Sunday, July 31, 2011

Looking For a Shade

My outside thermometer says 97. Not unusual for this summer. It's been hot. Or maybe there are better words to describe what it's been. Like scorching. Blistering. Searing. Parching. You get the picture. And it's not just here in Mississippi. It's been very widespread all over the country. Because of the excessive heat, I've gotten into the habit of always looking for a shade..of any size...when I'm out shopping and need a parking space. Our McDonald's has two or three nice shade trees on the south side of the parking lot and I have lately counted myself blessed to have been able to park in their shade. It's usually while going in to get one of the ice-cream cones that I seem to have become addicted to. Wal-Mart even has a few trees on the south side of their parking lot but it's extremely hard to find one of those shaded spots available!

One day last week I needed stamps so while in town headed for the post office. When I pulled into the parking lot I guess my mind just went into it's "looking for a shade" auto mode. The first thought that came into my head was "There's a tiny shade in every one of those parking spots!" I thought that was really odd and then began to look for the trees. A few shrubs here and there. No trees. What I was really looking at was OIL SPOTS! Yep, those messy oil spots from leaky cars and trucks parking there day in and day out. They were gray. Shadows from trees (shades) are gray. Hmmmm. I had jumped to a conclusion before I had all the facts. I was so wanting to find a shade so badly that my mind told my eyes they were looking at something other than what they were really looking at. Did you get that? ha I wanted to find a shady spot so...for a fleeting brain interpreted the gray oil spot as a shade just because that's what I wanted to see. Reality was that there were no shades there at all. I felt pretty foolish when I realized what had happened inside my little head.

I think it happens to people all the time though. We are so intent on getting something we badly want that we don't sometimes pay enough attention. In those situations I'm afraid we can be fooled fairly easily. For instance: a young woman may want "true love" so badly that she mistakenly gives herself to the first man who comes along giving her some attention. She may end up being used and abused or abandoned. If she had been given instructions from a wise mother or teacher she might have recognized the difference in true love and a one-night-stand. Or a young man might want a car of his own so badly that he goes out and buys what, to him, looks like a great car. Then in reality this car tears up the first day he drives it and he's left with a broken down car and a lot of car payments. He wanted something so much that it distorted his vision and what many would have called a scrap heap looked to him like a dream car!

It's important that we keep our vision clear so we can make good decisions. Here in Mississippi we will be voting this fall for a lot of political offices from the governor on down to local Sheriff. I hope that people will vote based on truth. It's easy to get so tired of the way things are and the crooked politics that go on that we just "look for a shade"....a comfortable place. That's dangerous because then we will be more likely to vote for someone because they promise to do this or do that to make our life more comfortable. Will they? Are they trustworthy? What does the political party that they represent stand for? Have you ever read their views for yourself? Does it line up with what God would want? Don't just jump on the bandwagon for a candidate unless you've done your homework and really know what he's for or against. Do his beliefs match what God says in the Word? How does he feel about the sanctity of life? Don't let the heat of the moment make you see things differently than they really are just because you're burning up and "looking for a shade"! It could just be an oil spot !!

"He that followeth after righteousness and mercy findeth life, righteousness, and honour." Proverbs 21:21

May God bless you my friends!


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Are You Listening?

All around us friends, relatives, and passersby are calling out for us to listen to them. They may not be calling in an audible voice, but if we watch and listen, we can tell that they are asking to be heard.

I was pondering this question, “Are you listening?” in my mind today as I drove down the road. I was thinking of the many times that I let my mind wander when friends or family may be trying to tell me something important. That made me sad to realize that I sometimes don’t pay attention where attention is needed. There are many people who need desperately to have someone really listen to them. Job 13:6"Hear diligently my speech and my declaration with your ears.”

Many times the words that come from our lips are not really the words that our hearts feel. We may be sad or lonely but yet we say we are doing great because we don’t want to expose our real feelings to the world. Or at other times we may be nervous and our words come out anything but the way we had intended them. Can we look beyond the actual words that come out of the mouth and see into the hearts of our fellowman? Job 13:6 "Hear now my reasoning, and hearken to the pleadings of my lips."

I am so thankful that our Lord knows the yearnings of my heart and doesn’t depend on the words that come out of my mouth to know what I need.
Romans 8:27 "And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God."

Most importantly, we should listen to what God tells us as He speaks to us through His Word. Jeremiah 10:1 "Hear ye the word which the LORD speaketh unto you…."

I want to be more aware of what those around me are really saying so that I can relate to them better and in doing so maybe help them through tough times or maybe rejoice with them in gladness. What I don’t want to be is indifferent to what my friends are saying: whether it is with their voice, their eyes, or their actions. I want to be listening.

Proverbs 1:5 "A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels:"

May God be with each of you in a special way today!


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Hidden Rubies

For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it. ~Proverbs 8:11~

The ruby is the birthstone for July. It was my Mother's birthstone and she had an imitation ruby ring that I inherited when she passed away over forty years ago. I never wear it anymore because it's so fragile but went today and got it out of my jewerly box so I could share it's beauty with you.

Red is my favorite color so I've always been fasinated with anything ruby-colored. I have a small ruby red bowl that also belonged to Mama. So it was not remarkable that I saw the "hidden rubies" last Sunday. I had on a plain black and silver bracelet.

Or at least I had always thought it plain until I was driving home from church a few days ago. I had my right hand on the top of the steering wheel when I noticed something red out of the corner of my eye. I glanced down to see what it was and there were several sparkling red spots in the black "stones" of my bracelet. Was I seeing things? I moved my hand around a little and looked again. Sure enough, they were still there! It was something about the way the sun was shining and reflecting on them I think. I found a wide shoulder on the road, pulled over and took a picture of the bracelet with my phone. I wasn't sure any of the "hidden rubies" would show up but they did a tiny bit. Not nearly as pretty or bright as in real life but maybe you can see what I'm talking about.

Just a bit down the road I had to make a left-hand turn and head north. The sun was no longer shining on the steering wheel and the "rubies" were gone. Then I began to wonder if I had been imagining things! I looked at that bracelet a multitude of times on the rest of the way home but never saw the "rubies" again.

Sunday afternoon I got the brightest flashlight we have and shined it in front of, behind, and around my bracelet hoping to see the rubies again. Nothing but the plain black bracelet. Finally I decided to brave the 100 degree heat and went outside to hold the bracelet up to the sun. That did the trick. Then I was sure. It was only the sun that brought the "rubies" to life!!

I'm not sure why but then I started thinking about people. Especially women. Have you ever been at town running errands and seen a woman who to many was invisible? Maybe she was old. Plain. Wrinkled. Dirty. Uneducated. Poorly dressed. Pretty much just the opposite of everything we are told by the world that we have to be or we are worthless. And then maybe did you talk to her? And she smiled. And the wrinkles around her eyes and mouth turned into smile lines? And maybe though uneducated she had a wisdom that you don't see everyday? It could be that her clothes were not the latest style but handmade which revealed a skill she had learned sometime in the past. Some people may look plain....just like I thought my bracelet was...until the "rubies" start lighting up.

We can be so quick to judge others with a quick look. But when the SON shines just right on them, we can see the "hidden rubies" glowing with a beautiful red hue. As I said, red is my favorite color so I'm going to be looking for more"rubies" in the plainest places from now on!

Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.~Proverbs 31:10~

I hope you will see some "hidden" rubies in your life this week! Please let me know if you do!!


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

"Speaking the Truth in Love"....A Tribute to Dr. LaVerne Butler

I like for things to go smoothly. I'm not much for bumpy rides --whether it's in a vehicle or in a relationship. Yesterday things got a little bumpy. While having a discussion with a friend, things took a turn that I had not anticipated and it got pretty bumpy for a while there. I'm sure things are gonna be all right but it just sort of took me by surprise. It got my blood pressure up and my spirits down. Even today I still feel a little down in the dumps. I'm not sure why but a favorite preacher of mine from years ago crossed my mind this morning and I looked him up on Google. The last time I heard from him he was in bad health so I wasn't too surprised to hear that he had gone to meet the Lord not long before Christmas last year.

His name was Dr. LaVerne Butler. (You can read the obit about his interesting life here) In the obit, one of Dr. Butler's sons says this about his Dad: "The theme for his life, and I think this captures him more than anything else, is out of Ephesians 4:15: Speaking the truth in love,"

I believe we may have first heard him preach down at Camp Zion in Myrtle, MS, in the 1980's. I was awed by his knowledge and the ability to present his message in such a way that you could not take your eyes from him. It was a joy to listen to him preach. And then soon after that, our pastor asked him to preach a "summer revival" at our little church. Back then when we had summer revival we had morning services in addition to the regular night services. I usually played the piano for the morning services because our regular piano player, Mrs. Lila Mae, worked at a factory and couldn't be there. Almost always the revival would fall during the time when our field corn was "coming in" and I would have to come home from revival and cut corn off the cob all afternoon to put into the freezer. It was a hot and tiring week but God always blessed.

The ladies at church took turns fixing a meal for the visiting preacher during revival and I always took my turn. I remember the day that Bro. Butler came to our house. You have to know that we lived about half an hour from the church to start with. Add that the last six miles were dusty dirt roads. Plus the heat of the summer at mid-day. I'm not even sure we had air conditioning at that time. Our pastor and his family and Bro. Butler were all to be our guests that day after morning services. We'd been having some kind of problems with our car quitting on us and it picked that day to do it's thing! Somehow Benny sent me, Mrs. Peggy (my pastor's wife), Bro. Butler, and the smallest of the kids on to the house in Peggy's car while they worked on ours in the heat. I remember at the time being embarrassed. Here was this great man of God ,who I was sure used to things being a lot more fancy than they were at my house ,riding over dusty bumpy roads to eat dinner in our tiny little house in the middle of the woods.

While I went into the kitchen to get the finishing touches on the big dinner I had prepared earlier that morning, I told Bro. Butler to make himself at home. I was totally prepared for him to give our home...which many would have called shabby...a disgusting once-over with his eyes. I was not prepared for what he actually did! He walked over to the bookshelf and picked out "A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23" by Phillip Keller, looked over at me and smiled, and said this is a really good book...then he sat down and began to look through it like he was happy as he could be.

The whole time he was in my home he never complained or looked down on us...he only complimented me and my family. I've said many times since then that he made me feel like a queen. Our family loved Bro. Butler as we have loved few other preachers. And he loved us back! What a jewel he was. I'm so glad we had the opportunity to not only hear him preach....because there's a lot of men who can preach...but that we also were able to visit with him on many different occasions through the years and see that he was the real deal ! I agree with his son. He did have a talent of "Speaking the Truth in Love"

Bro. LaVerne....we will never forget you!


(Picture) Copyright © 1999-2005, Southern Baptist Convention.

Friday, July 1, 2011

"Old Glory Still Flies"

“God grant that I may spend eternity in my ‘land of the free and the home of the brave’ and that I shall ever be known as ‘Old Glory’, the flag of the United States of America.”(the last line of “I Am the Flag” written by Ruth Apperson Rous)

July 4, 1776—Our great country came into being with the signing of the Declaration of Independence. June 14, 1777—The flag with thirteen stars and thirteen stripes…one star and strip for each original colony…became the Official Flag of the United States. By the year 1831, the number of stars on the flag had already been increased to 24. It was during this year that Shipmaster Capt. Stephen Driver was presented a beautiful new flag for his ship. As the banner opened to the ocean breeze for the first time, he exclaimed “Old Glory!” The story goes that after he retired from the sea he moved to Nashville, TN, where he evidently flew his treasured “Old Glory” at his home for all to see. When Tennessee seceded from the Union, Rebel soldiers wanted to destroy his flag but could not find it through repeated searches of his home. When Union forces captured Nashville on February 25th, 1862, they raised the American flag over the capital. However, the flag they had with them was small compared to the one Capt. Driver owned and the Union soldiers began to ask him if “Old Glory” still existed. The Captain…..we may imagine with a sly smile on his lips…went home and began to tear apart the quilt on his bed. Between the quilt-top and the batting there was his beloved original “Old Glory”. He lovingly carried his treasure to the capitol where it flew in honor. That was the beginning of the nickname our national flag so fondly is called…”Old Glory”.

Every time I look at our Stars and Stripes I fill with many emotions…pride, happiness, gratitude. What a privilege I have had to grow up here in the United States of America! I can worship God, I can travel freely, I can attend public meetings, I can speak my opinion, I can write my convictions, I can own property, I can vote, and I can do so many more things because I am free here in this land.

June 6, 1953—I was born into this United States of America, a free citizen. September 3, 1978—I was “born again” into the Family of God when I accepted Christ as my personal Saviour. By this time, the years of my life had already been increased to 25. As the banner of His Love opened over my life for the first time, I exclaimed, “Oh, Glory!”. (“He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.” Song of Solomon 2:4) It has now been another 33 years…almost…that I have been flying that Banner of Love in my life and in my home. The devil has tried many times to destroy this flag but could not find it though he has repeatedly searched for it. It’s hiding place is in my heart. It’s my prayer that I may always keep my eyes on the Banner of God’s love and His salvation so that I may go forward to meet the enemy with courage and not fear. (“We will rejoice in thy salvation, and in the name of our God we will set up our banners….” Psalms 20: 5a)

It is with much gratitude that I want to say “Thank You” to all the American soldiers who have served our country to keep this great land free! Their banner is “Old Glory” and it encourages them to go forward and meet the enemy with valor.

And with even more gratitude I want to say “Thank You” to Jesus Christ for placing his Banner of Love over an old sinner like me! Because of this, I am free! ( “And ye shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall set you free. John 8:32) “OH, GLORY!!”

Happy Independence Day !!