Posted by: glorifyhim1 | June 17, 2017

A Story of Three Dads

A Story of Three Dads

 

I have been blessed to know many great dads. I would like to tell you about three dads who are very special to me. They have taught me much, probably more by their actions than their words.

 

The first of these dads is my Daddy.

This is a picture of him with my sister and me – many, many years ago!

 

To say that Daddy looked after me and took care of me is an understatement. He was always there for me – from rescuing me when I backed our little Rambler into a deep culvert across from a little neighborhood grocery, to picking me up at college and driving me home or to the local burger hut when I “seriously” needed a break!  

 

Daddy worked at the local textile mill and often put in long hours. He also worked numerous odd jobs to supplement the family income. When I was small, I can remember eagerly waiting for him to come home. There might be a surprise in his lunch box or perhaps a ride around the yard in the wheelbarrow. And as my sister and I got a little older, perhaps we could talk Daddy into taking us swimming in a nearby creek.

 

Daddy was a lot of fun and enjoyed playing jokes, but if I had to think of one word to describe Daddy it would be giving. He was free hearted with everything he had. He didn’t have a lot of money, but he would help someone who needed it anyway he could whether it was volunteering labor, delivering food from his garden, or giving a ride to the doctor. As busy as he was, he never seemed too busy to give just a little more of himself. The very week that Daddy died, I remembered crying fresh tears a few days later when I opened my refrigerator and was reminded of a fresh supply of garden lettuce that Daddy had picked, cleaned, and given to me just before he had died. Daddy found much joy in living and I think he received most of that joy through all he gave to others.

 Here is a picture of the next Dad I would like to tell you about. This is one of our favorite family snapshots when our kids were young.

My husband first became a Dad to a little girl that he was never able to hold in his arms. Our first daughter died at birth. Although separated for now, my husband has faithfully honored her memory. One of the most treasured traditions that he continues even now is giving me a vase of four flowers – one for each child, on every Mother’s Day. But I think I can best tell you about him by sharing some of the kids’ thoughts about their Dad. These are the words I have often heard them use to describe him – hard-working, dependable, trustworthy, fun, the answer man, and, affectionately, “old man.” When they think of their Dad, they immediately think of someone they can depend on to be there, to do what he says he will do. They know they can go to him with a question or a problem and that he will try his best to help them. But they also remember that he was “fun.” He made funny comments, did funny things, and enjoyed a good laugh. Our daughter chuckles remembering when her Dad found her shopping list and scrawled “redneck repellent” to the bottom of her list!

 

As I have watched my husband with our kids through the years, I think the word I would use to describe him is “selfless.” Things were never about him or what he wanted. He was always taking care of his family and putting their needs – and wants – ahead of his own. Although our kids are all grown now, his selflessness still radiates as he reaches out to help them and others in ways that he can, from packing a U-Haul, to fixing and repairing something, to building ramps, to serving on disaster relief teams. He finds joy in selflessly helping others.


Lastly, here is a picture of my son with his son, Benji, at a place they both love.

My son and daughter-in-law’s first son, Silas, died just before birth or I’m sure there would be two little fellows in this picture. There is a special place in my son’s heart for both Silas and Benji. I love watching my son be a Dad! Surely, he takes care of Benji’s needs, but what makes my heart most proud is how he loves him. He does the extra little things that mean everything to a young child. They play on the playground together. They share “coffee” dates. Sometimes, he takes Benji to work with him. They go grocery shopping together. They pick out flowers to take home to Mommy. My son even makes sure when they go to a certain store that he has a quarter to give Benji for the sticker machine. I’m sure my son remembers when his own PaPa, my Dad, gave him quarters for the machines at our grocery store all those years ago.

 

I think the word I would use to describe my son would be caring. He cares for his wife, his sons, and the foster children they have cared for in their home. He cares about the poor, the needy, and those who are less fortunate. He is sensitive to those who have no voice and is burdened over their plight. Yet, in the midst of deep concern for others, he remembers a little boy who wants to see Thomas the Train and who desires a quarter for the sticker machine.

 

Three Dads – each one with varying gifts and abilities, facing different hurdles and challenges, but each bringing their own special gifts to being a Dad. On this Father’s Day, I’d like to thank my Heavenly Father for these three men and what they mean to me and our families. And I’d like to thank each of them for showing me what a  difference lives of giving, selflessness, and caring can make in the lives of others around them. You all were, are the best! Happy Father’s Day!

 

“The righteous man walks in his integrity; his children are blessed after him.”

(Proverbs 20:7)

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | June 14, 2017

Yearning for Egypt

Yearning for Egypt

 

The Old Testament tells the thrilling story of how God, through many signs and wonders, delivered the people of Israel from the oppressive rule of the Egyptians. He led them out of Egypt, even parted the sea so they could cross on dry ground and escape Pharaoh’s army. He provided bread (manna) for them each morning and sent quail for meat at night. When they were thirsty, He provided water from a rock. Yet, in spite of all the ways God led them and cared for them, somehow the people couldn’t seem to grasp the big picture.

 

Instead, the people complained. They grumbled. They wished they were back in Egypt. Even as they stood on the brink of the promised land, they shrank back in fear as they listened to the spies’ report of the giants that were living there. “Then all the congregation raised a loud cry, and the people wept that night. And all the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The whole congregation said to them, ‘Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness!” (Numbers 14:12)

 

While we often read these stories and shake our heads in disbelief at the Israelites’ lack of trust, don’t we often do the same thing? Haven’t we all yearned to return to some day, some time when things seemed so much better?

 

Sometimes as I look at the world today, I wish I could return to the world I knew as a child, or even as a young parent, when things just seemed so much better. I hate turning on the news to discover what evil has taken another life or multiple lives. I am so weary of all the arguing, bickering, and casting stones that does little to work out real solutions – but instead promotes even more hate, disrespect, and division. I find myself grumbling and complaining far too much. I yearn to return to “Egypt.”  

 

Yet, as I read about the people of Israel as they journeyed through the wilderness, I realize that there were basically three things the people had forgotten.

 

  • They had forgotten their former difficulties and how they had pleaded for deliverance from their cruel taskmasters.
  • They had forgotten who they were. They were God’s chosen people. He had called them out and was leading them to the promised land.
  • They had forgotten who God is. Scripture confirms that God is Sovereign over all. “For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me. Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure’” (Isaiah 46:9b-10).

 

When I begin to grumble and complain and yearn for “Egypt,” I believe that I forget the same three things. I forget the difficulties and problems of those earlier years. As the saying goes, the “good ole days,” were not always as good as we remember them to be. A simple flip through the history books confirms that each generation has their share of difficulties and problems. As time separates us from those days, we tend to remember the good things and forget the difficult or hard things.

 

I forget who I am – or whose I am. I am a child of God! Jesus died to save me and give me eternal life. As Paul told the Colossians, we are reconciled to God by Christ.  And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight” (Colossians 1:21-22). Even in the midst of troubles and difficulties, I know that I am His. The Bible is filled with promises for all of us who place our faith and trust in Him. No matter what we endure here on earth, we have his promise. “For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we may boldly say: “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5b-6)

 

Lastly, I forget who God is. Scripture is abundantly clear that God is above all and over all. God, Himself, stated: “For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me” (Isaiah 46:9). God is Creator (Genesis 1:1). He is Sustainer, holding all things together (Colossians 1:17). God can do all things (Matthew 19:26) and absolutely nothing can thwart His purposes. I know that You can do everything, And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You” (Job 42:2).

 

Instead of yearning for “Egypt,” I want to look forward to what lies ahead. I want to grasp the big picture. Instead of grumbling and complaining over all that is wrong, I want to remember who I am in Christ and who God is! I want to place my faith and trust, solely and completely in Him, claim His promises, and look forward with hope. I want to follow Him!

 

 

“I Have Decided” by Aaron Pelsue

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jAIplRcxM4E

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | June 7, 2017

In My Sweet Spot

In My Sweet Spot

 

The term “sweet spot” has come to mean a variety of things from that perfect spot on a bat or racket that makes the best contact with the ball, to that flawless combination of factors that leads to good returns on the stock market. Typically, one’s sweet spot is considered to be the place or point where you are at your best. It could be something you do, or don’t do. It is that “just right” place where you know joy and contentment. Do you have a sweet spot?

A few years ago, I would have probably told you that my sweet spot was sitting on our front porch swing, listening to the little creek nearby and watching the kids play in the yard. It was a time for rest, silent prayer, and rejuvenation.

 

At other times, my sweet spot was on a stool at my kitchen counter, banging away on typewriter keys – yes, a typewriter! – as I worked on my first writing assignments. That sweet spot later moved to the corner of my bedroom at my desk computer. Then, still later, it moved all over the house as I carried my laptop from one room to another – but, no matter the location, when I was writing, I was in my sweet spot.

 

Over the years, I have discovered my sweet spot in a variety of places including a room full of four- and five-year-olds as we painted, played with playdough, drew pictures, talked, sang, and learned about Jesus. I’ve discovered it sharing heart to heart talks with my kids and receiving big hugs and wet kisses from my grandson. And as I grow older, I am finding my sweet spot in those cherished places that spark memories and speak to my soul – walking along the sandy shores of the Outer Banks, taking in the expansive views of the Great Smoky Mountains and along the Blue Ridge Parkway, and visiting places that even from my childhood are precious to me.

 

But as my sweet spot places have grown and and changed, I realized that in all honesty, I have but one sweet spot. It is not so much where I am or what I am doing. In fact, my real sweet spot gives meaning to all the others. My sweet spot is found in my relationship with my Heavenly Father through Jesus Christ His Son. As I abide in Him, I am in my sweet spot, that “just right” place where I am accepted, complete, and can be the person God created me to be.  

 

David, the shepherd boy who became king, beautifully described this “sweet spot” in Psalm 23.

 

“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.”

 

He shepherds me. No matter what I am going through, I have a Father in whom I can trust. He loves and cares for me. He leads me and watches over me. He satisfies me.

 

“He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.”

 

When I am weary, He helps me find rest. When I am troubled, He gives me peace. When I am broken and undone, He restores me. Daily, He guides me and helps me to grow in His righteousness.  

 

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death. I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”

 

He is with me – in all things at all times! When I am afraid, when I am anxious and worried, when I am totally undone – He is with me. His Presence comforts me.  

 

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over.”

 

I am secure and safe in Him. Even when surrounded by enemies, He gives me His peace. He pours out His Spirit upon me and blesses me with His Presence.

 

“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

 

He is a good God! His mercy and love are unending. Even when I fail, He is merciful and gracious to me. He is with me now and forever!

 

Through the Presence of God’s Spirit within me, I am forever in my sweet spot. I can damage its sweetness when I fail to seek Him, or when I do not take to time to talk to Him in prayer. I can damage its sweetness when I cease to read His Word and listen to what He is saying to me. My sweet spot can become anything but sweet when I insist on my own way and fail to listen and obey Him. Yet I am reminded that just as God pursued the nation of Israel, He pursues you and me today. The prophet Jeremiah told the people of Israel that the the Lord had said: Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you. Again I will build you, and you shall be rebuilt” (Jeremiah 31:3-4a).

 

I love being in my sweet spot with my Heavenly Father.  I’m humbled by His love, thankful for His mercy and grace, amazed at the privilege of abiding in Him, and overjoyed that I can be in my sweet spot with Him forever! I pray that you know this sweet spot, too. He opens His arms to all who will come to Him. Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

 

 

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | May 14, 2017

What I’d Like to Tell Mama

 

I always tend to get a little sentimental at Mother’s Day, especially since my Mama is no longer with us. Mama died about a week after Mother’s Day in 1994 – that’s 23 years ago. It is really hard to think that it has been 23 years since I have heard her voice, enjoyed her sweet laughter, or shared our heart to heart conversations. I miss her!

 

I have heard it said that while we never really get over the loss of a loved one, time helps heal the wound. I guess in some ways that is true. As we place one foot in front of the other and keep moving forward, the initial rawness and hurt of the wound seems to give way to all the cherished memories that flood our minds and hearts. As we remember and treasure each one, we hold our loved one close. They are always a part of us although they are no longer with us.

 

Even after 23 years, however, sometimes it can still be hard. There are those times when I just wish I could see her face, when I could just talk to her about everyday things, and when I could ask her tons and tons of questions. As I thought about this, I began to wonder, if I could, what would I like to tell Mama after all these years.

 

First of all, I’d like to tell Mama how much I always loved her. I probably didn’t tell her that near as much as I ought to have.

 

Next, I’d like to thank her for all she did for me. Again, I’m sure I didn’t say thank you enough.

 

And, oh how much I’d like to have another one of those heart to heart conversations, catching up on the last 23 years. I’d like to tell her about her grandkids and what they have been up to. I can just see her eyes sparkle as I announce that now she has a great-grandchild! I’d like to tell her about jobs and vacations, hard times and good times.  

 

But, probably, more than anything, I’d want to thank her for the way she loved me. She loved me unconditionally. Sometimes it was a tough love when she had to discipline or correct me. At other times it was a tender love when she saw my hurt or need. But I never had to question whether or not Mama loved me. She demonstrated it over and over as she watched over me, cared for me, taught me, and walked with me day by day. Her love was a precious gift on which I could always depend

 

If your Mom is still with you this Mother’s Day, perhaps you would like to tell her some of the same things I wish I could tell Mama. If so, why not tell her how much you love her? Thank her for all she does for you and the rest of the family. Give her a call or, if possible, sit with her on the porch, at the kitchen table, or even at her bedside and share a few precious moments. Let her know how much she means to you.  

 

I’m always touched that one of Jesus’ last actions as he hung on the cross was to make sure His Mom would be cared for. John tells us: When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold your son!’ Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold your mother!’ And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home” (John 19:26-27). What a sweet, tender moment! And what a beautiful example of love that Jesus showed to His mother.

 

I am so thankful for my Mama and for the difference her love made in my life. While I cannot tell her all the things I’d like to tell her on this Mother’s Day, I can joy in all the treasured memories and rejoice in the hope that one day I will see her again. Thank You, Jesus, for my Mama and her sweet love!

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | May 9, 2017

Has Jesus Got Me?

Has Jesus Got Me?

 

Recently, I was challenged to complete this sentence: “For me, to live is ________.” Immediately, Paul’s affirmation in Philippians 1:21 came to my mind: “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” But just as quickly as I remembered this verse, I couldn’t help but think: Can I truthfully, wholeheartedly say: “For me, to live is Christ.” Has Jesus really got me?

 

I know that I have Jesus. I know that He has saved me and that His Spirit lives within me. I know that I can trust Him; that He is always with me; that He sees me, hears me, and knows me; and that He loves me in ways that I cannot begin to understand. Yes, I have Jesus; but does Jesus have me?

 

Does He have my mind and thoughts? Does He have the inmost desires of my heart, my attitudes, and my emotions? Have I yielded everything I am to Jesus, not only to save me, but day by day to change me, to make me more like Him? Does Jesus truly have my heart? Jesus, Himself, instructed: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37).

 

When we truly love God with all our heart, soul, and mind, Jesus has us. It shows up in the way we talk, the things we do, and the way we treat others. When Jesus has us, the fruits that He bears through His Spirit in our lives are evident to all. There is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. When Jesus has us, there are other things that you don’t see – conceit, provoking one another, and envying one another. (See Galatians 5:22-26).

 

Paul told the Corinthians: “For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15). I have life because of Christ. He loved me enough to die for me. Can I love Him enough to live, not for myself, but for Him? Can I surrender all that I am to Him and seek His will and direction in my life?  Can I let go of preconceived notions and attitudes, what others think or say, and even my own dogged determination to do things my way, and allow God to shape me and mold me into the person He wants me to be? Has Jesus got me?

 

When I look at the turmoil, division, and hatred in our world today, I am reminded that Jesus, too, walked in a troubled world when He was on earth. He was tempted by Satan and pursued by both political and religious critics. He was wearied with crowds who constantly sought Him for what He could provide. He faced misunderstanding, unbelief, betrayal, and desertion. Yet, Scriptures tell us that Jesus regularly retreated to talk with His Father. And in spite of all the people and things that tried to derail Him from His mission, He persevered all the way to the cross where He secured our victory.

 

There are so many voices in our world today that try to crowd out Jesus. But when Jesus really has us, when we love Him and live for Him with all our hearts, souls, and minds, He will help us persevere, stay faithful, and complete the mission He has for each of us to do. Yielding to Jesus’ Lordship in our lives is a decision that we make everyday. It is daily dying to self and making the choice to live for Him. It is proclaiming both through our words and actions: “For me, to live is Christ!” Has Jesus got you?

 

“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).

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | April 25, 2017

Learning to Love Well

Learning to Love Well

(A Tribute to a Friend)

 

Early last week I heard the sad news that a friend of mine, who lived in another state, had lost his battle with pancreatic cancer. While I couldn’t help but rejoice knowing that he had actually won the victory as he passed from life on this earth to eternal life in heaven, I also was saddened as I thought about his family and friends who mourned his loss. I, too, was saddened by his loss.

I first met Jerry Vogel probably close to 20 years ago when I attended a writers conference for a new writing assignment at LifeWay Christian Resources.  Jerry had previously worked as Preschool and Children’s Minister at several churches in Texas, but had joined LifeWay in Nashville, Tennessee where he worked to help train others who worked and taught preschoolers and children. As I attended writers conferences from year to year, I learned much from Jerry. You could not listen to one of the devotions he shared, participate in training he led, or talk to him very long, before you learned at least four  things about Jerry. He loved God. He loved his family. He loved kids. And he loved his work and work family. Jerry loved well! God’s hand was all over Jerry’s life and ministry.

 

But there is still one more thing that always comes to my mind when I think about Jerry. You see, at best, I probably saw Jerry only two or three days over the course of a week, one time a year – if even that often. Yet, each time, he never failed to remember me. He would greet me by name, perhaps ask me something about my family or church, or tell me a story about one of his grandchildren. Our chats were short, shared around a conference table or waiting in line for lunch. I heard him do this over and over again as he met new people and renewed old acquaintances. Every single person was important to Jerry.

 

This was a huge thing for me. Being the introvert I am, it is not always easy for me to “find my place,” especially in a large group. I’m much more content on the outside looking in than in the middle of all the activity. I’m sure that Jerry recognized that about me. Yet, in his own engaging way, he welcomed me, encouraged me, and drew me out, making me feel that I belonged.

 

Before Jesus’ death on the cross, He told His disciples: A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35). Sometimes that love is shown in action – doing, giving, serving, praying, going, telling. At other times that love is shown in a smile; a word that encourages, uplifts, inspires, or motivates. And, perhaps at still other times, that love is shown simply by taking the time to acknowledge another individual, communicating their value and worth.

 

As I think about Jerry and the way he loved people, I’m reminded of Jesus and the countless ways He reached out to show others they mattered. The Scriptures contain story after story of how Jesus….

 

  • engaged those others avoided (ex. the woman at the well)
  • showed mercy to the accused (ex. the woman caught in adultery)
  • showed compassion to the sick, crippled, and blind
  • wept with those who mourned (ex. death of Lazarus)
  • called those that others rejected (ex. Matthew, Zacchaeus)

 

These are just a few of the many examples of ways that Jesus reached out to love people, whatever their situation or need. He often went to great lengths to show people He cared for them. In fact, He went all the way to cross to show His love for us, to show us that even in all our mess, He loved us enough to die for us.  

 

I last talked with Jerry last October during another writers conference. I had no idea that would be the last time I would see him this side of heaven. If I had the chance, I’d like to thank him for all he taught me through the years – as much as by what he did as by what he said. I’d like to thank him for modeling Christ’s love to all of us so well. A saying that has been attributed to several different people, including Teddy Roosevelt, goes something like this – “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Jerry loved and cared much. I pray that I, too, might be a better conduit of Christ’s love to others. Heavenly Father, help me to truly care for others and to love more like You. Help me to love others well.

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | April 16, 2017

What Easter Tells Me

What Easter Tells Me

 

The world tells me daily that I’m not enough. I’m not good enough, smart enough, attractive enough, capable enough, or any other kind of enough. Easter tells me that Jesus is enough – and He makes me enough as I place my trust in Him.

 

“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;  That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:5-7)

Voices around me, including my own, remind me of how many times I fail. I sin, give in to temptation, and make wrong choices. Easter tells me that I have a Savior. Jesus died on the cross and paid the penalty for all my sin, forever. When I accept what Christ has done for me and place my trust in Him, I no longer have to walk in defeat. I am forgiven and freed from my bondage to sin, shame, and guilt.

 

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:1-2)

Naysayers and non-believers point out the struggles, pain, and suffering that believers may endure. Easter tells me that Jesus is always with me, even in my most desperate times. He doesn’t just save me for eternity, He walks with me today. I can turn to Him and find comfort, courage, help, and an unending supply of grace and mercy for whatever need I face.

 

“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)

 

Skeptics attempt to cast doubt on the resurrection of Jesus. Easter tells me that the tomb is empty! Not only was Jesus’ body not in the tomb, he was seen by eyewitnesses after His crucifixion. He showed His disciples the wounds on his hands and side. The Scriptures confirm that Jesus is alive.

 

“I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.” (Revelation 1:18)

 

Easter tells me that this world is not my home. The closer I draw to Jesus, the less at home I feel in this world because my heart and mind are fastened on things above.

 

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” (Colossians 3:1-2)

 

As I think about all that Easter tells me, I am reminded that I have a risen Savior who loved me enough to die for me, who cares for me enough to never leave me or forsake me, and who through His death and resurrection allows me to live victoriously. Because of Christ, I can know peace in the midst of turmoil, joy in times of uncertainty, and a resounding hope even when facing trials and troubles. Easter tells me that Christ is my peace, my joy, my hope, and He has secured my victory now and forever! Thank You, God, for Easter!

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | March 22, 2017

She Did What She Could

Sometimes I feel that things I do for Jesus are so pitifully small – especially, considering all that He has done for me. I have just hit the send button for a writing assignment that I have been working on for the last 4-5 months. It never fails that when its finally completed, I feel a combination of relief (it’s done!), exhiliration (it’s done), but also sadness (it’s done). Part of me goes with all those documents when I hit that send key. Then, invariably, I’ll begin to wonder: Did I do a good job? Will the words I wrote, the ideas I shared, be able to help, encourage, plant a seed? Is Jesus happy with my work? Today, as He has before, Jesus reminded me of His defense of Mary in Mark 14:6-8 when He told those who berated her: “She has done what she could.” You see, Jesus was looking at Mary’s heart. He saw a heart overflowing with love for Him, a love that she wanted desperately to express. More than anything in this life, I want to please Jesus. I pray that the work I sent in today is pleasing to Him, but even more, I pray that my heart is pleasing to Him.

Following is a reprint of a blog I wrote in 2012 regarding Mary doing what she could. Perhaps it still speaks to your heart today as it does to mine.

Showing Love to God

Recently I was reading the Scripture passage in the book of Mark where Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, took a very costly flask of spikenard, broke it, and poured the oil on the head of Jesus ( Mark 14:3-9). She was immediately criticized by others who witnessed her action. “Why was this fragrant oil wasted? For it might have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” Jesus, however, quickly came to Mary’s defense. “But Jesus said, ‘Let her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a good work for Me. For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good, but Me you do not have always. She has done what she could. She has come before hand to anoint My body for burial” (Mark 14:6-8). “She has done what she could.”

Jesus had previously come to Mary’s defense at another time. We read of this event in Luke 10:38-42. On this occasion Jesus was invited to the home of Mary and Martha. While Martha worked to prepare a meal, Mary sat at Jesus’ feet feasting on His every word. Finally, worn-out Martha complains to Jesus because Mary is not helping. “And Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.’”

When reading both of these accounts, it is easy to join Martha and the others in criticizing Mary. After all, shouldn’t Mary join in and help Martha with all the work? And wouldn’t it be much better to sell the spikenard and use the money to help those in need than to pour it on Jesus’ head? But Jesus didn’t agree. Why? Because Jesus saw something that those present did not see. He saw Mary’s heart. He saw her hungering for His teaching, hanging on His every word. And He saw her loving Him with her whole heart as she poured the costly oil on His head. Perhaps she didn’t know what else to do to show Him her love – but she did what she could do.

As I thought about Mary and Jesus’ response to her actions, I thought about my own heart. Do I hunger for His Word and long to know Him better? Or do I allow the distractions of my daily activities to interfere with my time with Him? Am I eager to express my love for Him in whatever way I can? Or do I feel that what I have to offer is not good enough, or perhaps too good, or maybe it’s not like what everyone else is offering. What does Jesus see when He looks at my heart? Would He defend me for choosing the right thing and for doing what I can to show my love for Him?

Sometimes we forget that God is more concerned with our relationship with Him than with the things we do for Him. The first four commandments deal with our relationship with God. When Jesus was asked to name the first commandment, He summarized the first four commandments in His reply. “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment” (Mark 12:29-30).  When we love God in this way, like Mary, we’re going to worship, praise, and adore Him in ways that others sometimes may not understand. Likewise, such love will naturally overflow to touch others, just as Jesus continued in His reply. “And the second [commandment], like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:31).

I know I love God with all my heart, but do I really love Him with all my mind and all my strength? I want to show God I love Him, but sometimes the things I do look so pitifully small and such a poor expression of my love for Him. And then I’m reminded of Jesus’ reply on behalf of Mary. “She has done what she could.” God sees my heart just as He saw the heart of Mary. He sees the love and the “want to” even if what I do may seem small or even if it is questioned by others.

Years ago I received a handmade clay mug that one of my kids made at school. Although it was misshapen and really quite pitiful, I treasured that mug because my child had made it. It’s packed away now with some other treasured keepsakes, but every time I see it, I’m reminded of my child and smile over the work and effort put into that mug. I love that mug because I love my child. In much the same way, I’m sure that Jesus looks at things I do for Him. Sometimes He may be saddened because He sees my heart is not wholly committed to Him. Other times He may rejoice to see His child accomplish some great thing from a heart overflowing with love for Him. At still other times, He may smile as He sees my poor, pitiful efforts but a heart full of love. It is then that I can almost hear Him say: “Let her alone. She has done what she could!”

“As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.

If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s

 commandments and abide in His love.”

(John 15:9-10)

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | March 2, 2017

When I Talk to God

When I Talk to God

Recently, my son called me from his car while my three-year-old grandson was riding in the backseat. He was using a hands-free receiver with the speaker on so Benji could talk to me, too. I am still smiling over the things that Benji had to intersperse into his Dad’s conversation.

“Hey GaGa. I got my stitches out.” (He had recently fell and cut his chin.)

“GaGa, I’m wearing my long socks.”

“My socks have a stripe on them.”

“I don’t have a dog anymore.” (He hasn’t had a dog for quite awhile.)

“I’m going to Target with my Dad.”

“I love you, GaGa.”

I love to talk with Benji even if I can’t always understand everything he has to say. And I love that he wants to talk to me and tell me what is going on in his world.

Later as I thought about the “important” things that Benji wanted to share with me, I realized that in his own, yet unintentional, way he had reminded me of how I should talk to God.

  • He talked about important things.
  • He talk about everyday things.
  • He talked about things he had on his mind.
  • He talked about what he was doing now.
  • He told me he loved me.

Benji talked about things that were on his mind and heart. Isn’t that the way we should talk to God?  Prayer is a conversation with our Heavenly Father, the One who made us, who saved us, who cares for us, who walks with us, who promises that He will never leave us or forsake us, and who loves us unconditionally!

Over the years I have learned that prayer is not just something that we mark off a daily checklist. It’s even more than those heartfelt words that tumble out when we face a great need. Prayer is an open line to our Heavenly Father. The Holy Spirit convicts us of sin and we can immediately ask our Father for forgiveness. We experience wonder or joy and lift our voices in praise and thanksgiving. Our hearts break over lost loved ones or deep needs of others and we can take those concerns straight to our Almighty God. When we are troubled, angry, weak, afraid, or lack understanding, God is always there and ready to hear our cry. Just as God told the prophet Jeremiah: “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3).

At the same time, I also know that oftentimes I just cannot put into words what is on my heart. I have trouble praying publicly or leading others in prayer for this very reason. Yet as I come to God, I can have confidence that He can “hear” my heart. James 4:8a tells us: “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” Paul told the Romans: “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered” (Romans 8:26). The Spirit Himself will intercede for me when the words just won’t come.

Prayer is one of a believer’s greatest privileges. I want to talk to God just like my little grandson talks to me – eagerly, joyfully, openly, uninhibited, honestly, sharing everything on my heart and mind. I believe that this is the kind of prayer that would be pleasing to God. And as I talk to Him, may I always remember to say, “I love you, Father!” I hope that makes Him smile.

 

 

Posted by: glorifyhim1 | February 24, 2017

A Crazy Kind of Love

A Crazy Kind of Love

Many, many years ago I heard a statement that has remained with me through the years. “Every child needs someone who is just crazy about him.” This statement was made by Sybil Waldrop, author, mentor, and friend. She actually included the statement in her book Understanding Today’s Preschoolers which was published in 1982. Although those words were written over 35 years ago, the statement is just as true today as ever. I’ve thought about that statement through the years as I’ve cared for my own kids and other kids that I’ve had the privilege to spend time with. Unfortunately, I’ve also thought about that statement when I’ve heard about children who honestly didn’t know what it meant to be loved at all, much less to have someone absolutely crazy about them.

What does it mean to be crazy about someone?

  • You are head over heels, wild about that person.
  • You would do anything within your power for that individual.
  • You are devoted to that person, seeking the best for him or her.
  • You love that individual unconditionally.

Why does being crazy about someone make a difference in that person’s life?

  • It tells that person that they mean something to somebody. They matter!
  • It helps that individual know that they are not alone. They can always turn to you for help.
  • It helps that person learn to trust – even when they don’t understand sometimes.
  • It assures that individual that no matter what, you’ll be there for him or her.

Every child who has someone in their life who is absolutely crazy about them, learns that they are valued, cared for, and loved. But then it occurred to me. All of us have someone who is crazy about us. Isn’t this what we have in God Himself?

  • We mean something to God. He loved us so much that He gave His only Son to save us.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

  • We do not face life alone. God promises to be with us.

“Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6).

  • We can trust God, knowing that He loves us and wants the best for us – even when we do not understand.

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).

  • We are loved unconditionally.

“Though the mountains be shaken
and the hills be removed,
yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken
nor my covenant of peace be removed,”
says the Lord, who has compassion on you”
(Isaiah 54:10).

God has revealed that He is head over heels crazy for you and me – not because we deserve it, but because of who He is and because of His unfailing, gracious, merciful love! And just as a child can grow and blossom as they bask in the love of someone who is crazy about him, you and I can do the same as we exult in God’s ever-present love. How thankful I am for this crazy kind of love.

“The Lord your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.”

(Zephaniah 3:17)

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