Enthusiastic Fans

Deuteronomy 11:19 – “Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (HCSB)

My husband is an avid sports fan. Me not so much. My favorite sports were whatever my husband and son were playing at the time, and as hard as I tried to care, my interest was limited to their personal time on the field. Occasionally, my husband will share some sports trivia – news, I meant news — with me. I listen because what he is saying is important to him. One day at a church function we were divided into groups to play a game matching sports teams to their team names. I was flying through the answers, and our group finished in record time. One of our group members thought my speed was the result of invented names and quit over Nittany Lions (Penn State by the way). Another of my teammates was amazed and wondered how I knew them all. My answer was “My husband talks about sports all the time.” In Deuteronomy 11:19 God says to talk to your children about Him all the time. Talk to them with focused Bible and prayer time, with casual conversation, with bedtime prayers, with daytime conversations, with the way you live. God wants us to be interested in Him, to know His Word, to call on Him, to live a life that shows Him to others. If you do these things, your children will listen. They will listen because they know it is important to you. They will listen because you live what you say. They will listen because they will see God at work. Webster’s Dictionary defines sports fan as “an enthusiastic devotee of sports”. I wonder what would happen if Christians became defined as “enthusiastic devotees of God.”

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Hope

We all need hope. We all need assurance that there is more. Something to look forward to. Without hope, our day becomes empty, our future dark, our present moment terrifying. Hope gets you through those moments we aren’t sure we will get through at all.

In the midst of tragic loss and grief of someone we love – the hope of eternal life and seeing them again in heaven gives us peace. It makes that pain a little less, because we know this is just temporary.

Any situation you face, or are going through is just a moment. Oh I know it can feel like it will never end – but it will. You will look back on this later and be able to see differently. It won’t hurt so much, it won’t make you feel desperate or alone – you will get through this. And you will be stronger…

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A Bully Named Fear

Joshua 1:9 –  Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (HCSB)

Fear can give a quick jump in heart rate that soon passes or fear can be paralyzing. Fear can be amusing or life altering. Fear can take control of a moment or control of your life. Recently I realized I have allowed fear to become my idol, giving it more power than God in my life. Several years ago I felt God giving me a directive, but instead mimicking Isaiah’s “I’m ready to go” (Isaiah 6:8), I was more like Moses with “I can’t do that.” (Exodus 3:11). God answered me much like He answered Moses – “I’ve taken care of everything. Don’t worry about it.” (Exodus 3:12), but I allowed Fear to build on the foundation of my low self-esteem to create a wall of panic and doubt. Some of my fears proved to be true, which made the wall even more substantial. Time after time I was Gideon asking for a sign (Judges 6). Time after time God answered, but Fear told me I needed more. When I should have been fierce, I was frightened. I continued to question God and continued to point out the flaws in His plan. I was so focused on the “what if” my eyes lost sight of the “I AM”.  In Judges 6:15 Gideon asks “How can I save Israel?” and then went on to explain his shortcomings. Instead of being electrified, Gideon was terrified. He used the words “how can I”, but he was saying “I can’t”. In verse 16 God answers “I will be with you.” Instead of thinking, “Well, that changes everything!”, Gideon is thinking “yeah, but” and begins to ask for proof that it really is God talking. Often, like Gideon, I feel that I need to explain things to God and give Him a clear picture of the situation. God answers and I ask for a sign ….. and another sign ….. and another. I may begin to march out with self-confidence and tenacity but Fear blocks my way and I become shaken and timid. I knew that I could not accomplish anything on my own, and I was right about that, but He never even hinted that I was on my own. Isaiah 41:10 says I don’t need to be faint-hearted because He is God and He is holding my hand. Peter was able to walk on water until he took his eyes off Jesus and then Fear took over (Matthew 14:29-30). Fear kept Gideon’s eyes focused in the wrong direction, but he had to turn his eyes away from himself to see God (Judges 6). When my eyes are on Fear, I am focused on people’s criticisms, comparisons, and even my own opinion of my abilities. When I turn my eyes to God those things are no longer in my line of sight. To paraphrase Paul in Romans 9: 31 “since God has my back, what difference does it make about what people think or do?” Fear is a bully waiting to pounce, but God says “Don’t worry. I’m with you and nothing can take Me away.” (Romans 8:35-39)

 

Do You Know Who I Am?

2 Kings 5:11 – But Naaman got angry and left, saying, “I was telling myself: He will surely come out, stand and call on the name of Yahweh his God, and will wave his hand over the spot and cure the skin disease. (HCSB)

My teacher friend and I were sharing coffee and memories when a story came up about the daughter of the school superintendent. Her classroom behavior resulted in numerous reprimands but no positive results so the teacher called the principal to step in. The daughter’s response was “Do you know who I am?”.  She had a sense of entitlement because of her last name and demanded her father be called, but that phone call did not bring the response she had planned. 2 Kings 5 tells us Naaman also had a sense of entitlement and left angry because Elisha did not respond the way he had planned. I picture him stomping away, muttering “Doesn’t he know who I am?” then adding complaints about a small and dirty river, about Elisha sending a servant, about being treated as an average man. As believers we read about Naaman and shake our heads as his expected special treatment, but sometimes we have that same attitude with God. Why doesn’t He protect me from all hardships, illnesses, and unhappy situations? Doesn’t He know I am a faithful follower? I sing the church songs asking Him to test and try me, even closing my eyes in worship and raising my hands in praise but fully expect Him to acknowledge my praise not my petition. I recite God’s command to go into all the world (Mark 16:15) and faithfully make it as far as my own church building. I boldly answer Jesus’ call to love my neighbor (Mark 12:31) by loving on the person sitting beside me in the pew – not the crying woman, the other one with the highlighted Bible and the Beth Moore study book. Naaman’s sense of entitlement left no impression on Elisha but my sense of entitlement must grieve God’s heart. God owes me nothing but gave me eternal life. I am entitled to nothing but carry the title Child of the King. Do you know who I am? I am a sinner saved by God’s grace.

Just Copy

Ephesians 5:1 – Therefore, be imitators of God, as dearly loved children. (HCSB)

Some people think that my granddaughter looks like me; some have doubts. She has a way of using her eyes to leave no uncertainty about her feelings, and no one doubts that “look” came from me! I am thankful everyday that she inherited my “look” rather than my artistic talent – she has an abundance, I have none. I love the idea of Bible journaling with drawings, but every animal, plant, and person I draw looks like a tick. I stared with admiration (and occasionally drooled with envy) at the artwork others added to their Bible pages. I tried to compensate with stickers — close but not the same. One day I attended a class where an amazingly talented lady illustrated Bible verses as she talked. I was thinking of my failed journeys down the dark path of Bible journaling when she handed me a copy of her work and gave light with the words “Just copy what I have done.” I didn’t have to do it alone! There was no need for me to struggle through continued failure; I had a perfect plan to copy. Isn’t it that way with our walk with Jesus? Charles Spurgeon said, “The Christian should take nothing short of Christ for his model.” It is not necessary to stumble down the dark path of continued failure; Jesus said He is the light (John 8:12). Many things in this world are “almost Jesus” or “close to being like Jesus” but “close” is not the same. It would be foolish of me not to accept the perfect Bible journaling plan. Isn’t it even more foolish not to accept the perfect Savior?

Everybody Knows That

1 John 3:18 – Little children, we must not love with word or speech, but with truth and action (HCSB)

My husband and I have been blessed to experience the indescribable love of grandchildren. I remember so well being sound asleep when the phone rang in the wee hours one morning, and our son announced those magic words that would forever change my world, “We’re on the way to the hospital. This is it!” Any other time we lived about four hours away, but that night those interstate speed limit signs were just making ridiculous suggestions. I still get teary at the memory of seeing my baby holding his baby for the first time. The moment that red haired boy was born he became Granny’s Precious Darling. Two and a half years later we got the identical call and our precious granddaughter made her entrance. She has a face like her dad, eyes and hair like her mom, and a look that leaves no doubt as to her true feelings about any situation (there is a slight possibility maybe that came from me!). She became known as my Bumble Bee and my husband’s Baby Cakes, and the love I have for these two fascinating gifts from God continuously takes my breath away. We laugh and play together and sometimes share secrets, but if I say loving them is a secret, my precious Bumble Bee will immediately respond, “Everybody already knows that.” 1 John says that love should not be something we say but never show. Do my words as well as my actions show my love for Jesus? Would God respond, “Everybody already knows that.”