Blessed be God,
Who has not turned away my prayer
Nor his lovingkindness from me
One of my favorite poems is from Robert Frost:
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
We long to make this a simple poem about choosing the less traveled path, but the poem actually tells us the paths are the same. Only later, he looks back and see where his choice has taken him in life.
Each day that we live we face forks of decision. We have to make the choice about whom we serve. Which path to take. I have often wished that once the choice were made that it would never have to be made again. Unfortunately, Satan prowls like around like a hungry lion and on the very day you think you no longer have to make a choice he snatches you from your complacency and lures you directly to his path.
We have many choices to make each day but I can think of no bigger decision that I have to make than the one in which I decide to follow Christ or follow Satan. When my kids get in a spot of trouble, I tell them that the biggest issue is not deciding whom to date, what to wear, join in or not, but rather whom to serve. The biggest decision of their day is deciding whom they will serve. Once that decision is made then all the other life decisions have a foundation on which to rely. All other decisions are easier to make.
Our youth are faced with countless decisions each day. False information is piped into their heads through many avenues. If they do not know which path to take, then they will often follow the easiest, the coolest, the least resistant. It is up to us to help them find that path as they grow and mature. We are to be the aroma, the letter, the living stone. Life is a complex journey, but it can be devastating if we (they) are on the wrong path.
II Cor. 2:15
For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing;
II Cor. 3:1-3
Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some, letters of commendation to you or from you? You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men; being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.
I Pet. 2:4-5
And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
Satan and The Slob
I hate to say this, but today I learned a HUGE lesson from my teenager. I know, I know, she is addicted to selfies, texting and Youtube videos, but still and all, today she showed what she is really made of. About the time I think she has been totally unresponsive to all of my teachings, she calls me on the carpet for MY behavior and she was absolutely correct in doing so. She showed me how a Christian should act.
This morning on the way to school, my teenage daughter and I were talking and enjoying each other’s company. As we pulled up to the High School, I edged over to the side to let her off. She was looking down, getting her backpack and tennis gear collected. I was looking out at the different kids coming into the school.
I saw an unlikely couple heading towards the door. The boy was kind of chunky and not dressed very nicely. Kind of yucky overall. The girl did not look much better. She looked kind of frumpy and unkempt. They were talking and holding hands. I said something along the lines of, “He looks nasty. I wonder that he can get a girlfriend.”
My teen stopped what she was doing and looked over at the young couple. She looked at me and said, “He is not nasty. He is really a very nice person.” She paused a minute and then added, “Just sayin’ mom. I have a class with him and he is nice.” She closed the door and walked into the school. Whoa! Time out! I just “got told” as the younger kids would say. My teen called me on the carpet about my comments and she did it with grace and assurance.
Without even thinking, I showed my teen how NOT to treat others. I judged a boy based on his outer appearance without giving a single thought to his inner – more important – being. I was SO PROUD of her for standing her ground and telling me that I was wrong and for calling me to be more responsible with my comments. I was ashamed of myself for falling into Satan’s quickie trap. I know he was laughing at how easy it was to trip me up.
In our ever-changing world, we need both kids and adults to stand up for what is right and to speak out when someone is wrong. Christians are called to help others grow in spirit and truth and sometimes this takes courage. It took a certain amount of courage for my daughter to speak up for her friend and speak out against her mother. We all must help each other because Satan is prowling around every second of every day looking for ways to trip us up.
Thank you Lord for our kids. Keep us all safe from the clutches of Satan.
1 Peter 5:8 (NASB)
Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God
And concerning you, my brethren, I myself also am convinced that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able also to admonish one another.
As I scroll through my facebook pages I am constantly bombarded by lists. Here are a few that I saw today:
• 18 ugly truths about modern dating
• 3 Veggies that kill stomach fat
• 7 thoughts of Christ on the cross
• Texas top 40 travel destinations
• How Professors use their time
And on and on it goes. I rolled by these in less than two minutes. I generally like lists as they tend to get to the meat of the problem in a hurry by removing the fluff. Or so we think. I opened several of these and gave them my “Ph.D. skim.” They didn’t have too much meat, really. They were teasers skimming the surface of pseudo problems. Good to know info., but still pretty fluffy.
Here is another list.
• Depression is a condition that reportedly affects 1 in 10 Americans
• More than 3 times as many women are murdered by guns used by their husbands or intimate acquaintances than are used by strangers’ guns, knives or other weapons combined
• A report of child abuse is made every 10 seconds
• More than 4 children die every day as a result of child abuse
• On Sept. 30, 2012 there were an estimated 399,546 children in foster care
• In America, there is one divorce approximately every 36 seconds. That’s nearly 2,400 divorces per day, 16,800 divorces per week and 876,000 divorces a year.
• Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death for Americans in 2010
• Americans spent 55.7 BILLION dollars on their pets in 2013
This list is disturbing on so many levels, but I want to think about one aspect of this list. The meat of the list. The nitty-gritty that no one wants to face. I don’t want to place blame, assign guilt or point fingers because we are human and there will always be problems on this earth, but in these massive proportions?
We are wealthier than most. We have more leisure time than most. We have about a million choices on every product marketed. We essentially have freedom. We have technology. We have clean drinking water. AND we have a multitude of problems.
As they say, “History repeats itself.” Go back and read Deuteronomy 8. The Israelites totally forgot what God did for them. They quit listening to His voice, they put other things ahead of Him and started complaining about everything. They forgot His ordinances, His statutes and His commandments. They were destroyed.
Go back and re-read the last list. What does the evidence show? An adherence to God’s ordinances, statutes and commandments? The ultimate question remains: Whom do you serve? Something to ponder.
Matthew 22: 34-40
But when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered themselves together.
One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him,
“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”
And He said to him, “‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’
This is the great and foremost commandment.
The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’
On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”
Deut. 8: 1-20
v.20 Like the nations that the Lord makes to perish before you, so you shall perish; because you would not listen to the voice of the Lord your God.
“Now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require from you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul…
You are Wearing That?
I like to watch the popular historical drama Downton Abbey on Sunday evenings. The ladies are so elegant and sophisticated. They “dress” for dinner and “dress” for bed. They have servants to help them dress and servants to take care of their shoes and clothing while they are sleeping. A large part of the show surrounds the family interactions while being dressed or undressed. They talk to the maids and valets while fixing hair, brushing lint from a jacket or simply hanging up the clothes at the end of an evening.
Sometimes, the crotchety grandmother on Downton Abbey fusses at her son, the Earl, because she feels he has on the wrong outfit. Clothes are important to her as fitting her station in life. In fact, there are times she feels as if she is better than others because of her clothes, carriages, and jewels. Her outward trappings are as important to her as her behavior.
If we travel in time and take a peek at the activity in Solomon’s temple we might see the same kind of thing. We see ladies bent over their work for months on end adding embroidery or beading or metalwork around his collars. Tanners creating the softest leathers and weavers making the finest woven materials. All working around the clock to make sure that the king was arrayed in splendor.
Can you imagine the meetings between the departments? The head weaver meets with the head dyer and the fiber artist brings in new floss for decoration. One wants blue, the other wants orange with a little yellow shading. The bead maker wants more beads but the metal master wants hammered discs of gold. The tanner insists on deer skins but the cobbler wants a tougher goat hide. And so the meetings and plannings go on and on as they seek to dress the king as befits his station. Their life is entirely focused on creating outwardly perfection for their king.
And yet if we go back and read I Kings (chapter 3) we find that Solomon did not ask for riches but rather for an understanding heart so that he could judge his people. In reply God tells Solomon that He will also give what he did not ask for – both riches and honor. Because Solomon was more interested in seeking God and serving God he was rewarded with more than he could ever imagine. All he had to do was walk in God’s ways.
We often fall into this same trap. We worry about what we wear, what we drive, or the size of our house and all God want is for us to trust in Him and walk in His ways.
And why are ye anxious concerning raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:
Yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
But if God doth so clothe the grass of the field, which to-day is, and to-morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?
Be not therefore anxious, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
For after all these things do the Gentiles seek; for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
But seek ye first his kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Be not therefore anxious for the morrow: for the morrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
I Kings 3:11-13
And God said unto him, Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life, neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies, but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern justice;
behold, I have done according to thy word: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there hath been none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee.
And I have also given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches and honor, so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee, all thy days.
One early morning as I was sitting in my chair, sipping a Dr. Pepper, and finishing my prayers, my grandson walked into the room. He sat down in the chair next to me and began to fidget. I told him to go get a soda and a chocolate chip cookie and come back and sit down. He was delighted at this unexpected gift and trotted off. I was putting my things away when he re-entered the room.
“Are you saying your prayers grandma?” he asked me.
I nodded and told him how I had a list that I worked through each morning and then during the day I talked to God about whatever popped up. He told me how he tried to pray at nights but would get off track and fall asleep, then he would jump awake and start over. I smiled at him and said that I did the same thing and that is why I like to get up early and pray in the mornings.
As we shared our hearts with each other we discussed how God makes plans for each of us. Since he has lived with us off and on for most of his life, he has known much turmoil and confusion. As we talked about plans I tried to assure him that God DID have a plan for him but that maybe we did not understand it completely.
He looked at me and said, “Oh no grandma. His plan is working.”
I was a little shocked at this because I didn’t realize that a plan was in place. There were still many days in which I questioned God’s plans for this precious boy. I raised my eyebrows and replied, “Well, I am glad you feel that way.”
He smiled and said, “Oh, I don’t worry grandma. YOU are His plan. You are taking care of me while I grow up.” He munched on his cookies and sipped his Dr. Pepper.
Never in my life had I thought of myself as “The Plan” for this boy.
He realized it long before I did. He accepted it long before I did. I was still trying to make things work the way I wanted them to work. The Proper Way. The Right way. According to MY plan.
I can’t say for sure what God’s plan is for my life but I can say that I have been given an opportunity to show love to a young boy who has no other options. I have been given the opportunity to share Jesus with someone precious to me.
I wonder what other opportunities God has given me that I can’t see because of my own plans?
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.
But Jesus called for them, saying, “Permit the children to come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.
Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.
Yesterday was 43 degrees outside with snow still covering most of the ground here in West Virginia. BUT the sun was shining! Bright, warm, sparkly sunshine. It made all the difference in the world. It gave me a new perspective on things. I ran out to feed the cat and the birds in my shirtsleeves. It felt so good to be out in the sunshine! I lifted my face to the sun and said a quick prayer of thanksgiving. Finally, a clear day. I made the kids go out and walk and soak up some sun!
When I was a young girl growing up in west Texas a 43 degree day meant lots of jackets, scarves, and gloves, even with the sunshine. A 43 degree day was COLD. In fact, we were barely let out for recess if it got that cold. Some parents fussed if their children had to be outside. If at home, we would play outside and then run in for cups of hot chocolate. The sun was generally out but so was his friend – the wind. A sunny 43 degree day could feel like a frigid 32 degree day if the wind was visiting.
It all depends, doesn’t it, on our perspective. How we see things. Think about all of the other areas of our lives in which perspective makes all the difference. Our teens are bursting to be adults. Adults are wishing they could be as carefree as teens. A new job seems so much better, until you land it and find that you no longer have a flexible schedule. A friend seems so true and understanding until someone relates a gossipy story about them. We are constantly changing our viewpoints to make sense of the world in which we live.
So much depends on our perspective. We have so many choices. We can be optimistic or we can be pessimistic. We can embrace differences or we can stick to the same old routines. We can ignore or we can rise to the challenge. Life is so challenging and exciting, while also being difficult and complex. Depends on our perspective.
What a blessing that our God does not depend on perspective. He is there all the time. He is faithful. He is everlasting, no matter your perspective.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?
Deuteronomy 32: 3-4
For I proclaim the name of the LORD;
Ascribe greatness to our God!
The Rock! His work is perfect,
For all His ways are just;
A God of faithfulness and without injustice,
Righteous and upright is He
Psalm 90: 1-2
Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations.
Before the mountains were born
Or You gave birth to the earth and the world,
Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.