Friday, January 31, 2014

What Is Hope?

"I hope I win a million dollars in the lottery!"
"I hope he asks me out!"
"I hope I get that beautiful new orange 10-speed for Chistmas!"
"I hope it snows the most it ever has in our city!"
"I hope we have bacon-and-ranch pizza for dinner!"
"I hope so!"

We treat the word hope like its definition is want, or wish, desire. But that's not the Bible's definition! "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope" (Jeremiah 29:11).

"For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, according to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain" (Philippians 1: 19-21).

It is my DESIRE (not my hope, just my desire) to edit my vocabulary from this day forward.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Preschoolers Learning the Paradise Lifestyle

Never get beyond this.

"Share your toys!" "Now, Johnny we need to share!"

This all started with God, Who was all there was at the time! And He was happy like that.

But He decided to share His joy; and so He made angels, a solar system, plants, animals, people. He could have stopped creating at any point. But He chose to share with you and me.

Then His creation rebelled against Him, and He still chose to share with us! Only now He had to pay for it with His Son's life-blood; so His own Son with us.

It's been millennia, and we know how we've rebelled. Would you believe He shares with us still? Doesn't He ever get tired of it?Doesn't He ever want to keep just one thing to Himself?

Don't you ever feel like not sharing your house with strangers, or even friends? Well, God is going to share His house with us forever! "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever" (Psalm 23:6).

The beautiful snow outside, a terrific sunset, a breezy lakeside, an autumn bonfire, a horse's whinny, some morning glory vines, a baby's cooing, a delicious fresh peach, and so much more - all gifts God has graciously shared with YOU!

God call us to share, too. . . .

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Starbucks Manna

A few days ago I spent a fun evening with my brother Caleb and some of his friends: dinner at an Asian restaurant, a movie, and then Starbucks. 

Now, after a terrific dinner including my first try of frog legs - which were delicious, by the way - followed by some good laughs, it was pretty late and I was kind of hungry. But I kept that to myself because the Starbucks menu was kind of too far away for me to easily see to find a little something cheap to eat; and I knew that if I were to ask anyone about the cost of food, they would take that as a request for food and buy me something. But I was still hungry . . . 

Just then an employee walked up to our table, her arms loaded down, and asked, "Would you all like some pumpkin bread?"

My guess is, she had to dispose of it before some kind of expiration; and yet it tasted perfectly fresh - and delicious - to me! :) It was Starbucks Manna.

I was hungry, and our Father sweetly provided pumpkin bread!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Becoming Your Parents

This is something we all do - even if we try not to do it. You will become something of your parents, too - even if you try not to, even if you really focus on trying not to.

I first realized this fact of human nature when I was at Bible college at age 17. The assistant dean of women discussed it in a talk to a bunch of us girls.

"For as he thinks in his heart, so is he" (Proverbs 23:7). You are what you think. So if you spend a lot of time thinking about those qualities you dislike the most about your parents, then those are the very qualities you will in some way imitate in your own life.

On the other hand . . .

If you can bring yourself to truly forgive your parents (and I'm not talking about merely saying some words here, but the tough matter of heart) and spend your time thinking on what you like best about them, then you will grow into your parents' better qualities.I say you will grow into them because they are obviously much older than you and will always remain so, and therefore you can never hope to catch up until you are old - and maybe not even then!

So, the question I know you may be asking is this: have I applied this lesson that I presume, oh so rambunctiously, to teach you? I believe I have applied this lesson, but I'm not hardly saying that I am a perfect paragon of all my parents' good qualities! I am saying that I used to be a little bitter about some stuff (I honestly can't remember what), but now I'm only grateful and seeking to grow into those good qualities.

Allow me to add here that your parents are human, and so of course they both have bad qualities as well as good qualities. In fairness, you cannot argue this point unless you are okay with people saying YOU lack one or the other. So let go of the anger, and think about the positive. You'll be happier! :)

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

A Modern Parable

This is the story of two girls. And you know the struggle that most girls have, the desire to feel beautiful and the feeling of being ugly. Well, these two girls felt that way; and  they, like most girls, decided to do something about it.

Both girls felt that their primary facial flaw was the shape of their mouths.

Nellie tried to solve that problem by wearing the prettiest, fanciest lipstick she could find. She saved money and scoured the internet to find out which one was the best of the best.

Then, of course, she bought it and applied it. She wasn't super happy with the results, but hey - it was way better than it had been! And she could always apply it more generously whenever necessary. At least no one was seeing her naked lips anymore! She had hidden them well, and she was happy.

Never mind that she looked like a buffoon!

Heidi couldn't think how to solve that problem. She worried and cried; but then she noticed her friends' smiles, and that gave her an idea. She started consciously smiling at everyone she saw.

Soon she saw someone who was very sad, and she knew she could either be sad with him or try to cheer him up. So she smiled compassionately and said something kind, which put a smile on HIS face. He randomly said, "You're beautiful." She was taken aback, as this was the first time anyone had said that to her. And she determined to use kind words more often.

Moral: With everything in your life, you can either try to bury it, or you can invest it (Matthew 25:14-30) .

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Mealtime Vain-Repetitions

What do you pray at mealtimes?

My traditional mealtime prayer as a child was "God, thank You for this food and drink; and thank You for this nice day. In Jesus' name, amen." And that's a good prayer; but when it's the same every day and every meal, it's really little more than a vain repetition.

Well, as I grew older, my mealtime prayers naturally fleshed out; but the "essentials" stayed the same. 

Then a week or two ago, God led me to make a change and start thanking Him specifically for whatever He had provided me to eat. For instance, "Thank You for this pizza, and this water." So far, it's been MUCH more meaningful!

I talked to my dad about it, and he brought up Jesus' example: "And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it" (Matt. 26:26).

His blessing for people is not so much general, to the whole earthly population; rather, it's personal and specific. Just like His gift of food - and aren't you glad He gives us the opportunity to thank Him for specific foods? I mean, nobody would want to go on a diet composed solely of an odorless, colorless, tasteless lump of nutrients.