

My ‘job’ as a youngster was to go to school and get the best grades that I could. I was assigned that job by my father who told me that I’d better get used to working hard as I would be doing so for the rest of my life.

Working hard with no ‘recognition’ was expected. Among the LEAST recognized workers in our society are the ones we depend on the most–the FARMER. Yes, folks, all this technology is fun but it doesn’t FEED us. The people that feed us get their boots muddy and smelly. They put their hands places you might not want to think about too much. They don’t get vacations or holidays. They are toiling in the fields instead of relaxing in air conditioning. They are toned by their labor…not their health club.

God expects His children to work for Him out of LOVE, not the goal of reward…but He is careful to show us our ultimate benefit from that work. Loving Him and obeying His instructions on how we treat others will aid us in understanding and communing with our Heavenly Father.

Colossians 3: 23-25-And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.  But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.

God doesn’t care how much we have, how pretty we are, or how many awards and accolades we are granted while on earth. He won’t be picking us for our blog popularity, screen shots, or perfect make-up, hair, or body.

A lot of kids don’t get awards in life.

Some kids do.

What matters most in life is how you accept the challenges you will be handled and what/how you decide what is important to you. We are to approach life and work as if we are offering it to God…which, when you think about it, is exactly what we are doing!