Eyes of a Child

Adults can be such a drag.
Worrying about this and that. Pre-judging situations and other people.

There is a reason Scripture says, “a child shall lead them.”

Children have no filter. They do not pre-judge. They do not see color, station, or religion. If you will smile and look them in the eye, respect them, and play with them – YOU’RE IN.

End of story.

This indicates that we learn our prejudices. Whatever “group” we are in dictates to us how we should feel about this or that.

Have you ever watched a child see someone who looks different for the first time? They study them with wide eyes. They are amused. Captured. They take it all in and then judge only based on the interaction that ensues.

And so should we be as adults. But, generally, we are not. We have learned to judge. We have learned to weigh all the stats to decide whether or not we should give each person the “time of day.”

This is not correct.

I was hanging out with my 4-year-old friend Walker, and he stopped our pool play to say he needed to thank God for some things.

Okay, I said. Go for it.

He said, “THANK YOU GOD FOR EVERYTHING (waving his hands in the air)!
Thank you for letting us wake up today!
Thank you for my Mommy, My Daddy, my Sissy, My Mimi, My PawPaw, the water, the trees, our car, the animals, our water guns.
Thank you God for EVERY PERSON in the world!” IMG_6731a

The point is – the little ones are all out. They just say what they think. We are born to appreciate life and love. We learn to hate. We may be born into sin, but the hate part comes from observation.

Let us be aware of this. Let us realize that the little ones are watching. Let us treat all others with dignity and respect, regardless of how “different” they may appear. Let us speak kindly. Both to others, and about them.

As the old saying goes, “if you don’t have something nice to say, say nothing at all.”

A child shall lead them. Christ Himself said we must be “reborn” to be saved. I think this partly means we have to erase all mis- and pre-conceptions. Start over. Be new. Give everyone the same chance. How hard this is when it seems we spend all our lives being taught that somehow we are better than everyone else.

Isaiah 11:6 “In that day the wolf and the lamb will live together; the leopard will lie down with the baby goat. The calf and the yearling will be safe with the lion, and a little child will lead them all.” (NLT)

There will one day be true peace on earth. Born enemies will live together in harmony.

We can choose to live this way now, even though most of the world does not. If we are truly changed by the love of God, we will truly love others. This is our charge in this life – to love others – without exception.

Romans 13:8 “Owe nothing to anyone–except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law.”

As Walker said – THANK YOU GOD FOR EVERY PERSON IN THE WORLD! And may we properly treat all we meet!

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In Times Like These

Many of you are too young to remember a radio personality by the name of Paul Harvey who’s famous line was, “Now you know the rest of the story.” He was known for his thoughtful quotes. He said, “In times like these it is good to remember that there have always been times like these.”

As we hear and read the news today we learn of so much strife, hating and killing, wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes, drought, famine, et cetera. It all can make you feel vulnerable to a personal tragedy at any time. The Bible also says that men’s hearts will fail them because of fear.

But wait, you say……these things have been going on in our world since creation.  It is only that we are more aware of  these happenings around the world because of our high technical media.  True….but we must not get apathetic in our understanding of the end times as prophesied in the Old and New Testaments.

I know….this is a really heavy subject, but I must write what the Lord has put on my heart to share with you today.

Jesus instructed his disciples with these words in Matthew 24 and Mark 13.

“Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but then the end will come.  Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.”

Wow…I need to pay attention, and stay in God’s Word.

I need to keep the main thing, the main thing.

I need to be strong in my belief that Jesus is the Christ the Savior of my soul…..the soon coming King.

I need to share His love with everyone I meet and claim their soul for salvation.

Yes…life goes on and we continue with what is set before us in our daily work and ministry.   Jesus also said “Occupy until I come.” That is what I will do with God’s help…how about you?

I am reminded of a song from the 60’s….

“In times like these, you need a Savior.
In times like these, you need an anchor.
Be very sure, be very sure….
your anchor holds, and grips the Solid Rock. 

This Rock is Jesus, yes He’s The One.
The Rock is Jesus, the Only One.
Be very sure, be very sure…
your anchor holds, and grips the Solid Rock.”

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We Don’t Mourn Like the World Does

Two funerals in two weeks.

My cousin Kyle was in his 40’s, he battled cancer for years.

My aunt Darlene was in her 80’s, God took her suddenly one night in her home.

Both were believers. Both were instantly transported into the presence of Jesus, and welcomed with love by family and friends who’d gone before them.

So where does that leave us?

Shocked, yes. Lonely, perhaps. Sorrowful for our loss, for sure. But what has been evident to me is the fact that we Christians truly don’t mourn like the rest of the world mourns. We remember their lives with joyful celebration. We miss them, and feel the pain of this loss, but we have hope that we will see them again in eternity.

We grieve, but not in the same way as those who have no HOPE.

It’s perfectly normal to have a sadness about a loved one’s death, and to feel the emptiness of their absence, but interspersed with the sorrow and tears are memories that bring us to laughter. We’ve heard the comments, “How can you be happy right now?” or “Why is she laughing today?”

We grieve, but not in the same way as those who have no HOPE.

It’s hard to explain. Lest you think I’m callous about death – let’s be honest, death is not pretty. There’s nothing fun about it. These dear ones will be terribly missed, and it is painful.

Photo: pixabay.com/geralt

Photo: pixabay.com ~ user: geralt

But I’ve been to the memorial services laced with despair, and I’ve been to the ones rejoicing in hope. I’ll always choose the latter. In fact, my wish when I have been snatched away into eternity is that you all get together and have a PARTY in my honor. A BIG one. Celebrate for me. Rejoice in my good fortune. And then make sure you’re ready when your time comes.

I promise to greet you at the gate with Kyle and Darlene.

“Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.” 1Thessalonians 4:13 (NIV)

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Dig It Out By The Roots

Spring is here! North Carolina is blossoming with all kinds of beautiful plants and trees!

This is when we start tuning up our lawn-mowers and equipment because we will be out there a couple times a week for months trying to keep our lawns looking spiffy.

Along with the lovely green grass, we have about 871403982704398 types of weeds. When everything starts growing, we see all shades of green, and a lot of different tiny flowers in our yards.

My yard looks like a patchwork quilt. Ha.

I have discovered why.

All those cute little flowers are attached to weeds. Weeds grow and choke out the grass. We mow over the weeds and their seeds spread, hence MORE weeds.

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We can spray weed killer, and that does control some of the madness. However, they always come back.

Apparently the only way to actually get RID of the weeds is to pull them out by the root and dispose of them. Otherwise, they keep spreading!

Does this require a lot more effort? YES.

Can you just mow over all those weeds and make your lawn look nice? Yes, you can. At a glance, when it is freshly cut, it looks just fine. Green. Lawn-like.

However, the weeds are still there. Deeply rooted amongst the nice green grass and choking it out. Then it starts growing again at a different rate from the grass, making the yard look uneven again. Usually, we just cut it back off. It appears to be green and even again, for a time.

This reminds me of our spiritual lives, our habits, our unhealthy relationships.

We can gloss over any of these situations, and for a time we can make everything look “green” and healthy. However, the more we continue to do that, the more those unhealthy things will spread through our spirit, our emotional state, and even our physical wellness.

Then, suddenly one day, rather than having a pin-pointed issue or two to work out, we wake up and find how deeply rooted and wide-spread that issue has become. If we had just made the proper choice early and pulled that mess up from the root, we would not have the long road of recovery ahead to dig out and heal a whole field of issues.

This illustration can represent an infinite number of things in our lives, so I am leaving it vague. Ponder it. See what weeds with “pretty flowers” come to mind and dig that stuff up!

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GUARD YOUR HEART

“ABOVE ALL ELSE, GUARD YOUR HEART, FOR IT IS THE WELLSPRING OF LIFE.”
Proverbs 4:23

How do I do that? What does this mean, Lord?

We are paying attention to our hearts this month of February, because of the awareness of heart disease in men and women. We wear red to make a statement that we are supporting the research being done. And…we have Valentine’s Day which stirs up the emotions in our “love” heart. Our hearts are fragile, not only physically, but emotionally and spiritually.

But how do we keep our hearts soft and guarded spiritually, which is the most important of all?

The scriptures tell us that God knows the thoughts and motives of our heart. There’s no way to hide that from God.

In II Chronicles 36:3 we read that Zedekiah, who was only 21 years old when he became king and ruled Jerusalem, became stiffnecked and hardened his heart and would not turn to the LORD. Also the Apostle Paul was speaking to the Romans (8:5) about their stubbornness and unrepentant hearts.

Proverbs 16:2 “All of man’s ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the LORD.”

Oh wow…..I don’t want to have an unrepentant heart, do you? I know my sins that are ever before me, but I also know that God has promised to forgive my sins through the shed blood of Christ when I have a repentant heart.

THIS IS HOW YOU GUARD YOUR HEART!
Heart

I have Psalm 139:23 written on a card and taped to my bathroom mirror, so as I am “prettying” my hair and face, (which takes a little longer these days!) I am reminded that what’s really important is what is on the inside. So I ask God to search my heart and see if there is any offensive way in me, and to lead me in the way everlasting. Most of the time I need to make an attitude adjustment!

When you stay in fellowship with God you have peace that there will be “no fear of bad news and your heart will be steadfast because you trust in the LORD”.
(Psalm 112:7)

Philippians 4:7 says, “the peace of God which transcends all understanding, will
guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus”.

So….obviously our minds are connected to the attitude of our hearts.

HOW DO WE GUARD OUR MINDS?

Well, my years of life experience says….be careful who you hang-out with, what you see and what you hear. Notice how your thought processes change little by little, and make an effort to rein in those thoughts and motives that in time will begin to harden your spiritual heart.

Jesus said, “where your treasure is there your heart will be also.”
(Matthew 6:2)

Stay in the Word of God that pierces the heart with truth. Truth hurts sometimes….but that’s OK because the final outcome is a beautiful, repentant, soft hearted you.

NOW, THAT’S A HAPPY HEART!!!

So….here’s to our hearts. May they keep receptive to the plan of God for our lives…GUARDED by our desire to be all that He has called us to be.

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Shabbat Shalom

What is the big deal about Shabbat? And why do Jews say this to each other every Friday afternoon?

Well, it is a big deal. God even told us in his Ten Commandments to honor the Sabbath. (Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work: but the seventh is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy man-servant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.) 

This is something that we struggle with in our Western Christian thinking, and it is something that we both miss the meaning of and miss the benefits of because as a society we do not honor it.

Our Jewish brothers and sisters shut down their work places and spend sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday in fellowship together and with the Lord. It is so amazing to be in Jerusalem on Shabbat when the streets literally empty for 24 hours and resume the hustle and bustle of life on Saturday evening. Everyone returns to their routines rested and happy, and ready to work. Let’s discuss the meaning of Shabbat and Shalom.

shabbat shalom

Shabbat in Hebrew literally means “ceasing” or “stopping.” This is the word that is always used for the seventh day, the day work ceases for the purpose of rest. Not only is this a time of rest, but a time for holy gatherings together.

Leviticus 23:3 says, “Six days work is done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, a set-apart gathering. You do no work, it is a Sabbath to rest in all your dwellings.”

We know the word Shalom as the word for peace in Hebrew. But the noun Shalom has the more literal meaning of “being in a state of wholeness with no deficiency.”

Therefore, when we put the two words together, Shabbat Shalom, the simple meaning is, “may your day of no work be peaceful.” But, if we dive deeper and look at the literal meaning, it really becomes, “may you become whole during your ceasing of laborious work,” or, “may your wholeness be restored as you cease work on the seventh day.”

This is fantastic, right? So why aren’t we doing this? God actually gave us a day that we should dedicate wholly to Him and to gathering together with our loved ones in His Name. Why do we miss this when it is such a gift?

Now hold on to your hat, because I just learned something that both helped me to understand just how special and important we are to our Creator God, and made me appreciate the Sabbath enough to want to keep it from now on. Ready?

Genesis 1:1 God created the heavens and the earth. The 1st Chapter of the Bible tells us how he created all things and then made man at sundown on the 6th day. He made everything in creation perfect BEFORE He made us. He made it for our pleasure because we are the apple of His eye, made in His own Image. Then, once everything else had been made, He formed man. And, He formed man just in time for His Day of rest! Man’s first day on earth was set apart for rest and communion with God. Our first day in existence was Shabbat, spent building our relationship with the One who made us.

I can hardly contain my excitement! We are special, and we were made to be in relationship with God.

We are free in Christ, so we are not bound by law. God does command us to keep the Sabbath and to keep it holy. However, our society does not collectively adhere to the Sabbath. The day of the week doesn’t really matter – what matters is that we unplug once a week and take our God-given gift of a day of rest.

Imagine how our relationships with God and with each other will deepen when we set aside 24 hours a week to rest together in His Presence.

May your wholeness be restored as you cease work one day a week to commune with the One who created you and gave you peace and rest!

Shabbat Shalom!!!

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Contentment In All Circumstances

Do you ever struggle with being discontented? Do you find yourself wishing for more of something, whether it is money, possessions or relationships?

I suppose we all do on some level. As an American, I know that I sometimes struggle with not “having” the things I “want.” We are indeed spoiled and have a generally skewed idea of what our needs are versus our wants.

I also struggle with being alone sometimes. Most people my age have a husband, children, in-laws. So far, I don’t. And maybe I won’t. Only God knows what the future holds.

As I grow older I am learning to understand what Paul meant in his letter to the Philippians when he said, “I have learned to be satisfied with whatever I have. I know what it is to be poor or to have plenty, and I have lived under all kinds of conditions. I know what it means to be full or to be hungry, to have too much or too little. Christ gives me the strength to face anything.” (4:11-13 CEV)

Webster says that satisfaction is: fulfillment of ones wishes, expectations or needs, and the pleasure derived from this.

Contented means: manifesting satisfaction with one’s possessions, status, or situation.

Of course I don’t actually know what it is like to have nothing and to go hungry. I have been blessed in my life to never know that pain. I do my best to reach out to those in greater physical need.

But, I think Paul is talking about all kinds of needs when he says “poor” or “plenty.” He was in prison when he wrote this, so he must have been feeling poor in all areas of his life. Even if we have enough to have food, shelter and clothing, we all understand loneliness.

We can all apply Paul’s principle of contentment to our lives. It is necessary for peace and happiness to be satisfied with whatever season of life we are living in. If we constantly focus on what “could be” or what we think “should be” then we will miss the valuable lessons we are to learn right where we are. Choosing contentment builds character.

There will be difficult days. There will be lonely days, even if you are not alone. There will be financial trials and hard times in our relationships. There will also be days when everything goes well – we feel good, our bills are paid, and the sun is shining.

We must be satisfied and content in our relationship with God so that these swings up and down will not affect our solidarity and our happiness. We must choose to always be grateful for what we have.

Choose to thank God for His provision that never fails us.

Believe that Christ is sufficient for us, and that through Him we have the strength to face anything.

contentment

No matter what your circumstance is this day, give thanks in contentment to God who supplies all your needs. He provided for you yesterday, and He will provide for you tomorrow.

He promised to be EVERYTHING you need – financially, emotionally, spiritually.

When you think about that promise, it is much easier to choose contentment.

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DAY OF PRAYER

“Don’t be anxious about anything, but in everything, 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 minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6 & 7

prayer

I am sure you have seen the news of the week with many tornadoes touching down in the southern states. My heart is grieved as I Iisten to interviews with those who have lost their homes and possessions. But, I have also noticed that many give credit to God for survival. Many have said that their family was huddled together in prayer while their home was being torn apart.  I even heard one of the storm chasers cry out to God for protection in the video he shared.

Today is our National Day of Prayer.  What does that mean?

Do we pray to Almighty God one day a year, or is this supposed to be an example of what we should be doing every day.

What is prayer?

To those who know Father God and make requests known to Him through His Son Jesus the Christ, it is a constant communication.  To some it is a memorized or read prayer, and that is good, since God knows the thoughts and intents of hearts.  In Romans 12:12 Paul tells us to be faithful in prayer.

A month or so ago I heard on the news that The Dalai Lama was opening the Senate in Washington DC with “prayer.”  To whom or to what was he “praying” to?  A dead god?  An idol of stone?

The Good News today is that we pray to a living God.  Our Savior, Jesus, is the mediator between us and God ( I Timothy 2:5).  We can come before His Throne boldly with our requests, and, because He loves us, He answers them according to what is best for us.

Because we have a living savior, we can pray to Him as the scripture instructs us in Philippians 4:6 & 7, and that peace is worth more than all the possessions we can own on this earth.

As for me, I want my heart and mind guarded in Christ Jesus, and the best way to do that is to have open communication with Him in prayer, and to read His Word.

How say you?

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“Peace, man……….”

During the hippie era, that was the greeting from one person to another. In other words, stay cool, calm, don’t stir up strife; love everybody.

artful-s-peace-sign

Still today we see the peace sign displayed on car bumpers, t-shirts, jewelry, etc.

Peace is that elusive “thing” we all want but can’t make happen in our world of wars, our homes of strife, our government of lies.

How do you grasp peace?

You can’t hold it in your hand; you can’t meditate enough hours to make it stay with you in your spiritual self to last indefinitely.

What is the answer for the heart of mankind the world over to receive peace?

You say that to receive Jesus,The Christ, in your heart is the answer!

I say YES to that, because peace is not a thing, not an “it.”
PEACE IS THE PERSON OF CHRIST!

But, we are just human after all, and life is hard. Even those of us who believe totally in God and His plan for our lives struggle sometimes with life issues and decisions.

When the angel of the LORD appeared to the shepherds the night of Jesus’ birth, he said, “”Do not be afraid (as in the absence of peace), I bring you GOOD NEWS of GREAT JOY that will be for ALL THE PEOPLE. Today in the town of David (Bethlehem) a SAVIOR HAS BEEN BORN TO YOU; HE IS CHRIST THE LORD.”
Then suddenly a great company of heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth PEACE to men on whom His favor rests.'”

Since that time we haven’t done very well with the concept of peace in our world, our homes; even in our hearts and minds.

But that kind of peace is offered to us in the persons of God the Father, Jesus, His Son, and the Holy Spirit.  All we have to do is take it by faith.

In John’s Gospel, chapter 14, verse 27 we read Jesus’ words, “Peace I leave with you, MY PEACE I GIVE TO YOU, NOT AS THE WORLD GIVES, GIVE I UNTO YOU. DO NOT LET YOUR HEART BE TROUBLED AND DO NOT BE AFRAID.”

As we celebrate the birth of our Savior, The Author of Peace, in a couple days, may we be reminded that HE IS OUR PEACE!!!

Take His Peace unto yourself moment by moment every day.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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Be still and know…

Christmas.

Love it or not, it will be here in a matter of days.

Normally, I’m all about the Christmas season.  I make my lists and check them twice.  I shop and wrap and bake.  I was geared up to jump in with both feet this year, too.  The magic of Christmas was mine for the making.

And then, on the 4th of December, I zigged when I should have zagged while skiing with my kids.   A pop and then a zip from my calf up to the back of my knee.  I instantly knew what had happened.  And that I was in for a backwards and head first ride down the mountain via the ski patrol sled.

Mammoth Sled RideMammoth Tami Top View Sled

Muscle torn.  Pain.  Crutches.  Life slowed to a crawl.  And the Christmas I had envisioned was altered.

For two weeks I have pieced together what little Christmas magic I can muster.  I haven’t been able to go to the mall to participate in the crazy hustle that is Holiday Shopping.  The baking hasn’t materialized.  There has been no caroling.  The gifts ordered online aren’t wrapped.  And while my husband says, “Hey, at least I got the tree up,” all I can see is that it needs more lights.  About five thousand should do it.

I’ve viewed the Season these past two weeks through a different lens.  Keeping a slower pace has forced me to be introspective.  And in the quiet of my days, I heard something extraordinary.   Be Still.  Know.  I AM God.

I think sometimes God allows these little hiccups in life to bring us back to basics.  Christmas will happen whether I hobble through the mall or not.  The truth behind that old cliché “Jesus is the Reason for the Season” has been pushed to the back of our consciousness, even in the midst of the well-meaning religiosity of the holidays.

The lights, the fanfare, the pageantry, the gifts, even the music – it’s all fluff.   When that is all stripped away we are left with the realization that the baby’s birthday we celebrate each year is God incarnate.  And He wants us to know Him.  Without the fluff.

Let’s get back to basics:  the incredible act of God sending his Son to be born and live here on earth so that we ultimately can know what the words grace and peace truly mean.  That’s it.

You may not have an injury or illness that makes you slow your pace, but I’m challenging you to do it anyway.  Even for a few moments at a time.  Listen.  Can you hear Him?

Be Still. Know. I AM God.

“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10)

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