November 30, 2009

Starting Christmas

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes on Him will have eternal life.” John 3:16

The day after Thanksgiving officially marks the beginning of the Christmas season. We call it Black Friday. Am I the only one who thinks that sounds like a plague? It’s when prices come down and trees start to go up. Let the shopping begin! After the shopping, it’s the baking and the parties and the cards! Ladies and gentlemen, Christmas chaos has arrived.

I am a bit at a loss for words today. I’ve seen the television commercials and I’d like to say that “they say it all” for this blessed time in the lives of believers but indeed they don’t.

If you are like me, your house decorating has begun and gift lists are made and have been checked twice. Nothing wrong with that, but as we begin our official celebration preparations, let’s stop and remember why we are doing it. Let me ask you to ponder this: if God allowed you to give only one gift in your entire lifetime, what would it be and to whom would you give it?

Perhaps by pondering that question along side of John 3:16, we’ll stay focus on the main thing during the holidays.

See you next week!
Barbara

November 24, 2009

To Be or Not To Be – Grateful!

“Remember Lot’s wife.” Luke 17:32

These days the act of remembering is becoming more difficult. I mean there are so many things in life I can forget! I forget to return phone calls. I forget appointments. Last week, I forgot to write down an ATM! I forget what I was supposed to remember. Some call it getting older. I prefer to think of it as there are just too many things going on in my head a.k.a information overload.

They say admitting you have a problem is the first step in getting help. Okay, I admit it. I have a problem – help!

This past Sunday night, Brother William talked about the ten lepers from Luke chapter 17. This passage is where Jesus healed 10 lepers yet only one hung around long enough to thank Him. I pondered the events of the passage with Thanksgiving, which is just around the corner, in mind. As I privately reviewed the Scriptures, my eyes gazed past the point where we were reading, down several verses, until they came to rest upon Luke 17:32, “Remember Lot’s wife.”

Here is where I want us to camp today. Maybe you wonder why? Perhaps you are not even certain who Lot or his wife was and what this could possibly have to do with Thanksgiving. Well, you must know that I am dying to explain!

Hopefully you remember Abraham of the Old Testament. Well, Abraham had a nephew named Lot. Obviously, Lot had a wife, as well as a few big kids. They had a cozy little home in the quaint valley town of Sodom, which was near another valley retreat called Gomorrah. Both cities were well-know for, shall we say, their “if it feels good, do it” way of life.

Of course, we don’t have all day so I’ll cut to the chase: God got fed up with the towns and prepared to send immediate destruction upon them. However, Abraham and God had a conversation beforehand and God sent a couple of angels to escort Lot and his family out of town just prior to the T-minus 10 countdown. The angel’s instructions were clear and concise: head to the mountains and do not look back.

If Lot’s wife had only paid attention! She did look back and was immediately turned into a pillar of salt. Believe it or not – there is a point for us today during our Thanksgiving week.

I believe Lot’s wife had an ungrateful heart. Here is my personal take on the situation. With no appreciation for deliverance, she only had thoughts of what she left behind and would no longer have in her possession. Apparently she was the mother who ignored the fact she had her family and her health – not to mention the direct blessing of God Himself, who personally arranged their rescue.

So what becomes of the ungrateful person? Remember Lot’s wife.

Today I offer you my assessment of what an ungrateful heart will do for you:

• An ungrateful heart does not appropriately recognize past blessings – it only agonizes over them.

• An ungrateful heart misses present blessings.

• An ungrateful heart is not able to receive future blessings.

• Mostly, an ungrateful heart can’t be a blessing to others because they are frozen in time longing for something lost or left behind.

As your week unfolds with whatever plans you have made, under whatever circumstances you find yourself in, I urge you to remain forever grateful to God who personally arranged our rescue from a fate far worse than death. Be grateful for the provisions He has made – even if they come differently than you expected. Be grateful enough with a heart of thanksgiving that you will be a blessing to others, not just this week, but every week.

If you have trouble remaining grateful, just remember Lot’s wife every time someone says, “Please pass the salt!”

May God smile His best smile on each and every one of you – I am so grateful to God for your love and support. Happy Thanksgiving!

Love, Barbara, Bob and Kitty Kat

November 16, 2009

Today is For Rejoicing!

“This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24 (NASB)

These words reflect the Christian mantra of many believers. Our pastor spoke on this verse several weeks ago. He used it in conjunction with reminding us that our time on earth is limited, making today vitally important. It really made an impression. Especially on my sweet sister-in-Christ, Kay, who has repeated his message often. I am thankful for the reminders when I hear them!

On November 5th, our women’s ministry hosted a function where the evening was largely devoted to prayer. We were led in prayer of all kinds including that of praise, gratitude and rejoicing. We wrote on paper hearts those things which we were grateful for, things that made us rejoice in life. Afterwards, each woman placed her heart on the cross.

Rejoicing just makes my heart smile! Rejoicing over God loving me. Rejoicing with family. Rejoicing with friends. Rejoicing for home and health. Not to rejoice today, would be a grievous waste of the day our Lord has made for you and me. I certainly recall too many times I put off rejoicing “this day” in favor of “this is the day to be miserable, because I can!”

As you know I get a kick out of messages on signs. I saw this on a church marquee a few weeks ago:


Make the most out of the best of times and the least of the worst.


This conveys exactly what rejoicing in God should be! Rejoicing in the best of times, treasuring them dearly in our hearts, then taking those “worse of times” with a grain of prayerful salt and then continue to rejoice in Christ regardless.

This is a complete message in itself. But since my mind works on an entirely different level of logic than most folks, I stopped to wonder – is there anything else today is for? I mean besides, laundry, cooking, cleaning and paying bills!

I am REJOICING that God loves me and I believe He might even appreciate my logic – after all, I had to get it from somewhere! I didn’t wonder long. Even just a quick search of His Word revealed a few things that this day is for:

Today is the day of salvation – II Corinthians 6:2 (Call me know if you need help here!)
Today, Christ is the same as He was yesterday – Hebrews 13:8
Today is for encouraging one another – Hebrews 3:13
Today, God gives us our daily bread – Matthew 6:11
Today our hearts should not be hardened – Heb 3:15

Today this is my offering, should you be wondering what today means to you.

Rejoicing with you!
Barbara

November 09, 2009

Mud Slinging Contests

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1 (NASB)

“Just wait until I tell all your friends exactly what kind of a person you are!” That’s what someone yelled at me in the heat of an argument, red-faced and growling. After nearly 30 years, those words are still seared in my mind. So is my response.

Enraged at the “disagreement” of the moment, I cruelly retorted, “Well, if you want to throw mud, you better keep in mind the things I know and I’ll throw back twice as hard and win!”

The details of the situation are not important nor was I proud of my part in that war with words. There was no winner in our verbal assault, only two losers. Ever been there?

Although I do not possess a close personal relationship with that friend any longer, time has worked its magic and we would not flee to the hills if trapped in the same room together. The incident occurred a long time ago, in a land far, far away. Since then Jesus came into my life.

Perhaps you are wondering why the memories of my past indiscretion resurfaced. It was a sign! Okay, not a sign from heaven but my HOA. Indeed, God works in mysterious ways.

It’s not secret that anger has hit an all-time high in this country. It’s been escalading for years. We’ve been subjected to road rage, school shootings, political differences and religious differences. People have enormously busy schedules with no patience. Interruptions only create eruptions.

Maybe addressing the subject again seems like overkill. But I’ve always thought that what was important to God, should be important to us. The Bible is filled with instructions regarding our mouth just like Proverbs 15:1.

We are instructed to bless not curse, be slow to anger and slow to speak, let no unwholesome words proceed from our mouths – need I go on? If you read Proverbs 15:2, you find the theme continued with, “The tongue of the wise makes knowledge acceptable, but the mouth of fools spout folly.”

I’d be remiss not to acknowledge that from time to time verbal differences do occur. Walking away and practicing “turning the other cheek” is hard but sound wisdom. Unfortunately, once in a while a response is required. When those situations arise, be forewarned: nothing good comes from verbal confrontations where the Spirit isn’t invited as a holy mediator and love of Christ is not present!

In confrontations, forget all the falsehoods that come to mind in the midst of anger. Stick to the truth! Remember all truth CAN BE spoken in love. And when you can’t figure out how to do that, it’s probably best to stop and “thunk” on it until the way becomes clear.

It’s a lesson I needed to be reminded of and go ahead admit, you need it too!

Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you about the sign that God used to get my attention. So I will close and leave you with precisely that posted message:

“When you throw dirt, you only lose ground!”

Love,

Barbara

November 02, 2009

My Purpose (?) Driven Life

“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in Heaven.” Matthew 5:16 (NAS95)

Long time no see! It’s great to be back in writing saddle once again. I have deeply missed being “together with you.” I hope you enjoy the quick link and more presentable format. I had fun putting it together. [Janice, thanks for the help!] Now perhaps you are wondering what I’ve been doing will all my free time? Well, let’s see. . .

I knew at the beginning of the year this would be a year of challenge and adventure. And indeed, it has been. It’s just things didn’t always come packaged as I thought they might.

In the last few months, I’ve dealt with multiple life issues which have created, let’s say, stress. I have also been privileged to travel throughout Florida to share my testimony. Thus my spirits have soared some days and crashed and burned on others.

During the more chaotic moments, I found myself wondering about my exact purpose in life. Lord, I know you have a specific purpose for me, but could you give a clue as to what it is! Can anyone relate? I’ve heard so much lately about having a “calling” that I once again wonder what I am called to do!

I find myself green with envy of those I know who seem to have a clear concise vision of what God expects from them--including the details. Let me give you an example. My boss (and dear friend) Cheryle, knows without doubt that she is called to travel the United States and talk to people about their faith. She is quite certain and adamant on the where and how of her calling. On the other hand, I know that God has given me a heart (a call) to teach but I use that gift as God brings the opportunity. I never know when or how that might come. Ashamedly, there are moments I doubt my purpose. So I did some pondering.

One of my favorite spots to ponder is in the shower. I don’t know why. Maybe with all the soap on hand, it’s my way of coming clean before God. Hey, don’t laugh! It works for me! While in the shower, a thought came upon me. I wonder if we spend so much time and energy trying to discover God’s purpose, that it can’t discover us?

Then in quiet time that day God turned on the light as I read Matthew 5:16! It’s all so clear now. In this verse, Christ gives us a blueprint for a purpose driven life (to borrow the phrase from Rick Warren). It tells me the who, the what, the how and the why of His purposes. Now that is pretty specific.

The Who “Let your light shine” We are to shine. Please note this does not say, let your self shine, but your light! In Matthew 5:15, we are discouraged from hiding our light under a bushel. Light was meant to be seen. Since Bible Basics 101 tells us that any light we have as a believer, is from Christ, we are to let the light of Christ shine in our lives.

The What “your good works” We don’t need a degree in Theology to define good works. It is anything helpful, productive, and positive. It can encompass a whole range of actions from standing before thousands giving testimony of what God has done in your life, or it sharing with a co-worker at lunch. You could write a book or write a note of encouragement. You could be a role model for hundreds or a model mom for a few. While it is grace not goodness that saves us, there is no doubt that good works play a vital part of the Christian life.
The How “in such a way before men” This is imperative because it leads into the “Why”. My perception of ‘such a way’ is a way that lends credence or authority to the ‘what’ and the ‘why’. It’s not done selfishly or in a manner that would invalidate the ‘why.’ I believe we can relate this to living a consistent lifestyle that is God-honoring not self-serving. Which brings us to. . .

The Why “And glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Is what we do going to bring glory to God? That is the point of all points. If our works and our ministry are not for the glory of God, then our life has no purpose and no meaning.

Whether you are the person who knows beyond question that God has called you to a specific task or if you are the one who shares your gifts as God brings opportunity on more a daily basis, if you can get down the proper aspects of who, what, how and why – then you are on your way to living a purpose fulfilled life! You are living your call!

It is my prayer that you will review and ponder over this verse as I have done. I am so grateful to God for allowing me to discover new insight into His Word and grateful to have the opportunity to share with you. While, I desire to be an encouragement to each of you, I write to the glory of God.

I leave you with Deut. 32:3:

“Because I publish the name of the Lord, ascribe ye greatness unto our God!”

Lovingly, Barbara