Ten Thirty-One

Sometimes I sit down to write these things and the words just flow out and I can’t wait to get to the end of the post so I can know how it ends up sounding, too.  Other days, I must spend some time thinking and praying about them.  Today was one of those ‘second’ days.

My husband and I have made a habit to ask God to make things clear to us.  Specifically, we ask God to be specific in His answers to us and we actually say, “God, please make it clear to us–and make it so clear we can’t even be stupid and miss it!”  Mainly, we pray that because we know that we have provided ample examples of being stupid in the past.

As I spent some time in the Word this morning I asked God what He wanted to say both TO me and THROUGH me here. Sometimes they are the same message…other times, they are not.   At first, nothing came.  I waited.  I read Proverbs 31 again.  I’m starting to read those daily again, so I thought the message might be in there.  It wasn’t.

I checked out my Facebook page and looked at all the cute photos and updates; saw the political ads and the many conversations regarding the celebration of today as both Halloween and Reformation Day.  Some people get very heated on this topic.  VERY heated.  All very interesting–and I do have a personal opinion on this topic, but still…nothing that made me want to write a whole blog post on it today.  I decided to keep looking.

I looked through my on-line devotionals–those that I have delivered every day–and the last one caught my eye.  It was one of the ones from www.heartlight.org (great site!–use them!–they’re fabulous!–and support them if you can!).  The one that caught my attention was a daily verse that said this:

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”  1 Corinthians 10:31

I read it again.  Why was God bringing THIS to my attention?  I’ve probably read it at least 100 times or more and I’ve tried to live by it, as well.  So what now?  And then I saw it.  The “address” of this verse:  1 Corinthians 10:31.  TEN:  THIRTY-ONE…or as it seemed for me today…10/31…October 31st?   Now, that was cool!   I actually laughed out loud and clapped my hands!  That started my mind going and all of the sudden the words just started to pour out into my brain…just about the time I had to get ready and leave for an appointment in town.  How convenient…NOT.

I had just seen all of the differing opinions on a variety of topics all over my Facebook homepage.  People I KNEW were believers in Christ often held widely varied opinions about almost every thing.  “Vote this way–NO, THIS way!”  “Happy Halloween!”  “Happy Reformation Day!”  “Let the kids come to my house for candy tonight!”  “Don’t participate in this at ALL!”  To someone who hasn’t been around God’s people very much, we must look like a bunch of arguing yahoos.  Surely this verse must apply to all of that!

After my appointment, one thing led to another and I don’t think I’ve ever stayed in town so long!…or maybe it just seemed long because I wanted to be back here writing some of these things down.  I ended up inviting a friend for lunch and our conversation, as always, was such a blessing.  Several times our talk of loved ones and our activities just confirmed what God was telling me earlier this morning in this verse.  Here it is–this is what I shared with her about what I know today:

“We’re all at different stages of life and we’re all operating at differing levels of understanding of Scripture.  Now, if God has been plain about a specific thing, then I can’t help you out by encouraging a differing opinion.  BUT, on matters that are not addressed specifically in Scripture, if I sit in judgment of someone who knows less than I do–and acts accordingly–then I’m opening myself to the same treatment from those who know more than I do.  That’s part of the reason the church apears to have such confusion in our ranks.  IF, however, we could just agree to follow the instructions that are plain–like the one in 1 Corinthians 10:31!–I think we’d make a lot more headway in reaching the rest of the world for Christ.

If we could each make the decision to do “whatever” we do “for the glory of God” we’d make a bigger impact.  We’d argue less and agree more–or at least be more agreeable in the process! (smile)  I think we’d extend more grace and be more in line with the rest of what God has to say, as well.  After all, isn’t that our ultimate goal as Christians:  to do everything for the glory of God…just like Jesus did?  Could we have a better model?”  We both agreed that we could not.

Applying God’s word is not just a theorhetical exercise; it is a day-by-day practical application event.  As I was headed home…there was the brand new Krispy Kreme…and I pulled in.  As I sat in that line, it did not move at all–I mean, I couldn’t even get up to the order station!   I kept thinking about what I would write here when I finally made it home.  That verse just kept repeating itself over and over in my head.  I wondered what was holding those people up and that verse repeated itself.  I wrote a few lines in my head and that verse repeated itself.  And suddenly, it was clear as a bell to me and I laughed out loud again:  God’s message was extremely practical for me today.  I didn’t need to be in that line or make that order.  I pulled out of the line and headed home.

No matter how hard you look, you won’t find a verse in the Bible that tells you not to eat at Krispy Kreme, but for today, I did.  God knew I couldn’t do that for His glory today.  We’ve been trying to make better food choices and that wasn’t going to be one of them.  He didn’t beat me up with it and I’m fully aware that He would still love me if I’d stayed in that line, but obedience just tastes better.  I had asked and my God had been specific.  I had to listen…because he’d even put a date on it just so I couldn’t be stupid and miss it.

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Interconnected

When you belong to Christ:

  • You are stronger than you think.
  • You are more connected than you feel.
  • You are more capable than you know.
  • You are loved far more than you can imagine.
  • You have options you can’t yet see and God is on your side.

Your support system may not be visible to some, but He is there and He is providing a way for you to bear the load you’re under today…and giving you an opportunity to be a reflection of His beauty and grace in the process.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”  Philippians 4:13

*photo by Becky Childs

I’ll fly away…and pray

During our morning worship yesterday we were treated to a gorgeous accapella rendition of the old gospel favorite “I’ll Fly Away.” It was sung by a very talented sibling trio…who then brought their classical music training and instruments to bear in a seriously rousing instrumental version.  It was wonderful.

Shortly afterwards, we stood, joined in silent corporate prayer and I found myself thanking God for the hope that we have in Him, but asking why we focus so much on the “some glad morning” portion of our life and ignore today.  Why do we wait to ‘fly’ to Him now–right now?  You know, today…when we need Him. 

Many of us have grown accustomed to the concept of ‘praying continuously’ since Paul instucted the church to “pray without ceasing” (NKJV)  in 1 Thessalonians 5:17.  There are lots of ways to do this.  Many speak and practice the concept of ‘breath prayers’–simple 1-2 sentence phrases of prayer as they go about their day.  Others are proponents of marking regularly scheduled hours throughout the day with specific prayer topics for each assigned time.  Some people choose to be in a specific location, have a written list of requests, or meet with at least one other person and agree to pray for specific answers to previously determined needs.  Some choose silent prayers while others prefer voices lifted out loud or in accompaniment to music.

Regardless of our prayer method of choice, we’re making a deliberate attempt to communicate with God.  That’s an important part of any on-going relationship:  communication.  And yet, I wonder, what are we holding back?  What holds us back?  It’s not as if God isn’t aware of who we are and what we need–Scripture is very plain about this.  All I know is that for every person I meet, I’m absolutely certain that there is at least one thing that they’ve given thought to that they haven’t brought up before God.  Why is that?  If it is important enough to spend time thinking about, isn’t it the least we can do to ask God what HE thinks about it?

As for me, I’m determined to be completely and deliberately transparent before God.  He already knows what I’m thinking and why.  Should I try to hide it in our conversations? in my prayers?  Sounds a bit silly when you think about it, doesn’t it?…this trying to hide from an Omniscient, Omnipresent, and Omnipotent God?  Perhaps it is that last little of illusion of control that we’d like to think we still possess.  He loves me–and you!–enough to send His Son to die for our sins, so it simply isn’t possible that whatever we’re spending time on will shock Him into rescinding His gift…and as for our ridiculous notions of control…well…that’s a joke.

So, practically speaking, we need to fly to him–RUN!–to Him today in our prayers!  We need to share those secret sins and sorrows, our goals, our requests, the concerns and needs of others…and yes, the things we’re afraid of and the dreams that we haven’t yet shared with anyone else.  Don’t wait any longer to build on and strengthen your relationship with the God of the universe–the One Who Loves YOU BEST!  Fly to Him in prayer today!  I promise you, it will make that “some glad morning” even sweeter!

For your weekend…

“Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never – in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.” — Winston Churchill
“We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed–always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body…Therefore we do not lose heart.  Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.  For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen.  For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”  2 Corinthians 4:9-10, 16-18.
Both of the quotes written above came as a welcome and encouraging word both to and from people who were having a difficult time.  Praying for all of us:  a weekend of renewed strength and determination for fighting the good fight!  See you back here on Monday!
Grace & Peace!
*photo by Mike Childs

Confessions…

There are days I don’t want to read my Bible and when I don’t want to pray.  I don’t want to be cheerful or supportive or even hear what’s going on in someone else’s life.  There are days when I want to turn in and get away.  Days when I’m tired of being the strong one…the supportive one…the cheerful one.  Today is one of those days.

It’s been building all week.  The words–both written and spoken–are worked hard and they’re still not right and I’m tired of trying.  This is the second post I’ve written today.  Couldn’t get through the other one without gritting my teeth, so it will wait.  I’m tired.  Well rested, but just tired in my spirit.

Writing things down helps me process, so I’m processing.  God bless you if you’re still with me.

There’s nothing wrong here.  We’re good and we’re fine and I’m just in a mood…and I wish it were a better one.  This one stinks.

It will pass.  I know that.  I also know that there are thousands of people who wish they could have my bad day–because their reality is so much worse…every day.  I know that I’m blessed–why, I’ve got a string of blessing that would take the better part of some people’s life to hear in a list, so I know this is more than a bit self-indulgent…but it’s real today, so there’s no point in pretending that these days never happen here…or where you live, either.

This will take more than a great haircut and a dinner out to fix.  It will take me doing the very things that I really don’t feel like doing right now.  See, that’s where the discipline comes in.  This is one of those days when I need to do what I need to do because it is what I’m called to do.  I need to spend some time in the Word to hear from my God Who KNOWS me at my worst and loves me anyway.  I need to spend some time in prayer to pour out all of the things that won’t ever make it on to this screen.  I need to spend some time being grateful and some time just marinating in the Psalms and the knowledge that I’m not the first one or the only one or the last one to have a day like this.  This is a day when I’m grateful for the other days of doing what I knew I should do so that today I would know about Matthew 5:3-10, Psalm 19:14, Psalm 51:10 and so many others.  These verses give me hope and remind me that there is another way.  I can choose…and so can you.

I’m off to do the things I know I need to do now.  I covet your prayers today…and I’ll be praying for you, too…because I know that I’m not the only one having one of those days…

 

Apple Festival Oddities

Several weeks ago we were in North Carolina for a business trip.  We chose to drive instead of fly so that we could make several stops on the way home to spend time with family.  As part of that weekend family fun, we went to a local apple festival.  It was a whole-county type of event and had all the things you’d imagine a small town festival to have.

There was a section for local arts and crafts that took up most of the downtown main street area.  There was the inevitable ring of food vendors from all of the local churches and civic groups that surrounded the town square.  They sold everything from vinegar BBQ to hot chocolate…not an appetizing combination there, but you get my drift.  There were 3 stages to showcase the local talent.  (My brother-in-law’s band played on one of them and did a fantastic job!)  There were displays to sign people up to vote and a beekeeper informational booth complete with marked queen bees, a floral display booth,  exotic plant and vegetable vendors and, of course, more apples than the entire group of festival attendees could have consumed during a whole month.  Those were the things I expected to see…totally normal.

One of the things I didn’t see was a lot of dogs on leashes.  It’s one of the things I had actually expected to see since they’re almost everywhere these days.  You know, the tiny “designer” dog on a flashy leash…yes, even here in Mississippi these are quite common.  We also get our fair share of ‘regular’ working dogs out on leashes in Mississippi, as well…but not at this festival.  In fact, these North Carolina folks had signs that made it quite clear that dogs–leashed or otherwise–weren’t to be brought into the festival area at all.  Naturally, there were a few rebels, but they were very few, indeed.  I even saw one policeman actually encourage one intrepid owner with properly attached pet to move right on out of the area ASAP.  Seriously, even the display advertising a local pet sitting/grooming business didn’t have live animals…they had stuffed animals in their pens/cages.  I’d never seen anything like that in my life!  I am an animal lover with 3 cats and I even stock treats for the neighborhood dog who has adopted our whole street, but crowded places aren’t always the best places for people with animals, you know, so I could totally understand their ban on pooches for the day.  It was a bit unusual..but still within the outer limits of normal…I guess. 

Across from the pens with the stuffed animals was an enclosure with a couple of live animals.  Alpacas.  Two of them…named Pebbles and BamBam.  Cute and cuddly looking with bits of straw poking out of their  mouths.  It kind of made them look like hillbilly alpacas.  Hillbilly alpacas named Pebbles and BamBam.  Now, that‘s something you don’t see every day, either.  Definitely not normal, but really cool, nonetheless.

What I was considerably less prepared to see, however, emerged from some trees and came down the hill just behind the hillbilly alpacas…a man walking his camel.  Yes, you read that right.  A man came walking down the hill with a camel on a leash.  Suddenly the ban on dogs seemed a lot more reasonable.  I mean, really, how could they possibly compete with a camel?!  Oh, how I wished for the camera!  Alas, my husband was in possession of it and somewhere down the street.  You would have loved that shot!  It was absolutely fabulous!  Since that photo now exists only in my mind, you’ll have to do with the one that came later, but trust me, you wouldn’t have been disappointed, either.  A camel at an apple festival…Definitely NOT normal.  In fact, downright ODD, but still really, really cool!

You just never know what entertainment God is going to put in front of you, do you?!  The main thing is to be on the lookout for the fun.  Have a sense of anticipation as you go through life!  It makes life so much easier on you and on those around you–and God knows there are plenty of people who are already on the lookout for the negative.  Buck the trend!  Choose joy today!

Oh!  One more thing:  at the risk of offending the entire state of North Carolina…whether or not you see a camel at your next apple festival…seriously…avoid the vinegar BBQ!  Come see us in Mississippi…and we’ll show you how it’s really supposed to be done. (great big grin.)

 

*all photos by Mike or Becky Childs

The Collector

“It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn’t feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.”   — Neil Armstrong

It’s a bit hard for me to imagine Neil Armstrong feeling small.  I totally get what he was saying in his quote, but seriously…he was Neil Armstrong…American hero…trained astronaut…in a space shuttle…in orbit…and, in our culture, how much bigger could you get?

Personally, but I’ve had some times that made me feel beyond small.  Days when I wasn’t sure why God bothered to create me in the first place.  There have also been days when my mom used to say, “You’re getting too big for your britches!”  Isn’t that just like us–living somewhere between two extremes?

Either way, there’s no getting around it:  in the grand scheme of things…we’re all small.  Don’t get upset by that.  Embrace it.  Revel in it.  And remember that when you belong to Him, God has some pretty amazing things to say about you:  You’re so important that He pays strict attention to you and your life.  He’s actually such a fan of yours that He’s begun collecting mementos from your life.  Don’t believe me?  Check this out.

Scripture says that when we belong to Him, God keeps OUR

  • tears in a bottle (Psalm 56:8)
  • prayers in a bowl (Revelation 5:8)
  • days in a book (Psalm 139:16)
  • and our name engraved on the palm of His hand (Isaiah 49:16)

If that doesn’t make you feel important, then I’m not sure what will.