Friday, August 24, 2012

Servants for God and everyone!

I have a beloved daughter-in-law who is the essence of servanthood. I would like to dedicate this to her. Dear Ria, my eternal gratitude to you for being a special angel on this earth. God gifted us all the day you were born. Mike, thank you for bringing this very special lady into our lives - and thank YOU for being an angel, too!



A willingness to serve is the trademark of humility and Christlikeness.

I.    Servanthood Defined (vv. 34).

A.    A servant does nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Consideration for others must precede concern for ourselves.

B.    A servant also looks out for the needs of others. It is not wrong to care for one’s self, but not to the exclusion of those about us.

II.    Servanthood Developed (vv. 5-7).

A.    Jesus did not hold on to what was rightfully His. He willingly relinquished His place in Heaven. Service reveals submission, not inferiority.

B.    Jesus took the nature of a servant. Matthew 25 shows that He expects His followers to do the same.

III.    Servanthood Demonstrated (vv. 8-11).

A.    Jesus humbled himself, even to dying on a cross for our sins. This passage shows Christ descending step by step from His place of equality with the Father in Heaven (vv. 6-8).

B.    God’s exaltation of Him in ascending steps is next shown (vv. 9-11). This is the pattern for all who follow the Lord’s example (Matthew 20:20-27). Someone prayed, “If I am called to serve in a place of prominence, keep me humble; if I am called to a place of obscurity, keep me gracious.”


Ways You Can Serve

Think of all the ways you might help someone this week: prepare food or clean house for someone sick; send a note or gift to a shut-in, serviceman, or student; call on someone bereaved; phone one who is discouraged or worried; offer respite to one who cares for a disabled or elderly relative; write a missionary; offer to do volunteer work in the church office. None of these requires any special talent, but all demonstrate a servant’s heart. Don’t just listen to a sermon on servanthood, but be a servant! William James once said, “Impression without expression leads to depression.” Even the sponge, to be useful, must release what it has absorbed.

Something More - The true servant is determined to do something more than might be expected or required. A man walked into a pet store and ordered ten mice and forty-two cockroaches. “That’s an unusual order,” the owner said. “Well,” replied the customer, “I’m moving from my apartment, and the lease says that I must leave it just as I found it.”

Servant-hood means you don’t leave things just as you found them!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Paradox Of Our Age

I have no idea who wrote this, but sadly how true:

We have bigger houses
   but smaller families;
more conveniences,
   but less time.
We have more degrees
   but less sense;
more knowledge
   but less judgment;
more experts,
   but more problems;
more medicines
   but less healthiness.

We’ve been all the way to the moon and back,
   but have trouble in crossing the street to meet our new neighbour.
We built more computers to hold more copies than ever,
   but have less real communication;
We have become long on quantity,
   but short on quality.
These are times of fast foods
   but slow digestion;
Tall men
   but short characters;
Steep profits
   but shallow relationships.
It’s a time when there is much in the window
   but nothing in the room.


For Shame!

"They were not at all ashamed, nor could they blush ...." (Jeremiah 6:15 Amplified OT).
I think we have finally and forever fulfilled this verse. When I see and hear what is going on in this world, I marvel that God has waited so long to clean our clocks. I recall my beloved grandmother expressing great disgust at a certain ad back in 1958. Yikes, she should see them now--she would do double-time back to her grave.

The prayer of Ezra, the scribe, the brave, good, holy man who led a company of his Israelite brethren from Babylon to Jerusalem, prayed for his sinful nation, "O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to Thee, my God." Perhaps we need the shepherds of our wandering-in-the-wilderness flocks to do more praying and less compromising with the ever-lowering standards of this bewildered planet which is sinking in strange theories and even-stranger practices.

Diogenes said to a youth whom he saw blushing: "Courage, my boy, that is the complexion of virtue." The mind of Christ will give us the complexion we so need in these shameful days.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

From Bondage to Bondage

"Say to them, `This is the nation which does not listen to the voice of the Lord, its God, or take correction. Faithfulness has disappeared; the word itself is banished from their speech'" (Jeremiah 7:28); “They have set their abominations – extremely disgusting and shamefully vile – in the house which is called by My name, to defile it” (Jeremiah 7:30, The Amplified Old Testament).

For years prophets have told us that we no longer listen to the voice of our Lord; we do not appreciate the correction we would experience if we bothered to listen to God's word. Let us read and consider the rise and fall of former great civilizations:

1. From bondage to spiritual faith;
2. From spiritual faith to great courage;
3. From courage to liberty;
4. From liberty to abundance;
5. From abundance to selfishness;
6. From selfishness to complacency;
7. From complacency to apathy;
8. From apathy to dependency;
9. From dependency right back to the bondage where it all started.

We have taken the liberty of taking God's liberty and making light and license of it. We refuse to be reformed and reclaimed, for then we would have to admit that we are not our own, but God's, and our intellectual pride forbids that.

We have journeyed rather quickly from bondage to bondage. Somewhere in between we lost our bearings. The day must come that even God Himself will no longer be able to forbear us. One of our modern prophets, Billy Graham, is reported to have said, "If Jesus doesn't come back soon, He will have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah."

"For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him..." (Romans 1:21a NIV).

What's in your sponge?

There are 5 sponges laying on your kitchen counter top.
Each member of your family has been cleaning
up different areas of your home,
but all the sponges look the same.
You are curious as to what was cleaned in your home,
but you can't tell by looking...they all look the same....

so what do you do?
You squeeze each sponge to see what comes out.
As you squeeze the first sponge, you see that cola comes out,
and so you decide that someone cleaned the kitchen
with that one.
Upon squeezing the second sponge,
you find tub and tile cleaner - that one was used to clean
the bathroom.
Next, in the third sponge, you find motor oil
-- hubby was cleaning the garage!
In the fourth sponge, baby powder puffs out
when it is squeezed -- yep,
the baby's nursery was done with that one!
And finally, in the last one, is floor wax
-- that was the one you used on the hall floor!
As you lay the last one down, you look again at their similarity
- and they all look the same until they're squeezed.
Christians are the same way.
As life squeezes us, different things come out
- anger from one, a need for revenge from another,
tears from one,
remorse from yet another - also greed, untruth, lust
- and finally, from one saint, pours forth the love of Christ.
Just like the sponge, we can only squeeze out what is put in
- stay in the Word daily, and be in continuous prayer,
so that when life puts the squeeze on you (and it WILL),
Jesus, and Jesus ALONE will shine forth from you!
Have a blessed, squeaky clean day!
Author Unknown

Monday, August 20, 2012

Roses in the dark - Malcolm McLeod

"I call to remembrance my song in the night" (Psalm 77:6).

I have read somewhere of a little bird that will never sing the melody his master wishes while his cage is full of light. He learns a snatch of this, a bar of that, but never an entire song of its own until the cage is covered and the morning beams shut out.

A good many people never learn to sing until the darkling shadows fall. The fabled nightingale carols with his breast against a thorn. It was in the night that the song of the angels was heard. It was at midnight that the cry came, "Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him."

Indeed it is extremely doubtful if a soul can really know the love of God in its richness and in its comforting, satisfying completeness until the skies are black and lowering.

Light comes out of darkness, morning out of the womb of the night.

James Creelman, in one of his letters, describes his trip through the Balkan States in search of Natalie, the exiled Queen of Serbia.

"In that memorable journey," he says, "I learned for the first time that the world's supply of attar of roses comes from the Balkan Mountains. And the thing that interested me most," he goes on, "is that the roses must be gathered in the darkest hours. The pickers start out at one o'clock and finish picking them at two.

"At first it seemed to me a relic of superstition; but I investigated the picturesque mystery, and learned that actual scientific tests had proven that fully forty per cent of the fragrance of roses disappeared in the light of day."

And in human life and human culture that is not a playful, fanciful conceit; it is a real veritable fact.

-Malcolm J. McLeod


"The hand of the Lord hath wrought this" (Job 12:9).

Several years ago there was found in an African mine the most magnificent diamond in the world's history. It was presented to the King of England to blaze in his crown of state. The King sent it to Amsterdam to be cut. It was put into the hands of an expert lapidary. And what do you suppose he did with it?

He took the gem of priceless value, and cut a notch in it. Then he struck it a hard blow with his instrument, and lo! the superb jewel lay in his hand cleft in twain. What recklessness! what wastefulness! what criminal carelessness!

Not so. For days and weeks that blow had been studied and planned. Drawings and models had been made of the gem. Its quality, its defects, its lines of cleavage had all been studied with minutest care. The man to whom it was committed was one of the most skillful lapidaries in the world.

Do you say that blow was a mistake? Nay. It was the climax of the lapidary's skill. When he struck that blow, he did the one thing which would bring that gem to its most perfect shapeliness, radiance, and jeweled splendor. That blow which seemed to ruin the superb precious stone was, in fact, its perfect redemption. For, from those two halves were wrought the two magnificent gems which the skilled eye of the lapidary saw hidden in the rough, uncut stone as it came from the mine.

So, sometimes, God lets a stinging blow fall upon your life. The blood spurts. The nerves wince. The soul cries out in agony. The blow seems to you an appalling mistake. But it is not, for you are the most priceless jewel in the world to God. And He is the most skilled lapidary in the universe.

Some day you are to blaze in the diadem of the King. As you lie in His hand now He knows just how to deal with you. Not a blow will be permitted to fall upon your shrinking soul but that the love of God permits it, and works out from its depths, blessing and spiritual enrichment unseen, and unthought of by you.


Sunday, August 19, 2012

A Blue Rose - Anonymous

Having four visiting family members, my wife was very busy, so I offered to go to the store for her to get some needed items which included light bulbs, paper towels, trash bags, detergent and Clorox. So off I went.

I scurried around the store, gathered up my items and headed for the checkout counter, only to be blocked in the narrow aisle by a young man who appeared to be about sixteen-years-old. I wasn't in a hurry, so I patiently waited for the boy to realize that I was there. This was when he waved his hands excitedly in the air and declared in a loud voice, "Mommy, I'm over here."

It was obvious now, he was mentally challenged and also startled as he turned and saw me standing so close to him, waiting to squeeze by. His eyes widened and surprise exploded on his face as I said, "Hey Buddy, what's your name?"

"My name is Denny and I'm shopping with my mother," he responded proudly.

"Wow," I said, "that's a cool name; I wish my name was Denny, but my name is Steve."

"Steve, like Stevarino?" he asked.  "Yes," I answered. "How old are you, Denny?"

"How old am I now, Mommy?" he asked his mother as she came over from the next aisle.
"You're fifteen-years-old, Denny; now be a good boy and let the man pass by."

I acknowledged her and continued to talk to Denny for several more minutes about summer, bicycles and school. I watched his brown eyes dance with excitement, because he was the center of someone's attention. He then abruptly turned and headed toward the toy section.

Denny's mom had a puzzled look on her face and thanked me for taking the time to talk with her son. She told me that most people wouldn't even look at him, much less talk to him.

I told her that it was my pleasure and then I said something I have no idea where it came from, other than by the prompting of the Holy Spirit. I told her that there are plenty of red, yellow, and pink roses in God's Garden; however, "Blue Roses" are very rare and should be appreciated for their beauty and distinctiveness. You see, Denny is a Blue Rose and if someone doesn't stop and smell that rose with their heart and touch that rose with their kindness, then they've missed a blessing from God.

She was silent for a second, then with a tear in her eye she asked, "Who are you?"

Without thinking I said, "Oh, I'm probably just a dandelion, but I sure love living in God's garden."

She reached out, squeezed my hand and said, "God bless you!" and then I had tears in my eyes.

May I suggest, the next time you see a BLUE ROSE , whichever differences that person may have, don't turn your head and walk off. Take the time to smile and say hello. Why? Because, by the grace of GOD, this mother or father could be you. This could be your child, grandchild, niece, nephew or any other family member. What a difference a moment can mean to that person or their family.

From an old dandelion:  Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. Leave the rest up to God!

"People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel!" 


Friday, August 17, 2012

Who are our heroes?

Several years ago our six-year-old granddaughter, our four-year-old twin grandsons and a young friend of theirs and I gathered together for a poetry fun-shop. But before we got into the fun part I asked them to spend a few minutes talking about who their heroes are, a really heavy subject for such young folks. But as I get older and wiser, I'm discovering that we are short-changing our little ones terribly. Out of the mouths of babes come discriminating and perceptive thoughts. And they don't hesitate to tell you, too!

I asked them if they knew any people they considered special enough to imitate. Well, a huge silence ensued so I decided to share my wisdom of the ages, rather, my old-age wisdom. Seeing who gets all the publicity in the papers, I've always thought the "little person" lands on the very low end of the scale. So we talked about the "little person" and what he or she does, and what makes him or her a hero.

1. The true hero is willing to take responsibility for his or her actions.
2. The true hero drops the "victim" cloak and goes on with duties, whether it's raining or not. S/he doesn't expect the government to hand out raincoats or, better yet, stop the rain. After all, let's get real here!
3. The true hero doesn't cry if the prize isn't in the box, and s/he for sure doesn't sue the company!
4. The true hero gets out of bed every morning no matter how s/he feels and gets on with life and kids and work. It may not pay today but it will surely pay high dividends in ten or twenty years from now.
5. The true hero knows that bad things happen to good people. As Mort Crim so aptly stated: "Once we accept the fact that bad things do happen to good people, then we can get on with the business of living life to the fullest: giving, loving, creating, sharing, building, walking through every door of opportunity offered by this fragile, unpredictable, exciting experience called life."
6. The true hero can make a decision and stand by it. This takes more courage than we realize.
7. The true hero gives 110% if that is what is needed.
8. The true hero keeps promises. Only a child knows how important this is.
9. The true hero never complains. This is where we separate the heroes from us ordinary folks!
10. The true hero loves in spite of instead of spite!

Darkness into Light

"...Though I fall I will rise again! When I sit in darkness, the Lord himself will be my Light...God will bring me out of my darkness into the light, and I will see his goodness" (Micah 7:8,9 TLB).

Darkness is frightening. We can't even see shadows--God's or ours--much less light when all is black, so our imagination catapults us into fear of the present and the future. When I read this awesome promise that the Lord Himself will be my Light, the fear of the somber present, as well as the unknown future, melted. Psalm 107:14 tells us that "[The Lord] brought them out of darkness and the deepest gloom and broke away their chains." I like to make God's promises personal, so when our son died I claimed this particular one and told myself that God is bringing me out of this dark night of my life and He is right now breaking away these chains that bind my joy and ability to continue with life.

The promise is that when I sit in the darkness He will be there as my Light. This prompts me to think that I can't be gadding about; that I need to stay put so that God can grant His promise. Indeed, Acts 1:4b says to "Wait for the promise of the Father." The Apostles needed to be told this for their encouragement.

The day I finally understood this was the day that I was telling a relative about our son who had recently died. It was nothing threatening, or so I thought. Out of the blue he interrupted me and said, "Well, you don't love your children any more than I love my children." I was shocked at what he said. It seemed so out of place and time. I went home and prayed about it, and decided that God had a message for me in this strange reply from a relative who I thought should (this took care of my "shoulds" for others!) have understood and commiserated with me. I didn't need another kick in the heart, so I thought. Then as I prayed for God to help me learn whatever the lesson was in this insensitive remark, God impressed on my heart that I needed to be with Him, not pouring out my grief to others. It wasn't that they didn't want to comprehend the depths of my personal sorrow, it was simply that they couldn't, and I must try to understand their needs in this, as well. I'm not saying this is what others should do, that they shouldn't share with relatives and friends; heaven forbid that I should turn out to be a Job's comforter! I'm saying I think it is finally what God wanted me to do in my particular circumstance.

Thank You, Light in the total darkness! Thank You for being there with me even when I didn't see You; when I couldn't see You. And O! Father, thank You for leading me back into Your Light!

What we want to hold, God in mercy withholds

 "No good thing does he withhold from those who walk is blameless" (Psalm 84:11b).

How difficult it is to believe this when we lose someone or something so very precious to us. And yet this verse becomes so comforting. If we in faith believe that God will not hold back that which is good for us, then we can go on in the face of intense grief. "The Lord will indeed give what is good" (Psalm 85:12), especially in our sorrow, for He cannot break promises.  

Matthew presents an intriguing idea: "Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsover is right, I will give you” (Matthew 20:4 KJV). Whatsoever happens is right for us, much as we cannot understand it at the time. Sometimes what we want to hold, God in mercy withholds. We cry out at the loss, but God knows what is best. It is our challenge to take Him at His blessed word. An apparent good has been taken that the real good may blossom into a lovely balm in our Gilead and in others' Gileads, also.  

No good does He withhold. Only God can analyze what is good for us. The world calls good evil and evil good, light darkness and darkness light (Isaiah 5:20). But time proves all values, and it is in time that we understand the whats and whys of the goods and evils of our lives, and we can finally praise and thank Him for it all.

That Extra in the Ordinary!

"The house of the righteous contains great treasure..." (Proverbs 15:6 NIV).

I suppose according to the era in which we live and our age, the word "treasure" conjures up many images. Personally, at my age, waking up in the morning with good health is such a treasure that my first words are, "Thank You, Father, for all the incredible blessings You bestow every minute of every hour of every day."

A few years ago I started reading the Living Bible and I have found numerous treasures there, one being: "If you have good eyesight and good hearing, thank God who gave them to you" (Proverbs 20:12 TLB). I used to work in a high-rise for senior citizens and their two big worries were eyesight and hearing, so these gifts alone are two good reasons to get up and about every day.

I'm convinced that one of our major problems today is lack of gratitude, which is mentioned in 2 Timothy 3:2 as one of the signs of the last days: "But mark this: People will be ... ungrateful." When one is ungrateful, one also expects great things of others. I found myself doing that over the years. I expected my husband to do his part and our sons to love me and the world to generally do what was right or, at least, what I thought was right. After all, I did my part and I was righteous.

Then a day of "grief and desperate sorrow" (Isaiah 17:11 KJV) came and suddenly I discovered that an ordinary day is extraordinary simply because it is there. The true treasure-house is filled with friends, kind words, laughter, sunrise and sunset, a child's hug, a pile of branches that hides a birds' nest ... I found myself saying and writing "Wow!" to these unearthly gifts that I took for granted for so many years. As one author so eloquently noted, "Everything that brings relief from the ordinary pressure of daily life and revives the drooping spirits may be so regarded as 'green pastures and still waters'." We dwell in green pastures most of our days.  

I also discovered that gratitude made my family a lot happier, too. Finally I had learned to quit adding to the debit side of life and to make the entries on the credit side. It's known as going from "contentious" to "content"; lopping off the i-o-u-s from contentious that I thought others owed me to finally become enormously content with this beautiful life God has granted.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Get off your ash!

“Then Job took a piece of broken pottery and scraped himself with it as he sat among the ashes” (Job 2:8).

I dearly love the Book of Job. The year our son died I had lost two other basic relationships, all three deaths within months of each other, and all suddenly with no time for goodbyes. I found my comfort in the Old Testament, Job and Isaiah especially. On the third reading of Job I decided that one big message is: God trusts us!  We always speak of our trusting God, but it came through so clearly that God trusted Job enough to allow Satan to do his terror. What a comfort that was, to know that God trusted me to get through this time in my life when I wanted so much not to wake up the next morning. I learned that God would hold on to my hand; that if any letting go happened, it would be on my side, not His.

I received an email one year that really touched my heart and I’d like to share it. It’s titled Get Off Your Ash: “In Job 2:8 we see a picture of a man who took an instrument to scratch his itch and sat down among the ashes ... We have a choice. We can sit down on our ash, the thing we don’t like that seems painful for the moment but in the end will produce a full measure of eternity, or we can rise and walk in the newness of life He has set before us.  We all have an individual ash we just can’t seem to get off of: an issue of life we can’t part with, a hurt we can’t let go of, a brother or sister we can’t forgive or a memory we can’t release. Let’s realize the Father is waiting for us to rise up and allow Him to restore to us seven fold and give us beauty for our ashes (Is. 61:3).” Healing Love Outreach Ministries. Thank you, Dominica and Carrie!

Actually this sublime book does not answer the question of grief but it helps us to better understand the reasons for the sorrows that touch every life. The question is not the why of evil and anguish, for that we can never answer, but the how: how is it accepted and how is it overcome? It is in this life and on this earth that we join the battle and win the victory. "What is the meaning of all this?" is the afflicted heart's challenge to the Man on the cross. The meaning was found when He arose on that golden resurrection morning to give us a new translation of love and life, and a blessed hope.

Dining and Drugs - Interesting!

Dining and Drugs: The Surprising Correlation

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The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University has documented the importance of family dinners and their correlation with lessened drug and alcohol abuse.

The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University has documented the importance of family dinners and their correlation with lessened drug and alcohol abuse.
Their findings revealed that the more often children and teens eat dinner with their families, the less likely they are to smoke, consume alcohol or use drugs. Compared to children who have fewer than three family dinners per week, children who have frequent family dinners are:
• At 70 percent lower risk for substance abuse.
• Half as likely to try cigarettes.
• Half as likely to be daily cigarette smokers.
• Half as likely to try marijuana.
• One third less likely to try alcohol.
• Half as likely to get drunk monthly.
• Likely to get better grades in school.
• Less likely to have friends who drink alcohol and use marijuana.
• 40 percent more likely to say future drug use will never happen.
If there were a magic wand that could be waved to reverse the trend of substance abuse in youth, a key ingredient would be to make sure every child had dinner with his or her parents at least five times a week. Setting aside a minimum of a half hour—an hour being better—would produce noticeable results.

Forget it!

If you see a tall fellow ahead of the crowd,
A leader of music, marching fearless and proud,
And you know of a tale whose mere telling aloud
Would cause his proud head to in anguish be bowed,
It’s a pretty good plan to forget it.

If you know of a skeleton hidden away
In a closet, and guarded and kept from the day
In the dark; whose showing, whose sudden display
Would cause grief and sorrow and lifelong dismay,
It’s a pretty good plan to forget it.

If you know of a spot in the life of a friend
(We all have spots concealed, world without end)
Whose touching his heartstrings would sadden or rend,
Till the shame of its showing no grieving could mend,
It’s a pretty good plan to forget it.

If you know of a thing that will darken the joy
Of a man or a woman, a girl or a boy,
That will wipe out a smile or the least way annoy
A fellow, or cause any gladness to cloy,
It’s a pretty good plan to forget it.

Reputation and Character - Anonymous

The circumstances amid which you live determine your reputation; the truth you believe determines your character.

tReputation is what you are supposed to be; character is what you are.

tReputation is the photograph; character is the face.

tReputation comes over one from within; character grows up from within.

tReputation is what you have when you come to a new community; character is what you have when you go away.

tReputation is learned in an hour; character does not come to light for a year.

tReputation is made in a moment; character is built in a lifetime.

tReputation grows like a mushroom; character grows like the oak. A single newspaper report gives you your reputation; a life of toil gives you your character.

tReputation makes you rich or makes you poor; character makes you happy or makes you miserable.

tReputation is what men say about you on your tombstone; character is what angels say about you before the throne of God.


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Striking the rocks of life

"...You broke faith with did not uphold my holiness..." (Deuteronomy 32:51).

Surely Moses had a right to be angry with this stiff-necked people! He had pushed and pulled them through forty years of grumbling and lack of faith. Finally it got to him, and "rash words came from Moses' lips" (Psalm 106:33).

There are several warnings here for us all:

1) Believe what God says. Is it possible that Moses didn't trust that God could and would bring forth living water if he, Moses, merely spoke to the rock? Did Moses doubt the Word?

2) Moses got very angry and defiant himself: "Listen, you rebels..." He struck the rock not once but twice, not even waiting to see if water would come forth with the first angry strike. Surely if there is evidence that God expects us to be temperate in both our speech and actions, it is here. Moses was kept out of the land that he longed to enter because of a momentary lack of self-control. What a lesson! Sometimes the same thing can be said in the spirit of meekness that simply cannot be said when provoked.

3) It seems Moses forgot to give God the credit: "Must we bring you water out of this rock?" (V.10). It was done publicly, too, which doubled Moses' culpability. His doubt and his anger became an exposed spectacle which God could not tolerate. It jeopardized God's purposes for His people, and the people's hopes. We must be ever so careful of God's reputation.

We learn here that even the meekest of men, Moses, can sin and thus be deprived of his Canaan. Let us take heed lest we fall into discouragement and discontent that can disable us enough that we strike at the Rock of Living Water. God knows what temper we are made of and what temper we are in, too.

It seemed such a small sin but the consequences were enormous for Moses and Aaron, just as the consequences were great for Adam and Eve because of their lack of faith in what God told them. Let us take heed lest we lose our faith and our tempers!

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Touch of the Master's Hand - Myra Brooks Welch

'Twas battered and scarred, and the old auctioneer
Thought it scarcely worth his while
to waste much time on the old violin,
But he still held it up with a smile:
"What am I bidden, good folks," he cried,
"Who'll start the bidding for me?"
"A dollar, a dollar"; then, "Two!" "Only two?
Two dollars, and who'll make it three?
Three dollars, once; three dollars, twice;
going for three ..." but no.
From the room far back, a gray-haired man
Came forward and picked up the bow;
Then, wiping the dust from the old violin,
And tightening the loose strings,
He played a melody pure and sweet
As a caroling angel sings.
The music ceased, and the auctioneer,
With a voice that was quiet and low,
Said; "What am I bidden for the old violin?"
And he held it up with the bow.
"A thousand! And who'll make it two?
Two thousand! And who'll make it three?
Three thousand, once, three thousand, twice,
And going, and gone," said he.
The people cheered, but some of them cried,
"We do not quite understand
What changed it's worth." Swift came the reply:
"The touch of the master's hand."
And many a man with life out of tune,
And battered and scarred with sun,
Is auctioned cheep to the thoughtless crowd,
Much like this old violin.
A "mess of pottage," a glass of wine;
A game; and he travels on.
He is "going" once, "going" twice,
He's "going" and almost "gone."
But the Master comes, and the foolish crowd
Never can quite understand
The worth of a soul and the change that's wrought
By the touch of the Master's hand.
Myra Brooks Welch

Release those neurotransmitters!

"He will yet fill your mouth with laughing, and your lips with rejoicing" (Job 8:21).

Laughter may indeed be the best medicine after all. In his Anatomy of an Illness, published in 1979, Norman Cousins recounts how ten minutes of solid belly laughter would give him two hours of pain-free sleep. Laughter stimulates heart and blood circulation and promotes respiration. It produces deep relaxation, thereby breaking up our tension. Just putting on a happy face can be rewarding. I worked in a high rise for senior citizens for several years, and I made what I thought at the time was the profound discovery that if I smiled­--whether I felt like it or not-­-I would feel better. I knew I couldn’t go in to those dear old people looking like a grump, so I would paste on a smile, and soon I was actually smiling. In an article published in the Orlando Sentinel, Ronald S. Miller stated that “if we just assume facial expressions of happiness, we can increase blood flow to the brain and stimulate release of favorable neurotransmitters.” So when I smile I am releasing neurotransmitters and giving others and myself a better day in the process!

Years ago I had a ministry with parents who had lost children. At the risk of sounding like a heretic, I asked them to keep a good joke book beside the Bible. I explained that there would be days when even the Bible might need to be supplemented with a good laugh that could, at least momentarily, lift the incredible weight of pain and loss. My personal daily shot in the funny bone is Lynn Johnston’s For Better or for Worse. God bless her for her painkiller insight on family life.

One more bit of advice: don’t stick around negative people. These are what one writer calls “energy suckers.” Do yourself a huge favor and find someone positive and funny and enjoy life. God wants us to laugh and enjoy the full range of positive emotions He created. Otherwise, He wouldn’t have promised to “fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with rejoicing!”

So let’s rattle those funny bones today and praise our heavenly Father for the wonderful gift of laughter.

Betrayal and Love

"Anyone who lets himself be distracted from the work I plan for him is not fit for the Kingdom of God" (Luke 9:62 TLB).

We have such good intentions of staying on the straight and narrow path with our Lord. Peter did: "Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death." Poor Peter not only failed that great proclamation but he actually disowned his best Friend. Then "he went outside and wept bitterly" (Luke 22:62).

We want to follow Jesus and His principles and practices, but it is too easy to forget our priorities. There are so many distractions and demands today. If we do not do God's work that He has planned for us, then our other work becomes difficult, uncertain, and mediocre, a poor gift to One who wants us to do our best. What we look back on are our failures; what we can look forward to is God's forgiveness of those failures. Even spiritual persons can waste much time and emotional energy on feeling that they have committed the unpardonable sin when, in effect, they have been human.

We know that Peter denied his Lord but we have overlooked what Jesus did for Peter: "The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter" (Luke 22:61). What a look of love! It was then that Peter remembered Jesus telling him that he would betray Him. At the same time that He warned Peter of his impending betrayal He also told him: "Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail" (Luke 22:31,32). Was it our Lord's prayer for Peter that finally saved him? "And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers" (v.32).

The Lord looks upon us with tenderness. He understands our weaknesses for "He remembers that we are dust" (Psalm 103:14). And to think that He prays for us! We can go on with our work for Him and not look back at yesterday's or last year's or a lifetime's sins or mistakes. All we need do is continue to look upon Jesus as He looks upon us.


Give the Guys A Break!

The following article was published in Healthways and received an award from the National League of American Pen Woman in 1976.

"O woman, lovely woman! Nature made thee to temper man; we had been brutes without you. Angels are painted fair, to look like you; there is in you all that we believe of heaven -- amazing brightness, purity, and truth, eternal joy, and everlasting love" (Otway).

Now don't laugh, especially you disillusioned males out there, but that's Mr. Otway's estimation of us, whoever and however Mr. Otway is. I took time off from the various household chores to search out some information on this dear old gent, but he didn't rate space for his quaint observations.

Frankly I'm a bit fed up with libbers who are mostly lippers. I'm tired of hearing about the raw deals we females have thrown to us. Let's dissect Mr. Otway's assertions, "O woman, lovely woman." Isn't it great to be called lovely? Just think of the connotations of that word, lovely. It can compensate for a multitude of milady's sins!

But -- if a woman acts ugly, she is ugly and no amount of paint, war-types of peace-types, can erase the fact that man does not want to be bothered with her. On the other hand, if she is lovely on the inside, what a treasure she is to the man who is fortunate enough to be with her. Of course it's a bonus if she is physically attractive as well.

Let's check the thesaurus and see what is covered by the word lovely: beautiful, graceful, refined, personable, undefaced, affectionate, tender, sympathetic, devoted, interesting, amiable. That's certainly a far cry from the bitter, implacable, offensive actions of a few gals purporting to represent the majority of us who like being female. I want to be go on record that they don't represent me because I'd rather be tender, sympathetic and amiable.

"Nature made thee to temper man; we had been brutes without you." Well, some of the distaff side have been "tempering" man, all right, and some have been tempting him to figuratively murder spouse, mother-in-law, sister, yakky neighbor, or what-not or who-not.

Nature made us to temper man. That's quite a compliment. The kind of temper Otway implies here is loaded with power, good old woman power. What does fire do but temper the steel so that it can be made pliable? Apply this line of thought to the man-woman relationship. That certain fire doesn't destroy the steel but makes it useful. One gets the impression that the female is out to demolish the male ego, to squash man into the ugliness that is so prominent in our aesthetics today.

A truly smart woman tempers her man with the kindness that should be her nature; she adds the substance of herself to modify the roughness of man. Certainly this is what Mr. Otway means when he states that nature made us to temper man: to refine man, to complement, compliment and bring out what is noble in man.

"There is in you all that we believe of heaven -- amazing brightness, purity and truth, eternal joy, and everlasting love." Of course such utter idealism is disquieting! And it is as old-fashioned as McGuffey's Readers, wherein are contained such virtues as industry, honesty, humor, gentleness, diplomacy, patriotism, sterling character, love of God and neighbor, contentment, courage, fortitude, et al. That group of present-day anathemas just might cause little Johnny to organize and polarize his thoughts into something other than protest, if they could be impressed on his multi-divided attention.

Now I hesitate to admit this, but it's a proven fact that we women really are superior. Frankly, this is a frightful responsibility! To cite an example, my sons still refuse to abdicate the auto throne, even though statistics prove that women drivers can manage a car and five kids at one time, and still stay behind the state trooper. Believe me, that takes a special kind of talent and numbness which the male does not possess.

Statistics also prove that we live longer, and this is strictly a personal opinion arrived at after five sons, but I think it's possible that having children prolongs our lives. After all, what mere mortal man could survive the everyday trauma and drama of constant bedlam? This is our conditioning period when we vow to ourselves that if we survive the first 20 years of our offspring then we simply must live another 40 years to catch up.

But poor man, there he is, stuck with a daily job, unvented tears, bottled-up frustrations, bills and -- women, all shapes and relations. Let's face it, ladies, the men have their problems, too!

The Lunch Bag - Robert Fulghum

The Lunch Bag

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(a true story of Robert Fulghum and his 7-year-old daughter Molly)

It was Molly's job to hand her father his brown paper lunch bag each morning before he headed off to work. One morning, in addition to his usual lunch bag, Molly handed him a second paper bag. This one was worn and held together with duct tape, staples, and paper clips.

"Why two bags" Fulghum asked.

"The other is something else," Molly answered.

"What's in it?"

"Just some stuff. Take it with you."

Not wanting to hold court over the matter, Fulghum stuffed both sacks into his briefcase, kissed Molly and rushed off. At midday, while hurriedly scarfing down his real lunch, he tore open Molly's bag and shook out the contents: two hair ribbons, three small stones, a plastic dinosaur, a pencil stub, a tiny sea shell, two animal crackers, a marble, a used lipstick, a small doll, two chocolate kisses, and 13 pennies.

Fulghum smiled, finished eating, and swept the desk clean -- into the wastebasket -- leftover lunch, Molly's junk and all.

That evening, Molly ran up behind him as he read the paper.

"Where's my bag?"

"What bag?"

"You know, the one I gave you this morning."

"I left it at the office. Why?"

"I forgot to put this note in it," she said. "And, besides, those are my things in the sack, Daddy, the ones I really like - I thought you might like to play with them, but now I want them back. You didn't lose the bag, did you, Daddy?"

"Oh, no," he said, lying. "I just forgot to bring it home. I'll bring it tomorrow."

While Molly hugged her father's neck, he unfolded the note that had not made it into the sack: "I love you, Daddy."

Molly had given him her treasures. All that a 7-year-old held dear. Love in a paper sack, and he missed it -- not only missed it, but had thrown it in the wastebasket. So back he went to the office. Just ahead of the night janitor, he picked up the wastebasket and poured the contents on his desk.

After washing the mustard off the dinosaurs and spraying the whole thing with breath-freshener to kill the smell of onions, he carefully smoothed out the wadded ball of brown paper, put the treasures inside and carried it home gingerly, like and injured kitten. The bag didn't look so good, but the stuff was all there and that's what counted.

After dinner, he asked Molly to tell him about the stuff in the sack. It took a long time to tell. Everything had a story or a memory or was attached to dreams and imaginary friends. Fairies had brought some of the things. He had given her the chocolate kisses, and she had kept them for when she needed them.

"Sometimes I think of all the times in this sweet life," Fulghum concludes the story, "when I must have missed the affection I was being given. A friend calls this 'standing knee deep in the river and dying of thirst."

We should all remember that it's not the destination that counts in life -- it's the journey.

The little girl smiles, the dinosaurs and chocolate kisses wrapped in old paper bags that we sometimes throw away too thoughtlessly, each day, each a tiny treasure.

The journey with the people we love is all that really matters. Such a simple truth so easily forgotten.