Tag Archives: faith

Don’t Block the View

March 24, 2015

Romans 14:13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister”. NIV

Sometimes children will chide the “bossy” one in the group with the question, “Who died and left you in charge?” It is a pretty good zinger that usually leaves the one to whom it is addressed with not much to say. We deserve to hear that when we think we have all the answers. Living in the world of adults soon teaches us there are lots of effective ways to solve a problem and a quick rush to judgment might mean that we miss something useful. Wise Paul tells us not to judge others – we’re just not qualified! Then he tells us what we should be spending our time doing. We need to make sure that our lives reflect God’s love. We need to remember that others watch our lives to see if our faith really makes any difference on a day to day basis. Does faith mean more to us than just going to church on Sunday? A hymn I learned in childhood sums it up:

Let others see Jesus in you,

Let others see Jesus in you.

Keep telling the story, be faithful and true;

Let others see Jesus in you.

Your life’s a book before their eyes,

They’re reading it thro’ and thro’

Say, does it point them to the skies, Do others see Jesus in you?

Baylus Benjamin McKinney, 1924

Prayer: Oh Lord, May I never do anything that blocks the view of You. Amen.

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Gifts that give back – all year long

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, multiple songs, books and poems assure us this is true.

One very important reason for this is that it is a time of year when our thoughts and efforts tend to consider others before ourselves.  We busily plan parties, events, celebrations, and still find time to give our money, and energy to a special charity.

We think of the the true meaning of Christmas when we see nativity scenes or attend church.  But this season of the year is more than just a special time; it is more than just having a little time off with the family.  It is a way of thinking and feeling and of BEING in the world.  And it can last all year.

Do we give gifts to see the sparkle in the eyes of the recipient?  Do we give in hopes of making a child go crazy with excitement?  Do we give to make someone smile or laugh?  Do others look at your gift or use your gift the rest of the year with a special fondness for you the giver?  Do we give the gift that encourages and assures someone that we care and that we will be there for him or her through thick or thin?

God did.

Take a moment to recall how it feels when someone really gets the significance of a gift you have chosen specifically for them.  You know the one that jumped off the shelf into your arms screeming your friend or loved one’s name?  And then you wrapped it nicely and watched the reaction when it was opened….priceless.

That feeling comes from giving thoughtfully.

it is a tiny peak into the way God feels when He sees us receive the gift of a baby born in humble circumstances and when we pick that child up and place Him in our hearts to live – well I believe that brings God great JOY!

in this busy time of year let us remember to show our thanks for the most wonderful gift we could ever receive.  Let that spirit of thanksgiving for God’s special gift guide our thoughts words and deeds this Christmas and this year.

I found this list of 8 ideas for gifts that cost nothing, yet may mean everything to someone.  Feel free to add your own ideas to this list and share!

  • The gift of Listening:  but you must really listen.  No interruption, no daydreaming,no planning your response.  Just listening.
  • The gift of Affection:  Be generous with appropriate hugs, kisses, and pats on the back.  Let these small aactions demonstrate theh love you have for family and friends. (I had a friend tell me once that hugs can be restorative.)
  • The gift of Laughter:  Clip cartoons. Share articles and funny stories.  Your gift will say, “I love to laugh with you.”
  • The gift of a Written Note:  It can be a simple “Thanks for the help” note or a full sonnet.  A brief, handwritten note may be remembered for a lifetime, and may even change a life.  (I have boxes of notes colleted over the years from friends and family that mean a lot to me even today when I go back and read them again.  These notes show where the joys and concerns of life have been shared with significant others.  Someone will have to throw them out when I die, but until then, they have a special set of shoe boxes to occupy.)
  • The gift of a Compliment: A simple and sincere, “You look great in red,” “You did a super job” or “That was a wonderful meal” can make someone’s day. (I know this seems unimportant, but it even makes me smile when someone notices my hair cut!)
  • The Gift of a favor:  Every day, go out of your way to do something kind.
  • The gift of Solitude:  There are times when we want nothing better than to be left alone.  Be sensitive to those times and give the gift of solitude to others.
  • The gift of a Cheerful Disposition:  The easiest way to feel good is to extend a kind word to someone, really it’s not that hard to say, Hello or Thank You.

Slow Down! Let His Light Shine!

The Apostle Paul in  2 Corinthians said something like:  The light of the glory of God shines from the faces of those who turn to God. (those who repent). They can’t help it.  The glow is a result of the relationship – the close relationship between God and His beloved.

When Christians see other Christians neither has to veil their faces – for neither is blinded by the Light, yet each  recognizes what the Light means in the other.  It means there is a personal relationship with the Creator God through His Son, Jesus the Christ.   It should be clear Whose we are.

But we live in a world that turns away from and even violently rejects the Light.  We live in a fallen world – at least for now – that provides distraction after distraction with so little effort it seems.  Some of our distractions are good things, things we should be concerned about.  But it is possible to become TOO busy.  So busy that we don’t notice the things we should.

Our lives are FULL of things to do, places to go, things to plan, people to care for, lists to make and then carry out….it just keeps going!  And it’s about to get much worse – if we let it.  We can be so tied to schedules and our own lists that we might not notice what is there for us to see – the life that needs God’s glory to shine on them. From you.  Could be that homeless lady at the food pantry, or the child looking up at you in the grocery store.  Could be the driver of a vehicle close to you in snarled traffic.  Could be that loved one…but will you notice? …  Will I?  Have we left no time to listen to the voices of those who need us?  Will we just rush right on past an opportunity to be a blessing? or to receive one?  Are we looking for those who need the Light to shine on them?

Maybe we need a fresh dose of His Light in our own lives, perhaps we are blinded by distraction.

Dear Heavenly Father,

As we approach the most wonderful time of the year when our hearts need to be stirred to remember the Greatest Gift ever given we confess that we are too busy.  We need Your Grace to fill us and overflow from us onto all the people you place in our lives.  We need to stop and listen for Your Word that speaks softly so that we may find that comfort and JOY choirs will soon sing about.  We need Your guidance to know when to say the little word “no” to over committment so that we can make room for You in our celebrations.

If the WORD lives in your heart, it will shine out through your eyes

be in the words you speak, the thoughts you think,

and the actions you take. 

Moving is not the end of the world; Watching Daddy

Moving around a lot can be hard because some of what you leave is not something you could take with you.  Those are things like your best friend, your favorite teacher, the creek where you learned to swim, the nice lady at the candy store down the street (she ALWAYS gave away candy and didn’t mind if the neighborhood kids played in the back of the store.  Monopoly games could go on for days.) There were trails through the woods down to the creek where you used to ride bikes or those little motor cycles – Honda 50s I think they were.

Our family moved around because of my daddy’s job.  I should say because of his “calling”.  Daddy was a preacher whose ministry seemed to be most effective in the smaller rural church setting.  He went where he felt God wanted him to go and he stayed until he felt God calling him somewhere else.  He was a happy man most of the time; my memories are mostly about his laughter, his sense of humor, his easy way with people and the way he let you know you were loved.  He seemed to feel at home wherever he was.  I think he must have been really fond of fried chicken too, because that is what everyone wanted to feed us when we were invited over for Sunday lunch.   He liked his tea “southern sweet” and his okra extra crispy – both preferences my mom tried to break him from but never quite succeeded.

He was a blessed man.  Why? He was blessed because he didn’t try to fight against God’s leadership to hold on to something or someone else.  He didn’t plead or beg for just a few more years in one place before we went to the next.  He didn’t cry himself to sleep at night when it became clear another move was coming. After all he did have me for that. (Hey, it was after my sophomore year in high school!) And though I kicked against the idea that time, I watched my daddy’s resolution and his steadiness and yes his happiness.  And I learned.

There are some good things about moving frequently.  Starting over with people who don’t know you can be to your advantage.  The people in the new town won’t know about the time you were two and your big brothers were supposed to be watching you and you ended up crying on the steps of the school house down the road.  They won’t know the book mobile lady rescued you and took you home to the intense embarrassment of your brothers and the wrath of the MOTHER.  They won’t know about all the times you went across the street to play with a friend all by yourself at the mature age of four and without the MOTHER knowing you had that in mind.  (I must say my mom learned fast.  If she looked around and I wasn’t’ there, she knew where to look.)  They won’t remember the time you and your friends got in big trouble for giggling in church while holding down the back pew.  WHY IS EVERYTHING SO MUCH FUNNIER WHEN YOU’RE NOT SUPPOSED TO LAUGH?!!

I learned another very valuable lesson.  I learned Who is in control. I learned how it feels to be cared for even when no one else really knows me.  I learned (very deep sigh here) that I don’t always know what is best for me and that God does indeed have a plan.  Learning to always trust in that plan is a lifelong endeavor – especially since I can’t predict the future.  I don’t know how to let go very well.  I struggle with a constant desire to maintain control and have feelings of frustration when I can’t.   And so, I come before my heavenly Father to say this:

Gracious Father,

I don’t know where our church family will end up.  I don’t know who will go, who will stay and who will be drawn in for a fresh start in their lives.  I only know that you can be trusted and that I need to listen for your voice leading me as you have led so many before.  You have proven your love for us over and over!   As you led your children out of slavery into the Promised Land, as you led David to the throne, Ester to the palace, John to the wilderness and Jesus to the cross, Lord lead us now.  We are in this place for “such a time as this”.     Amen.

Note:  If you recognize some of these stories we might have known each other!  I’d love to hear from you.  (hints:  Hopewell, Flint Hill, Spring Creek)

What do we have to lose? Part One of Two

question mark

The question has been posed:  What mission could we not do by staying in the PC (USA)?

In other words, how will the General Assembly of the PC (USA)’s decisions change what you do as a church? Does remaining affiliated with PC (USA) hurt your mission and ministry? How does it affect you and the life of your church on a day to day basis?

Excellent questions! Makes some stop and say “Hum, I should probably give that some thought.”That is what such questions are designed to do, make one stop and think through the answer and form an intelligent reply.

So here’s my stab at a response. It may not be the most intelligent, but it has been a long prayerful and thought-full process.

First I need to say that our church will continue to support missions both locally and internationally no matter our denominational affiliation. Leaving the PC (USA) does not limit our options; in fact it may provide an opportunity to broaden them. Have you seen the number of mission organizations that need help? Google is a good tool to find them. And if you have a favorite PC (USA) endorsed mission organization such as PDA (Presbyterian Disaster Relief) or MBF (Medical Benevolence Foundation) you can keep right on supporting them in any way you see fit. Habitat for Humanity will still look up to see various members of our congregation coming out to help, local underserved young people will still get school supplies, babies will get baby kits, neighborhood children will still get summer lunches, VBS and/or summer camp opportunities, and moms in underdeveloped countries will still receive mosquito netting to prevent malaria. I could go on, but you get the idea.

So what do we have to lose by remaining affiliated with PC (USA)? We lose integrity. We lose credibility with the world around us.  We may even lose souls for Christ. We lose direction by participating with a denomination that no longer supports Biblical truths but sways and bends with the cultural and political winds that blow. We lose the close fellowship of an obedient walk with Christ.  We lose things I haven’t even thought of yet.

We…lose…ourselves.

More tomorrow…

 

“Jesus” – Spray Paint on Canvas by Me….

I found this image today created by Ray Ferrer and wanted to share it.
I am amazed by the way artists can create images with various media. In this face I see suffering and obedience. It hurts but He is determined to carry out God’s plan to redeem the world. I also see love in the eyes. Love for you and me and it gives me a wonderful sense of awe to realize that He would have suffered as He did even if I was the only one on earth that needed it. Or if you were the only one. That love is what held Him on the cross, not the nails. Thanks Ray.
What do you see?
Blessings

Ray Ferrer - Emotion on Canvas

“Jesus”

Spray Paint on Canvas by Me.

The original has sold but I have made a limited run of Signed Matte Prints that are ready to frame!

Grab one here before they are gone….  —>>>     JESUS PRINTS FOR SALE

Ferrer - Jesus

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