Monday, July 17, 2017

Monday Morning Memo: Everyday Choices

I’m going to share with you today a very deep, theological statement:  If I ate every day, the way I know I should eat, I would not struggle with my weight.  OK…maybe this statement wasn’t deep and maybe it wasn’t theological…but it sure is true!

My weight has nothing to do with my knowledge.  In other words, I can’t use the excuse that I don’t know what I should be eating as a reason for my extra pounds, because it wouldn’t be true.  I do know enough about carbs, fats, sodium, sugars and general nutrition to be able to make a healthy meal plan to follow.  So my current weight is not a result of a lack of specific information, it’s a result of not using what I know to make the right, healthy choices.

You may be wondering what in the world inspired me to share with you this not-so-flattering tidbit of information about me.  Well, believe it or not, it came from a scripture I read this past week.  It was one of those verses that just jumped off the page at me and hit me between the eyes and trust me, it wasn’t a good feeling.

The verse can be found in Romans 2:15 and I read it in the Living Bible translation.  It said, “After all, salvation is not given to those who know what to do, unless they do it.”  Ouch.  Even though I have accepted the Lord Jesus Christ into my life as my Lord and Savior…this verse was still painful.  Why?  Because it reminded me of the areas of my life where I have the head knowledge that I need to follow Christ, but my actions don’t always show it.  Just like knowing nutritional facts doesn’t make me healthier unless I incorporate them into my lifestyle, knowing Bible facts doesn’t do me any good unless I am living them out every day. 

Reading verse 16 didn’t leave me with a warm and fuzzy feeling either.  It said, “The day will surely come when at God’s command Jesus Christ will judge the secret lives of everyone, their inmost thoughts and motives; this is all part of God’s great plan which I proclaim.”  Wow, I knew I should have read in Psalms that day instead.

These verses tell me what I already knew, but sure need reminded of often.  Living life today is not for my pleasure.  The decisions I make every day should not be made just to make sure I am comfortable and don’t ever have to suffer.  Christ doesn’t want me to follow Him only when it is convenient for me and doesn’t go against what the world is screaming at me.  Finally, the Bible wasn’t written with just “suggestions” on how I should be living; it is filled with commandments that I need to take seriously and follow day in and day out.

We are living in a time when it isn’t popular to go against what the world says is “normal”. Standing up for God’s Word as it is written, without just picking and choosing verses that make us feel better about our sin, isn’t accepted well either.  But that is what is commanded of us to do if we are going to be true, devoted followers of Christ.  We are called to be His servants, whether it makes us feel comfortable or not, and that is true when we are in public or in the “secret” confines of our home.

This coming Sunday I am going to be speaking at Hope Missionary Church in Bluffton in all three of the morning services.  What Christ has laid on my heart to share may not make people feel good.  I haven’t spent time sugar coating His words so that people will make sure and like me when I’m done.  I take the responsibility of stepping onto that platform very seriously and I don’t think Christ will be glorified if I’m not true to His Word.


I so covet your prayers for me as I do my final preparation for Sunday.  Please pray that I am sensitive to the Spirit’s promptings and that my words will be His words so that those who hear will truly listen and be drawn closer to the One who makes life worth living.  May our time together inspire all of us to make sure that our head knowledge results in everyday choices which brings Him honor and glory and impacts eternity in a powerful way.


Monday, July 10, 2017

Monday Morning Memo: Weathering the Storm

We have lived in the same home since we were married, which has been almost 36 years ago and we feel very fortunate to be living in the country where we have open land all around us. Waking up each morning and being able to look out over the surrounding fields, is something I treasure and never want to take for granted.

Another perk to living where we do is that we can have a garden.  Now to some of you, that wouldn’t seem like a positive thing, but for us it is.  There is nothing better than being able to go out and pick fresh vegetables that have no chemicals on them.  It’s also great to be able to can some of the contents of our garden so that we can enjoy the bounty all winter long.

But gardening doesn’t come without its problems.  There are various animals around us that sometimes think we are gardening for them and so they feast on what is meant for us.  Weather also plays a role on how successful our garden is because not enough rain stifles the growth and too much rain can drown out the plants.  Each year is different, but it’s almost always worth the effort to make it successful.

So far this summer, we have had an overabundance of rain.  We appreciate the moisture but the problem has been that we have been receiving inches of rain at one time, which has caused standing water in the garden.  Fortunately, each time it has drained rather quickly and our plants haven’t suffered.

But when you mix heavy rain with high winds, there can be more lasting effects.  Last week we received three inches of rain in a short amount of time, accompanied by high winds, and as a result our corn was laying flat to the ground when it was over.  I had a sick feeling when I looked out our window and saw the flattened stalks.  All that can be done at that point is wait.  Wait to see if the roots were deep enough and the stalks were strong and pliable enough to bounce back.  If the roots are too shallow, the corn can easily become uprooted and if they are too weak and brittle, they can easily snap off.  As you can see from this picture, at this point it looks like our crop is slowly straightening and will hopefully be in an upright position soon.

As I’ve checked the corn each day since our storm, I’ve thought about how much this is like our Christian walk.  As long as everything is going well in our lives with no unexpected detours or disasters, our “stand” is usually pretty strong.  When others look at us they see someone who seems to have their act together and is living life as we should.  But, unfortunately, when the storms of life roll in, they sometimes cause us to quickly “flatten” to the ground and we quickly appear to be quite “weathered”.

Just like our corn though, time will tell whether the life storm that hit us will have a lasting effect.  More than likely, it will depend on how deep our roots were in Christ when it hit and whether we are pliable enough to be molded by Him.  We need to remember that Christ often uses difficult times to make us into a follower that looks more like Him.  But we have to be willing to let Him sand the rough edges off of us so that our stand for Him will have a larger impact on eternity.

If your life is going fairly smooth right now, I want to urge you to spend this time growing your roots deeper in Christ.  Use this time to study His Word and allow His Spirit to speak to you.  As you learn from Him, you will become a pliable clay in His hands which will help you bounce back quicker after storm clouds roll through.

If you are in the middle of the storm right now, I want to urge you to hang on.  We read in 2 Corinthians 4:17-18, “For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long.  Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever.  So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen.  For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”  Even though your current storm seems like it may never end, you can hold onto Christ’s Word, trusting that what is to come far outweighs these difficult days.

When the storm is over, it may seem like you have been flattened with no hope of standing on your feet again.  Just give yourself some time.  With your roots firmly planted in Christ, He will give you the strength to once again stand firm as a testimony to His strength and power.  It is so imperative that others see that we can weather the storms of life because of our relationship with Him. Then, because of your faithfulness and His, others will see the bounty of fruit that your life has produced which is bound to impact those around us.  That my friend will make all of our storms worthwhile, when we see others begin their journey of planting their roots in Christ.




Monday, July 3, 2017

Monday Morning Memo: Zoning Out

We just returned from a 10-day trip, which included a visit with Dan’s brother and sister-in-law in South Carolina, and then to North Carolina to see our daughter, Erica.  It was a great time of fellowship, laughter and good food, which is always a great combination.

I have to admit that when we go on vacation, I really like to be able to just sort of “zone out” and not have to do a lot of thinking (not that I really do a lot of thinking when I’m home either!).  Sometimes though, that gets me into trouble much to the chagrin of whoever is with me.  Unfortunately, this trip didn’t disappoint.  

We got up one of the mornings at Erica’s and it looked like it was going to be a beautiful day.  The sun was shining and my phone showed it was the perfect morning temperature so I was anxious to step outside.  Now, this wouldn’t have been a problem if I would have been using my brain, but because I was on “zone out” mode it soon became obvious that we did have a big problem.

You see, there is an alarm on Erica’s front door that has to be turned off as soon as she enters.  I knew that.  What I failed to remember was that if the alarm is set when you are inside, it has to be disarmed before you exit.  Yes, you guessed it.  In my haste to walk outside, I just grabbed the doorknob and opened the door.  I am fully confident that what followed probably raised the dead in the neighborhood.  The most awful, shrill, ear-piercing sound filled the air and since I had no idea how to turn it off, I just stood there with my mouth open.  Fortunately, Erica was home and she came running to my rescue and disarmed the alarm.

There was no denying my error.  I couldn’t act like I hadn’t been the one to open the door and I surely couldn’t pretend that I had turned the alarm system off before I turned the knob.  The horrific sound that permeated every part of our being convicted me of my error.

As you can imagine, this incident woke my brain up rather quickly and I began wondering what life would be like if every time I sinned, an alarm went off for everyone to hear.  What if every time I gossiped…every time didn’t tell the truth…every time I did anything that was against God’s Word an ear piercing alarm went off?  Would I be more conscious of my actions?  Would I be more intentional to follow His laws?  Would it keep me on the straight and narrow or, over time, could I even become accustomed to this terrible sound that I zone out and fall back to my evil ways totally disregarding the noise?

Of course we all know that an alarm doesn’t go off to signal those around us that we have sinned.  We can be living in sin, day in and day out, and no one else may ever know.  At the beginning, we may hear the Holy Spirit in our ear, letting us know that what we are doing isn’t pleasing to God.   But over time, we can often become so accustomed to His promptings that we just disregard His words and continue in our sin.

Tomorrow we are going to celebrate the freedom that we have in our country.  Living in the United States, we are still able to worship and serve the one true God and we should never take it for granted.  We need to take the opportunities that we have to let others know what our God means to us and why we want to serve Him.  But I happen to believe that our words will have a greater impact if each of us is living in a way that is pleasing to God.  If we are actively sinning, I don’t think we will be an effective witness, even if those with whom we share never know of our secrets.  

When we are tempted to sin this week, let’s stop for a moment and pretend that an alarm will go off if we succumb and give in.  Who knows…maybe this pause in our day will give us the courage to tell Satan to take a hike.  The more we do that, the stronger we will become with our God at the helm of our lives.  Then maybe…just maybe…our times of “zoning-out” will be greatly diminished!

 “It is the Lord your God you must follow, 
and him you must revere. 
Keep his commands and obey him; 
serve him and hold fast to him.”
Deuteronomy 13:4

Monday, June 26, 2017

Monday Morning Memo: Hoop and Holler

I shared with you last week that we recently had our grandson stay with us for a few days.  We spent quite a bit of time outside with him shooting baskets, watching frogs jump into our pond, checking the garden to see how our plants were doing, picking strawberries, riding on the tractor with Grandpa, etc.

I think one of his highlights was riding our tricycle and toy John Deere tractor, since this has been a goal of his since last summer.  Last year, his legs just weren’t long enough, even after Grandpa put wood blocks on the pedals.  As hard as he tried, he just couldn’t get a forward motion on either “vehicle”.  So, when the weather started to turn warm this year, he wanted to try again.  Unfortunately, the first time he tried, he failed as before.  His feet were just shy of where they needed to be to get the wheels turning.

It was interesting though to watch him after he failed the first time.  He walked away and started doing something else.  Then after awhile, he walked back, sat on the tricycle and tried again.  After several attempts, he got frustrated and once again, gave up and returned to another activity.  But then, something very interesting happened.  He walked back over to the tricycle for the third time, sat down, and rode it across the driveway!  I’m not sure who was more shocked, him or me, but both of us smiled broadly and I let out a hoop and a holler.  It was time to celebrate! 
 
I thought about this event when I read our quote for this week – “Giving up on your goal because of one setback is like slashing your other three tires because you got one flat”.  Elias’s desire since last summer has been to ride the tricycle all by himself, but he had lots of failures in between his first attempt and his final success.   If he would have given up after his first try last year or his first try this year, figuring that he would never be able to do it, he would have missed out on the excitement of reaching his goal.

This got me thinking about the times when I have given up on a goal that I have set.  I usually have good intentions at the beginning, but when I have faced a setback, there have been times when I just gave up.  I have figured that if I couldn’t succeed in my time schedule, I might as well just accept the “fact” that what I thought I should work towards just wasn’t attainable.  It is at those times, when I have often failed to remember that maybe my timing and God’s timing are different and I just needed to be patient.  It makes me wonder what would have happened if I just would have kept trying.  Who knows, maybe my ability to reach my goal would have occurred on my next try…or even on the third or fourth try…causing me to be able to hoop and holler because of my achievement.

What about you?  Have you given up on a goal that you have set, because a setback made you think you would never see success?  I want to urge you to give it another try, whether it is your second, third or even fourth attempt.  Remember, God’s timing for you to reach your goal may be totally different than yours and His timing is always perfect.  You just never know, success might be just around the corner and then you will be smiling broadly and have the opportunity to hoop and holler too.  Believe me, Elias and I can both attest to the fact that life doesn’t get much better than that!

But as for you, be strong and do not give up, 
for your work will be rewarded.”
2 Chronicles 15:7

Monday, June 19, 2017

Monday Morning Memo: Asking "Why?"

Last week we were blessed to have our three-year-old grandson, Elias, with us for a few days.  He is very easy to have in our home because he is well behaved and he sleeps well (which really helps this getting-older grandma!).  But I must say, if I had a dollar for every time he asked me “Why?”, I would be a very wealthy woman J

I shared on Facebook a conversation that I had with Eli while he was here.  He was my assistant in the office every morning and on one of the days he was having fun opening and closing a door between 2 of our offices. After awhile I said, "Eli I don't want you to keep closing that door because I can't see your radiant face when you are in the other room."  After a few minutes, he came running up to me and said, “Grandma, can you see my radiant face now?”  Oh yes, I could see his radiant face; up close and personal!
The next day, we were outside getting some batting practice in and he wanted to pitch the ball to me.  After a few wild balls, he tossed it perfectly to me…and I missed it.  So I said to him, “Eli, that was a really good pitch.  It was my fault that I missed it.”  He smiled and we continued.
After awhile, he decided it was time for him to bat so I started throwing the ball to him.  After the first ball that he missed, he looked at me and said, “Grandma, that was a really good pitch.  It was my fault that I missed it.”  That’s when it hit me, once again.  I have a living, breathing tape recorder following me and listening to every word!
Thankfully in those two instances, he repeated positive things that I said.  Unfortunately, I’m sure that isn’t always the case and I’m really confident that it wasn’t always the situation with my own children.  I know I’ve written about this before, but I think it is something that we each need to be reminded of periodically.  You may not have grandchildren following you around, but I guarantee you that there is someone in your life that is watching and listening to how you act and react.  They may be in your home, or at your job, or in your neighborhood or even sitting next to you in the pew at church.  Someone is watching you and the sobering thing is that what he or she sees in you may make the difference whether they spend eternity in heaven or in hell.
Now some of you may think I’m being overly dramatic and blowing this way out of proportion, but I would have to disagree with you.  If you and me are professing Christians and an unsaved person sees us:
         *running others down
         *degrading our spouse
         *being a part of dishonest dealings in our workplace
         *having bursts of anger
         *living in fear of the future
         *being constantly stressed (and I could go on and on),
why would they want to accept Christ?  If our life doesn’t look any different than theirs…what would make them desire to have a personal relationship with our Jesus?
We are living in a mixed up world that seems to be tilting on its axis, so there has never been a more critical time for Christians to be different than the world.  The unsaved need to see that because we are devoted followers of Christ, we treat others with love and understanding.  They need to see that all of our business dealings are above board with no hint at all of dishonesty.  And I think most of all, they need to see that we aren’t living in constant turmoil and fear and as a result, we have a peace that passes all understanding.  If this is how we are living, then when they ask “Why?” we are the way we are…they will be willing to listen to our answer.  That my friend will impact eternity in a very powerful way. 

Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children.  Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.
Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people.  Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes—these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God.  You can be sure that no immoral, impure, or greedy person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God. For a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.”

                                             Ephesians 5:1-5

Monday, June 12, 2017

Monday Morning Memo: Every. Single. Day.

I’m sure for all of us, there are weeks where we feel fairly positive and make it through relatively unscathed.  We feel productive in our job and our family came through the seven days without any major disasters.  Our car didn’t break down and we weren’t involved in any accidents.  The week may not have had any huge momentous occasions, but sometimes “normalcy” is enough to check it off as a good week.

Unfortunately, not all weeks even make it to that “normalcy” level.   Wherever you turn, something is going haywire.  Everywhere you go at work, there is someone who thrives on getting under your skin.  One of your kids gets the flu and is gracious enough to share it with the entire family.  Your car breaks down and to get it fixed is going to cost a small fortune.  Again, there isn’t one huge momentous occasion to make the week be so stressful, but the culmination of several frustrations is enough to make you really thankful to reach the weekend.

That was my past week.  It started with me throwing my shoulder out of whack.  Now if I had some amazing story to tell, like I was skydiving and my shoulder was injured as I crashed to the ground, it might have made it easier.  But in my case, I was barely bumped into, causing me to jerk slightly and as a result, I suddenly knew things weren’t where they were supposed to be.  The pain that followed was the kind that makes you feel sick in the pit of your stomach.  Fortunately a trip to my chiropractor helped, but I still had pain the rest of the week. 

That event pretty much set the tone for my week and although nothing else went majorly wrong, I really struggled to have the right attitude.  To be honest, by Saturday I was tired mentally, physically and spiritually and usually when that happens I start having a pity party.  I was working in my kitchen and asking the Lord why in the world He wired my body backwards, causing me so much pain.  Didn’t He realize that I could serve Him so much better if my health improved?  Now maybe you’ve never been there, feeling the need to whine and complain to the Lord, but I’m not proud at all to admit that’s where I allowed myself to be.  I chose to wallow in my negative feelings, allowing my circumstances to rob me of my joy.

Naturally, this doesn’t please my Jesus and so as usual, He had to put something in front of me to wake me up, so to speak.  Dan was working at our desk and he handed me a card that he had found.  I looked at it and it was an old business card of mine and on it were these words, “Real faith is not just receiving from God the things we want.  Real faith is accepting from God the things He gives us.”  Yep, I was hit right between the eyes.  Anyone can have joy if things are going exactly as they want it to, but a true, devoted follower of Christ has joy even when they are given unexpected detours.

I couldn’t get what I had read out of my mind and I finally knew I needed to ask the Lord to forgive me for my whining and lack of joy.  I know that it says in Romans 5:3-5, “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance.  And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.  And this hope will not lead to disappointment.  For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.”  Nowhere in that scripture does it say I can whine when I don’t get what I think I need.  It doesn’t say that I have a right to feel sorry for myself and throw a pity party.  No, it says I should rejoice, knowing that whatever the Lord brings my way is designed to make me stronger and improve my character and as a result, I will look more like Him.

Of course, I then went to church yesterday morning and soon realized as our Pastor shared with us, that the Lord wasn’t done speaking to me yet.  Our Pastor shared a statement that really spoke to me. He said, 

“It’s time for us to move away from just agreeing 
with what Jesus said, and start doing what He said.”  

Yep, once again I was hit between the eyes.  It’s just so easy for me to wholeheartedly agree with what Jesus said, knowing full well that I am to have joy and praise for Him in whatever circumstances I find myself.  But actually living that…day in and day out…isn’t what I always do.  It’s so easy to point my finger and think others should be “Jesus with skin on” for those who need Him, but neglect to do it myself. 

As our service came to a close, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I needed to go to the altar and once again, ask the Lord for forgiveness for losing my focus.  I also knew I needed to ask Him to give me a new sense of His love…not for me…but for those with whom I come in contact. 

Maybe your week wasn’t all that went haywire.  Maybe it’s been the past month or even year that has you in a funk.  Hopefully you are stronger than me, but if you aren’t and you also find yourself whining and complaining because the Lord hasn’t given you what you think you need, look up.  Take your focus off of yourself and begin rejoicing for the path on which He has led you.  It all comes down to accepting what He is giving you as His divine plan and allowing it to make you stronger for the journey He sets before you.  

Yes my dear friends, it’s time for you and me to move away from just agreeing with what Jesus said, and start doing what He said.  There is a hurting, lost world all around us, and it’s high time they see us living out His message… Every. Single. Day.


By the way, I recommend you take the time to watch and listen to our service yesterday on our website at http://hopemissionarychurch.podbean.com.  The sermon title was “Better Together – Growing Pains”.  But I feel I better warn you.  There should be a disclaimer at the beginning that says, “Warning…this sermon may cause pain between your eyes…and/or very sore toes” J