Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Tarnished ?

A little over eight months ago my ninety-six year old Daddy passed away. It was both a sad time and a glad time for me.  Sad because he had always been a sure anchor in my life but glad because I knew that now he was at Home with his Lord!  My mother...the best Christian woman I ever knew....had preceded him to heaven when she passed away when I was only sixteen. So with Daddy's passing I was left parent-less....biologically speaking that is.  I still have my step-mother of thirty-five years whom I love dearly.
After a few weeks passed, every time I would go and visit my step mamma (T.) she would say, "I found something of your mother's that I want to give to you."  First it was some handmade quilts my Mama made that had been folded and carefully wrapped and stored on the top shelf of a closet for years and years. After that it was a box of embroidered doilies and table scarves with crochet and tatting lace around the edges....again, all handmade by my Mama.  There were other things, too, but I'll tell you about them later.
One day after T. had brought out something else she had found of Mama's I asked her about a wooden chest with silverware in it that I had remembered Mama buying when I was ten or so.  T. replied that she had never seen it in all the years she and Daddy had been married.   Then in a few weeks ....just after T's son had been up in the attic to install a ceiling fan ...she called me and said, "We found your silverware!"  It had been in the attic for about thirty-five years!  I'm sure that Daddy had packed away some of Mama's things so he would have room for T. to bring a lot of her personal things with her to their marriage.
When I first started to open the long lost chest I wasn't sure what I might find inside.  And sure enough....all the silverware was a mottled looking grayish/black!   Nasty looking!  I could hardly wait to take it home and get out the silver creme and polish it.  I wanted to use it on our Christmas table when all our children came for dinner.   But, whew!  I had forgotten just what a job it is to polish silver!   It took me longer than I thought it would but I did manage to get enough cleaned and polished for us to eat our Christmas dinner with it!  
I didn't clean all the silver because I was in a hurry and as I was putting the clean silver back in the chest after we had eaten dinner I looked at it beside the still tarnished silver.
A picture came into my mind of how we as Christians can be like these silver forks.   At the beginning of this post you can see three of my silver forks.  Which would you want to eat with?  The first one that still has all the tarnish on it?  No??  Oh, I heard you!  The third one!  WHY???  Because it's all shiny and clean?  But what about the one in the middle?  It's partly shiny!  No???  You're sticking with your first answer, huh?  The shiny one is the only one that meets your standards of cleanliness.   But you know what?  They're all three forks!  The tarnish does not make any one of them any less a fork than the others.  But the tarnish DOES make the forks undesirable to eat with!
How many times do we as Christians remove ourselves from the things of the Lord, or even just lie dormant in Him and begin to be tarnished by the things of the world?  The longer we resist God's voice to return to Him, the more tarnish we have on us.  Oh, we're still Christians all right!  But we just can't be used of God like the other Christians who stay up close to God and let Him polish them up every day with His Holy Spirit and His Word. 
Silver has to be used often after it is polished or it will tarnish again!  If we want to be usable in God's work, we must let Him polish us and then we must let Him use us so we will stay polished! Are you tarnished? I know I get that way all too often but I don't want to stay that way!
"Take away the dross from the silver, and there shall come forth a vessel for the finer."  Proverbs 25: 4
God bless you.....

Friday, April 25, 2008

From Start to Finish

    It's hard to comprehend how fast the grass and leaves have grown and turned so green just in the past week!  Flowers have popped up and bloomed in places I had forgotten there were flowers. Unlike myself, when the Lord starts a work, He finishes it.  He said in Genesis 8: 23, "While the earth remaineth, seedtime, and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease."   The winter may be long and cold but we have God's promise that spring will always come again.
    Even so it is in our lives.  Sometimes our spirits are cold and barren.  Then the Lord comes along and through His Word the Holy Spirit begins to thaw our spirits out again with the warmth of His wisdom and love.
    Some things have happened in my life during the last few weeks that have brought to my attention just how cold and shallow my spiritual life is at times.  I have seen that I am sometimes too quick to judge, too quick to speak, and sometimes have the wrong motives for the things I do.  I find I need to heed the advice given in James 1: 19: "Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:"  I am thankful that God has used circumstances in my life to begin to speak to me in that warm and gentle way that He has.  I want to be more aware of the consequences my daily actions have on those around me.
    One night several years ago one of my sons and I were watching a video of an old black and white movie made in the 1940's. (It was called "Sorry, Wrong Number")  Back in the days when it was filmed there was almost always a happy ending for movies and when this one ended on a sour note, I was surprised!  This was the story line: A rich woman married a poor man and supported him with her money.  At first he liked that.  But after a while he wanted to be his own man so he became part of the mob and started stealing money for them.  The mob started demanding he steal more and more money for them and when he wasn't able to supply all the money they wanted they made him a proposal.  They proposed that he hire a hit man to kill his rich wife and then collect her large life insurance policy.  The husband agreed to do this. (1 Timothy 6: 10  "For the love of money is the root of all evil.")  A hit man was hired and a time was set up to carry out the evil deed.  At the very time the husband knew the hit man was to go to his home and kill his wife, he repented and called her on the phone.  With sweat on his brow and tears in his eyes he told her to go to the window of their apartment and scream for help.  But even while she was on the phone the hit man came and carried out his job.  That was the end of the movie!  I was stunned!  I turned to my son and asked him what the point of the movie could have been.  He thought for a minute and then said this..."Events we set in motion cannot always be reversed simply because we feel remorse."   I cannot tell you how many times this has come to my mind since then.  It is so very true.  What we do always affects not only our lives but the lives of those around us....whether we mean for it to or not.  (Romans 14: 7  "For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself."
    But I don't want to end on a discouraging note!  The Apostle Paul gives us hope that we can rise above our faults and failures and be a blessing and not a curse to those around us.  (Philippians 1: 6  "Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.")
    As Christians who have been saved by the grace of God, this verse should be a great encouragement to us!  We can't do it on our own....but God promises to finish the work He has started in us.  Remember that as you watch the arrival of spring this year! 
    To God be the Glory!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Is Your Heart Cold or Hot ?

This morning I was looking for something in particular in our old (and I mean that literally!) chest-type freezer.  I had already taken some of the frozen food out so I could see down in the bottom when a great idea came to me!  I had been putting off ...and putting off...and putting off...defrosting the old freezer for WAY too long because it always makes my back hurt. (I have already taken an Advil and rubbed the "Blue Stuff" on my back before coming in here to blog this!)  But today I decided that if I was going to have to remove a lot of things anyway I might as well go ahead and get the job done and out of the way.  After months of putting this chore off, the frost in the freezer had just about taken over!  It was really bad in the corners.  You can see in the picture that I posted of the inside of the freezer how bad it was....but I didn't think to take pictures until I had already scraped some of it off !  And the picture of the frost outside on the ground is still not all of it!  I just didn't have time to work on the freezer and document it with more than two pictures!  :) 
There's probably not too many of you reading this that have this kind of big chest type freezer anymore.  But my husband likes to have a big garden and I put a lot of vegetables and fruit in it.  I found things in there I had forgotten about having so maybe our menu will be varied for a while now!  
After a lot of huffing and puffing I got all the food out and stacked in boxes on the kitchen floor. Then I covered the boxes with quilts so the food would stay frozen.  I took my blow dryer and blew hot air on the thick white frost lining the insides of the freezer .  Then I took a very STURDY metal spatula and slid it in behind the sheets of frost.  I was able to chip it away a few hunks at a time.  While I was bending over (ouch!) and getting the ice scooped up from the bottom of the freezer I started thinking about my heart.  Why that came to me I don't know!  I was thinking that sometimes even as Christians our hearts get cold towards God.  We don't even realize it when it first begins.  I can guarantee you that in a week from now my freezer will start to have a very thin film of frost around the walls again.  But it will take it many months to need defrosting again as it builds up slowly.  For the longest time now I would think when I opened the freezer to get some food out......"I guess I need to defrost this's not really THAT bad....I'll do it later!"   I have said that over and over and over to myself.  I knew that: 1] it would take time and 2] that it would make me uncomfortable.  There are times in my life that I begin to get a cold heart towards God.  Or even towards my family or my friends.  It happens slowly and sometimes I'm not even aware of it because I am busy or else just don't care.  Have you ever had the feeling that you knew you needed to be tender hearted and closer to God but you knew that to do that it was going to take some of your time and that it might make you uncomfortable to get back where you need to be?  I have!   I have been in a church service and God would speak to me and start trying to melt my cold, cold heart.  ("For God maketh my heart soft, and the Almighty troubleth me:"  Job 23: 16) Sometimes I would respond immediately.  Sometimes I would hold back my feelings and say......"I guess I need to change some things's not really THAT bad....I'll do it later!"   Sometimes I would just ignore Him and say..."This is going to make me uncomfortable and I'm not interested in that right now." 
All this was going through my mind as I scraped ice and carried it to the back porch and dumped it in the back yard to melt.  And a line from a song that I haven't heard in YEARS started running through my mind....."Why can't I free your doubtful mind, and melt your cold, cold heart?"  (Hank Williams)   Maybe sometimes God feels like asking us that question.  I don't want to be cold-hearted to God.   I want my heart to be soft and pliable and able to follow where He leads.  That may mean getting rid of some things in my life.  Today I had to throw away a few things that had gotten in the bottom of the freezer and overlooked and thus freezer-burned and not edible.  I get things in my life sometimes that are not the best for me and God has to come in and sort through and throw away some things.  Then, if I will: 1] spend some time with Him and 2] if I am willing to go through some discomfort as he points out things I need to change in my life, He can take my cold, hard heart and make it soft again. ("And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh: That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them:  and they shall be my people, and I will be their God."  Ezekiel 11: 19-20) 
Now I guess I need to go and see about cooking that plum cobbler pie my husband suggested after he saw several packs of plums I had in the freezer!  :)
May God bless you......

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Beginning and the Ending

I did something this morning that I have very seldom done before!  I put a book in the trash can!   I love books!  So, why did I throw one away?  Let me backtrack to yesterday afternoon when my sweet, adorable, cute-as-a-button granddaughter was sitting in my lap as I read to her from a stack of Little Golden Books.  Did I mention she is sweet, adorable and cute-as-a-button?  O.K.  Just wanted to make that clear!  :)  (Can you tell I'm a doting "Gan-mamma"?)
Back to the story.....I was sitting in my rocking chair holding Precious One.....reading to her and enjoying the books so much.  I finished "Bozo the Clown" and picked up "Where's Fifi?" which was a story about Minnie Mouse searching for her lost dog Fifi.  As soon as I opened the book I knew something was wrong. There were pages missing.  I couldn't really tell how many because they were torn out so smoothly but the story started with the line, "When Daisy and Penny arrived, they found Minnie crying."   So.........I figured that little Fifi had already been lost.  No problem.  I could adlib that part.  Just read the rest of the book I thought.  But, lo and behold, I get to the last page that was in the book and I read, "I once saw a report on TV about a missing dog...." more happy ending!  Who wants to read a Little Golden Book without a happy ending?????  Well, not me for sure!  Hence....plop!.....into the garbage it goes!     
As I was thinking about the disappointment of trying to read a book without a beginning or an ending I thought about some verses in the Bible that speak of beginnings and endings.  One of them is found in Revelation 22: 13...."I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last."   How thrilling is that?  To know that our God is the Beginning, He's the End, and He's everything in the middle!  We're not left hanging on a string of suspense with God!   We know that "In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth." (Genesis 1: 1) and we know that the last words of Christ in the Bible are "Surely I come quickly." (Revelation 22: 20)   All that lies between these two verses are instructions for our lives....physical and eternal.  God is so good to have given us ALL we need to know about Him through His Word!  He has not torn out the beginning and the ending and left us in limbo to wonder about things.  So, rest assured, I will be keeping His Word close and will not be throwing it in the trash like I am doing with this Little Golden Book that, unlike the Bible, has no beginning nor ending!
"Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:"  (Philippians 1: 6)
May God bless you abundantly today!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Hope !

Today is one of my favorite days of the week! I get to go to my volunteer job at our local crisis pregnancy center called Sav-A-Life. Each day I work there is a blessing.......a challenge......a heartache......a other words, I never know what a day at Sav-A-Life will bring! I love my work because through it I am able to give young girls and women the gospel. It's part of my job! It's awesome to have a job that includes sharing Jesus with my clients!

A few months ago we had a Sav-A-Life Training session and my director asked me to speak for just a few minutes before the main speaker. My topic was to be, "Why I Serve as a Volunteer at Sav-A-Life?" For almost a week after she asked me to speak I asked myself over and over…Why DO I serve?

And then one night a single little four letter word came to me as the answer. That word is HOPE. In the Sav-A-Life center we see girls who sometimes seem to have no hope. A young teenager comes in….hoping against hope that she is not pregnant because she doesn’t want a baby. A mother comes in thinking abortion is her only choice because she doesn’t want the stress of having another baby. Young teenage girls who have been to our clinic multiple times feel their life is hopeless. Some of these clients look at their life and believe that there is no hope for anything except heartache and the defeated lifestyle they live everyday. But I love to be able to take them in the counseling room and say to them…I can’t fix what is wrong with you…I may not even know the answer to your problems, but I know the One who does and His name is Jesus.

Some of these young ladies are already Christians and just need to be pointed back to their “first love”. Some of them have never met Jesus as their Saviour and for them this verse in Ephesians 2: 12 fits their situation: That at that time ye were without Christ, ……having no hope, and without God in the world: For those ladies, I explain the Gospel from the Scriptures and tell them how the Lord wants to come into their life and meet each need that they have.
What a privilege to be able to talk to the young women in each of the situations I described earlier and tell them….there IS HOPE! I can share with them the facts about the love of God and how Jesus died for them and paid for their sins. I can tell them that they can be justified by HIS grace and be made heir according to the HOPE of eternal life as it says in the Scriptures.
If it were not for the hope we have in Jesus Christ we would have no hope! So, for me….that’s why I serve as a volunteer counselor at Sav-A-Life… be able to give HOPE to the hopeless through the hope of Christ living in them

I am thankful that Sav-A-Life gives me this opportunity to share the hope of the Gospel with the clients who come into our office ....and it’s because of our mission statement …..which I love: “The mission of Sav-A-Life is to see the Word of God birthed into the hearts of men and women and to make abortion unnecessary and undesirable in our region.”

HOPE….it’s such a short little word…..but it means SO much to so many people! Jeremiah 17: 7 says…”Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose HOPE the LORD is.”

May God bless you each one today......


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Now I See

What a frightening, helpless feeling it must be to be blind. Or to even not be totally blind but just have greatly impaired vision. I have been thinking about it today because I just got home from getting new glasses. I hate getting new glasses! That is, I hate the first part when I have to pick out frames. How can I pick out new frames when I can't tell what I look like with those clear plastic lenses in the frames? This used to be a huge problem for me! I would have to totally depend on the advice of someone else to pick out my new glasses. Then when I got them back with the new lenses and could see for myself what they looked like on me ....I might or might NOT like them! So....this time I took my digital camera with me. My daughter had a day off from work and went with me and took pictures of me with different glasses frames on and then I was able to put my current specs on and pick out which ones I liked. Neat! And today I went to a place that was able to make my glasses with progressive lenses in only 2 hours! We went and had a nice lunch, shopped at the Christian bookstore and came back and picked up my new glasses. The lab tech took the frames and shaped and "tweaked" them so they would fit my ears and nose just right. While sitting there without any glasses and looking at how blurry everything was, I thought about how awful it would be if I didn't have glasses! It would be so bad to not be able to read anything....near or far I have to have correction for both! I feel like a little kid with a sack of candy with these new glasses! The old ones were so scratched up I could hardly read at all any more. I should have done this months ago!
As I thought about vision problems and how fortunate I am to be able to have mine corrected with eyeglasses, my mind turned to one of the men who Jesus healed of blindness. What a great gift He gave him! The gift of physical sight! The man himself said in John 9: 25, " thing I know, that whereas I was blind, now I see." This would seem like a happy ending even if the story stopped there....but there's more to it! A few verses later Jesus heard that there were people that were ridiculing and doubting the man who had been healed. Jesus went and found him ( He still comes looking for us!) and asked if he believed on the Son of God. The man said, "Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him?" "And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee. And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him." (John 9: 36-38)
For this man to be given physical sight after he had been blind from birth was a huge blessing! But to be given spiritual sight and salvation just a little while later was probably blessing beyond expression! Can't you just imagine him telling his children and his grandchildren about the day when Jesus passed by and his life was changed forever!
I'm so glad that I have my physical vision.....I hope I never take it for granted. But I'm so much more happy and blessed to have been given spiritual sight when Jesus passed my way one day almost thirty years ago and saved my soul. As Christians we should be careful to also do what this man in John did after Jesus saved him...the verse says, "And he worshipped Him." I want to worship the One who has given me my sight....two-fold....physical and spiritual.
"O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker." Psalm 95: 6

Sunday, April 13, 2008

A Cold Snap

Brrrrrrrrr ! What happened to the eighty-five degree days we were having last week? We had to build a fire in our wood stove this afternoon after we got home from church! I thought we were probably through with that but yesterday when I read the weather report online I saw we were not! So my husband decided he had better put some more wood in the wood box. Though I'm not crazy about the mess it makes bringing in wood, I love the cozy warmth the wood heater gives off . Just makes me feel so relaxed and "at home"! Most every year when spring comes we will have some really warm weather and then all of a sudden...a cold snap! Sometimes my life seems to be like that. I will get really close to the Lord....busy in His work....and will get so warm in the nearness of Him that I think I will never be cold again. And then all of a sudden....a cold snap! I will forget to pray. I get busy and don't read my Bible. I get irritable and snap at a friend. ( "Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out:" Proverbs 26: 20) Pretty soon I feel as though I'm out in a blizzard without a coat on I'm so cold....spiritually speaking! And then, mercifully, my God will light a fire in the depths of my soul and thaw me out and get me warm again in His nearness. What an awesome God we serve!
"But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all thy works."
Psalm 73: 28

I hope you feel the warmth of God in your soul today!
God bless you....

Friday, April 11, 2008

Wild Pink Honeysuckle

I wanted you to see the pink wild "honeysuckle" flowers I was talking about in the previous post. This bush is about 14 feet tall. The picture doesn't do it justice though! And you can't smell it's delicious fragrance either! :) I'm surprised that it has held up as well as it has during all the rain and winds we have had in the past week or two.

Today I'm Looking !

Good morning everyone! And what a beautiful morning it is too. All this rain we are getting lately has made the grass an emerald green and the new baby leaves on the trees a beautiful lime green. And our favorite flowers of the year are in full bloom. We call them “wild honeysuckle” around here but I found out a few years ago they are actually wild azaleas. They are so beautiful in shades from a very pale pink to a bright candy pink. And the delicious smell……ahhhhhhh……you’d just have to smell them for yourself! There’s no way I can describe it. The dogwood trees have opened their cottony white blooms and look like a group of brides in white lace out in the woods. Purple wild violets clumped alongside the gravel roads turn the mundane into a thing of beauty. While admiring all this natural beauty and listening to the birds sharing a song with my delicate wind chimes, I began to think about the awesomeness of our God. A line from an old song came to my mind. You may remember it. “This is my Father’s world, And to my listening ears, All nature sings, and round me rings, The music of the spheres.” It’s just too wonderful for me to be able to take it all in and certainly too much for my mind to comprehend how God spoke all of creation into existence and has kept it in perfect order and maintenance ever since! And what an artist He is! Each season ….each day for that matter… a new masterpiece if we would just take the time to look at it. Some days I am a little blind to God’s handiwork but today I’m LOOKING! What has you “looking” today in your part of the world?

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

A Leaky Roof.....

Remember the rain I wrote about yesterday? Well, I woke up last night to the sound of my husband clomping around (at least that's the way it sounded at 2:00 a.m.) in our attic. I jumped up to see what was the matter. He told me that all the constant rain we've been having had caused our old tin roof to spring a leak and he was up there patching it and putting something under it to catch the water so it would stop dripping through the ceiling of our living room. I went and checked out the weather situation on my computer and found we were under a flash flood warning until 3:00 a.m. The warning went on to say that we had had between 1 and 2 inches of rain in the past hour and were expecting another 1 to 2 inches of rain in the next hour. Wow! I was just glad that it was a steady pouring rain instead of stormy windy rains. After having done all we could do to remedy the leaky roof, we both went back to bed and went to sleep.

This morning when I started thinking about it I remembered this verse from Proverbs 27: 15..."A continual dropping in a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike." The word contention means: to argue; to dispute; to struggle; or to cause strife. A good reminder for me today to try and NOT be that kind of a woman! And I assure you....I DO need reminding of that more often than I care to admit! I know how annoying that constant drip, drip, drip of a leak can be and I don't want to be an annoying person. Instead I hope that today I can be pleasant and easy to be around.

I hope for you a good day with the Lord!

May God bless you....