“And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.” Genesis 28:12 When I was in elementary school there was one class everyone loved. Once a week we went to the auditorium for music. First what was special about this class was that we got to leave the classroom. Second, was the young teacher didn’t make us do anything but sing, sing, sing. Those were happy times climbing up on stage at Lawhon School. I have thought about the class from time to time through the years when I hear a song we sang there. One of those times happened this past week. I received a prayer request from a man named Jacob in Ireland. He asked that I spend some time meditating and praying, asking God what He had for his life. He was searching for direction. When I get a request like that I do pray and I am very careful that I do hear from God before I respond. As I was praying the words to a song not only found their way into my head but also began to come from my lips. The song was an old spiritual we once sang in music class. We are climbing Jacob’s ladder…Every rung goes higher higher…Sinner, won’t you love my Jesus? If you love Him you must serve Him. Rise and shine and give God glory, Soldiers of the Cross. What is amazing about this is that only forty years ago we could not only say the name of Jesus in public school but also sing about Him! Today we are called to go higher. Our goal must be to get sinners to love Christ. If we love Him we must serve Him. We must rise up and give God glory. If we want generations who follow after us to be able to sing about and proclaim the name of Jesus, we must be soldiers climbing, bolding proclaiming, and baring His cross daily. Angels will be with us as we go.
Silly Bandz - Silly Smiles
At VBS one of the rewards for the children, as they left each evening, was a silly band. If you don’t know what a silly band is, most kids will think you are silly. Silly bands are made of silicone and die molded in many different fun shapes. These colorful rubber bands put on the wrist always return to their original shape when taken off. Silly bands are everywhere. Well, they were until schools decided bands created a distraction. Most schools now band silly bands. This summer most public swimming areas have also banded the bands because the bands disintegrate and clog the pool plumbing. The silly bands at VBS were shaped like horseshoes, cowboy hats, boots, and cowboys. As I watched children choose a silly band and put them on I saw a lot of smiles. It is really amazing to think of such a small silly thing bringing so many smiles. On the other hand (or maybe I should say wrist) I was amazed as I read about the many frowns the very same silly bands had caused. In life, there are many small things that bring much joy. We should appreciate small things that bring smiles. At the same time, we should realize if the small things are material things there is always a chance of excessiveness creating problems. This week find something small and silly to smile about. If someone else gets bent out of shape because you are smiling, keep on smiling. Remember more than a temporary smile, we have access to the true joy inside that comes from Christ. The joy of Christ often distracts the world which sometimes tries to band that joy from coming into certain places. However, it is a joy that cannot be disintegrated. Once we choose to put on Christ no one can take Him from us.
Forget Me Not
In an old scrapbook, a woman looked at a withered flower with a pretty pink ribbon tied around it. Below the dried flower was these words, “Forget Me Not Bouquet 1983.” Many years had passed and whoever it was that had given the forget me not bouquet had indeed been forgotten. The woman gently touched the flower and closed the book shut. Even though the giver was not remembered, the woman had warm thoughts of a kind person who had remembered her with what she was sure was once a beautiful gift. The flower whose giver was forgotten was itself once again put away and forgotten. Most of us have received many gifts through the years from kind people who have now for the most part been forgotten. The gifts may still be tucked away somewhere in an old book. The memories may still be tucked away somewhere in our minds. But in reality, most gifts given by man do stop giving as the gifts and memories of the giver wither away with time. No man can give a perfect gift, but God can. James tells us every good and perfect gift is from the Father of lights. The Bible speaks of many gifts that the Father gives each of us. Eat and drink, riches and wealth, grace, righteousness, justification of life are a few things that the Word specifically calls a gift from God. Of course, the greatest gift of all is Jesus Christ Himself who also sent the Holy Ghost. The Bible tells us to forget not the benefits of God. Are there any gifts God has given that you have forgotten and hidden? Forget not the gift, nor the Giver. Psalm 103:2 Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:
What’s In a Name?
“What’s your name?” is probably one of the most popular questions. Most all of us at one time or another have researched the meaning of our name and asked our parents why our given names were given. Even though my name has a very noble meaning, I never found why it was chosen for me, nor did I ever particularly care for the name when I was young. There were a lot of cute little rhymes designed with my name in mind in elementary school that I detested. Of course, Judy was the name of the popular actress Judy Garland of Wizard of Oz fame. I always loved the movie and I suppose assumed I was Ms. Garland’s namesake. In recent years my given name has become synonymous with a judge many know and I suppose love to watch on TV. I understand in real life she is genuinely a good person, so I don’t mind Judge Judy jokes so much. Today as I thought of names I thought of how the names we are given help to shape who we are. If another name had been chosen for me, would my personality be affected in some way? Hmmm … I don’t know. What’s your name? Has the name helped shape who you are? No matter what the name it is nice to have people know you and call you by that name. Jesus loves to hear us call His name. And remember, more important than our names given to us at birth are the names given to us by our Heavenly Father which shape who we are for all eternity. He calls me Child. He calls me Blessed. He calls me Healed. He calls me Whole. He calls me Free. He calls me Saved. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Romans 10:13
There are those who accept their lives as they are, never expecting, or aspiring to accomplish anything. And there are those who bring change into their lives and into the lives of others. There are those who say, “Somebody needs to do something about that,” and there are those who actually do something. Some make up their minds at an early age they will bring about change. At age 10 future United States Senator Claude Pepper (a great leader) carved the words "Claude Pepper, United States Senator" on a tree. At age 10 Vinay Bhat became the youngest chess master (a great problem solver) in the world. Many continue making a lasting impact on their world even when the world might consider them old. At age 90 Dr. Paul Walden (a great physician) was still giving medical and chemistry lectures. Pablo Picasso (a great creator) was still producing drawings and engravings. Young or old, we cannot all be senators, chess masters, physicians, or artists, but we can all bring about change in our world. What is the greatest change one person can make? We can introduce our world to the greatest leader, the greatest problem solver, the greatest physician, the Great Creator of everything. The Word tells us to go and tell the world. James 1:22 tells us to be doers of the word. But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. Be a doer, be a world changer. Tell someone what Jesus has done to change your world and how He can change theirs.
Slide, Step, Turn
On a slick rainy road, it is easy to begin to slide before you know it. What begins as only a small slide can end with disastrous results. On an obstacle course, or when walking a tight rope, if the going gets rough, it is easy to be tempted to go backward. It has been said the only way to make sure to keep moving forward is to never step back, and never look down. Look ahead and move forward. Small backward steps can lead to great falls. Small slides and baby steps often result not only in falls but incomplete turns. In life, we must be careful where we travel on rainy as well as sunny days. Life is kind of like an obstacle course at times and we must continually look ahead, keeping our eyes on Jesus always. Even though it may be tempting to go back to things that we once trusted in, or that once brought comfort, we must remember, even small steps backward, small compromises of God’s plan for our lives can lead to failure. We can quickly find ourselves in a confusing place where we lose sight of the destination God has designed for us. Psalm 26:1 tells us how to prevent slides. I have trusted also in the LORD; therefore I shall not slide. Jeremiah 7:24 warns of moving backward. But they walked in the counsels and in the imagination of their evil heart and went backward, and not forward. Genesis 19:26 speaks of one look back that led to death. But Lot's wife looked back and turned into a pillar of salt. If you feel a slide coming on, trust in God with all your heart. He will order your steps. You will not fall. You will not make a wrong turn. Let us keep our eyes on Jesus, the author, and finisher of our fate who is waiting for us at our final destination. Hebrews 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
New Stuff Inside
The first day of school a young boy stepped reluctantly on the bus. He was going to a new grade at a new school with new shoes on his feet, but with a used backpack on his back. His mother was struggling financially and just couldn’t afford everything new. She assured her son the backpack would serve the purpose until she could buy a new one. In class, the boy opened his old backpack and pulled out his new binder. He reached in an outside pocket for a pencil and found a folded piece of paper. It was a note from his mom. “Don’t worry about the outside; the inside is what counts. All the stuff inside is brand new and beautiful.” He smiled. From time to time he glanced down at the old backpack. It was something about it now; somehow it seemed to look a little newer. Some days we are reluctant to step into new because we worry about old. We are sometimes fearful of what will be waiting for us when we get where we are going. We worry what others will think. Did you know we aren’t supposed to worry about the outside or anything really? Jesus left us a note. "So I tell you, don't worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food to eat or clothes to wear. For life consists of far more than food and clothing”. Luke 12:22-23 He also told us He makes all things new. When we are new on the inside the outside begins to look a little newer also. Read the note God left for you! Remember all the new stuff you have inside today and smile!
Conundrum is a fun word to say after you figure out how to say it. It is a fun word to type into a search engine to find all the definitions, examples, and quotes from after you figure out how to spell it. Now in this format, I can’t really teach you how to say it, but this is how Webster attempts the task: kə-ˈnən-drəm. The definition: A riddle in which a fanciful question is answered by a pun. A paradoxical intricate and difficult problem; a dilemma An example of the first definition entry would be, “What is black and white and “read” all over?” To someone who has never heard that riddle (I can’t imagine who) I suppose it would get at least a smile when they find the answer is a newspaper. As for the second definition entry, I can’t really think of anything fun, funny, or even slightly amusing about that one. Problems and dilemmas of conundrum proportions are never funny. Sometimes life itself seems to be a conundrum. Just as we think we have solved one problem of paradoxical proportions another dilemma rears its ugly head. If on any given day we don’t have a conundrum in our lives personally all we have to do is pick up a newspaper and read not all over, but just a little to find one. And did I find any funny conundrum quotes? No, not one in the world, but I did find a little something Jesus said to bring a smile in the middle of conundrums. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
A church hosted a dinner for area pastors. A mother and her three-year-old son dropped off food. While the two were there, the pastor came in the kitchen and talked awhile. When they got in their car to leave the son said, “Mama, you make me sad, we have to leave Pastor.” The mother asked her little boy if he wanted to go back and get a hug from him. He said, “No, I just want to be with him.” At the same church two nights later a class prepared for a skit. One little girl’s part was to hang her head and pretend to be sad. A little boy who sat beside her said, “I am glad she is just pretending to be sad, if she were really sad, I would be sad.” The same church, the same week, two incidents when little children spoke words which can speak volumes to adults. How often do we simply want to be around someone and want nothing in return? How often do we sincerely feel the hurts and sadness others feel? I think Jesus would like us to listen to the children. This week go to Jesus simply because you want to be with Him, not wanting anything in return. Also, remember He feels our sadness. Lift up your head. Let His joy be your strength this week.
A six-year-old was caught with his hand in an empty cookie jar. When asked if he ate all the cookies, he said, “I just ate the cookies from the top down.” Will you tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? When telling the whole truth comes to mind, we sometimes think of George Washington and the cherry tree. He could not tell his father a lie. He cut down the cherry tree with his ax. If Washington had told his father, “I was standing there when the cut-down cherry tree fell.” it would have been thought to be a half-truth. Actually, the cherry tree story wasn’t the whole truth or the half-truth. Ironically, according to Washington biographer, Mason Weems, the story was fabricated to show Washington’s honesty. Half-truths have a way of tuning into whole lies very quickly. The Lord tells us no liar will be in heaven. His Word is clear and leaves no room for truth stretching or half –truthing. No matter how the cookie crumbles, honesty is the only policy. If you happen to cut down a tree or eat all the cookies this week, tell the whole truth.
A Knot with Oil
During a service at church, a call was made for the sick to come to be anointed. A mother told her son she was going to take him up front to be anointed with oil. She explained to him quickly that this practice comes from the Bible. When we believe, obey, and become anointed with oil God takes away sickness. Holding her hand the seven-year-old stood waiting his turn. He watched as the ones before him were touched on the head by the pastor. Seeing no change in any of them he breathed a sigh of relief. When it was his turn, he pulled on his mother’s hand and whispered, “Mom, I really don’t want to become a knot with oil.” Sometimes we as adults misunderstand things as well. In the Bible, anointing was a common practice and was nothing to be feared. We also complicate, and sometimes misunderstand, the phrase, “the anointing.” A very simple explanation of the anointing is special God-granted abilities for us to do what needs to be done for the Kingdom. The gifts placed in us are not simply given for our benefit. We each should not be sitting as “a knot with oil” on a log but should be using the anointing given for the furtherance of the Kingdom.
A father proudly presented his sixteen-year-old daughter with the keys to her first car. The car and the keys came after many a sleepless night for the father, and many a day of shameless buttering up from the daughter. After a lengthy speech from the father of the responsibilities and rules that come with driving, after a big bear hug of thankfulness from the daughter, she backed out of the driveway and began the first leg of a journey which would eventually lead to the freedom of her adulthood. As he watched her drive away, the father smiled as he remembered something his father once told him. “A good father is one who keeps pictures in his wallet where he once kept his money.” With a tear in his eye, he also thought being a father involves a lot of holding on and a lot of letting go. In a few weeks, the keys that had been given were taken back. Some rules and responsibilities were forgotten. On that sleepless night, the father understood being a good father means keeping your word and being a father when it would be so much easier to be a good friend. On that sleepless night, the daughter was heartbroken because she had disappointed her father, her best friend.
The angels told the shepherds, “Fear not.” Even though that is probably the most memorable fear not; there are many more. In Genesis Abram, Hagar, Isaac, Rachel, Joseph’s brothers, and Jacob were told to fear not. Abram, childless, “Fear not.” Hagar, her child thirsty, “Fear not.” Isaac exiled, “Fear not.” Rachel, in labor before her death, “Fear not.” Joseph’s brothers, hungry, “Fear not.” Joseph’s brothers, facing punishment, “Fear not.” In Exodus, the children of Israel were told to fear not when the enemy was approaching. The Lord would fight for them. They were told to fear not when the thunder roared the lightning flashed and the mountain smoked as God spoke. In the New Testament Jesus said fear not many times. Simon Peter who felt unworthy, “Fear not.” Jarious, who thought he had lost his daughter, “Fear not.” The multitude who felt they were of no value, “Fear not.” The final fear not is found in Revelation: He laid his right hand upon me saying, Fear not, I am the first and the last. Whatever situation you find yourself in today, remember, fear not. God’s Word is true to all who are childless, thirsty, exiled, hungry, in storms, near death, facing punishment, facing enemies, fearful of losing a child, feeling unworthy and valueless, He is the first and the last. Fear not.
The Few, the Humble, the Healed
A young boy watched as teams were chosen for a basketball game at school. He sat humbly on the sidelines as everyone around him was picked. He knew how well he could play the game and knew if they would just give him a chance he could do great things. Because he was a little different and they didn’t believe he could play, they never picked him. Amazingly, he went on to be an NBA star. There must have been a few who believed in him and encouraged him to go on to achieve greatness. In Mark Chapter 6 Jesus was in his hometown. He was rejected. No one wanted Him around. He seemed a little different to many and they didn’t believe. He knew what He could do for them. He had already raised the dead, calmed a raging storm, and made demons depart, but the majority rejected Him. Verse 5 tells that He could do no mighty works there except lay hands on a few sick folks and heal them. He marveled at unbelief. Jesus went on (Verse 41) to feed 5000 in a desert place. Jesus said that no mighty works were done in his hometown. But just think of those few sick folks who were healed. I believe those humble few who were healed believed it was a mighty work Jesus did in them. When we are rejected and think we aren’t doing that much we must continue on to achieve greatness. Many may not believe, but there will be a few who do. While journeying to the thousands we can’t forget the few.
Last week, on a hot August day, a child came home from school, tired and weary, but excited. He learned if homework is turned in every day, in cold December, he will go on a field trip to the mall. His teenage uncle laughed and told him he could go to the mall this weekend and the next, no work required. That same incentive breaker had earlier suggested I write something about incentive, a word that didn’t really excite me that much. C.D. Lewis once said, “I do not sit down to write something already clear in my mind. If it were clear in my mind, I should have no incentive to write about it.” Incentive is defined as something, such as the fear of punishment or the expectation of reward that induces action or motivates effort. Motivated, I took action and began to write. Another author said, “There is no medicine like hope, no incentive as great as expectation of something tomorrow.” As adults we must be careful not to be incentive breakers, laughing at others hopes and dreams of what will be in their tomorrow. Also, we must not become tired and weary losing hope and expectation of things that will be in our tomorrow. An incentive for tomorrow from God’s Word: Joshua 3:5 And Joshua said to the people, "Sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you."
Blindness, Baldness, Boldness
Unlike other ants, army ants do not have compound eyes but instead have single eyes (but they are still blind). Army ants use their antennae to sense smell and touch. This is how they know which colony and nest they belong to. The bald eagle is not bald but is so-called because it has a head of pure white feathers. Known as the "king of birds," the bald eagle looks majestic and proud and seems to typify a spirit of independence. Based on a study of 164 breeds of dogs conducted at Stockholm University, the following breeds were found to be the boldest: Labrador Retriever, Boxers, and Rottweiler. Boldest dogs combine measures of fearlessness, curiosity, sociability, and interest in chasing prey. Christians are called out to be unlike others. When God renames us our old names should no longer fit who we become in Christ. We are called to march boldly in the army of God; fearlessly chasing other souls we may win to join His army. As a member of this army I ask myself even though I have eyes, do I always see well enough to know what colony I belong to? Do I allow others to call me by a name that should no longer fit me? Do I display purity as I display the Spirit of God that lives within me? A majority of Christians, spiritually blind, displaying baldness (no covering), and lacking boldness, have no idea the power that lives within them when they become children of the King.
How many words are in the English language? For many there aren’t enough words to express the significance of the answer to that question; while for others a two-word answer is sufficient – “Who cares?” According to the Global Language Monitor, a Web site that uses a math formula to estimate how often words are created, the millionth word joined the English language on Wednesday, June 10th at 5:22 Eastern time. “Web 2.0" a term which refers to the second, more social generation of the Internet has the honor of being the one-millionth word. Wait a minute, is that really a word? Here is the gray area among word experts. Words such as “Web 2.0” and “gray area” aren’t really a single word, but terms. Jesse Sheidlower, editor of the Oxford English Dictionary says that the work of the web site is noble; yet emphatically contended counting all words cannot be done accurately. Do you count words that are really two words, together as well as on their own? What about “father” would that word be counted as another word with “great” “great-great” or “great great great” proceeding it? Sadly we may never know how many words there really are because of this gray area. All those who don’t really care say, “Great!” What about those of us who are interested in how many words there are? If all words were taken but one, what word would we most wish to remain? I believe the single most significant word that I would choo.se would be “Jesus.” He is the Great Great Great One whom the Father sent into a world full of millions of words. All other words fade to gray in comparison to that one word. We can count on Jesus in every area of our lives