Sunday, July 20, 2014

Should We Ever Move the Past Forward?

This past week we had an outing at our church which included southern BBQ and 50'-60's Doo Wop music. It was a fun time, listening to music that made Chubby Checker, the Everly Brothers and Buddy Holly famous. Watching the swaying of shoulders and watching the faces of those that knew every word of the oldies. One elderly gentleman, in his late 80s, got up and 'shuffled' to the twist.The mind was drawn back into the day his body cooperated with the tunes. (No we don't usually 'dance' at our church, but this time, watching Bro. Ralph, it was a blessing)

As I thought about how natural this came to everyone sitting in the room, I realized how much we had listened to the radio many years ago. We were limited to the entertainment we had, we really didn't need to be selective. There was no need for parental controls! The twists and moves of Elvis was even edited and he was only viewed from the waist up by the television audience. (I don't even want to compare or mention what we see on television today!)

What happened? Why did we let it happen? 

I remember sitting in Sunday School and being told to read my Bible everyday. There was a little box on the card to check if you had done your 'daily Bible reading' that week. I probably checked that box, even though I had not opened my bible everyday. God forgive me. But, did NOT reading my bible daily cause the world to be where it is today? I am sure I did not help matters in the world, but more own life.

If we could go back, should we dig up the past, listen to the music and read our bibles? I think we could renew our lives by both of these things. For some reason, music does touch the soul. It doesn't matter what style of music you like, when you listen to your style it can touch you. It reaches down into the depths and draws you to a 'place' where it can speak to you. 

If we get back to the basics of reading our bibles and pay attention to what goes into our ears, we can be renewed. 

There is nothing wrong with letting the past move us forward, especially when it is growing us to a closer relationship with God. Stand up for your beliefs that are based on Truths and let's move forward together, growing in Him. 


Sunday, July 13, 2014

Why Do We Do It?

When I was growing up, I loved adventure. I guess, being the youngest of two girls, I was a Daddy's girl and I was outside most of the time with him. He was always busy on the farm or tractors and he let me tag along. I was his 'Gopher'....go for this and go for that! But, we laughed a lot and I learned a lot, including the love of being outside. I still rather be outside any day, than inside (except in cold weather)!

This explains why today, I still love adventure. I love traveling to see things, even if it is just a ride down the river. The enjoyment of 'piddling,' as my husband calls it, is a joy to me, if it is outside. When I have inside chores to do, I want to get them completed early in the day, so if the opportunity comes up that takes me out into nature, I am ready. I am always ready to 'go' somewhere and do something. This is probably the reason we felt led to be with the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team. We were always ready to roll on a moments notice.

Look at your life. What do you enjoy doing? Why do we do what we do? Is it out of habit? Is it out of memories of growing up? Is it the environment where we were raised? Is it something that is learned or is it something that we naturally do?

It probably is a combination of all those things if we really look closely. Because if you think about your actions, probably not all of them are good things. Even Paul said, "For I do not understand what I am doing, because I do not practice what I want to do, but I do what I hate. " Romans 7:15. (Holman)

But yet, in another thought, Jesus used the disciples in special ways because of their background and their talents. He used Matthew, who was a tax collector, to write about the episode of paying the taxes in Matthew 17. In the same scripture, he used Peter the fisherman, to get a hook and go catch a fish. In the fish's mouth was a coin to pay the taxes. 

In the same way, God uses our giftedness and talents for His glory. Everything we do and say should be to edify Him. Yes, I know I said 'everything' and I also know that we don't do that. That brings us back to Paul's statement in Romans 7:15, we do not practice what we want to do, but do what we hate, that which more than likely pleases ourselves. 

This is where we can grow, encouraging each other in our gifts and talents and to use them. We not only can grow ourselves when we encourage others, but that helps them to step up and out of their comfort zones to be used. 

This was on my heart this past week, to encourage you, the reader to step out in faith. Listen to the call of God on your life. It may be what you love to do already from the past and growing up as a child. Use whatever gift or talent God gave you and what you have learned. Do not let it go by the wayside, use it for Him. It is never to late in life to start giving back to Him. You can be a blessing to others when you serve in the Name of Jesus. 

We have friends that have just retired from their worldly careers and have stepped out in faith to serve. One friend, Tim, has left his family for the summer to volunteer and serve in Alaska for two months with Samaritan's Purse. Another couple, Glenn and Julia, are volunteering for a month in Alaska, to serve with Operation Heal Our Patriots. All this is in the Name of Jesus, giving Him their time and life this summer for others. When they get to heaven, I pray we can stand in line beside them to hear Jesus say to them, "Well done my good and faithful servants." 


Friday, June 27, 2014

Interested in Knowing Your Future?

When I was growing up, my cousin had a ball, that looked like an eight-ball, that you asked a question and flipped it over for the answer. The usual answers were 'reply hazy, try again,' 'Yes,' 'No,' 'Maybe.'
There may have been a few other answers inside on the cube, which floated in some oil, and would come to the top randomly. I always enjoyed playing with this ball, because I thought is could tell the future in some way. I was not dumb, I knew how it worked, but I liked to dream of what could be and what would happen in our day. So, on occasion, we would decide what game to play by using the ball. Monopoly? 'No.' Sorry? 'No' Rummy? 'Ask again later.' We often would just toss the ball aside and go outside with a shrug and ride our bikes.

People often seek for answers in mysterious places, not much different than the infamous ball. They sometime seek out soothsayers, reading of horoscopes, taro cards and crystal balls. Just a couple of weeks ago, we were with our son and his wife at a Cincinnati Craft and Art show. It was a beautiful day and they had some wonderful things in rows and rows of booths. As we walked the aisles looking at the homemade soaps and lotions made out of goat's milk, crafted wooden toys, art from driftwood and an array of other crafts, but one booth made me come to a total stop. It was set up with flowing scarfs, to get attention, and the sign said, "I will tell you your future." The thought came to my mind, "Wonder what she would tell me?" I know, without a doubt, it is not real, but wouldn't it be fun to 'play' with her? That is when the Holy Spirit that lives within me spoke up and said, "Don't play with the Devil." Whoa! I got a sick feeling in my stomach and moved on to the next booth, but the thoughts that had come into my mind remained.

Coming home, I shared the incident with my husband. He had not seen the booth, but knew of the evil that lurked. We discussed how easily people are swayed. If I had not listened, or not had the Spirit of God within me to speak, I may have very well played her game. Then, whatever she said to me would play on my mind and it may actually be made to come true by my actions.

But, I did have the Holy Spirit and discernment to stay clear of that booth and the evil that may have been there. I also have the truth and direction that is given to all people. The Word of God, the Bible, tells us the future of this world. It gives us guidelines for our lives, how to live to be productive for Him and fellow man.

Sure, I would like for God to send me the outline for my life, but thankfully He knows better. He knows that if I knew what was ahead, good or bad, that I may not be able to handle or take it all in. The blessing is knowing that God is in control and knows everything about me, my past, my present and my future and He loves me anyway.

Now whenever I am trying to make a decision and don't know what to do, instead of picking up a ball and asking a question, I pick up my bible and pray. Life doesn't have to be hard, especially if we have God in it.

One of my (many) favorite verses is:
Jeremiah 29:11 "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."

I know where I have been in my life, I know where I am, and I know where I am going, all because of the promises found in His word.

John 14:2-3 "In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3"If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also."


Monday, June 23, 2014

River Runs with Peace

When we retired from our careers out in the world, my husband asked me where I would like to settle down. We had moved around the country alot, due to his job. Being a southern girl at heart, I longed for the south and the warmth. His one request...that it be on the water. 

We had always been ones to play on the water in our younger years. We had boats and both skied (very well I might add) and spent many miles running up and down the Tennessee river. 

This morning, as I sat on our screened porch having my coffee, I was just looking at the peacefulness of the water. There is just something about water that is relaxing and peaceful. God just filled my soul this morning as I shared that with Him. He showed me the glistening of the water, like diamonds reflecting back at me. Then ripples were made, as the little minnows were jumping from the larger fish underneath. Then the movement of the waters, as the wind blew across it, was mesmerizing.

All of this was in the quietness of the morning except for the singing and chirping of the birds. It was definitely a God moment. It made me think and wonder, "Why is the water so peaceful?" Even in the midst of a rain, I sometimes enjoy sitting on the porch, just to listen and smell the freshness of it.

All of it made me think of the river that runs in heaven. Revelation 22 is says " Having seen the holy city, John is now shown the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city." There is a river in heaven! This to me means eternity and peace!

Now in reality, the Coosa River that flows in our backyard is definitely not crystal clear. As a matter of fact, it is quiet muddy after a big rain. That is like our lives, all muddy. But in heaven we will have the purity and cleansing that comes from Christ.

It is hard for me to imagine, resting by the crystal clear waters, by the tree of life, and see it running down the center of the street of gold...right from the throne of God! Now that is really hard for me to think about and not get excited about heaven! 

But once more, I look out at the greenish water that flows past my home and can see a glimpse of God right here. 

If the waters here are providing only a glimpse of heaven and the peace therein, as dirty and dingy as they are, I will take it. I love spending my time outside in His creation. 

Knowing there is no comparison of the rivers, and my mind is not even close to being able to comprehend heaven, I think the flowing waters and the peace that I get here are just right for now.  Why? Because God's creation is enough for me, giving me the peace in Him.

Thinking of the beautiful song, I can let my burdens roll with the waves, I know without a doubt 'It is Well With my Soul.'

'When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul'

H.G. Spafford, 1873


Friday, June 13, 2014

Words on A Trolley, Words of Emotions

This week, while we were out touring, we hopped on a trolley to take in the sights. The driver was about halfway through his route, when he stopped, cut off the trolley and turned around to us and said, "Boy, I have had a bad day since my first trip out this morning." He wiped the tears from his face and eyes and continued, "During the tour, I said something about Sandy Hook Elementary and the tragedy. A little girl was on here with her family and started crying uncontrollably. She was in the school during the shooting. I had no idea!" This man felt terrible, that he unknowingly said something to bring back memories on this precious family. He felt that he had ruined their vacation. However, he had no idea we had also been to Sandy Hook. We did not have on our Billy Graham Rapid Response Team shirts on during our tour. 

Words and emotions can play havoc on lives. We can hurt someone in an instant with a harsh word. We can also speak words of encouragement and love in an instant. It is only natural for reactions to the spoken word to be felt deep in our souls and hearts. Those words can linger for days, weeks and even years, whether they are helping us or hurting us. 

Words effect some people in different ways. We should be considerate of those who have the soft, tender heart. Others may speak up boldly, "It doesn't matter to me what anyone says!"  What I say to them, it should matter to you (especially if you are a Christian!). Remember that words can be rude or they can be complementary. The devil will try to tear you down, but Jesus will lift you up.

Ephesians 4:29 " Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear."

Matt 12:37 "For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned."

When we come in contact with people who are hurting from one of the many pains of life, we first should listen to them. Let them share, it is a way of processing the pain and the beginning of healing. We may not understand, or even relate to their pain, but we can listen. 

At the beginning of the day, the driver of the trolley had no idea how just a few words would affect someone's life. In turn, it also changed his life that day. It also made the family, and his own day, take a turn from a fun day to a day of healing.Then, we boarded. He again changed lives when he turned to share his day. We changed from the 'tourist on the trolley' to people who had been there and also experienced Sandy Hook. We just listened to him, watched him wipe the tears and sadly turn back to finish his day. Life goes on....

Have you ever spoken words you wish you could such back inside your mouth? Have you been unknowingly hurt by spoken words? Do we have a solution for healing the pain....whether we are the ones that spoke..or the ones that were spoken to?

Families and friends can be torn apart with words. Do we need to make amends? Why don't we begin that healing instead of letting time slip by, until it is too late? 

We were blessed to be a part of a brother/sister reconciliation after 15 years of not speaking. The Billy Graham media was there and this is not a reenactment, this was live and shows how God works. 


Please leave your comments, would love your opinions.


Saturday, June 7, 2014

On the Mountain Top with God

Here we are in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina. God has taken us to many places and it seems where we are at the time, is the most beautiful. We can see Him in so many things. Why is it that some people look so hard at the beauty, they look right past God?

It is hard for me to understand how anyone cannot feel, sense, or see Him. Sometimes when I have met people for the first time, I have felt like Elizabeth must have when the pregnant Mary came to visit her. The Spirit leaped inside me, being in communication with their Spirit. When that happens, you know you have met someone that is a Christian, that you are more than a mere relationship, but the blood of Christ gives the kinship.

This month we celebrated 47 years of marriage. We have friends who have celebrated 45 and 44 years of marriage. We were all in each others weddings and we continue to have a close relationship. It is true that during our careers we were scattered and did not see each other often, but the love for each other remained. There was never a time that we felt we could not call on them if we had needed them. Now that retirement years are settling in, we try to be together more often.

This is the kind of relationship God wants with us, a continuous journey. From the time we accept Him as our Lord and Savior, seeing His beauty all around, feeling Him in our souls, sensing Him in His presence.....He wants a relationship. We should be able to call upon Him and talk with Him throughout our lives.

When we looked out yesterday from the top of Chimney Rock, NC, breathed in the mountain air, there was a sense of creation and His presence. He is God! We don't have to verbally 'say' or 'do' anything to know He is there. We just need to look around and know....He is with us.

"I lift up my eyes to the mountains - where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth." Psalm121:1-2

Let us start a new day today, being aware of His presence. When you are doing your normal duties today, whether work or play, look for something that reminds of you Him. Let us do this everyday this week and get in the practice of looking for Him. If we make a point of 'seeing' God, He makes a point of showing up.

Our God is an awesome God, He reigns from Heaven above!!


Friday, May 23, 2014

God The Thinker

God ....who is God? He must have been a thinker...realizing all He was going to do in creation. When I ponder on these things, I think about how He could have 'made' us to worship Him, adore Him and honor Him in all things. It would have been easier on Him if He would have made us without 'choice', but that was not His desire. And He would not have been disappointed in me, hurt by my lack of living for Him daily. He would not have to listen to my repentant prayers. But most of all, He would not have had to send His Son to die for me on the cross! He could have made us perfect and not have a choice, if He had wanted to do that. 

Notice the last point...'if He had wanted to do that.' He had a choice to make us anyway He wanted, and He did. He made us so much like Himself, He gave us a choice, the choice to worship Him freely. The honor and praise He receives, because we want to do those things, are so much more meaningful! 

Aren't we the same way? When I tell my husband of 46 years, "You didn't tell me you loved me today." He smiles and says, "I love you." I always reply with, "That doesn't count, I made you say it!" It just isn't the same as when he says it freely, without the request. 

We need to guard our hearts. Proverbs 4:23  "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it." 

We have a choice in what we say, in what we do and where we go. We need to remember to do the things that God Himself would/could have created us to say, do and go...if He had wanted to created us in that manner. If we have a decision to make, why not think about it in this way, "If God had created me not to have that choice, what would I do?" The answer to the decision will be to do what is right in the eyes of the Lord.

When we do those things, in honor and for God, we are blessed and we can bless others'  lives. When we choose not to do those things, we miss out on what He has in store for us.

When God created the earth, animals and mankind....He was thinking of us. He wanted us to love Him unselfishly, He wanted to give back to us blessings and His love. He thought of us before creation began...knowing He would give us a choice and we would fail...knowing He would make a way of forgiveness by sending His Son. He had a choice how to create us. He created us so much like Himself, He gave us a choice as well.

Above all things, He loved us enough to create us with a choice, He loved us enough to provide salvation, and He still loves us to go and prepare a place for us. He is a great God, Who is a thinker...thinking about His children.

'Above All'
Above all powers
Above all kings
Above all nature
And all created things
Above all wisdom
And all the ways of man
You were here
Before the world began

Above all kingdoms
Above all thrones
Above all wonders
The world has ever known
Above all wealth
And treasures of the earth
There's no way to measure
What You're worth

Laid behind a stone
You lived to die
Rejected and alone
Like a rose
Trampled on the ground
You took the fall
And thought of me
Above all
Michael W. Smith