#Psa - lm4 - 6:1 (His Number)
Parent: “What did you learn in class tonight at church?” Teacher: “God’s number.” In a small warm room filled with twelve 3, 4 and 5-year-olds, (including one very unhappy 2-year-old and two tired adults) there was an important lesson to be learned. Amidst a lot of noise, tears, smiles, kool-aide, fish crackers, crayons, boo-boos, bare feet and a simplified four-word memory verse God spoke volumes. Toward the end of an hour and a half class, the children were sitting on the carpet for a quiet time to practice the memory verse. The verse was a simplified age-friendly version of Psalm 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. The lesson had condensed the verse to four simple words: “God is our help.” The teacher was excited about this development as she knew four words would boost the children’s interest and learning potential. The verse was read and explained to the children. Anytime we are in trouble we can call on God to help us. The children were asked to repeat each word one word at a time. The teacher pointed out the promise of learning success as it was “only four words!” The children quoted the verse over and over with the teacher and then all on their own. Success! Wait a minute; the scripture reference had been omitted. The children were prompted to say the verse again and add Psalm 46:1 to the end of the four words. The children, tired, and not really wanting to continue the learning experience reluctantly began to say the words. As Psalm 46:1 slowly began to come from their mouths, a four-year-old asked, “Is that His number?” The two tired adults smiled and learned God is the teacher. Four words are big words when they are God’s Words. He has our number. He is our help even when we are tired.
On a cold winter’s night, a gander of geese was grounded by a blinding blizzard. The ground the grounded geese gazed at belonged to a wise farmer with a kind heart. The farmer, sitting by the fire, had finished his evening meal. He heard the cold wind whistling outside while he was safe and warm inside his home. The geese cold and scared cried to one another seeking direction. The farmer heard the cries. Being a wise man, he didn’t ignore the cries. He looked, he saw - he took action. Next to the farmhouse was a barn dry and warm. The farmer attempted to lead the geese to the barn. They didn’t follow. The farmer carefully crumbled a path of bread crumbs to the barn. The geese didn’t follow. Finally the wise farmer thought of the duck who he fed on the pond behind the barn. The duck was tame and often followed him around the farm. He picked up the duck from the dry warm barn and placed him outside on the cold wet ground. The duck probably would have been happier to stay where it was warm and dry, but the farmer knew best. The duck saw the trail of bread crumbs and began to waddle along eating as he went. The geese saw the duck and followed him to warmth and safety. Aren’t you glad that our Father in Heaven is wise and has a kind heart? He saw mankind in a cold cruel world crying for help. He took His Son from the glory and beauty of Heaven and sent Him to earth that we might follow Him into the warmth and safety of our Father’s house. May we be more like Him and never fail to hear those who cry for help who are longing to be rescued from this cold world.
Taking off the Watch and Diving In
"God, I am afraid; I can't do it," I said even as I was taking off my watch. My legs started moving toward the front of the church. "It is time, go; I am with you," He said to me. So today, I got baptized in the very clothes I wore to church.” This quote was on Facebook Sunday. I thought of how this person must have felt like, the excitement of letting nothing stop them from doing what God called them to. I remembered myself the first time God called me to go “down front” at church when I was a child. I too had a similar experience as my hands were pulled free from clutching the pew seemingly by an invisible force. My legs, shaking, moved uncontrollably toward the altar. What freedom when I finally made it there! I remember conveying this experience to my best friend when I was twelve or so. Susan was from a different denomination, very smart, and very knowledgeable of the scriptures as they had been taught to her. We loved each other but never agreed on the basics of Christianity, such as baptism. About a year or so ago my friend and I reconnected on Facebook. She lives several states away, but we have shared old pictures and memories via Facebook. I first thought “fb” was a waste of time, but I now use it as a tool for sharing Christ. My friend Susan often reads my “stories.” By the way, the person who took off the watch and got baptized in the clothes she wore to church Sunday was Susan who once said, “Baptism today isn’t necessary.” Today as you think of old childhood friends, say a prayer for them. You never know what wonderful things God has waiting. It is never too late to take off the watch of religion and dive into all God has for those who are willing to go where He leads.
If God had wanted…
My three girls were teenagers in the Eighties. They wanted their ears pierced from the time they were ten or so. My answer always: “If God had wanted holes in your ear lobes, He would have put them there.” I don’t know that I had any scripture to back that up at that point in my life, but I was fervent on the belief and I stuck to it. Nothing was stuck in the ears of those who lived in my house. Pierced ears are very common these days as well as other things it seems. Ears, noses, tongues, (ouch that has to hurt) and even belly buttons are decked out with jewels. Speaking of belly buttons, this week belly buttons made the news. It seems a man in Australia has been collecting belly button lint since 1984. He is now in the Guinness Book of World Records for collecting 22.1 grams of lint every day for the past 26 years. I suppose he believes if God had wanted lint in belly buttons, He would have placed it there. Therefore he extracts his daily. Is his belly button pierced? I kind of doubt it. What does God think of piercings and collecting belly button lint? Are these things the most important things He thinks about? I kind of doubt that as well. Each of us has a belief system that is stuck deep inside our brains from a very young age. Some of those beliefs are based on nothing more than a gut feeling that something just isn’t right. As Christians, we must base our belief system on God’s Word and Jesus Christ Himself. Our beliefs and values should stick out in a world whose belief system is pretty much, “Anything goes.” The best way to find out what God thinks is to get to know Him by hearing with your ears and your heart what He has to say. Examine your heart and your belief system this week. Spend some time filling empty holes with God’s Truth. Spend some time collecting God’s love, grace, mercy, peace, and joy. These are a few of the things God wants in us.
Seen any good t-shirts lately? Did you know reading t-shirts can be entertaining as well as educational?
However, most would agree that the entertainment purposes far outweigh the educational aspect of
T-shirt reading. T-shirts were once worn only as undergarments. It wasn’t until the 20th century the
T-shirts that we wear, read, and know as outer clothing came to be. It has been said you can read a book by its cover, if that is the case can we read people by their t-shirts? Some of the shirts are funny, and some frustrating. Some tell us what it is we should to do to make the person’s life who is wearing the t-shirt better. Some give political and moral views. Some even proclaim a gospel message. A couple of funny ones I have seen recently: “I have been told hard work never hurt anyone, but I’m not taking any chances.” And “I was once schizophrenic but now we are all better.” Both of those made me smile, so I believe those two t-shirts served their purpose well. As I consider all the choices one has when choosing a t-shirt to serve as a covering with a message to be presented to the world, I wonder if God could choose one t-shirt for each of us to wear what message would He want to be displayed? I think God’s words in His Word are pretty clear as to what He wants us to say to the world. God’s message is a message of love, hope, and peace to all who believe. What is the best way to display that message? No, it’s not by wearing t-shirts. We must live our lives in a way that all see those things in us. The message we pass on is not to be for entertainment or even educational purposes. The purpose of our message must be to pass on the Message of the Messiah who loves all, inside and out, at all times.
There is a Lighthouse
There is a lighthouse standing tall upon the rocky shore.
Its light shines brightly beckoning the lost to come home forevermore
Though the night is dark and filled with gloom,
Though the storms rage threatening certain doom,
The lighthouse stands strong shining its calming peaceful light,
Proclaiming salvation, hope, and life to all who come within its sight.
Last Monday Ruth Joliffe took a journey to her new home. In her new home, there will be no want for anything. She won’t have to worry about buying ceramic lighthouses at the dollar store to give to all of her friends. She won’t have to worry about light bills or any kind of bills anymore. She will never again hobble to an altar to pray for healing from pain and disease in her body, healing by the way she had great faith would come. We are thankful for all those things Ms. Ruth is now enjoying. However, there are so many things we will miss. We will miss the handwritten scripture cards decorated with birds, angels, and lighthouses. We will miss receiving those ceramic lighthouses. We will miss praying for her and we will so miss her praying for us. We will miss the hugs, the smiles, the jokes, the happy dances. A light has left us but the light has gone home to a place where a Lighthouse is shining forevermore beckoning all of us home to the Light of the World. May we all find our way to Him.
The Case of the Coworker
Coworkers, most of us have them. A coworker is defined as a fellow worker; a colleague who shares the workload. Yes, a coworker’s job in a perfect world should be to share the workload and make work less work for one, but this is not always the case. If we work with a coworker every day we sometimes become friends which should make the workload even lighter, which again is not always the case. And if you have a friend who becomes a coworker it should make work even easier, but once again I say this is not always the case. Sometimes coworkers don’t share the workload equally, or even partially. Sometimes coworkers don’t become friends and sometimes friends who become workers cease to be friends. There is all kind of advice from experts dealing with coworker catastrophes. However, the truth of the matter is unless the expert advising you is there dealing with the case of the coworker that you are dealing with eight hours a day five days a week, they don’t have a clue what you should do. The best advice comes from God’s Word which says, “Two are better than one.” (even coworkers). “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (a co-worker is your neighbor). “A friend loves at all times.”(even when they become coworkers) This week take God to work with you. Put Him on the case. Ask Him to help you solve all the problems you encounter with coworkers, friends, and enemies. He will give you the words you need to speak kindly and gingerly to tell the coworker to get to work and to show your friends and enemies you love them with the love of Christ no matter what each day brings your way.
A New Spin on Things
A hunter bought a dog with a special ability. It seems the dog would run ahead to the lake, see how many ducks were available for the taking, then go back and bark the number to the potential shooter. The young man anxious to try out his new dog turned the dog loose to check out the lake. The dog came back shortly jumping and spinning in circles, holding a stick in his mouth. The bewildered hunter shot the dog fearing he was rabid. He then took the dog back to the man he purchased if from, demanding his money back, saying the dog had gone crazy. The older man asked the young man what it was the dog had done. He told him the dog had gone wild, spinning with a stick in his mouth. The old man said, “I think you are the one who is crazy. The dog was telling you there were more ducks at the lake than you could shake a stick at.” How often do Christians mistakenly judge moves of God in this way? We have so many available miracles ready for the taking. If God chooses to send them in an unconventional way, we sometimes shake with fear and say forget it, kind of ask God for our money back. We should always be anxious for miracles, signs, and wonders, even the kind that have the potential to make us jump and spin around awhile.
The Light Shining Through
A grandmother added a square to a quilt top. The pink square was embroidered with the name and date of birth of a new baby just born into her family. A granddaughter looked on as the grandmother held her work to the light to inspect it. The grandmother said, “I think it is coming along quite nicely.” The granddaughter said, “Yes, well done Grandma.” The light shone through brightly colored squares representing births and marriages, as well as, through a few scattered dark squares. The young girl asked her grandmother what the dark squares represented. The grandmother sighed and said, “Among the happy moments in my life there have been some dark moments, those squares represent things such as death and divorce.” The granddaughter told her grandma she was sorry she had faced sad times in her life. The grandmother smiled and said, “Don’t be sorry, sad times are woven in with happy times in all of our lives. God uses sad times to draw us closer to Him. Someday when we stand before Jesus and He inspects the entire tapestry of our lives, both the bright and dark moments, He will smile as He sees how we allowed His light to shine through the dark times. Then He will say, “Well done.”
A farmer walked in the field one day to look at an old abandoned tractor. The entire body was rusted. He looked at the wheels with rotten tires barely hanging on. He knew it would take a little time and energy to move the old tractor, but he wanted it moved! As he planned how to move the tractor, he knew the first step would be to turn the bolts on the wheels that had been rusting for over twenty years. He would most likely need a tool called an impact wrench made especially to move immoveable, rusted bolts. An impact wrench uses both a hammering and turning motion together. When the trigger is pulled, the impact from tiny hammers inside the wrench is transformed into a rotary motion. Both actions working together save time and energy.
Christians are called to have an impact on this world. We are to give hope to those who are barely hanging on, move immoveable, and trigger transformation. It is time we worked together, putting energy into action if we truly want to see God move.
A family was desperate for food. The father made a decision to go hunting with an old rifle and only three bullets He came upon a rabbit, shot, and missed. He came upon a squirrel, shot. and missed. Down to his very last bullet, he saw a turkey high above his head. As he pointed his gun to fire the last bullet, he heard a voice speak, “Pray first, aim high, and stay focused.” Just then the hunter saw a deer which he thought would be a much greater kill. But as he aimed at the deer, he saw a rattlesnake on the ground ready to bite him. He then brought the gun down to shoot the snake. As he did, the voice spoke again, “I said, pray first, aim high, and stay focused.” The hunter recognized the voice of God. He prayed, aimed high and focused. He shot. The lone bullet bounced off the turkey, killing the deer. The handle fell off the gun, hitting the snake in the head, killing it. The force of the shot knocked the man in the water. He stood up to find his pockets full of fish, looking upon a dead deer, turkey, and snake. When you are down to your last shot, forced to make quick decisions in life, always pray first, aim high, and stay focused. The enemy will be defeated and you will receive more blessings than you will be able to carry.
The Real Deal
Fall and fairs seem to go hand in hand. Funnel cakes, fast rides for nuts, carnival games and camel apples with nuts. Have you ever paid the outrageous price to get in the gate just to buy one of those overpriced apples? Yes, you can buy caramel apples in the grocery store, or make them yourself at home, but the carnival caramel apples seem to come with a built-in smile. Only when you stand in a long line in front of the trailer with a happy apple sign painted on the side, in the pouring rain, and hand the seemingly unhappy carnie five bucks, do you know you have the real deal. Last week my son brought me one of those apples home from the fair. I smiled. I remembered a story my mother told about when she was a little girl, how she had taken her mom a half-eaten apple home. I imagine she smiled. This fall as we think of all we have to smile about we should smile. We have the real deal walking hand in hand with us every single day. Whether we are standing still in the pouring rain in a seemingly unending line or moving really fast through this life, God is with us. He loves us and cares for us every single day. He smiles when we bring the very best we have to offer home to Him. He never overcharges to enter in. The joy He offers is priceless. He is the real deal. Smile and take the time to enjoy the ride this fall
Dr. Robert Jarvis, creator of the Jarvis 7 artificial heart said: “People want a normal life; just being alive isn’t good enough”. Dr. Jarvick said this after the first recipient, of the heart which was intended to last a lifetime, died after only 112 days.” It has been hard, but the heart itself has pumped right along." After the imperfections were found, the original creator was asked to improve and recreate the device. Jarvick created the Jarvick 2000 which was more successful than its predecessor. Today artificial heart technology continues to advance with a Berlin heart which has been proven to help a diseased heart heal on its own and return to normal function. This heart’s first recipient felt she received a second chance in life. Sometimes life seems very hard, but God intends for each of us to not just live but have life in more abundance. God is the original creator of each original heart. Sometimes our hearts become ridden with disease, not of a physical nature but of a spiritual nature. When this happens we must go to our Creator who cleanses our hearts, recreates them and gives us a second chance. Whatever problems occur with anything, the original creator is the best one to ask to fix it. Psalm 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a right spirit within me
Stuck in the Middle
The self-made man is defined as one who rises from poverty and obscurity by means of his own talents or energies. Wait a minute, his own talents? Yes, to rise above we have to use our talents, a lot of energy, hard work, and perseverance, but who gives talents to us in the first place? Men are not self-made, but God made. There is an old song from 72 that speaks of being a self-made man stuck in the middle. One line says, “Well, you started off with nothing, and you're proud that you're a self-made man.” Finally repeated over and over is this line, “Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, Here I am stuck in the middle with you.” Who is the self-made man stuck in the middle with? I guess not a clown or a joker. Clowns and jokers have a way of getting us stuck in some messes that we have to use God-given talents to get out of. He also gives us people, who help us achieve and be and become and rise from obscurity. The people we have surrounding us are very important as we use our talents and energies to become unstuck from the ruts of helplessness and hopelessness. Sometimes the best way to make a dream become reality is to speak it to someone who will believe that it can come to pass. A confidant is defined as a trusted friend to whom private matters are disclosed. In this life, we need more confidants and fewer clowns. It does matter much who is in the middle of a mess with you, but matters more who helps you get unstuck from the middle of the mess.