My Heart Doesn’t Look Like a Valentine!

January 30, 2012

Seriously, the human heart doesn’t look like a valentine and while I could look up why the day February 14th became linked to a specific “shape” we call a heart, I’m not going to write about that.  As I look at the shape what I see is a rounded shape which is bursting open.  A simple shape.  A shape, a vessel, so full it is exploding and it’s contents are thus shared with those near and far as it bursts because it cannot contain anymore . . . much like my human heart when it is so full of the love of God.  I can’t selfishly hold His love, even if I wanted to.  I must share it.  Fortunately, He makes this easy for He gives us people with whom it must be shared.  He also gives us more so steadily that we never have to worry about running low. 

As Valentine’s Day approaches and we are reminded of love as the world and the retail industry define it, I believe Christians who know it’s definition in a different way should take care to give that love more freely.  Let us allow that “holiday” to be a reminder of what His love means and let us share it freely everyday, shall we?  Candy is nice, but when we “”taste and see that the Lord is good” as Psalm 34:8 reminds us, we find LIFE as we’ve never known it could be!  Let’s share that love everyday!


Who Inspires You?

June 9, 2011

Join me!  Here’s a chance to say “thanks” to the person or people who have inspired you or still do so- liiving or dead, even fictional characters!  I invite you to comment with your own list.  You don’t have to give a reason why they inspire you and you don’t have to give a last name.  Just please take this opportunity to say “thanks.”

  • Jesus
  • Moses
  • Rick
  • Alan
  • Professor Knur
  • Becky
  • Alice
  • Road Runner
  • Jeff
  • Nana
  • Sandy

Swings . . . Misses . . . Strike!

April 26, 2011

 Oh, it’s that time of year!  Sports of various sorts can be found any time of day or night depending on your television reception.  My television reception is pretty good . . . I’m working on my God reception.  Baseball, now there’s something to consider just now.  Think about it . . . as the title to this article reminds us, we swing, we miss, we strike – three times and we’re out.  Wow.  Glad I’m on God’s team and not the baseball team because the rules are pretty strict, I’ll grant  you, but they are so reflective of His love for us.  How fortunate are we that we’re not out after three strikes!  He’s always willing to forgive and when He does – our sin is GONE.  There is no “remember back when you did . . . “ In baseball, on the other hand, there’s always “gosh, remember that game back in ’98 when he left three men on base because he struck out?”  We can’t strike out and lose God’s love for us.  We can always repent and change our path to the right one.  We can join the Kingdom team.  We can change our life with His grace. 

 That’s what I’m doing.  I’ve done the sensible things the world encourages and it doesn’t satisfy me.  It provided shiny toys and jingly coins in my pocket, but oddly those things aren’t at the top of my list anymore and so there are many who say I’m crazy.  I’m following the path that was made by God through His son who became flesh and died so that I might live.  He even gave us His Holy Spirit so that when we drop the ball, we have a coach who loves us right there to help us change that play!  So, in seeking a “new” team, I’ve thought of what I want to do.  I picked up a book today at a church thrift shop.  I paid 2.00 for it.  It sums up what I want to do with my life and who’s team I want to be on, and it’s got a star player that I truly want to model in my own life. 

 The book was published in 1944 and when my mother was a small child, thus long before I was dreamed of.  It’s all about that star player, my hero.  The author is Mary Alice Jones and the book is called “Tell Me About Jesus.”  Sure enough, that’s what I want to do; I want to tell folks about Jesus.  I want them to join the Kingdom team and if they get to know Him, I’m sure they’ll want to be on it because they’ll just LOVE Him!  Ms Jones wrote several small stories in this book and each one is for me a list of plays that the Kingdom team needs to focus on.  He’s the star and we need to model our lives and our plays after His.  Surely you will agree when I share some of them:

  •  Jesus loves children
  • Jesus goes about doing good
  • Jesus is glad
  • Jesus helps people
  • Jesus is brave
  • Jesus trusts God
  • Jesus helps people to be good
  • Jesus asks God to help unfriendly people
  • Jesus prays to God

 So, that’s what my new life is going to be all about.  I’m not that good at it yet, but He’ll coach me.  I’m not sure what position I’ll hold on His team, but He’ll lead me and show me.  I may not be the one who hits the home runs.  I may be the one who brings them water to drink.  It doesn’t matter.  We’re a team and all the members of the team work together and we all need to do our best at the position our Lord chooses for us.  I’m on a winning team.  Come play with me!  You won’t strike out!   You have His promise!


It Is Finished

April 22, 2011

It is Good Friday.  I’ve just come from church and as I write this I’m thinking about things and trying to keep things in perspective, but it’s a dark and rainy day and I’ve just returned from a service in a church that’s been stripped of all the trappings and left bare and plain.  I know that Easter is soon to come and that beauty and joy will return SPLENDIDLY, but just now I find I’m focused on death on a rough wooden cross.  I am wondering what they did with it after Jesus was placed in the tomb?  Did they cast lots for it to recycle its wood as they did for His clothing?  It was raw wood and surely stained with His blood . . . “it is finished.” 

I’m also thinking of my dear friend and priest as he spoke at church of the death and passion of the Lord he loves so much, and recalling the tears running down his face as he tried to teach us about this God-man who made the ultimate sacrifice for us.  I heard my priest cry as he spoke of this event that happened so long ago and yet to those of us who’ve entered into a personal relationship with the Lord know all too well, we are brought back to that event just now and to the knowledge that we are the reason he died . . . “it is finished.”

What do the words “it is finished” bring to mind?  Well, as with most happenings, words, phrases, and life changing experiences, the words mean many things.  When Jesus spoke those words that made my friend cry . . . that made me cry as well, I’m certain that Jesus’ mother and His dear friends watched and cried.  He was gone.  His blood dripping from his wounded flesh, running down His dead body, staining the wood of the cross on which He hung, puddle on the ground.  “It is finished.”

There have been many times in my life when I made mistakes.  Sometimes, I can or could make amends.  Sometimes I am so grateful for a do over.  Sometimes, I simply cannot.  The damage has been done.  I have, perhaps, been hurt, others may have been as well.  It can’t be fixed.  It can’t be made well.  It’s too late.  It is the way it is.  Somehow life goes on anyway, but brokenness cannot be changed because “it is finished.”

On the other hand sometimes I get it right.  I have a quilt to make for a friend.  I will work hard on it.  I love my friend and want to do the best I can on it.  When all the fabric pieces have been cut and arranged in an artful pattern, and stitched and decoratively pieced into something new and beautiful, I will smile and hand it over saying “it is finished.”  It will bring joy to my friend and to the granddaughter she will give it to – a new baby – a new life.  “It is finished.” 

A new life!  Like my friend’s granddaughter, we too have a new life.  We have a new life because God gave us His only son who became flesh and dwelt among us that we might have eternal life with Him.  Eternal life.  Not someday,  not if I’m good enough . . . not “if I can only make it a little bit further I just might get there” as though it’s a destination we can through our own efforts reach.  We cannot make it happen and we cannot be good enough, but by believing in Him we have eternal life because of what He did.  His thirty-three years on this earth had a purpose and it was accomplished.  His purpose was to die for our sin so that we might live with Him in His Kingdom forever.  “It is finished” but that’s not an ending, but a new beginning!  In the ultimate battle of life and death we have a choice to make . . . life or death.  I choose Jesus and therefore I choose life!


Gethsemane

April 22, 2011

What was it like in the garden that day? What was the weather? Was it seasonable? Were there people about Gethsemane? Did they have any idea of what was to come to pass? Were there dark clouds in the sky as though a storm was brewing? Was there an odd stillness in the air? Did they catch their breath in an uneasy sense of “something just doesn’t feel right?” Without radio, television, newspapers, computers and the like, how much was known of what was planned? There was no water cooler down the hallway where “everything important” was shared among those who clustered and whispered there . . . were there children wandering about happily playing? Was it a pretty day with blue skies and sunshine and a gentle breeze? What was in the minds of those who were there?

What was in the minds of Jesus sleepy companions that night? Were they confused? Did they anticipate that “something” was up? When Jesus awakened them and spoke to them “can you not watch and pray with me for an hour” did they have any inkling of something life changing that was to come in just a few short hours? Was it a dreadful night or a beautiful one? Did they sleep well or toss and turn, their souls in an uncertain and undefined distress? Did they think their world was coming to an end? Did they know their friend and Savior was about to die to save them and grant them eternal life with Him? Did they think it was “just another day?”


Watch For One Hour

April 21, 2011

“Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him.  “Abba, Father,”  he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Simon,” he said to Peter, “are you asleep? Couldn’t you keep watch for one hour?   Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

 Once more he went away and prayed the same thing.  When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. They did not know what to say to him.”    Mark 14:35-40

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I read of the goings on in Jesus day and the choices made by his chosen 12 and I find myself wondering “what were they thinking” and “why can’t they see . . . ” 

We were not there and facing all that they faced.  We live in an easier time, yet we are no different than they were.  Would we have watched and prayed for one hour?  All too often, I believe, we find ourselves too busy to “watch and pray for one hour.”   Even though I “pray a lot” it’s often in “stolen moments” as I rush about through my day.  Why don’t I more often find the time to “watch for one hour” since I know that when I do so, my life is changed!  Grace flows and my soul rejoices, yet I find myself too busy . . .

Busy?  I find time to bake a pan of brownies.  I find time to catch a 30 minute sitcom on tv.  I find time to be online in social networking sites.  I find time to run off to the bookstore . . . surely I can find time to “watch and pray for one hour.” 

Today I will.


Love Never Ends

April 19, 2011

I had a long chat with a dear friend the other night.  I didn’t know it would be my last, but while he’s still alive as I write this he is well on his way on that final journey from this life to the next.  I wrote the following words for him, although I am not sure if he got this in time to read them.  I hope they will bless his family in this time.  My friend has suffered long, but has always been a blessing to others regardless of what he was facing in his own life. 

I love you, dear friend.  You will be with me always. 

FOREVER

Sometimes

someone comes along

And touches you

In a special way

A hand

A heart

A prayer

And changes your life

By the love of Christ

In their soul

Reflected in the eyes

As they look at you

And you have

A friend forever

In this world and the next

Because love never ends.

                              By Martha L Shaw


Are You God Centered?

March 27, 2011

It is a beautiful day! Yes, I know the clouds are moving in, but do you know what? I know the maker of the clouds personally and so I’m not threatened. Actually, trust me – even when we have total cloud cover, the blue skies and sunshine are still there. Never far from us – just as the Lord is never far from us. Tomorrow’s Sunday! Holy Spirit rain down! Won’t dampen my spirits any! I am free! 

That being said, I was just thinking . . . if you turn on any television station, pick up any magazine or newspaper, walk through any bookstore . . . you are inundated with opportunities to be taught to “get centered.”  We constantly have opportunities to “de-stress” and to deal better with anxiety, even to bring on “good” stress.  We are told we need to “chill” and to free our spirit . . . we are told we need to learn to focus better.  We are told that once we do all this, we will be happy and peaceful and oh, so successful.  What is all this?  I can’t say that much of these books and lectures I’ve seen contained any reference to Christianity.  I am also reminded of having read more than once that if we persist in doing the same thing and it never works, YET we continue to repeat it anyway, we are surely “crazy,” whatever that means.  Well, crazy or not, if we are so much in need of finding our center and we keep reading these books and not finding it, are we perhaps chasing our tails which can only result in eventually getting dizzy? 

To a Christian, there can be only one answer to what is at the center of our being.  If we are to “get centered” and be at our peak, we must acknowledge the presence of the Lord living in our heart and soul.  We must invite Him to fill us with His Holy Spirit to guard and to guide us, and to use us and our talents given BY HIM to His glory.  We know this, yet our free will takes hold of us and we turn in every other direction BUT inward!  We possess the answer to our every need.  We’ve been given the perfect answer!  A gift beyond our comprehension and more valuable than any we can buy for 29.99 plus shipping . . . all we have to do is open our hearts and say “come, Holy Spirit, come!”


Giving Up Hope Is In Our Best Interest

March 24, 2011

 What is hope?  I’m thinking we use the word constantly but do not always have a proper definition for it.  “I hope you have a good day.”  “I hope traffic is light.”  Then we read Psalm 25:5 that “Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.”  Hmmm . . . there’s that word again,  but can it mean the same thing?  Let’s consider this.  Hope is associated with expectation.  The dictionary defines it as “a person or thing in which expectations are centered.”  That being said, where do you wish to center your hope? 

If you build your life on that which is hoped for, do you really think placing that hope in yourself or any human is such a great idea?  Sure, you might get what you want, but I remember the often repeated words of caution “watch out what you hope for!”  This brings to mind a quote from Psalm 33, ”We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield.”  I believe that when our hope is in any but the Lord, giving up hope is a good thing.  He is perfect and knows what we truly need and what is best for us.  We do not.  As the Psalmist said, “He is our . . . shield.”  We need to be shielded from our own imperfect desires. 

 I can think of so many hoped for situations in my life that didn’t happen and which saddened me at the time.  Examples include the home I didn’t get to buy, the relationships that failed, the job I didn’t get . . . and when I reflect on what I did receive versus what I’d hoped for, I am so blessed.  What the Lord provided was and always is so much better than anything I could have imagined or hoped for on my own.  There are things I hope for just now and am still waiting for, but my panic or “oh, but what if” has faded.  Psalm 31:24 says it best.  “Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD.”


The Necessity to Love One Another

March 23, 2011

”Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.”  Romans 12:10

 The above command from Paul’s letter to the Romans leaves no room for discussion.  No “well, what about?” and no “Oh, but I don’t think” or “well, surely that doesn’t mean . . . “  I believe we find what we seek in life much of the time.  Okay, let me bring that more into focus, because love can be a scary concept.  When we look for something or someone to criticize, we will surely find PLENTY.  However, and this is a BIG however, if we as Christians seek to see Christ in those we meet – and we know He resides is all people – we will surely find Him and thus loving them becomes easy. 

 I was in a retail store picking up some sewing supplies I needed and feeling low because I had not found a job and was feeling scared I’d “lose everything.”  As I stood at the counter in the store a stranger who I can only think of as an angel sent to me from God seemed to pick up on my need to be reminded to trust in the Lord and smiled at me and shared her testimony.  Later in our conversation as we walked around the store talking about the Lord, I learned she had it as hard as I did but was walking in faith.  Wow.  I’m sure she had better things to do but spend that time with me, but she honored me above herself and shared the love of the Lord with me   I left the store feeling that love and recalling the meeting brings that feeling back to me even now. 

 On another occasion, I found myself next to a stranger to me.  The stranger was clearly dealing with a heartbreaking situation of which I knew nothing.  I knew the Lord was telling me to show her His love and so I prayed for the Holy Spirit to speak through me and moved ahead in fear, but did as He commanded and showed her His love.  I recalled later that I’d not been feeling well that night.  Nothing in particular, just “one of those days” and the most remarkable thing happened.  Reflecting the love of the Lord to this stranger blessed me!  

There have been a number of occasions in which I’ve judged folks I didn’t know ANYTHING about and I can tell you that there are many times when He has revealed Himself to me through those very people as they showed His love to me.  Had I been looking at them through the eyes of Christ, I’d have seen Him there!  Looking through my human eyes and my own brokenness, I initially saw only flaws, but when He revealed Himself to me through these people, those flaws no longer had any importance to me.  I can’t count the number of times a smile, a handshake, a kind word, or a hug from someone who in many cases I hardly knew changed my troubled spirit, changed my day, or changed my life.  “Love one another” isn’t a suggestion, it’s a necessity.  I love you!


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