Times, They are A-Changing

Wow, I know it’s been a looooong time since I have blogged.  Life as you know changes all the time.  I quit teaching and started a paint business.  I loved the freedom and the creativity that I had not had in my previous profession.  I was able to travel with my husband for his ministry and I had freedom to be more involved in my church.  Then I was called by a principal to do a mentoring program at his school and I started that right before the Christmas break and have been doing that so far this year.  I have flexibility in my schedule because I do home visits in the evenings.  I have enjoyed working one-on-one with students and visiting with families in the evenings.  But with that, came lots of changes in our schedule.

Times are changing.  Our social environment is changing faster that we can keep up with.  The Bible warns us of these times.  And we are to prepare for the coming changes.

Proverbs 29:18New International Version (NIV) says:

18 Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint;
    but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom’s instruction.

When we choose to not be in the Word (which is where our revelation comes from), establishing what is right and wrong, letting it guide and lead us through our daily lives, then people will cast off restraints.  When we begin to be influenced by the world, and become more like the world, we will eventually cross over that line of sin and restraint that we thought we would never cross.  When we begin to compromise our stand on spiritual things, we will begin to allow things in our lives that may be harmful to our spiritual development.  When we spiritually look like the world, then how can someone who needs the Lord determine who can help them?

We need to be able to stand out as being different, living up to a different standard.  People will know who to turn to when the issues of life try to overtake them.  Times are changing — our economy, our place in the world, our nation’s social morality.  We must be on the alert.  Don’t be caught sleeping spiritually through these changes.  Don’t stick your head in the sand and assume everything is okay.  God will take of His people, but we must be ready to help others in need when they are calling out for help.

Holy and Dearly Loved

I was reading Colossians 3 in I found in verses 12-14 some astounding statements.

Colossians 3:12-14 says, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.  Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues put on love, which bonds them all together in perfect unity.”

Wow, the first statement makes all the rest come to pass in our lives.  It says “as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly love.”  If we could truly grasp what this means to us, that we are holy and dearly loved.  Every human in the world desires to be dearly loved.  We are born with the innate desire to be loved.  So no matter what our upbringing was, whether loving or not, we can look to our Heavenly Father to dearly love us.  First and foremost, before we can embark on the journey our Heavenly Father has for us, which is stated in the next scriptures, we must understand and truly absorb what being dearly loved means.

There are three kinds of love: eros love, philos love, and agape love.  We are familiar with eros love.  Eros is a Greek term which means desire and longing.  It is romantic love and has much to do with the physical attraction we have between man and woman.  In the beginning of a romantic relationship, this kind of love is apparent but if it is not checked and kept in balance, it can become selfish and possessive.

Philos love is in relationships that we have with brothers and sisters just as with our Christians brothers and sisters.  It is a fondness and familiarity with people with like minds.  We pal around with people who like to do the same things and think the same way.  This is a rewarding kind of love that we have with friends and family but it is not always reliable and it can be hurtful at times when relationships go sour.

Agape love is the love Jesus has for His Father, that God has towards us, and the love that we are commanded to have toward everyone, believer or not.  Unlike eros and philos love, we do not have to have a feeling to act on this kind of love.  It is more a decision and, with that decision, we act loving towards others.  This decision to love comes from the fact, not feeling, that God loves us conditionally, therefore we should want to reciprocate that by loving others in the same way.  If we can truly understand this agape love that God has for us, it comes naturally that we show love toward others.  If we are not loving toward others, we may not really understand how we are loved dearly by our Heavenly Father.  This love is unconditional and everlasting.  You can do nothing to make it go away.

The next scripture then says that we should “clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.”  Since we are dearly loved, we should work on developing these attributes of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.  This is not to say we can do these immediately after receiving Christ, but that we should work to develop these in our lives through studying the Word of God which teaches us how to live our lives worthy of Him.  And that post is for another day.

Today, know that God dearly loves you and wants the best for you.  He desires that you be blessed as you are His child just all fathers want their children to be blessed.  He loves you with agape love that is unconditional and everlasting.

 

The God of All Comfort

II Corinthians 1:3-4 says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.  For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.

I find this comforting in itself, for it says that I am comforted with the very comfort from God Himself.  This a supernatural comfort, a comfort straight from God.  As I share comfort to others, I am sharing the comfort from our Living God.  It says He is the Father of compassion.  I pray that I am led to be compassionate as He is compassionate.  I want to be His hands and feet in these matters.  If I walk in the understanding that this comfort comes from my Heavenly Father, then I can walk in a supernatural compassion which will give people hope and encouragement.  I may not be naturally compassionate, but I can walk in this compassion because it comes from the heart of God.  My personality may not be naturally comforting, but this scripture tells me that I can comfort those in trouble or need with the comfort that I have received from my Father.

We are His hands and feet in this world, and to be able to comfort and give compassion in His Name is an honor that we should cherish.  Our Heavenly Father has a compassion with no end.  He is compassionate when we are not.  He is faithful when we are not.  He loves us unconditionally and we can walk in the knowledge of this and it gives us the drive to please Him and minister to His children.

Cookin’ on the Square

Yesterday, the City of Cookeville once again had a successful Cookin’ on the Square fundraiser for Putnam County Habitat for Humanity.  While I started chopping on Thursday evening about 6 o’clock to prepare 10 gallons of Jaida’s Jambalaya, he ran out to my mother’s to pick up her gumbo that she had already prepared for the event.  I had most of the onions, bell peppers, celery, and Andouille sausage chopped up and realized that I needed to double my ingredients to make another pot.  We then went to the storage room to pick up the turkey fryers and large pots and went to the grocery store again and bought 8 more onions, 8 more bell peppers, 4 more bundles of celery and more Andouille sausage.  While Mike prepared the pots and set up the turkey fryers, I started chopping the second batch of veggies and sausage.

At midnight, we started both pots with all the veggies, sausage, beef broth, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, and various spices.  We then set the clock for 3:00, 5:00, and 7:30 am and went to bed at 1:00 am.  Each time the alarm went off, we got up to check the fires and the jambalaya.  It was smelling great and it was right on schedule.  Once we were up at 7:30 am, we began preparing for the day.  We gathered our hot sauces, hot pads, and lawn chairs.  We dropped the shrimp into one pot of jambalaya and got ready to head out to the square in Cookeville.

When we got there, you could just sense the excitement in the air.  Our church staff already had the tent up and the tables, tablecloths, and chafing dishes all set up.  The music was already playing in the background and everyone was setting up their booths too.  I love the way so many businesses get involved in this event.

We love the whole experience of preparing this meal for this annual event.  We enjoy the idea of contributing to a worthy cause, and it is something that my husband and I have shared over the past several years.  We were all set up ready to go then it was time to start visiting with all the passersby.

We saw so many people that we have known over the years here in Cookeville.  We have not seen some since our boys played ball, and others that we don’t usually run into around town.  It was a wonderful time of fellowship surrounded by a community of givers who sees Habitat for Humanity as a worthy cause of providing affordable housing for families who may otherwise not afford a nice home.

127 Yard Sale

Ever heard of it?  I’ve lived in Cookeville for 24 years and I’ve always wanted to experience the ultimate yard sale.  I’m a true treasure seeker.  My husband would say I’m a junk seeker, but as we have all heard the saying, “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure.”  I love to find old neglected pieces and give them new life, new purpose.

If you have not heard of the “127 Yard Sale,” it is considered the longest yard sale in the world.  It is on Highway 127 from Gadsden, Alabama all the way to Addison, Michigan spanning 690 miles.  It is an annual yard sale, and it is attended by treasure hunters from all over the country.  It is scheduled for the first weekend in August every year, but it has expanded to Wednesday through Saturday.  This past weekend marked the 26th year and the dates for next year’s 127 Yard Sale is already posted on websites, along with maps, advertisements, and booths and spaces to rent.

My friend, Sherri, two of her three daughters, and I took off early Friday morning with the biggest vehicle we had, a Tahoe.  We thought that would be plenty of space.  Little did we know, we would have to come up with some creative alternate space after only shopping for two hours.  Her daughters were both looking for items for their dorm rooms. They were fun to watch.  One of them was very methodical in her selections, and the other thought everything would look great in her dorm room.

I had a different purpose.  Since retiring from teaching, I decided to start painting furniture and interiors as an additional income for our household.  I wanted to pick up a few items that I could get for a good price, fix up, and resale.

To get to the 127 Yard Sale, you first have to determine where you are going to get on.  You can basically jump in anywhere.  When we got onto Hwy 127 near Static, KY, we stopped at a couple of spots that were scattered on the highway before we got to some of the large, multiple booth locations.  We actually found our best buys in these scattered spots.

After two hours of shopping, we had no more room in our car.  The girls had things in their laps and crammed in the backseat because we had to put part of the backseat down to accommodate a large solid wood filing cabinet I could not live without.  My friend had to call a pastor friend who pastors a church in the town we had not even gotten to yet, and asked him if we could unload our car so that we could continue shopping.  At that point, we had to put our “horse blinders” on, so that we could drive through all the booths we could not stop at until we got to the church to unload our first purchases.  (This did not count the 2 chairs that I had already bought, could not put in the car, and arranged to come back the next morning to pick.)  We then went back through the booths and continued our meticulous shopping.

It was a successful treasure hunt.  The college students and their mom found many of the items needed for their dorm rooms.  And I found some great deals that I can’t wait to repurpose and give new life to.  Now the loading and unloading and multiple trips to pick up all of our items, including the following morning is a whole other story for another time.

God is in the repurpose business.  He gives us new life as He speaks into our lives every day.  Be blessed.

 

 

God’s Wonders

Creation is a marvelous thing. As I spent a week with my husband and granddaughter on an Alaskan cruise, I saw such wonders that only God could have created. He thought of everything. He gave us such wonders to marvel over, such as mountains, streams, waterfalls, oceans, and all the creatures that habitat these places. We tried our best to see as much as we could in the short time we were there. It was wonderful to watch our 7 year old granddaughter experience the spectacular scenery that we were afforded on this trip. She hopped and squealed every time she saw a whale, and we saw many. She would jump up and run to the windows anytime someone on the ship called out that they saw something in the ocean. She did not want to miss anything.

Sometimes we adults lose that excitement of seeing God’s creation. We take things for granted and seem to not be as thrilled over the simplest things. But if we would stop and take in the beauty of His creation, that thrill of the world around us would come to us also. If we would stop and think about the order and effort that our Heavenly Father put into His plan for His kingdom and His people, we would be reminded of His unconditional and incomprehensible love for us.

The snow-capped mountains that my granddaughter continued to point out to me reminded me of God’s love that reaches heights that we cannot comprehend. We have a finite idea of love, and He shows us a love that surpasses our understanding. We must receive it in faith because we cannot truly understand it.

The blue-green oceans that surrounded us during our weeklong voyage reminded me of His unfathomable mercy that He bestows on us. It is so deep that we cannot see the bottom of it. We cannot see the end of it. His mercy is given to us unearned and undeserved, and yet we are allowed to walk in it daily.

The beautiful puffy white clouds that fascinated by granddaughter from her perch in the airplane reminded me of my sins forgiven. He has made me white as snow and those clouds remind me that my sins are as far from me as east is to the west. He gave His son to take our place on the sacrificial cross so that our sins would be forgiven and that we may have fellowship with Him. I am reminded to continue to have fellowship with Him. I must call out to Him for He is always there waiting from my voice to speak to Him.

The waves that we experienced during our trip reminded me of the storms of life and that we were safe aboard ship. Even though the rains came down and the ship rocked, I was confident that my Heavenly Father had me in His arms protecting me and mine. We could look out at the storm and be confident of our safety because of His promises to us.

There are so many things in this world to remind us of who our Father is and who we are to Him. Look around and be blessed by the world created by Him for us.

Noah’s Rainbow

As I was teaching the 4 and 5 year olds this morning in church, I was reminded of God’s promises.  We have been teaching on the Fruits of the Spirit and how God helps us to be like Jesus by helping us to grow in the Fruits of the Spirit.  We were talking about faithfulness today and how God is faithful in His promises to us.  I read the story of Noah’s Ark to the children, and they are always fascinated with this story of the animals getting on the very big boat.  It was not the story in the curriculum but I thought of the rainbow that God gave Noah to remind him that He would never flood the whole earth again.  God has so many promises that He has made and He has not failed in any of them.

Galatians 5:22, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control.”  

Verse 25 is interesting, “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”  God’s promises are as 2 Corinthians 1:20 says in the New Living Translation, “for all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for His glory.”  

But why this discourse on “Yes” and “Amen”?  I’ve heard this scripture many times but let’s look at the previous scriptures and this “Yes” and “Amen” stuff will make more sense.

It begins in verse 17, “You may be asking why I changed my plan.  Do you think I make my plans carelessly?  Do you think I am like people of the world who say “Yes” when they really mean “No”?  As surely as God is faithful, our word to you does not waiver between “Yes” and “No.”  He is the one whom Silas, Timothy, and I preached to you, and as God’s ultimate “Yes,” he always does what he says.” 

His promises are always fulfilled.  Our faithfulness should be a direct response to God’s faithfulness.  This is one of His promises to us, that He is faithful.  Faithful to what?  Well, many things, but one in particular would be that He is faithful to forgive us our sin if we ask Him to.  If we cannot think of any other promise (which I am sure we can), this one is big enough to keep us faithful to our God who is faithful to us not matter what. There is so much more on this subject that I will expound on this another day.

Remember, anytime you see a rainbow, let it be a reminder of HIs promises to us and His faithfulness to fulfill His promises.

 

When You Pass Through the Waters

As I was praying through a difficult situation the other night, these scriptures were before me,

Isaiah 43:2-3:

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. 

For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior”

This refreshed me in my prayer time.  This reminded me that no matter what is going on around me, or happening to me, He is with me when I feel like the waters are washing over me.  He is with me when I am walking through the fire.  I will not be washed away.  I will not be consumed for My God and the God of My Children has me in His sight.  He is holding my hand and is giving me the supernatural strength that I need to walk through whatever comes against me.  He is not surprised or taken back by the things of this world, and I should not let these things turn my world upside down.  He is the One who has the plan of my life, and He obviously knew this would happen.

Philippians 1:6 says, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

I am confident that what He began in me, He will finish to completion, and when I have bumps in the road, they are not surprises but detours that He was aware of.

He is there always and I am confident that His plan is the perfect plan for me.

Cinderella Syndrome

I recently had the wonderful opportunity to visit an orphanage in Mexico to meet the girls who live there. I went with 19 others ladies and we had a great time. As one of the activities that we did with the girls, we went to the new movie “Cinderella.”  It was beautifully done, and even though it was in Spanish and I only recognized two words in the whole movie – madre and padre – I thoroughly enjoyed the movie.

I think because I did not know the language, I could focus on all the visuals. I picked up on a few spiritual truths that I shared later with the girls that I felt was beneficial to them. I want to share one part of the message in this blog.

When Cinderella is left at their home and not been allowed to go to the ball by her stepmother, Cinderella called out to her “father.”  When the fairy godmother shows up, she begins changing all the things that we remember from the traditional story – the mice into horses, the lizards into footmen, the goose into the coachman, and the pumpkin into the beautiful carriage.  Then the fairy godmother notices Cinderella’s dress and wants to give her a new one, Cinderella says, “No.”  She wanted to wear her mother’s dress, that it was just fine.

Now that is just like us.  When God wants to make us a new man, we still want to keep part of our old self. We want to hang onto something familiar, something from the past. Now don’t get me wrong, Cinderella was beautiful just the way she was.  And she could have made a splash at the ball but when the fairy godmother got through with Cinderella, she was more beautiful than she could have ever imagined.

II Corinthians says, “Wherefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature: the old things are passed away; behold, they are become new.”

A lot of times in our lives, we move forward in our own plans and in our own strength and God blesses it. But if we would let him do the work on us and follow the plan that He has for us, He can make it more successful and more dynamic than we could have imagined!

The Word says in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

 

Precious Promise of Love

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Galatians 2:20

Who loved me and gave Himself for me.  Sometimes we may not feel lovable.  Sometimes we don’t feel as if we’ve done enough to earn his love.  But He loved us first.  This is a promise from the One who cannot lie.  If He promises, He is faithful to fulfill that promise.  When we are not faithful, He is still faithful to complete it.  The love from our Heavenly Father is not conditional like human love.  We tend to love people who are like us or who loves us back.  As a parent, I love my children unconditionally.  Did they do everything exactly like I wanted them to?  Did they ever disappoint me?  Whatever the answer, it did not change the fact that I love them and always will.

For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,

Titus 3:3-5

When we are confronted with the Love of God, not earned by our works, but given freely to us through grace, we can walk in the confidence of that love.  When we are face to face with a love that we do not understand, we must seek to understand it. The Word tells us of this love.  We still sometime struggle with the understanding of it, but we must believe it because our Heavenly Father says to put our trust in Him.  And in Him we must.  Our lives and the lives of the loved ones depend on this love.

I John 2:5 tells us what happens when we are in Him and in His Word, “But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him.”

Take that love that is so freely given to us, seek to understand it, and share it with others.

Be blessed, Precious Friends, and walk in the precious promises of God.