Showing posts with label Jesus. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jesus. Show all posts

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Sit! Listen! Decide!

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gatherest her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!
                             Matthew 23: 37

 
I love the way Jesus taught with metaphors and stories that give us visuals. I can just see a mother hen opening her wings. Without question, the little chicks huddle under the protection she offers. Why don't we do that?

 
God wants to guide our steps. He wants to comfort us and give us peace. He longs to hold us in His arms and take the load off our shoulders.

 

But sometimes, we won’t allow Him to.

 

 

God gave humans free will, and He will not cross that barrier. Everything that God does for us comes first with a decision from us. A few years ago, I worked at a busy doctor's office. My stress level and long hours often left depleted and in despair. I needed quiet time, just the Lord and me, but wasn't able to fit it into my busy schedule. When I got home, I was hungry, tired, and cranky but still needed to get dinner on the table. When the days' chores were done and I dropped into my recliner, I fell asleep.

 
One day, I made a decision to use my alarm clock and have quiet time before breakfast. At first, I had a hard time forcing myself to get out of bed, but I had made a decision. I stuck to it until it became habit, one that brought joyful rewards.

 
A man's mind plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps and makes them sure.
                      Proverbs 16:9 The Amplified Bible

 

 
1. We make a decision to do something for God.

2. He shows us the strategy to fulfill the decision.

3.  When we flounder, as we often do, we reinforce our decision.

4. God provides the strength to keep going.

 
"Don't just do something. Sit there.
"Sometimes sitting with our problems is the best thing we can do. Quick fixes can make things worse. Sometimes, the long way around a problem is the only way around it."
             The Spiritual Path to Weight Loss by
                         Gregory L. Jantz, PhD

Do you need some sitting time? Some quiet time? Some listening to God time?

You know prayer isn't about talking all the time. When does God get a chance?

Saturday, September 27, 2014

On My Blind Side

I glance at my car's rear view mirror. The lane next to me appears clear. I swerve only to hear the honk of a car and the screech of its brakes. I jerk the wheel to straighten. My head turns. A black truck's front bumper is even with my back one, perfectly placed on my blind side. I escaped an accident.

My husband wasn't so lucky. About two years ago, he exited a freeway. As he neared the end, he looked behind him. A hundred feet away, a red light held back cars. No one was headed toward him. He stepped on the accelerator to cross the access road to a station. The light turned. A driver pounced on the gas. The car hit the back side of my husband's truck. Again, it got lost on his blind side.


I find that, as a Christian, I resist the outright sins like stealing and blasphemy. But, what about those on my blind side?

Sneaky sins catch up in much the same manner as an accelerating car barreling toward my rear bumper. God gives us insight onto some of those sneaky sins.

     And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. Luke: 21:34

Quote from Divine Dining:

    I understand drunkenness.
    Cares of this life can catch any of us. If activities, even good ones, keep us from worshipping and spending time with God, that thing becomes a snare.
     Jesus aims the word surfeiting to people like me. Surfeiting means overindulging, gorging, stuffing even to the point that the word is used for discomfort or nausea. We try to apply this only to people who are overweight, but this applies to everyone at times.

Lord, keep watch on my blind side. Don't let sneaky sins like drunkenness, surfeiting, and cares of this life catch me in a wreck, one that has eternal consequences.

What about you? Have you ever had something sneak up on your blind side, spiritually, or physically?

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Dad Finds Jesus

(This is a true story and a salute to my dad today)

     “Churches are filled with hypocrites.” Dad stomped out of the house to go back to work.

     Mom’s head drooped. A tear trickled at her temple.

     My jaw relaxed. My teenage rebellion slipped from my mind and evaporated like the sweat on my forehead. “I’m sorry, Mom. I’ll sit with you in church.”

    My petite mother reached up to hug me. “You kids disturbed others in the service last Sunday.” She rubbed the bridge of her nose. “You can’t do that.”

     Talking too loud was my friend, Margie’s fault, but I had gone along  with it. Enveloping Mom’s tiny frame with my embrace, I patted her back. “I’m sorry. But, if you let me sit in the back one more time, I’ll be quiet. I promise.”

    She pulled away with a harrumph.

    Tightness seized my jaw again. I gritted my teeth. “Dad should sit with you. Then, you wouldn’t have to sit by yourself, and I wouldn’t have to move.” Dad was my hero. I hated Mom’s critical attitude, but right now, I was mad at him.

     “The reason you must sit by me is your own actions, young lady.” Mom grabbed her shears and headed toward her vegetable garden. “Want to help me this afternoon?”

      “No. Is it okay if I go to the station? I’ve got more tickets for the school carnival to sell. Thought I’d ask Uncle Check.”

      Mom’s shoulders slumped. “Sure. Be back by three.”

     I walked the two blocks to the station and garage owned by my father and uncle. When I trudged up the left side, I spotted Pastor Sutton talking with Dad.

     Stooped over to check the tires, Dad looked up squinting at the sun. “Need all four tires replaced, Pastor.”

     The man frowned. “Could you wait for payment until the end of the month?”

     "Sure. I’ll install them now. Shouldn’t be more than an hour.”

Mom always berated Dad for being too soft-hearted. That’s one thing I loved about him.      

     A smile burst from Pastor Sutton. He clapped my dad on the back. “Thanks, R. O., I can always count on you.”

     Dad’s eyes widened when he looked my way. “How’s my girl? Come to help out?”

     I pulled out my tickets. “I’m selling carnival tickets. Pastor Sutton, can you buy a ticket from me? I’m trying to win the grand prize.”

     The pastor’s eyes twinkled. “Sorry, young lady, but I’ve already bought four for our family.”

     I nodded, gave Dad a hug, and headed to the garage to find my uncle.

     Sunday morning, Mom and I drove to church. We hadn’t spoken anymore about seating arrangements, but I knew I’d be sitting with Mom and not with my friends. Today, I didn’t mind since I would walk forward and put sixteen pennies in the birthday bank. Last week marked my big birthday celebration.

     Pastor Sutton wasn’t there. A new preacher, Brother Plemmons, brought the sermon. After church, my mother and I met the new pastor. I liked him. He was younger and repeated my name as if storing it in memory.

     I dropped my hand and turned toward the door. “Where is Pastor Sutton?” I asked Mom.

     “He moved and took another church.”

     All week, I studied on the change of pastors. On the way home from school on Tuesday, I had the bus drop me off at the station. As I drug my book bag toward the office, I spotted the new pastor. I hid behind the cases of drinks and watched.

He wrote a check and handed it to my dad. “Thanks, Brother Thornton. I’d like to give you a personal invitation to our church next Sunday.”

     I expected an immediate, “no, thanks,” but instead my dad clutched his chin, something I often saw him do. “Thanks. My wife and daughter go to that church. What happened to the other preacher?”

    Pastor Plemmons rocked back on his heels. “Don’t know. Will you come? We need more good men to help me and God build something great.”

    A strange expression crossed Dad’s face. His chest swelled. “Thanks for paying for your battery right away.”

     “Only fair. You did the work.” The preacher's lilting tone sounded like he was smiling. He turned to leave.

I had no choice but to step forward.

“Janet, so nice to see you again,” Brother Plemmons said.

     Dad rose and followed the pastor. He dropped his arm around my shoulders. “I’ll see you Sunday.” He smiled down at me.

     The next Sunday, Dad did go to church with us and sat beside Mom and me. Even though Mom said I could sit with Margie, I chose to follow them. It was a special occasion. Mom and I had attended that church all my life, but never with Dad.

     Two months later, Jesus saved my dad. I was one proud sixteen-year-old. I think he had to see Jesus evident in someone from church before he could meet Jesus at the altar.

Before my seventeenth birthday, Dad began teaching high school and won many teenagers to Jesus in the next thirteen years of his life. When Dad died, we asked Pastor Plemmons to preach the funeral.

Thank you, Jesus, for saving my dad.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

A Family for Easter

     "I'm sorry, I ... " Diane ran for the back of the store, feeling another onset of nausea. With each round of vomiting, her anger flared anew. She washed her face and returned to the pharmacy counter. 

     The customer she had been assisting was nowhere in sight. Good thing Diane didn’t work on commission. Quitting time neared but not soon enough for her.

    Climbing the steps to her grandmother’s apartment, Diana choked back conflicting emotions. She and Grandma had never got along, but what would she have done if Grandma hadn’t let Diane and her six-year-old daughter, Mackenzie, live with her until the baby came? When Diane stormed out of her house after fighting with Tony, she had nowhere else to go. Her husband was arrogant and self-centered. The only thing she gained from their last attempt to stay together was this unwanted pregnancy.

    She entered the living room and sprawled into an overstuffed chair to rest her weary feet and aching back. Mackenzie and Grandma’s voices drifted from the kitchen. Diane was thankful tomorrow was her day off work.

    When she awoke the next morning, the small apartment was quiet. A note stuck on the table said her grandmother and Mackenzie were visiting a neighbor.

    Diane added her own note and went for a walk. The baby kicked. The thought of two children to rear alone unsettled her mind and quickened her step.

    Apartment houses blended into a neighborhood of nice brick homes then changed to rundown tenements. Her legs pumped. She sagged against a stop sign and spotted a beautiful old church with stained glass windows and open-wide double doors.

     Diane crossed the street and entered. As her eyes adjusted to the dim light, a man stepped out of the shadows near the front. “May I help you? Most call me Pastor Bob.”

     Diane rubbed her back. “My name is Diane Miller. May I sit and rest awhile?”

     “By all means.” The pastor pointed to a nearby pew. He disappeared through a side door and reappeared with a pillow. “This might help.” He indicated the side door again. “I’ll be in my office if you need anything. Stay as long as you like.”

     High above the platform, ivy outlined a magnificent picture of Jesus leading sheep. An open Bible spread out on a table before the podium. The quiet of the chapel cradled Diane like an oasis in the desert.

     After sitting for awhile, she stepped to the Bible turned to the gospel of John. Without touching the book, she read several verses.

    Behind her, the deep voice of Pastor Bob startled her. “Do you have a Bible of your own?”

    Her answer slipped out in a whisper. “No, Sir.”

    He held out a Bible. The black leather cracked around the sides and one page stuck out at an odd angle. The pastor touched it with reverence. “Would you accept this from our church as a gift?”

    She nodded as she took his offering. “Thank you.” The last time she’d read a Bible was the white children’s Bible her father gave her as a child. She thought she remembered selling it in a garage sale.

    Pastor Bob tipped on his toes and held his hands behind his back. “Do you attend church anywhere, Diane?”

    She stared at her protruding tummy. “No, not since I was a child.”

    “You’d be welcome to worship with us tomorrow. It’s Easter Sunday.”

    She’d never even thought to buy Mackenzie an Easter basket. What kind of mother was she? “I have no way to get here.” Heat burned her cheeks. “I don’t usually walk so far, and I have a daughter.”

    The pastor took one step toward her. “My wife and I would pick you and your daughter up if you’d give me your address.”

    Diane stared at him. “You would do that for a stranger?”

    “You’re not a stranger to God.”

    Before Diane refused a ride home and left the church, she gave her address. That night, she lay awake and read in her new worn Bible.

    The next morning Pastor Bob along with his wife and two children picked up Diane and her daughter. Mackenzie bounced with excitement at the new adventure.

     “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.” The words read by a Sunday school teacher pierced Diane’s bitterness and sparked her remembrance of childhood teaching. After class, Pastor Bob preached using the same Bible reference. His words haunted her.

    When the service ended, the pastor’s wife, Nicole, made her way over to Diane. “Come have Easter dinner at our house.”

    Her invitation seemed genuine, and Diane accepted.  Watching the family of four interact in a loving manner whetted Diane’s appetite to be part of a family.  
 
     Since Diane’s dad died when she was eight, she’d had no family. Her mother pulled away from her sullen daughter finding merriment among friends. Diane fell for Tony in high school and raced to make a life with him only to be disappointed with marriage and the parenting scene with no help from a selfish husband. She opened up to her new friend while the girls played. “I wish I had a family like yours.”

    Nicole patted Diane’s knee. “We have a lovely family, but it wasn’t always that way. God brought Bob and I back together when our children were babies.”

    Diane’s eyes widened. “You separated?”

    Nicole nodded and told her story not unlike Diane’s own.

    Before the afternoon ended, Diane bowed her head and gave her heart to Jesus.

    Mackenzie and her new friend came hand in hand as Nicole and Diane raised their heads. “Mom, why are you crying?” Mackenzie’s chubby fingers brushed her mother’s cheeks.

    “Because I’m happy.” A rush of love for her daughter left her tingling. She clutched her belly. Mackenzie and this baby were her family. A small cottage loomed in her mind with a man she’d promised to love, honor and obey, but then left. “How about we call Daddy and invite him to church next Sunday?”

    Mackenzie jumped up and down. “Can we? And Grandma, too.”

    Diane nodded. “And Grandma, too.”

    God gave her new life and a family for Easter. She would need His help to keep them together.
            
I hope you enjoyed my short story. Spring and Easter, Mother's Day and Father's Day are all times of reflection. I wish you joy, peace, love, and most of all, Jesus.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Traveling Texas

I live in Texas, a big state with various terrains. Experts break it into seven distinct regions. Each builds on advantages. Each gives challenges. Each has beauty. I got this map from a site online which points out the boundaries.
How many of you have traveled all 7 areas?

I have, and I've lived in two.


I was born and raised in and around Dallas. Dallas and Fort Worth are both located in the Prairies and Lakes region. Down through the center of Texas cuts  a swath of rolling green land with sparkling lakes, and pastoral scenes.

Along with my husband and three daughters, I moved years ago northwest to Wichita Falls. We loved the kind people and business friendly community, so we stayed. As you can tell on the map, I live in the eastern and northern edge of the Panhandle Plains. We're lower in elevation than cities Lubbock and Amarillo on the high plains, but our land is flat, dry, with gorgeous sunsets.

A popular vacation spot is the Texas' hill country including Austin and points west until you drop to the desert.


This month, my husband and I took our travel trailer to between Johnson City (home of LBJ) and Blanco in the hill country. Miller's Creek makes a delightful camping spot. Five miles away the Blanco River winds through the country and gives lovely waterfalls. The Guadalupe River invites summer-time water rafting less than an hour away..

This region gives us magnificent hills, drop-off cliffs, huge oaks, peaches, wine country, and the ever favorite spring wildflowers. I couldn't resist stopping several times for shots of bluebonnets (the Texas flower) and Indian paintbrushes.

My middle daughter's favorite vacation spot is the Gulf Coast shown on the map above in blue all along the curve of the state and also including a long Padre Island. Who doesn't like the beach in the summer? Cities include Houston, Galveston, and Beaumont-Port Arthur.

A trip to Jefferson, Texas gives a history lesson, a ghost tour, and gorgeous homes deep in the Piney Woods of east Texas. Named for its many huge pine trees, the traveler also finds cypress trees, dogwood, and azaleas with lakes and streams plentiful. Texarkana tops off this area, but most towns are picturesque, smaller, and nestled in woods.

Texas begins with our Panhandle plains where I live and ends with the southern plains west of the gulf coast. The biggest city in the area is San Antonio. Wide-open land gives rise to big ranches and areas that stays warm even in the winter. Snowbirds (campers who travel south to escape the snow) love the South Texas plain climate and openness. Their favorite stop is McAllen, Texas near the Mexican border.

One last region remains; the Big Bend Country, Texas' version of desert with colorful rocks, unusual plants, summits or rugged drop-off grandeur. The biggest city is El Paso with the second largest being Midland. In the bottom half called Big Bend, population is sparse, cities few, but the beauty spectacular.

Since our recent trip across Texas, my pride swells once again, and I desire to share on my blog.

Sunday is Easter. My gratitude to God expands with travel. The sacrifice of God's son, Jesus, for my sin gives me freedom to love, to enjoy earth's beauty, and to look forward to eternal life in a place a hundred times more beautiful than my home state.

HAPPY EASTER TO YOU ALL.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Intense Feelings about Halloween

Halloween provokes intense emotion among Christians.

Some prefer ignoring it as a holiday altogether saying it's a night for demons and witches.

Others poo-poo that idea and continue with their trick or treating and dressing up in silly costumes as a way of Christians just having fun.

To my way of thinking, the first plan is too legalistic. We can't earn our salvation. We can never be good enough. No amount of works, no amount of giving up things, no amount of doing good can replace God's grace. He provides freely for our salvation. We need only accept His gift.

The second plan, I agree with to a point. Christians can be happier than anyone because God takes away our guilt. Why should only non-Christians have fun on Halloween day, or whatever we choose to call the night? My actions should be qualified by the time-old question, "What would Jesus do?"

Jesus went to a wedding, had dinner with his followers, and celebrated Passover with his disciples. I believe if Halloween had been celebrated during that time in Israel, Jesus would've used it to give a parable to steer his companions in the right way. After all, Halloween began as a time to honor Christian saints and martyrs. As usual, the devil perverted something that started out as good. Wouldn't Jesus have wanted to set the record straight?

Shouldn't we?

This year, our church did two function we called "Light the Night." Both locations provided bounce houses, carnival booths, prizes for all, and lots of candy to "set the record straight" that Christians know how to have fun.

We're not weird.
We're not tied in knots with rules and regulations.
We desire to "light the night" with the gospel as Jesus brought light to the world with His sacrifice.

I know this is a controversial topic. Since we just passed another Halloween, Oct. 31 night, and each of we Christians followed our own consciences, I truly want to know your opinions.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

FALL

Fall fascinates me. The intrigue of trees dressed in their green summer duds changing into clothes of multi-colored glory sparks my creativity.

I think this is a sassafras tree..

On Tuesday, Oct. 15, fall finally made an appearance in Texas. My hubby and I found fall first, though, when we traveled to Eureka Springs, Ark. on Oct. 10. Such beauty ...

"How far until the highway?" Charles would ask.

I would pick up the map, then lay it down again. "I can't check now, I'm looking at trees."

Charles laughs.

"Look at that one," I say.

"Gorgeous."

"Oh, and lookee, All along there, the red is brilliant."
Overlooking Eureka Spring and Crescent Hotel

We cruise on the Belle of the Ozarks, a 75 minute excursion along the shoreline of Beaver Lake. Our guide gives us the names of many of the trees that captivate us.

Our guide took our windblown picture on the boat.

 In early October, the black gum trees turn dark red, some almost purple. Sassafras trees don orange foliage. Hickory trees prefer yellow leaves. Sumac lines the shoreline and many of the roads with small red bushes. Virginia Creeper winds branches of both green and even brown, dead trees with scarlet.

"But, watch out for the red cover," our guide cautions us. "Poison ivy also decorates trees with red vines of three leaf clusters, while Virginia Creeper has 5 leaves."

As a writer, blogger, Christian, and all around curious individual, I look for a lesson in everything.

Trees are in many stages of turning colors. Some were totally yellow or orange with no green left. Some were half and half, or covered with three or four colors. Many trees retained their luscious greenery with the exception of one branch of orange, or red.

How like that we are in our Christian walk. Many of us are well into the process. Our minds and hearts turn naturally to God in most circumstances. Some of us call on God as the last resort. New Christians may ask Jesus to come into their hearts and start their Christian walk, while still clinging mostly to their old life out of habit.

Do we more mature Christians offer understanding, guidance, and a little patience to those who've only started to travel the path?

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Little Is Much

But me, I have little to offer
Though I follow the Lord's command
But even little can be much
When put into Jesus' hand.    

Jesus changes things. In His hands, small insignificant seeds of obedience flourish and a small amount of bread feeds thousands.    
 

 
God magnifies little changes in anything we do. When I viewed my two-hundred-fifty pound body, losing enough weight seemed like a colossal feat.

I reached the point where I admitted my powerlessness and turned the problem to the Lord. In His hands, it's amazing what can be accompished. Change what you can, and wait for God to move.

God is the author of growing small things into big and big things into small. Look at the seeds we plant that become mighty crops. God points out the smallest seed of all as His example.


Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out?

And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain. Remove hinder to yonder place; and it shall remove, and nothing shall be impossible unto you.
                           Matthew 17:19-20

    My positive thinking (believing I can do it) is as a mustard seed in the hands of the Lord.
Thought to remember:

Food is not the cure for your pain.

Freedom, not bondage, is what we seek.
 
I asked my Divine Dining class this week what changes they'd made since we started the class to help them live a healthier life. Here's a few of the answers.
    1. I start my day with prayer.
    2. I've stopped eating after dinner except for maybe a fruit.
    3. I'm eating smaller portions and more vegetables.
    4. I think I'm more conscious of how important it is to God.
WHave you made small changes? What others can you start? Has God helped you accomplish something big? Let me hear from you.