Seasons {10.18.18}

It seems like we went right from summer to winter weather here. What a shock to our systems! But, that’s fall in the Midwest! It could be hot, warm, cool or cold (all within 24 hours)! Even though I wasn’t quite ready for these cold temperatures and frost, I do love the change of seasons. Each one has a beauty all its own. I am so thankful that I can enjoy them all. It seems like I’m ready for the next one about the time it shows up. I do have to admit though that winter could be a bit shorter and it wouldn’t hurt my feelings one bit. But snow at Christmas is a sparkly blessing. One thing is for sure, there is nothing boring about our weather.

One thing fall brings is a riot of color. The color of the fall leaves almost takes your breath away at times. And, they bring hours of fun for kids when they rake them up and jump in.covered bridge A few days ago, my husband and I took a drive and enjoyed the Parke County Covered Bridge Festival in Indiana. It was a beautiful morning but quite chilly. What a fun time we had. 

{On a side note – My husband remarked that amid all the election madness in commercials, and the ugly words and actions that are going on in our country today, people we encountered on this trip were all very nice and kind. Something for all of us to think about. Not much in this world is within our control, but our attitudes, words and actions are in our control. What are we doing with them?}

Ok, back on topic – seasons. We did cut our visit a bit shorter than planned because it started raining. It made me remember and look up again what God says about the seasons. Of course, we all remember the verse in Ecclesiastes, but Deuteronomy is where I turned. Here’s what God says. I have underlined and bolded the words that jump out at me and make me realize there are conditions and consequences to everything, even seasons.

“So if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today – to love the Lord your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul – then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and oil. I will provide grass in the fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied. Be careful, or you will be enticed to turn away and worship other gods and bow down to them. Then the Lord’s anger will burn against you, and he will shut the heavens so that it will not rain, and the ground will yield no produce, and you will soon perish from the good land the Lord is giving you.” (Deuteronomy 11:13-17)

fall colorsIt’s Fall here in Indiana. Anyone who attends football games can tell you that. Soon our leaves will be turning gorgeous colors. I have decorated my home with fall accents, and have pumpkins, gourds and mums on the front porch. But, during all this I am reminded that whatever we have, enjoy, etc. comes from God. It’s not on our own strength or ability that we have anything – life and all in it are gifts from God alone.  Enjoy!

Risk and Reward

Recently our Pastor was speaking about Abraham and his obedience to God’s call to leave everything and follow where God would lead him. He left all that was familiar to him; he left his “comfort zone”; he didn’t even know where he was going. God didn’t give him the route, God simply told him to leave and he would be shown the way. Abraham obeyed (Genesis 12:1-8). If that doesn’t sound risky, I don’t know what does. Of course, when God asks, it’s not so scary because we know He has our best interests in mind but still…

One thing mentioned during our Pastor’s message was “risk”. I immediately thought of “Risk and Reward”. Sometimes risk has a great reward, especially when God is inviting us to take that risk. I started thinking about some of those recorded in the Bible who have taken a risk for God. risk reward

Let’s look at a few examples: 

Noah: Risk – God said He was going to send rain and flood the earth (no rain had ever fallen on the earth at this point). He was asked to build an ark (no idea what that was). God told him to enter the ark with his family. He was also told to gather animals (male and female) and load them into the ark. I’m sure it all sounded very crazy to Noah. But, he obeyed. Even though he couldn’t imagine what was about to happen. (Genesis 6-8) Reward – Noah, his family, and male and female animals were spared. God saved them and provided a beautiful rainbow as a sign of His covenant/promise that never again would He flood the earth and destroy mankind and animals.

David: Risk – Wow. David’s life was full of risks.  While a shepherd, he had the risk of defending the sheep against predators. His complete faith and trust in God led him to go against Goliath (from a human perspective we would say it was against all odds). Even though God, through Samuel, anointed David as the king to replace Saul, it was a very long journey before that took place. His life was in danger, he had to run and hide. He was lonely. But, through it all, he trusted God. He failed in his walk, like we all do, but he believed, trusted, and followed God. Reward – David did become king. God said he was a man after His on heart. (Acts 13:22) There is no better recommendation than that! The Messiah (Jesus Christ), came from the line of David.

Rahab: Risk – The Lord had a job for Joshua that involved Rahab. Now Joshua is also a story of risk and reward, but I want to focus on Rahab right now. You see, she wasn’t what we would consider godly. She was a prostitute. However, God’s perspective is different from ours. Joshua sent some spies into Jericho. They ended up staying in the house of Rahab. When the king of Jerica heard about this, he sent a message to Rahab to turn over the men to him. Rahab, however, protected and hid the men. She told the men that the news of them had come and they knew that the God of the Israelites was indeed God in heaven above and the earth below. She asked them to show kindness to she and her family when they came to take the land (Joshua 6). Reward – Rahab and her family were spared, and her name and story have been told throughout the generations.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego: Risk – King Nebuchadnezzar had an idol constructed and ordered everyone to bow down and worship it when the music was sounded. Now these three guys were Jews and they followed God. They refused to follow the king’s decree and instead trusted THE KING. They told Nebuchadnezzar that even if he had them thrown into the fiery furnace, their God could save them. However, even if God didn’t, they would still not bow down to the idol. (Daniel 3) That is faith but even more than that, it shows them to be true believers who trusted and followed God. Reward – They were thrown into the furnace sure enough, but…not a hair on their heads was singed. They even were kept free from the smell of smoke. God performed a miracle and He was glorified – through their faith and trust in Him.

no risk rewardThese are just a couple of examples, but we find them throughout the Bible. What about us today? The Bible tells us that God is the same yesterday, today and forever. Are we hearing God’s call to us? If not, are we too busy or simply not being still before God so that we can hear Him? Are we in His Word, in prayer? God still has a plan for each of our lives and it’s not just for our lives, His plans always involve others. Are we following or missing our opportunities?

Of course, we must always weigh the risk and determine if we are willing to take it. Sometimes it’s simply just a risk and doesn’t involve God’s call at all. But, sometimes it just might be God speaking to us about something He wants to do that involves our participation. Maybe it is a physical risk, financial risk, social risk. Sometimes the risk is simply that we might be embarrassed. If we believe it is from God, we must choose. Is the risk worth the possible reward?

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” (John 3:16-18)

Of all potential risks we can encounter, the greatest risk is whether we choose to follow Christ. If we don’t choose Him, we will not receive the final, forever, and best reward – eternal life. If we don’t choose Christ, by default we choose Satan. Following him ends in eternal agony, despair and death. Choose Life, not death.

“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

“Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (John 17:3)

“The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.” (John 3:35-36)

“He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for one but also for the sins of the whole world. We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys hi word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.” 1 John 2:2-6

“When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.”  (Revelation 1:17-18)

heaven vs hellA glimpse of heaven:

“Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21)

 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”  (John 14:1-3)

“However, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9)

 “After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian. A rainbow, resembling an emerald, encircled the throne. Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. Before the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God. Also, before the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal. In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings. Day and night, they never stop saying: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.” Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and ay: “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all thing, and by your will they were created and have their being.” (Revelation 4:1-11)

A glimpse of hell:

“If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace” For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will replay, and again “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”  (Hebrews 10:26-31)

“God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power” (2 Thessalonians 1:6-9)

“And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever. Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:10-15)

heaven hell signMuch in this life is out of our control. However, we do have control of our attitudes and our choices. We can choose eternal life or eternal damnation. What do you choose today? We never know when our days will be cut short. Procrastination on this life and death decision is not a good thing. Believe me when I say that living your life following God is not boring! He gives freely. He gives freedom – freedom from any sin that entangles us. He gives life and life abundantly. He brings joy no matter our circumstances. It’s something that you experience but can’t really explain but…it is real! HE IS REAL! He is the beginning, the end, the Creator – the I AM.

 “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6)

 “This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life…” (Deuteronomy 3:19-20)

Relationships Review {9.2.18}

I woke up this morning at 4:30. Way too early I might add. As I laid in bed trying to go back to sleep, I tossed and turned and tried to clear my mind. Then, finally the lightbulb went off. God, Do You have me awake for a reason? You’d think that after several years of God speaking to me in the middle of the night that I’d “get it” sooner than 45 minutes but…no. I was still trying to just get back to sleep. Anyway, He did have a message for me. It was one for my Sunday school class this morning as we spend time in prayer. It was also, I believe, a message for this blog post. Hopefully someone out there needed to hear it as much as I did.

It is probably a good idea to give ourselves a “Relationships Review” from time to time. Here are the things I believe God spoke to me about as I review my walk with Him and others. First, we have a Relationship with God (if we don’t, we need to). Second, we have relationships with others. Let’s look at what God says about them.

Our Relationship with GODRelationship with God

“The Greatest Commandment” – Matthew 22:36-40 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law? Jesus replied: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Praise: First and foremost, God deserves and inhabits our praise to Him. Praise for who He is; Praise for what He does; Praise His Holy Name. How will we praise God today? With our lips and with our lives, He deserves our praise.

Psalm 150 (NIV)

Praise the Lord.[a]

Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his acts of power;
praise him for his surpassing greatness.
Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre,
praise him with tambourine and dancing,
praise him with the strings and flute,
praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals.

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.

Praise the Lord.

Thankfulness: Where to begin? No matter what our circumstance at this moment, we all have reason to be thankful to God. I think this song sums it up pretty well.

Give Thanks Don Moen, Paul Wilbur

Give thanks with a grateful heart
Give thanks to the Holy One
Give thanks because He’s given Jesus Christ, His Son

Relationship not just SundayHowever, I also believe that God wants us to be specific in our communication with Him. What, specifically, are we thankful for today, at this moment? Sometimes all it takes is to open our eyes and ears to see the blessings of God. Let’s be truly thankful today and let God know it.

Our Relationships with OTHERS:

“Royal Law” – John 13:34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

My Witness/Ministry: Are we already serving God in some type of ministry? Are we already witnessing to others (by word and deed)? If so, great. But just because we are involved in a ministry, that doesn’t mean God doesn’t have something else for us to do. We must be open and continually looking for where God is working and where He might want us to join Him in His work.

Sometimes it’s an immediate need/ministry. Sometimes it’s a way off but I have come to realize that if it seems far-fetched or out of our comfort zone, it’s probably God calling us and not our own desires. Remember this, if we feel like we can’t do it – that’s when God gets the glory. We must pray about it and then be still, so we can hear His answer. It may come through prayer. It may come through a conversation with another person. God is creative after all. It could be any number of ways.

My Place of Service in the Body: Are we serving others in our place of worship/body of believers? Or, are we simply attending so we can be fed ourselves? Some people (and maybe it’s been us or is us) attend church services to feel good or to check of a box of sorts. Is it a ritual with us or a relationship? Do we attend church because we love God and He calls us to meet together? Or, do we just go because we think it will get us to heaven? Are we taking without giving? God never meant us to receive without passing/paying it forward. After all, we are called to be witnesses, not simply recipients. So, the question we must ask ourselves is, “How can I serve my fellow believers”?Relationships with Others

Maybe we feel like God might be calling us to something or someone to share the hope we have in Jesus? Is it a new neighbor? A family member? A lonely person at church? Is He calling us to intercede for our teens or children through prayer? Is He calling us to pray for our nation? Are we called to open our homes and share meals with those who need love? Does someone need encouragement? Does someone need a helping hand? Maybe there is a need in our community that we can help as we join in our local body of believers. Many hands make light work. What is it we think God might be speaking to us about?

So, let’s all give ourselves a “Relationship Review” and ask God to reveal our results. May God Bless You!

Excuses, Excuses {8.23.18}

excuses pulled by manExcuses. We all make them. This is one I have personally never used but we’ve all probably heard it – “my dog ate my homework.” Here’s another one the comedian Flip Wilson made famous – “the devil made me do it.”  Here’s what the dictionary says about excuses: 

excuses (plural noun) a reason or explanation put forward to defend or justify a fault or offense.                      synonyms: justification · defense · reason · explanation ·

Excuses are what we use to avoid something we really don’t want to do, or a responsibility we really don’t want to own/admit.

Sometimes they seem like good reasons. Sometimes they are. Sometimes we use them to avoid hurting another person’s feelings. Sometimes though they are just simply excuses masquerading as reasons because we don’t want to do something.excuses - important  I’ve used a lot of excuses in my life. Some seem like reasonable and legitimate arguments but, they can start the ball rolling toward a life full of excuses.

For instance, I have always worked sitting at a desk. Not much opportunity for exercise during the day. Then there was lunchtime and fast food was the choice. A career full of fast food lunches. I only had so much time on my lunch break – right? And, there was no cafeteria. I did not have an office, so I didn’t bring my lunch. Oh, and I wanted to be social with my co-workers. Think those are enough excuses? On top of that, we raised five children who were all involved in extra-curricular activity. That took time out of the evenings to drive to and from, not to mention the laundry from all those activities. Then, there was travel time to/from work, supper to fix, dishes to wash, etc. etc. I had loads of excuses then. But, at least I was moving while I was doing those evening chores. Something funny happened though when the kids grew up and I no longer had to cart them to and from and they could take care of themselves. Instead of filling that extra evening time with physical activity, I wanted to sit down and rest! Rest is good and we all need it but…it can become a habit worth breaking when it is prolonged.

I have recently had my eyes opened to the consequences of my sedentary lifestyle as my parents have aged and developed one health problem after another. They, too, led sedentary lives and now since they didn’t move much, they can’t move much. Because they didn’t watch their diets, they now have to really watch their diets (and take medicines to counteract the damage done). Well, I don’t want that to be me in the future. So, those excuses are out in the open now and I have to deal with them. I’ve made changes in my lifestyle and thanks to God, He is helping me avoid the pitfalls and temptations awaiting me. As I focus on Him and what He does bless me with, I can ignore those things I shouldn’t have on a regular basis. Habits of many years are being changed. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. excuses or results

These are the excuses I’m dealing with now but what about you? Sometimes we make excuses because we don’t think we can do whatever it is that God might be calling us to do. Often, we don’t feel qualified or “ready” to take on a challenge that is before us. Sometimes just plain fear prompts us to make excuses. I am reminded as I read scripture though that if God calls us to something, He will give us all we need to accomplish His purposes.  As a friend told me once, “If God can use a donkey, He can use you.” A good reminder of God’s provision and the need for our humility. [You can read all about a donkey used by God in Numbers 22.]

I wonder what all I have missed by making excuses. Don’t you? Look at this scripture in Luke 14.

The Parable of the Great Banquet: When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.” Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests.  At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’  “But they alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’  “Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’  “Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’  “The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’  “‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’  “Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full.  I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’” (Luke 14:15-24)

I even drummed up excuses in my mind for procrastinating about publishing this blog post I felt led to write. After all, who wants to air their own bad habits?!  But, I don’t want to miss out on anything God has planned for me. excuses - time for actionWho knows what blessing we pass up by making excuses. And maybe, just maybe, someone needs us to quit making excuses, so God can bless them through us. The only way we will know what we should or should not do or say is to be so in tune with God through His Word, that His Holy Spirit guides our thoughts, words and actions. He promises to guide and direct our path IF we trust in Him (Proverbs 3:5-6). Let’s quit making excuses and start making a difference.

Dear God, Open my eyes to see the truth in me. Reveal to me the excuses I make to keep from doing what I know to do. Let me see the opportunities you put before me and to take that step of faith to follow Your lead. In Jesus name, Amen.

Gifts – part 2 {8.2.18}

Using our gifts. Hopefully by now you have identified at least one or some of your gifts. The big question is – are you using your gifts? Sometimes it’s a gift, or gifts, that God has given us to use in our careers. Often though, we look at it through the eyes of the world and can’t imagine how we can support ourselves using these gifts. There comes a moment of decision. Do we follow the path God has given us or stay in our comfort zone?gifts back to god There is usually transition time involved, kind of like stepping into cold water one step at a time.  It’s sometimes a very fine line to know when and if to “step out of the boat” (or box where we have been comfortably living). That was a situation my cousin and his wife faced several years ago. [Their story is in my post titled “GIFTS- part 1 {7.24.18}”.] They decided to take the leap of faith and have not looked back. God has allowed them to provide for their needs and they are enjoying the life He planned for them. In the process of loving their life, they are giving joy to many others by using their artistic gifts.

1 Corinthians 12:4-6 says “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.”

My job for the past 20 years has been incredible. I was able to use my gifts that God had grown through my life experiences.gifts require work I mean this in a very nice way but raising five children gave me a lot of practical experience – enough said. I have thoroughly enjoyed my job. The company is wonderful and has integrity and values that match mine. While now I only work occasionally, I still enjoy it. That’s not always the case though. Many do not enjoy their jobs.  If not, prayerfully consider a change. But, maybe you are there for a reason that you just don’t see yet. Keep your spiritual eyes and ears open. Answers come – just not always in our timing.

Maybe your gifts aren’t to be necessarily used in a business/career way but rather to bless others in your family or community. Using our gifts to help, bless or encourage others is a wonderful use of them.

Romans 12:13 – “Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”

Maybe you earn a great living and can share monetarily. Your gift may be cooking or baking which gives you opportunity to share with a shut-in, someone sick or a new mother or neighbor. gifts used for othersDo you love to work in a garden or lawn? Perhaps you know someone who could use some help. If you have a skilled trade, you can help someone while saving them money on repairs needed around their home. Some people have no way to and from doctor appointments, grocery shopping, etc. If you like to drive and meet people, this may be an opportunity for you to use your gift. Do you love to clean? I’ve heard some people do (smiling as I type this). I’m sure you can find a place that needs your help. Me, I enjoy quilting. Even more, I enjoy making quilts as gifts, specifically designed for the recipients. That brings me great joy.

Proverbs 3:27 says “Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is in your power to act.”

The point is, just like any skill we have – if we don’t use it, we may lose it. Let’s consider our gifts and what it is we are doing with them. Maybe God has a better plan than the one we’ve been using.

Hebrews 13:16 – “And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased

GIFTS- part 1 {7.24.18}

God-given gifts. We all have them. Yes – even you and even me. gifts given by GodSometimes we look at others and recognize their gifts but miss our own. Last night we met up with our cousin and his wife. We had not seen our cousin in years and met his wife for the first time.  It was a great evening getting to know them and share a bit of our lives. They were driving through our area on their way to an art show. Sounds exciting doesn’t it? They are both artists. Great artists I might add. His paintings are fantastic, and she makes lovely jewelry. We had the privilege of seeing samples of both of their arts. Our daughter, son-in-law and grandson were there too. They each have wonderful gifts of their own. I was thinking about that and realized that all of us have been given gifts. Some just seem more “special” than others – in our minds. Not with God though. He carefully gave them to us – specifically, on purpose. You have one (or many).

Can you identify your gifts? I am not musically inclined, and I do not have the gift of painting or making jewelry. But, I do have a big smile. Even though it shows teeth that are not straight and makes my eyes almost close, I have had people tell me my smile brought them joy. Imagine that – a crazy looking smile bringing joy! I think tha a gift. Maybe you have a green thumb. That’s a gift. Are you organized? Can you hit a homerun on a baseball field or make a 3-pointer in basketball? Do you swing a mean hammer? Cook a great meatloaf? Bake brownies like nobody’s business? Are you a great storyteller? Those are all gifts. Are you “tech savvy”? Now that’s a gift I could use! We mustn’t think more highly of ourselves, but we also must not think less of ourselves because our gifts aren’t visible to the multitudes. Maybe our gifts were to be shared one-on-one. Take a minute today to identify your gifts. Then thank God for them.

James 1:17-18 “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.”

gift gods greatest loveBack to our evening with family…

Isn’t it amazing how love can just pop up? We didn’t really know these two relatives but last night love showed up and now we have a love connection as well as a blood connection. That’s the greatest gift isn’t it? LOVE. GOD IS LOVE. GOD GAVE US LOVE. GOD INTENDS US TO SHARE THAT LOVE. We all have that gift and can put it on the top of our list. LOVE. The greatest gift of all.

Circle the Wagons {6.18.18}

It’s probably because I used to watch Saturday morning westerns with my Grandpa in the summer when I was a child, but I still like western movies. This is a good thing since my husband also likes them. We can watch them over and over again – and do. If you have seen any westerns that involved wagon trains, I’m sure you’ve seen and heard the phrase “Circle the Wagons”. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

One thing about the pioneers of the Old West, when they traveled in wagon trains, they always circled the wagons. Whether they were just stopping for the night or getting ready to fight off an attack of some kind, they circled the wagons. Have you ever thought about that? Why did they circle their wagons? The wagons formed a barrier to whatever might be a danger to them. It allowed all the people to remain inside, together, sharing good or bad, whatever came their way. It became a defense and a comfort. It was also a time of fellowship and joy in the midst of the trials of their journey. They formed a community. They helped each other.

Galatians 6:2 “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

While we don’t live in the Old West and aren’t part of a wagon train, we still need to sometimes circle our wagons. Life is full of ups and downs. Thankfully God intended for us to live in community with one another so that we could love, encourage, help and simply share life together (good times and bad). Do you ever feel like you are being attacked? Maybe it’s a physical attack of poor health or injury. Maybe it’s financial or relationship struggles. Maybe it’s a struggle with demands of our time which we don’t feel we have. Whatever it is, if we “Circle the Wagons” and let others in, they can help share our burden. More importantly, Jesus tells us to give our burdens to Him. He can handle them.

Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Another thing I like about westerns is that the good guys always win. I love happy endings.

calm - circle wagons
If we have accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior, we are assured of a happy ending to our life here on earth. In this world, we will have many troubles but glory to God, we have a happy ending ahead. I say, let’s “Circle the Wagons”. We can help each other through the struggles and rejoice with each other in the happy times.  

1 John 5:3-5 “This is love for God to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.”