Taking a minute to focus

As humans, we tend to put our focus on the negative things.  The things that are going wrong.  The things we can complain about.  And, yes, lots of things have gotten worse in the years since I was a kid.  But let’s think a moment about some of the things that have improved.

How about TV?  Before you think I am one brick short of a full load, let me explain.  When I was growing up, we had about…let me think…4 channels to watch on TV.  Maybe 5.    There were no DVDs (or even videos) and no DVRs.  If we watched TV, we watched a show that was on one of the main networks:  ABC, NBC, CBS, and PBS.  That was IT.  Now most of us have more options than we know what to do with.  Yes, there are lots of options that aren’t good…but there are also lots of options that are educational and inoffensive.  I know that some of you believe that TV is a big waste of time, and I would tend to agree with you.  But, if people are going to watch TV (and they are!), at least there are some good choices out there.

Let’s take a minute to look at movies.  Yes, movies, as a general rule, continue to push more and more limits and grow more and more offensive.  But try watching a PG movie from the 80s.  I sat down to watch a popular movie from the 80s with my kids.  I was appalled.  I didn’t remember that language!  At least now we have the PG-13 rating.  The PG films of 2010 are much cleaner to watch than the PG films of the 80s.  And what about the Christian film companies?  We have some really talented Christians putting out some great films.   We also have some great channels (Hallmark and Gospel Music Channel to name two) putting out great, family-oriented films with nary an offensive word or deed in them.  Wise creators, directors, and producers who know that beautiful, real stories can be told without all of the offensive language, inappropriate conduct, and abhorrent violence that is Hollywood’s trademark.

Let’s turn our thoughts toward the home.  We know the divorce rate has increased.  More kids are growing up without dads.  But let’s think a moment about how the culture has changed for the better.  I can think of two right off of the top of my head.  First, dads are expected to be more involved in the lives of their kids.  Some of this is the result of so many moms working outside the home.  But I love that dads are now in the hospital room with their wives when babies are born.   I love that dads are helping kids with homework.  And dads are picking up kids from soccer.  Kids need to know that their dads love them.  And I believe this culture encourages dads to be involved more in their kids lives and to express that love in ways beyond simply providing for their family’s material needs.

Second, there was a time when a woman was ridiculed for not going to work outside the home.  A time when it was believed that she was wasting her talents if she was going to choose to stay at home and take care of her family.  But the culture has shifted dramatically since those days.  Doctors, lawyers, and even actresses, are taking breaks from work to spend time raising their precious children.  It is viewed as a wonderful, worthwhile option now.   What a change since the days where it was believed that if you stayed at home, you were lazy and unmotivated (nothing could be further from the truth, of course!)

Let’s turn our thoughts towards education now.  How about the homeschooling movement?  We have the option to keep our children home to educate them.  Not only do we have the option, but if we do decide to homeschool, we have all sorts of wonderful services, dvds, curricula, and classes to assist us.  Homeschool co-ops can be found in almost every part of the country.  Homeschool kids have opportunities to participate in public school sports and concerts.  What a difference from the pioneering homeschoolers of yesteryear.  They were viewed as abnormal (at best) and basically did all of their teaching from scratch, maybe with the help of a cast-off textbook or two.

We have also seen some positive changes in options for our graduating seniors.  Yes, the colleges and universities are teaching many things that go against God’s Word.  Yes, many of the kids attend university to party and have a good time.  But, again, let’s think about some of the alternatives for kids these days.  When I was a kid, you went to college or you worked.  Those were our options.  Now, you can attend a community college, you can go to school on-line…you can even go on an “around the world” missions trip.   We have lots more freedom to choose what we will do after high school and lots less judgment about those choices.

And, finally, I would be remiss, if I did not mention the positive way the internet has affected us.  Yes, it has brought a horrific rise to the pornography industry.  Yes, it has made bullying take on a new light.  But it has also called businesses to a higher standard (who doesn’t check out reviews of hotels, appliances, and books on-line?) and it helps watch-dog companies that would rip people off.   It has put us in touch with our far-flung family members in a way that was unimaginable even a decade ago.  It has allowed us to have contact with missionaries in remote areas.  And, the glory of it all, is that it doesn’t cost that much (have you heard of Skype??)  Gone are the days of letter-writing and expensive, long-distance phone calls.

Of course, I could write at length about cell phones (helping us to keep our kids safe), ipods (making podcasts available to us that help us in our spiritual growth), and DVRs (eradicating the need to watch the inane and endless commercials) but I won’t, because this is long enough.

I guess I just wanted to make the point, that while many aspects of this world are getting worse, there are some things that have improved.  Let’s not spend all of our time focused on the bad things.  Let’s live a life thankful for the good things and yet always doing our part in eliminating the bad.

Matthew 5:16

Titus 2

Important Truths

lies

If we say we are a Christian and believe that God’s Word is inspired and infallible (For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.  Hebrews 4:12) then there are some of truths that we need to face.

I have just finished reading Nancy Leigh DeMoss’s book Lies Women Believe.  But wait! Before you say “I am not a woman so this doesn’t affect me”, listen to a few of these truths that she brings to light that affect every Christian, no matter if you are a man or woman, young or old–

1.  God is good (Psalm 119:68) . This is so easy to believe when the sun is shining and everything is going our way. But when the clouds come and life is hard, this is still true. It is so important to remember this at all times.

2. My past does not have to plague me (I Corinthians 6: 9-11). We are new creatures. We are not a victim of our “yesterday”. Yes, we need to suffer with the consequences of some of our choices. But the good news is that we can make good choices today. We can live for Jesus today. We can react and respond in a way that pleases God. We can’t go back and change how we were treated as a child or make a different decision. But we can choose to forgive today. We can make the right choice today.

“The Truth is that our past-our upbringing, the ways we have been wronged, and the ways we have wronged others-these things do not have to be hindrances.  In fact, by God’s grace, they can actually become stepping stones to greater victory and fruitfulness.” p. 258

3. I can do anything God asks of me, through the power of the Holy Spirit (I Thessalonians 5:23-24). As Nancy puts it on p. 259 There is no one we cannot forgive. There is no one we cannot love. We can give thanks in all things. We can be content in every circumstance. Those are pretty convicting words, aren’t they? Because it means that if I am struggling with any of those things, it has been my choice to struggle. I have chosen not to forgive. I have chosen to live a life of complaining, instead of the better way of gratitude.  God has provided the Holy Spirit to comfort and strengthen us. Why are we struggling so hard to live on our own power?

4. I will reap what I sow (Galatians 6:7-8). In this day of “instant everything”, we have a hard time thinking past the present moment. We fail to reflect on what consequences the choices we make today will have on our lives– and on the lives of those we love–tomorrow, or a week from now, or 5 years from now. Sometimes we focus on only the big “life” choices (who we marry, our careers, etc), but every choice we make–from failing to eat correctly to what entertainment we choose to spend our time on to the friends we choose to hang with–all have consequences.

5. The pathway to true joy is to relinquish control (I Peter 5:7) Oh, this is a tough one.  Especially for mothers! But how true. We can only control one thing. Ourselves. We can control our responses and reactions. We can control what we say and what we think. But we need to put the rest into God’s hands and rest in Him. Sometimes I find myself relinquishing control of the same situation multiple times a day. For some reason, I keep going back and picking up the burden!

6. Personal holiness is more important than temporal happiness (Ephesians 5:26-27).  This certainly flies in the face of a culture that says personal fulfillment is the ultimate goal, doesn’t it? My happiness is not all that important. God wants to mold and shape me into the likeness of His son. As I grow older, I should be more like Jesus. Does this mean I will be happy? Not necessarily by the world’s standards, although I will have more of the real joy and peace that comes when we follow Christ whole-heartedly. Happiness-that feeling that is so temporal and relies on shallow, external circumstances– is over-rated, anyway.

Those are just a few of the truths that challenged me when reading Nancy’s book. I know most of you will never read the book and so, I thought it might be helpful and challenging to highlight a few of these truths.

The other day, one of my kids asked me how I know this Christian stuff is real. And, while I don’t espouse relying on experience to prove my faith, it is amazing how, as we get older, we have seen God work in our hearts and lives, so that we can’t help but remember the marvelous ways He has worked through many of the truths listed above and dramatically brought about forgiveness in our hearts, or changed our thought processes, so that we knew that it was not us but the Holy Spirit working through us. God IS real. I feel humbled and blessed to be part of His family.

 

My Personal Battle

I am at war.  With food.  This battle has raged for most of my adult life but has taken on extra intensity as I have approached middle age.   TVs, movies, magazines, and websites are filled with gorgeous, shapely women who are without an extra pound of fat anywhere on their bodies.   We are bombarded by articles and commercials on how to lose weight.  There is an unspoken rule in our culture that to be beautiful you must be thin.   This time of year we are bombarded with a variety of mixed message because food plays such an important role in our holiday celebrations.  We see tons of TV shows and articles with recipes and directions for making delicious, high calorie food and then are told how not to eat it.

In the recent years, there has been much more of an emphasis on healthy living versus dieting, and I think that is a great trend.  Because, after all, isn’t that so much more important?  Can we truly live our best if we are out of breath when we climb the stairs?  Or if we have to spend our money on medications that treat diseases we could avoid by being at a healthy weight?

So what does the scripture say about food?  Are cookies and cake evil?  Are we commanded to spend an inordinate amount of time on working out and eating right?  What is the balance?  I found a few verses and I want to be very careful not to take them out of context.  But I think there are a few basic principles we can glean from these verses:

1.)  Overeating is sinful.  To eat more than we need is not only unhealthy but it is sinful.  When we eat more than our bodies require, we are gluttons.  I only give one example below, but God uses drunkards and gluttons in the same sentence more than once in Proverbs.  I don’t know about you, but I find this very convicting.  Often is the time I have reached for that extra cookie or snack when I wasn’t the least bit hungry.  That is a sin??  I believe the Bible says it is.

Do not mix with winebibbers, or with gluttonous eaters of meat; For the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and drowsiness will clothe a man with rags. (Proverbs 23:20-21)

2)   There are not “good” foods or “bad” foods.  I know this will be a huge source of contention with some of you who read this.  But, I think there are several scripture passages that confirm this.  It is not so much about what we eat, as it is about how much we eat of it.   Now, to clarify, there is an over-consumption of highly processed, high-sugar, refined products in our culture that render little, if any, nutritional benefits.  Perhaps if there are any foods that could be labeled “bad”, it would be these.  Partaking of these occasionally is not going to ruin your health.  Partaking of these on a daily basis will.  We are required to be good stewards of our body.  We need to take responsibility and not live in default mode.  We need to eat a variety of all kinds of food.  And, yes, contrary to what may be popular belief, God did create sugar cane.  And He knew that a woman somewhere in history would create a pie…cookies…cake.   These things aren’t wrong in and of themselves.  It is in the over-consumption of them that we move into the realm of sin.

But food does not commend us to God; for neither if we eat are we the better, nor if we do not eat are we the worse. (I Corinthians 8:8)

3)  The battle I wage with food distracts me from my spiritual walk.  When I focus too much on food–which is shown when I am gluttonous and spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about what I will eat OR when I count every single calorie and obsess about everything I put in my mouth and spend hours working out– I am not able to focus on the things that really matter.  The bottom line is that God put food on this earth to sustain us and for us to enjoy in the proper balance.  When that balance is tipped one way or the other, I move into an area where it distracts me from my true purpose on this earth.

Then He said to His disciples, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on. Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing. (Luke 12:22-23)

This battle has raged on inside my head for many years.  Most women (and men, too) naturally gain some weight around their middles during middle age.  Is this sinful?  Or is this how God created our bodies to be?  I don’t really know the answer to this.  I do know, however, that I have a responsibility to keep my body in tip-top shape to the best of my ability…not so I can meet worldly standards, but so I can maximize the amount of time I have on the earth to glorify God and spread the Gospel.   But I have to admit…I look forward to not having to worry about it in Heaven!  While here on earth, I know I will always find food a source of temptation.   But I also know that in this weakness, God can show HIS strength.

A Parallel

castle

A very long time ago, in a faraway land, there lived a young man. He was strong and brave and ready to take on the world. He lived in a forest with his sick, old mother. Every day he would go in to the forest to hunt for food. One very sad day his mother died. He had nothing left to live for and despondently wandered through the forest. He went further than he had ever been before. He was in the darkest part of the forest.  Things turned almost black under the dense cover and then–suddenly–he was in the sunlight. He found himself in a meadow full of blue sky and green grass. As his eyes adjusted to the bright sunlight, he saw little blue and white flowers in abundance and over to his left was a family of rabbits cavorting in the tall grass. As he looked out towards the horizon, he caught his breath. For there, far off into the distance, was a huge castle with dozens of turrets and towers gleaming white in the sunshine. The young man found himself embraced by a new sense of purpose.

He would go to that castle.

The young man was warmly welcomed at the castle and immediately accepted into the King’s army. He proved himself such an intelligent and diligent worker that within a few months he found himself one of the King’s personal servants. He was fully dedicated to the King and would do anything the King requested.

Now in this kingdom there was a Wicked Usurper. This usurper had been away for a long time doing his evil and dastardly deeds in other parts of the world. But a few months after the young man had become the King’s personal servant, the Wicked Usurper returned.

When the young man talked with the Wicked Usurper, he was captured by his charisma and his wonderful promises. Gradually, his fascination with the Wicked Usurper changed to allegiance and the young man left the Good King’s service to become the personal servant of the Wicked Usurper. He forgot about all that the Good King had done for him and decided to join the band of wicked thieves and robbers that served the Wicked Usurper.

The End.

WAIT!  What?!?  That is not how the story is supposed to go.  What happened to “happily ever after”?

If you call yourself a Christian, think with me for a moment. Have we turned away from serving The All-Powerful, Loving God, to instead serving–

Entertainment? Sports? Career? Personal Goals? Money? Beauty?

Have we left the safety, security, and peace of God’s Kingdom and instead turned to serving Satan’s dark and perilous Kingdom?

I am not talking about who we SAY we serve. Talk means nothing. What do our actions show? What do we spend our precious hours doing with our time? What do we think about?

We need to ask ourselves this very important question: Am I serving my King or am I serving something or someone else?

Exodus 20:1-4; Mark 12:30

Life Lessons I Learned from a Business Conference

conferencephoto

Yesterday I was at a Business Conference.  I learned a lot about the topic I was there to learn.  I also learned a few other things.  Like:

1.  Laughing and giggling and generally acting like an 8 year old while a speaker is speaking is not only rude, but quite distracting. Seriously, the ladies behind me in one session never stopped talking and giggling. I was made aware afresh of how rude that is. I will try to remember that when I am tempted to do that. It is not nice for the speaker or for those around you.

2. In one session, the topic of references for terminated employees came up. The advice given was that, as representatives of our companies, it is in the best interest of our companies not to say anything negative about a former employee. In essence, give no information. And yet, the session speaker went on to tell of a case where a man with a very bad record in his past jobs, went on to get a job at a nursing home and murder several of the patients there. The former employers had never let that nursing home know this man’s true history. Even after telling that story, she still stuck to her guns and said you shouldn’t say anything because of a potential slander lawsuit.  One guy raised his hand and challenged her on that.  He said that if he were in the other employer’s shoes, he would want to know. All kinds of discussion got going–most of it saying we need to protect our companies, etc. I wanted to raise my hand and quote Jesus’s  words “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  And I might have, too, if she didn’t stop the conversation before it got too out of hand. But, in that conversation, I learned that the world’s thought on this is that you worry about your own interests and not about the interests of others.  I guess my question would be: Can a negative reference really be labeled as “slander” if you have everything fully documented, anyway?  The whole discussion made me quite sad. But it tells me where the world really is on even the most basic of Christian principles.

3. It was a dreary day and I was tired. I was sure I would struggle with falling asleep during the sessions. Thankfully, all but one were extremely interesting and informative.  One thing I found disappointing, though, was the occasional use of expletives while speaking. Another tell tale sign of where our country is morally, in my opinion. 25 years ago, no one would have ever used bad language while speaking to a large group of business professionals. No one. Yes, that language was used–in bars, on the streets, and by school students who thought they were cool. But never at a professional event by a speaker. I think it says a little about the class of this nation. The country we knew is disappearing–quite rapidly. I was sad about that, too (even though I was pretty much aware of this one).

4. I learned about GOMOs yesterday, which stands for “Get Out of My Office” people. The same thing can be applied in life. We all have people who suck the energy out of us. The ones who demand a lot of our time, so that they can complain about THEIR lives, talk about THEIR activities, cry about THEIR misfortunes. The advice was to gently and kindly set boundaries for GOMOs. I think that is good advice.

5. And, last, but certainly not least, I got to talking with a very sweet lady at lunch. She is a lawyer who is very knowledgeable in labor law. She could not have been nicer and invited me to call her with any questions. In the course of conversation, we figured out that I had graduated from high school with her husband (now that is a small world!). Both of us had moved away and somehow, on a dreary day in November, I had run into his wife. Anyway, what so impressed me with this woman was how she was so friendly and gracious, while remaining professional. There are so many lawyers (of course, not all) who are arrogant and give the impression that they are doing you a favor if they even deem to talk to you. I found her so refreshing. And I guess the lesson I learned from her is that no matter what surroundings you find yourself, no matter what your profession, no matter who you are with, there is always a call for friendliness and kindness and consideration of others. What kind of impression am I giving people?  What kind of impression are you giving people?

So there you have it. No Bible verses to back the lessons up (although I could find some). Life lessons can be found everywhere. Just open your eyes and  look around you today.

Count Your Blessings…365 days a year

Thanksgiving is an awesome holiday, isn’t it?   A time to focus on all the blessings we have been given.   We take the time to thank God for the many blessings of family, friends, church family, and all of the many material blessings…food, shelter, clothing, and all of the extras we never even asked for that we have been so graciously given.   And then how about all of the immaterial things?  The peace, the joy, the love we so often take for granted?  If each of us takes the time to ponder for a few minutes, we realize just how many blessings we have received, even amidst difficult times and incredibly hard trials.  Reminds me of an old hymn–

  1. When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
    When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
    Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
    And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done. 

    • Refrain:
      Count your blessings, name them one by one,
      Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
      Count your blessings, name them one by one,
      *Count your many blessings, see what God hath done.
      [*And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.]
  2. Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
    Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
    Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
    And you will keep singing as the days go by.
  3. When you look at others with their lands and gold,
    Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
    Count your many blessings—wealth can never buy
    Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high.
  4. So, amid the conflict whether great or small,
    Do not be discouraged, God is over all;
    Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
    Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.

May we do this every day of the year…not just on Thanksgiving day! :)  Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!

A Tale of Perspective

Two little girls grew up in the same home.  They had the same parents who loved them both dearly.   They had the same house.   The same grandparents.  They went to the same church.  And they had the same backyard.   In fact, they were so close that they did almost everything together.

But when they grew up, life took them different directions.  One daughter was stricken at a young age with breast cancer and survived to tell the story after a long battle.  The same one cared for her invalid mother-in-law for 8 years in her home.  She had also had a child who had been born with a serious heart defect.  And to make matters worse, her husband had been jobless at the time and they had no health insurance.

The other daughter had a life that almost seemed bereft of trials.  She had married a very rich man who loved her.  She had 3 healthy, beautiful children who got straight A’s, played soccer, and took music lessons.  She never worried about what she was going to feed her family or how they would pay their bills.

One of these daughters was very content and happy with her life.  One was not.  One praised the Lord with a thankful heart.  And one did not.  Which do you think was which?

By the circumstances, you would think that the one with the wonderful life would be the content one, right?  But…you would be wrong.  It was the daughter whose life was full of trials who had the grateful heart.  The other daughter took for granted so many of the blessings God had given to her and focused on the things that went wrong in her life.

Sometimes, we have a difficult time seeing the blessings that surround us…that surround each and every one of us.  Yes, we all have trials but we also all have blessings.

I will always remember a family that I met while in Ukraine.  We were privileged to share a meal with them and we talked with them through an interpreter.  Here was a family who lived in one of those cookie cutter Soviet apartment buildings.  They had a small kitchen and a tiny bathroom with a water supply for only a few hours each day, and another room that functioned as bedroom, nursery, dining room, and living room.  There might have been one other bedroom.  Five people lived in that little rundown apartment.  And yet this family just radiated with the joy of the Lord.  They were blessed and they knew it.  They had enough food to share with their brothers and sisters in the Lord and they had a place to sleep at night.  They had each other and they had a wonderful church family.

I couldn’t help but contrast it to my life here in America.  Not only was I grateful for what I had but I also realized the spirit of discontent that I hear from so many people (sometimes from myself!) so often here in this very materially blessed land.

You see, joy and contentment do not come from what we have.  Joy and contentment are the fruit of a grateful heart.  We all say this as truth…but are our lives showing we believe it?  As Thanksgiving approaches, I hope I do not take any of my many blessings for granted.  But instead truly realize the many blessings that God has given me…and thank Him often for those blessings!

The unthankful heart… discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings!  ~Henry Ward Beecher

Are All Religions the Same?

There was once a young man. We will call him Jack. Jack had a job. He needed to deliver a letter to the old man who lived at the top of the mountain. No one had ever climbed the mountain before. He wasn’t even sure the old man was there. Years before the old man had started to climb the mountain and that was the last anybody had heard of him.

Jack decided the easiest way to reach the top of this mountain would be to fly there. So he talked to Hampton, the only man who owned a helicopter for miles around. It was a beautiful day when Jack and Hampton climbed into the big whirlybird and took off for the far away mountain. But the strangest thing happened. As they neared the mountain, it was covered in clouds. Not just any clouds, either. These were thick, gray clouds. Clouds that covered the top of the mountain like an opaque blanket. Hampton was puzzled. It was a beautiful day. This didn’t make sense. We will return on another day, he said. The clouds can’t remain forever. So they returned the next day. And the next. They continued to try for two weeks. No matter what the weather was when they left, the clouds would always be covering the mountain when they flew over it. Jack decided that flying was not going to work.

The next option was taking a mule with a pack. It wouldn’t be easy. But that was really the only other option. He bought himself a good, sturdy mule and started out. He did fine. Until it started raining. It rained and rained. Deep gullies started to form. The mule lost his footing.  He went tumbling down over the cliff. Jack grabbed a branch and hung on for dear life–until slowly he was able to  inch his way forward to safety.

At this point, walking was his only option. He looked down at the cuts and bruises on his body. He was in some pain. But he decided to continue his journey. He did make it about halfway. At that point, wild creatures started appearing. There were venomous snakes. And huge, brown bears. And wild, frightful wolves. He contemplated turning around. But he knew this letter was a matter of life and death. He had to deliver it. He continued.

He thought he was making progress. Until he came to the crevice. A wide, wide crevice that surrounded the entire mountain top. There would be no way to cross it without losing his life. Dejectedly, he turned around.  There must be a way to reach the old man. But he couldn’t figure out what it was. He headed back down the mountain.

When he reached the bottom of the mountain, much to his surprise, the old man was waiting for him. The old man had heard about the letter, knew the one and only way down the mountain, and had come to meet him, so that Jack would be spared the dangerous trip up the mountain.

So what is the purpose of this story? I hear so many cries of “all roads lead to heaven”, “all religions are the same”, “you take your way to God, and I will take mine”. But did you realize that all world religions–except for Christianity–are like Jack trying to climb that mountain? There are things you must do in order to reach God. And yet, nothing we do makes it possible to reach God. We can do all the good in the world and still never reach Him. (Romans 3:23). Anytime you must DO something in order to reach God, it is a false religion. We can’t reach God. But the good news is that He has come to us by sending us His Son to die for our sins (John 3:16). I can’t do anything righteous in His sight (Isaiah 64:6).

You see, Christianity is the only world religion where God came down the mountain to us. Not to receive something from us. But to give something to us. Salvation. A free gift.

But what about all of those rules Christianity has? You see, there is great confusion about the holy lives genuine Christians seek to lead. I John 2:3&4 says “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”

A life honoring to God is the proof that we know Him. Not the requirement.

I do not look at my life like I am living a life of rules and regulations. I do not think I am missing out on the “good stuff”. I am so grateful to my Heavenly Father for sending His son to take on my sins so that I can stand righteous before God that I surrender my life and my will to His. At least that is the goal of every true believer. We are still human and we do still make lots of mistakes. But we are doing our best to live a life to please God because we love Him. It is the natural outcome of the praise and thanks in our hearts toward the God who has saved us from eternal damnation.

So, all roads do lead to the same place. All roads EXCEPT for Christianity. Christianity is not the same as all other religions. It is entirely different. You can be doing all you know to do to reach God, by doing good deeds, reciting whatever it is your religion requires you to recite, by proselytizing, by praying to the saints, or whatever else your religion “requires”. But God has already made a way. By sending His son to die on a cross and take on the sins of the world. By rising again in glorious splendor to show that there is power over death!

Random Acts of Kindness

Today I needed to go to Costco.  One of the things on my list was dog food.  Dog food at Costco is contained in huge bags.  It is always difficult for me to get a 50+ lb bag into my rolling cart.  Today I was having an especially difficult time.  I was just trying to slide the thing onto the shelf underneath and it kept getting caught on the one brace (for want of a better word) that crossed the shelf.  Every time I shoved, the cart rolled a little further away from me.  My method was obviously not working!  I was getting pretty frustrated when I heard a man’s voice.  “Wait a minute…I will hold the cart for you.”  An older gentleman took a few minutes out of his day to hold my cart. I finally was able to get that huge, unwieldy bag onto the cart once someone kept it from rolling away.

Later on in the day, I was waiting in a very slow-moving, long line.  The cashier next to me opened up a new line, but told the man behind me that she would take him.  The man kindly told me to go ahead.  He had a lot less in his cart than I did.  When I declined for that reason, he told me that he was not in a hurry.  It was very thoughtful of him.

Small things can brighten our days.  Someone lets you merge when the traffic is especially heavy.   Or perhaps someone gives you a warm smile and a hello when you are having a really bad day.  Or, like my experience today, someone kindly left me go first…instead of rushing to make the line before I could get there.  We need to look for little opportunities to be kind and thoughtful.

So often, I am in such a hurry and so wrapped in my selfish agenda that I forget to look at what’s is going on with others around me.  Maybe there is someone beside me in Wal-mart or at the gas station who needs a smile.  Who needs to feel like someone knows they are alive and cares…even if you never see them again.  Maybe it is a waitress who is having a really bad day.  She needs a smile and respect.   What about your hairdresser?  Your mailman?  Your boss?  All of these people have souls.  God loves them.  They deserve to be treated with kindness.

Jesus was so kind to those He met.  There are so many accounts in the scripture.  The children, the woman at the well, Zaccheus, the blind man.  While, of course, we cannot work miracles, we can spread the love of Jesus.   We can open our eyes, look around, and find ways to be thoughtful and kind each day…thinking of others, instead of ourselves.  Not just on Sundays.  Or when we are on a mission trip.  Or during devotions.

The Bible tells us in Luke 16:10 ” He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much.”

Being kind in the small things is just as important in being kind in the big ones.  Let’s shine our light so brightly that no one doubts where our allegiance lies!

The poem that is not really a poem

There was a time when everything looked clean

My world was timeless

My world was innocent

My world was not reality

And then I grew up and I realized

Life is not a fairytale

Life is not what you see when you are a kid

Life is full of secrets and tragedy and misunderstandings

Is that all?  Wasn’t there more?

And somehow I had to find the joy

In a small child’s giggle

In a teenager’s enthusiasm for life

In a thank you spoken

And I realized life is full of both

The happy moments

The sad moments

The moments on top of the mountain

And the moments in the valley

And through it all I knew

God was there

Always faithful

Even when I couldn’t feel Him

He was there

He is with me now

Because He has promised to never leave me

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