Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Bike Ride

All of us have memories of childhood deep inside the wrinkles of our minds. We just have to think, or have a smell, or a sound, to bring the flashback of that memory. 

Watching the children in our neighborhood go out and ride their bikes brought back a sweet memory of mine. I am sure you will be able to relate to this story.

At one time we lived in a community where folks knew everyone and spent time chatting, not only on weekends, but during the week. Life seemed to go at a slower pace. 

We lived in a house that sat smack-dab in the middle of a very long block. The street in front of our house went up the hill, around the corner, back down the hill, and around the corner again, coming back up to our house. 

When I first started riding my bike, I was given utility poles as my boundaries.
"Don't go past the poles!" mother would say as I rushed out the door for the day. Then as I grew older, on occasion, with special permission she would allow me to ride to the top of the hill with my friends! We would come flying down the hill, so fast we would not be able to keep our feet on the pedals! We would just stretch out our legs and scream with delight! 

One day my cousin, who lived across the street, was brave enough to ask could we ride all the way around the block. For what seemed like an eternity for an answer, my mother slowly replied, "Yes, but come back to the house and let me know you are back.' 

Needless to say, we were excited as we road up the hill and then slowly we made the turn to go around. Our little hearts were pounding as we had never been this far, alone, without our parents. We were excited, but yet so afraid. 

After the turn we could see the hill, just like our hill on our own street, but we had never gone down this hill before. We stopped at the top and looked at each other. Neither had the courage to go, neither had the courage to turn around. What were we to do? We must complete our mission and go around the block or we would never be allowed to do it again! So go we did......pushing our bikes down the hill!! Well, we actually held them back as we walked down the hill!

At the bottom we smiled at each other, hopped back on our bikes and rode back home. We went into the house and told mother we were back, neither said a word about our new hill. We did not even go back out that day and ride our bikes, but we felt an exhilaration of accomplishment. We had been stretched and it felt good. 

God often puts us at the top of a new hill. Sometimes the climb to the top is slow and we wonder do we really want to do what He has called us to do. We are stretched, out of our comfort zones some would say. 

We only get one chance at childhood....and we only get one chance at life. God does allow us 'do overs' on occasion, but we have usually missed the ride down the hill, maybe we even pushed our way down. 

God has a job and plan for everyone of us. He has called us out, to do His Will, to give Him glory. 

Yes, we did go back around the block, several times in fact, as years past. We grew more comfortable and actually rode down the hill! But never as fast as we did on our own home street. 

God may call you to just ride your 'bike' on your own home street. But on occasion, He may call you to go around the block. He stretches us to grow us. He is with us, encouraging us to ride the best we can ride. We only have one lifetime and He wants us to ride it with Him. 

According to your faith will it be done to you. Matthew 9:29 (NIV)

Consider the following when it comes to the ways God may want to stretch you:

  • God may want you to DO something.
  • God may want you to STOP DOING something.
  • God may want you to GIVE something.
  • God may want you to SAY something.
  • God may want you to STOP SAYING something.
  • God may want you to SELL something.
  • God may want you to BUY something. (presumably for a person or ministry in need)
  • God may want you to START something.
  • God may want you to END something.
  • God may want you to LOVE someone.
Get out there and ride your 'bike of life' that you can enjoy the thrill of Him and His Plan for you!! Just stretch out your legs, scream with delight, as you follow Him and His blessings! 

James 1:22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. HCSB


Thursday, January 14, 2016

Life or Death on the Ride

The other night, my husband asked me how I knew something about what was going on in our community. Being a chaplain, I don't always disclose information, even to him, so I responded, "If I told you I would have to kill you." Now we all know I would never do that, but the truth was I could not tell him my resources. He knew I was joking, but yet serious. 

When I actually started thinking about life or death, the thought came to me, which came first? 

Being a christian, I believe I will live for eternity in a place that Jesus has prepared for me. However, I also believe that life will be much better than the life here on earth!

Pause for just a minute and think along with me as we go into life, living and death:

We are conceived---beginning of life or existence as we know it as a human Jer 1:5 
We live in the womb---beginning of formation of human Psalms 139:13-16
We are born into the world---life on our own as humans Genesis 1:28
We live our life ---- own choices Joshua 24:15 Joshua 24:15
We die a fleshly death -------end of life on earth 

 Ecclesiastes 9 says this:
 I thought about all these things. I realized that those who are wise and do what is right are under God’s control. What they do is also under his control. But no one knows whether they will be loved or hated. Everyone will die someday. Death comes to godly and sinful people alike. It comes to good and bad people alike. It comes to “clean” and “unclean” people alike. Those who offer sacrifices and those who don’t offer them also die.
A good person dies,
    and so does a sinner.
Those who make promises die.
    So do those who are afraid to make them.
Here’s what is so bad about everything that happens on this earth. Death catches up with all of us. Also, the hearts of people are full of evil. They live in foolish pleasure. After that, they join those who have already died. Anyone who is still living has hope. Even a live dog is better off than a dead lion!
People who are still alive know they’ll die.
    But those who have died don’t know anything.
They don’t receive any more rewards.
    And even their name is forgotten.
Their love, hate and jealousy disappear.
    They will never share again
    in anything that happens on earth"

After reading this, do you understand about 'life and death?' I am thinking that this is like a merry go round, literally called earth. We get on as a baby, we ride the up and downs of life, and yes, some of the riders horses are prettier than the others, but that is the ride! We do make our own choices. 

Then, as the music slows, the ride slows down, slowly, so slow. Some get off by themselves, others are helped off. 

But one thing I have noticed about this ride of 'life or death,' some get off the ride excited and smiling to go into the arms of those waiting to take them home. Others cry, not wanting to leave the ride yet, because home is not as much fun as the ride had been. 

Life, death, life.....round and round, then it is over. I have realized, during my ride, that it doesn't seem as long for some as others. You never know when it is going to be your stop, when the music will quit. 

The joy of getting on the ride at all, should be one that we know is exciting! John 10:10 He gives us life....ABUNDANT life! (often we don't choose the best horse!)

But, the joy of getting off and going home will be even greater!
 "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. 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. " John 14:2-3

Watch for me on the ride, I may wave at you! If not, I hope to see you 'at home!' 


Monday, January 4, 2016

Life Can Be Messy

As most other families, we had children and grandchildren here during the holidays. We enjoy family so much, setting the time aside to enjoy and laugh together. Some say we have an unusual family, because all the daughters-in-law and son-in-law get along so well with everyone. The three brothers and their sister chatter well into the night. They all just pick and joke and laugh together, setting an example for the little cousins playing together and sharing their new toys. 

Yes, there were toys, shoes, socks and a total disarray in my home, but oh the joy! Once the parents started packing up, the barbie dolls were packed and racetracks put into boxes for the return trip to home, the floors appeared once again. 

We received text messages as they were getting close to home, or had arrived, after a long day of travel with children. We woke up to a quiet house in the morning, no snugglers coming sleepy eyed out of they beds. No chocolate chip muffins were to be made and our cups of coffee were drank with silence around us. 

In the middle of the morning, we received word that a dear cousin had passed away in the night. She has arrived in heaven after her journey here on earth. 

It seemed that life paralleled the week we had just spent with family. I am certain she is in heaven rejoicing with family. 

Heaven will be a great experience, it will be eternal, no one has to leave! But, the experiences we miss here on earth can and should be like appetizers to heaven. 

Some people carry grudges and 'cool' feelings toward others and cannot enjoy being around family. Some actually refuse to go to family affairs, especially if 'in-laws' are going to be there. 

Folks, you are missing life and what blessings God has in store for you. He has put people in your lives to enjoy the benefits each one can bring to the table. It is true we are not going to get along with everyone we meet, we are not going to have the same likes and dislikes, but can't we find something nice to say and begin to figure out why God put them in your life? I am sure God did not do this to make you miserable, but maybe to learn something? Maybe we should ask the Lord to change us instead of them! 

Let's just step back and think about when the next meeting, with a person you don't like to be around, will be. Plan ahead, think positive thoughts and pray for this person. Ask God to allow you to see the good in them. Ask God to tenderized your own heart, so you may be open to hearing His voice in each situation. 

God cares so much for us, He sometimes stretches us out of our comfort zone to help us grow in Him, learning to love and forgive. 

Relax, it is going to be alright if toys are spread out among the guests, it is alright if the glass of milk is spilled. It will only take moments to clean up the physical mess, while it will take a lifetime of cleaning up hurt feelings in the family. 

You will enjoy the times coming up if you begin praying and preparing now. Learn to pray for others as well as yourself. Who knows you may even find a new friend in your very own family! 

Oh yes, get ready! Easter is coming soon!! :) 

1 Timothy 5:8 Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. 

1 Cor. 13:7
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things