Favorite Gift

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17

Me: “What was your favorite gift you got for Christmas?”

She said nothing, she just smiled and pulled out of her gifts a folded piece of paper. As she unfolded it she smiled, more like beamed. When she had received it nearly a week prior she had cried. She was speechless, but she wept with joy.

As she turned the paper to face me, I knew what it was, I could see the crease marks beginning to show signs of repeatedly being opened and folded back up again. I wondered how long it would remain in one piece. I marveled at how overjoyed she was and at the simplicity of her gift.

She rubbed her hand across the words and said, “It just makes me so happy.” The favorite gift was a gift to others, strangers across the world whom she has never met and ones who will never know her name. It was the gift of food and nourishment for a Mama and her baby for a month. Starvation halted and salvation offered. It was what she wanted more than anything. All I can say is I am not worthy to have been given such a precious child, yet I have been. For reasons that will forever boggle my mind, the King chose me to be her Mama and I am humbled that He would do it and I am privileged to witness what He is doing with her

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ ” Matthew 25:40 NIV

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Discipling: A Tribute and a Challenge

Disciples – disciplers. Learners – teachers. Mentees – mentors. We all have these relationships, whether they have been formally declared or not. We all teach many and are taught by many people in life. Those around us display examples before us from the time we are born, and we begin early on to mimic, to follow, to adapt to the ways of these wise, or not so wise teachers, depending upon the family or community into which we were born.

In God’s word we see this concept of discipleship being held up as an appropriate way to live out the Christian life. Jesus himself tells us in Matthew 28:19-20:

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you….” 

He didn’t just instruct us to go share the Gospel, but to go further and to teach and guide. Later in the New Testament, Paul instructs Timothy in the same way. He tells him to be both a disciple and a discipler. In 2 Timothy 2:2 Paul writes to his young mentee:

“The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” 

To be able to say those words as Paul did requires that we have learned how to live so that we may honestly and in good conscience say to others in essence, “You can trust what I say. I base it on God’s word. Follow my example.”

mentor-3563661_1280.jpgAs a girl I was blessed to have had this kind of people in my life. I was discipled by many wonderful Christian friends and mentors.

The Kirkleys, a man and wife who were my choir director and Sunday School teacher, taught us more than just music and random Bible stories. They systematically taught us behavior altering principles upon which to base our life, and they lived it out. They weren’t perfect people, but even in the ups and downs they taught us impressionable young people how to walk through even hard things in a godly manner. They showed us what a beautiful marriage was and how to serve humbly and effectively.

Then there was Laura, a generous-hearted older girl in our youth group. She was off in college by the time I was in high school. She was being discipled through the Navigators, a Christian organization active on her college campus. In turn, she chose to invest in us entrepreneurship-3822492_1280.jpgyounger girls. She faithfully came home every weekend to attend church and while there would meet with our small group of chatty girls to walk through scripture and help us answer the questions we had and build a foundation for life based on God’s word. Even today some 40 years later, I refer back to those Design for Discipleship books, the verses and illustrations they contained, and the principles they taught me.

Then there was my iron-sharpens-iron friend, Joan, who was, and is still to this day, the  godliest woman I know. I was mouthy, flighty, and immature. She was a rock, full of fun, yet grounded in godly wisdom. She walked beside me as a friend my age going through similar circumstances and always shining the spotlight of God’s word on what was going on in life.

There were many others. Mr. D, a favorite school teacher and deacon in our church who opened his classroom each day for Morning Watch and acted as a role model and the Heavenly Father’s guide through those tumultuous high school years. Mrs. Latham who taught me in 3rd grade and started me on the path of scripture memory, and her daughter Fran who invested in us in college and challenged us to live pure, holy lives as she was doing herself. Marcie who challenged this anxiety-filled teenage girl to memorize an important scripture verse with her (Philippians 4:6-7 because we were volleyball-team-1586522_1280both worriers.) And there are a string of others too numerous to mention. What would I have turned out to be without their wisdom and guidance? Every teen in our youth group at church was impacted by these people. Today, those grown up youth from the 70s are pastors, teachers, moms and dads, doctors, engineers and god-fearing members of society in many other fields.

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You have probably had similar people pour into you. As an adult, you are now aware of and thankful for the impact of these people upon your life. But what are you now doing with what you were given?

As society has progressed the world has changed. Commitments, electronics, busyness, as well as work and hobbies among other distractions have morphed us into people who are less connected and therefore have less influence for good on the world around us. Are you today offering the same kind of discpling and teaching to younger Christians around you that you were given growing up? It is so easy to not get involved, to not teach, not disciple because of our lifestyle, and to choose to leave it up to someone else.

As 2019 is dawning on us, I challenge you today to start fresh and make these words of Paul a cry of your heart this year. “The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” Take what you have been given and pass it on. Invest in the next generation of Christians. Grow. Multiply. Share. Invest. Do it intentionally.

help-2444110_1280What do we teach them?

God’s word.

How to live it out.

How to study it.

How Jesus would have us treat others in these volatile times.

Open your heart and life to those coming along behind you, and let them learn by watching you live. It is the most generous, life-changing gift you can give. You’ve been issued a challenge. Do you take the challenge?

“Find Us Faithful” by Steve Green

We’re pilgrims on the journey
of the narrow road,
and those who’ve gone before us
line the way.
cheering on the faithful,
encouraging the weary,
their lives a stirring testament
to God’s sustaining grace.
O may all who come behind us
find us faithful.
May the fire of our devotion
light their way.
May the footprints that we leave,
lead them to believe,
and the lives we live
inspire them to obey.
O may all who come behind us
find us faithful.

Adventurous Eating

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5 CSB

We had planned to have a low-key day, I was scheduled to work so we had not planned on a large family meal or visits with extended family. We had resolved that we would celebrate that Day’s events the following day. When the unexpected surprise came that we could spend our time together we opted for Chinese Cuisine for our family lunch. We dressed casually. I donned my “Go Jesus it’s your Birthday” shirt and jeans, and out the art-bokeh-bright-1455985door we went. Our favorite Chinese place is about a 20 minute drive away, we sang together loudly with the radio and saw only a few passing cars. It was obvious it was Christmas.

When we arrived at our favorite eatery the parking lot was already filling with vehicles. We pulled our tired ol’ minivan into a spot and I chuckled at all the surrounding fanciful, luxurious, cars dotting the perimeter. As I am prone to do, I imagined my ol’ minivan attempting to converse with the other transportation vehicles and the awkwardness of it all made me giggle out loud.

“Why you have an actual key for your ignition?” (In my head I imagined the Beamer parked adjacent with a female slightly foreign voice.)

“What do you mean you don’t have a backup camera?”

“You mean your seats are torn and sutured together with duct tape?”

When asked what I was laughing about, I knew I would have to explain, so I just said, “Nothing.”

Our wait time was minimal and as is customary we perused the adjacent oriental market. I said repeatedly to my Martins, “Look with your eyes only! NOT your hands!”

When we were seated we were placed in a large corner booth. We “selfied” and chatted and decided on our lunch cuisine. To each his own. Some simple. Some came with a warning from our waiter, Jack, “It very authentic. You sure you want? Lots of tofu?” My adventurous eaters grinned and nodded in affirmation. Jack relented and wrote it down on his notepad, I figured he might be saying to himself, “That’s not going to end well.”

As we waited for lunch to arrive a family was seated next to us in our big booth. The mama was giving seating directions in English and then would speak in brief segments of what I assumed was Mandarin Chinese. She sounded as most Mamas do, instructing where to sit and ordering drinks. She would answer questions and was as good at deflecting any melt down inducing answers as any experienced fencer might be in warding off blows from an equally skilled opponent. As they sat, the youngest boy was brought a cup with a lid and straw.

boy-child-drink-332091.jpg“No! I want a big-boy cup like you! I’m not a little kid! I can do it by myself!”

The bilingual Mama shushed him as she ordered something and then clarified in English, “Roasted Snails.” I thought I might fall over. None of our table occupants even flinched except for me.

The smallest in stature again protesting his drink cup.

“No!! I can do It ALL BY MYSELF!”

His wise bilingual Mama continued to busy herself with Mama-at-the-table tasks: Ordering for the non-bilingual people at the table, spreading out napkins, placing silverware out of reach, moving the mid-table carafe of enticing temptations. She looked like I have before, and even like I do now, a universal maternal meal time standard of operating procedures.

As the meal meandered on, ours and theirs, I was replaying the conversations in my head.

The “I can do it all by myself!” mentality spans the world of age and geography.
I’ve said it myself a time, or ten. I say it often actually. I do not like to be dependent, to ask for help. I do not like to need help. Yet by that very mindset I’m in direct contrast with what the King desires for me. He wants me to give my burden to Him, to come to Him. His Word says,

Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you;
he will never permit the righteous to be moved. Psalm 55:22

As we left our favorite place and I imagined my tired ol’ minivan having made friends with her upper class neighbors (perhaps she vowed to see them soon), her occupants were full and happy having spent time together. This Matriarch occupant was especially grateful for having remembered, in the King’s economy, it takes more resolve and strength to be dependent on Him than it does to do it all by myself, and in doing that, knowing He will sustain me.

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In my distress I called upon the Lord; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears. Psalm 18:6

A Day of Remembrance

As we remember Martin Luther King, Jr. today, my favorite quote of his springs to mind.

“The end of life is not to be happy, nor to achieve pleasure and avoid pain, but to do the will of God, come what may.”

What a very important concept to grasp. Life readily lures us to seek to achieve happiness, pursue pleasure, and lead a life focused on self and our own desires. We do anything we can to escape pain, whether it’s pills for physical pain, or hobbies, distractions and trips to escape the emotional pains. Comfort at all costs seems to be society’s mantra.

How different our lives would be if “To do the will of God, come what may,” became our guiding principle of life!

Today as you remember Rev. King and are thankful for all he contributed to our world, let’s not reduce him to a secular hero. He was a man of God, and his faith led him to take the steps he did. Let’s do likewise and allow God’s will to be our driving motivation.

church-348806_1280Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” Hebrews 13:20-21

 

 

 

What’s Your Watchword?

Definition:

watchword – a word or phrase expressing a person’s or group’s core aim or belief; a word or motto that embodies a principle or guide to actions of an individual or group

Do you have a watchword?

As of late it has become trendy and fashionable to have a “word for the year.” Have you chosen one? Or maybe more accurately, has a word chosen you?

It seems that each year about this time, fall through early January, a word or theme starts popping up in connection with the theme of my life at the time. One year it was live. Another year it was grace. And still another surrender. Each word had to do with something I was going through, and each became the guiding principle of my life that year.

I encourage you to seek the word the Lord has for you. Maybe it’s just one word like mine, but perhaps it’s a phrase or a scripture verse, a guiding principle God is planting in your heart for this year. A word that gives you vision and purpose. One that challenges you.

How do you find your word?

  • Pray.
  • Read God’s Word and meditate on it.
  • Journal some thoughts and prayers, reflecting on your current situation, desires, and concerns.
  • Listen as God speaks in a still, small voice to your heart.
  • Seek the Father.

Proverbs 29:18 tells us that, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Do you have a vision, a word, a guiding verse from the Lord? I challenge you to seek out a specific word for this year from the Lord, a word to give life focus and direction. As children of God we need to be arrows that are properly aimed and fly straight to hit the mark and accomplish all God has for each year of our life.

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Letter Box

“Mama, why does this box keep moving around your house?”

Over the course of a few days and visits to my Mama’s I had noticed the small wooden box in a couple of different places. A long while ago it was a candy box, one of the very few gifts my Grandmother (known to me as Mam-Maw and I to her as Mamie) had ever received. I knew the box well, its family lore made its way through generations of stories. Once one of my Aunts pitched a regular ol’ hissy fit because she wanted the box. My Mam-maw had very few things that actually belonged to her and while she would literally give away the shirt off her back to someone who needed it, she wouldn’t part with that box for the sake of a whiny child’s demands.

I always giggled at that one, partly because I know all I’d have really wanted was the art-blur-box-208974long ago consumed candy it held more than the actual box. Upon my Mam-Maw’s passing, my Mama inherited the wooden box with a hinged top and fading decoupaged landscape scene. It measures no more than 6 inches wide by 18 inches long. It is no more than 4 inches deep. And it is not what one could refer to as a priceless heirloom. To be honest I hadn’t given it much thought until it started to move around her home.

She lives in a small bungalow type garden home. The first day I noticed it I had made a pit stop in her guest bath. It was sitting on the edge of the counter. I wondered if she were planning to incorporate it into her bath decor, maybe a new container to hold hand towels. I shrugged the thought off and gave it merely a momentary thought as I made my way out of the bathroom. A few days later, I was in the living room and noticed the candy box not-so-family-heirloom sitting on the coffee table. I had nearly forgotten the presumed hand towel holder and deduced she must have decided against that. Again a fleeting thought, again no more than a momentary notice. Its final resting place at the kitchen table was when I asked my Mama that question.

“Mama, why does this box keep moving around your house?”

She was standing at the stove, baking cookies. She does that. Bakes cookies. Her Grandchildren love it when she bakes cookies. They have an arrangement, she bakes the cookies; they eat themwooden-box-2552370_1920.png

She laughed as she placed the cookies on a rack to cool.

“Look inside it. There are some letters in there that are old. Mama wrote some and her mama too. Some of them are pretty funny.”

I grabbed my reading glasses, a warm cookie, and I settled down at the table to read. Opening that candy box was like opening a treasure trove for this vintage-world-loving, word oriented gal. She was right, some of them were hilarious. Some of then not-so-much. Those letters were a part of my history. As my Great Grandmother, Lillie penned them, I wondered if it ever crossed her mind that her Great Granddaughter would one day be reading them. As I gingerly unfolded and read those letters I was awestruck. Here in faded writing on tattered soft, hundred year old paper were words of mundane and everyday life, a time gone by and hardly remembered today. One of the letters commented on a bad haircut leaving an unfortunate teenage boy with the repercussions of a novice barber, dull scissors, and poor economics.

As I pieced together some long forgotten history I pondered on the art of letter writing and was reminded of one who wrote letters that I had just been studying. Paul wrote letters, many of them. His last letter prior to his execution at the hands of Nero was written to Timothy. I read 2 Timothy with a new perspective. Timothy was Paul’s mentee, protegé, and those words were the last ones Paul would share with Timothy. I suppose if I were writing a letter knowing it were my last one, I would chose the most important things to say to the reader. Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit would have likely done just that.

My Great Grandmother Lille and my Great-Great Grandmother Bertie may have chosen to write about something else had they known a century later my eyes would be reading the only part of them that I would ever know.

God wants us to know Him and He penned a beautiful letter to us in the form of the Bible. A beautiful work that tells us His character, His will, His Grace and His love for us.
His word, like that little candy box is a treasure trove of words written centuries ago and unlike that candy box of letters, the Writer is just as real and alive as when the words were penned.

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Construction Zone: A Fresh Start on Your Fixer Upper

Priceless 2019 ongoing series: Construction Zone. In these articles this year we will focus on the new creations Our Father is building. We hope to inspire, challenge, and encourage as always. Here’s the first offering of the series. Read and be blessed!

 

 The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. Lamentations 3:22-23

 

As the new year begins with the freshness of a new romance, we once again have been given a clean slate upon which to write.

It has always amazed me how many fresh starts God gives to us frail, imperfect humans. We have a fresh opportunity New Year’s day, the first of every month, every Monday, every single sunrise, every hour, every minute. These are starting points to become something new in Him: to change our perspective, alter our wrong behaviors, make a better choice, forgive a past event, have faith in Him,… and my list could go on. He knew us when He created the human race. He knew by giving us a free will to choose how to live and whether to love Him or not that we, like little children, would make mistakes and need many, many chances to set things aright and begin all over again.

Do you take these fresh opportunities to put the past behind you and open a new box of crayons and a fresh pad of paper? To revise the script of your life? To reorient yourself to follow the map God would have for your life? To do a little home make-over, a little reconstruction or redecorating to the home in your heart?

♥♥♥♥♥

home-2861604_1280.jpgThe show Fixer Upper with Chip and Joanna Gaines has become a huge hit here in the heart of the South where I live. Mention “Magnolia Market” or “shiplap” around the women I know and you’ll get heads popping up to listen or interject in the conversation. And for what are these two folks famous?

Demolition. Design. Construction. Decorating. Landscaping.

In other words, making old homes look new: revitalizing the building, cleaning up, restoring, repurposing outdated used items, and creating a warm home. That’s why we love them. And I think there is possibly a spiritual aspect to why we love them and this show so very much.

Really?! Do you see a spiritual meaning behind every stone and used piece of shiplap?

Why yes. Yes I do! Thanks for asking. And here’s what I see.

In scripture I see that our bodies are likened to a house or a temple. A building in other words. A house occupied by God’s Spirit.

I see that Sin makes the inside of the house dirty, damaged, old and run-down, and it needs cleaning, restoring and being made new, which can only be done by God Himself.

I see that Our Creator has a plan, a design for our life, if we hire Him to come in and do a make-over. A design that would make Joanna jealous no doubt, no offense to her, but He is The Master Designer.

I see also that unless the Lord builds the house, we are vainly laboring to build a shanty that will blow over in the first stiff wind.

I see Jesus Himself as the one sprucing up the place with beautiful decor and grass and plants, making us loving and kind, tender-hearted and others-centered, a sweet fragrance of Himself to the world.

I believe that our attraction to this show lies in the fact that it embodies physical redemption and renewal. It is a visible metaphor of our life, what we know we are (old man, broken, in need of repair and a master rebuilder) and what we long to be (whole, beautiful, useful, free from the dirt and rodents and mold of sin).

So… Let’s take advantage of this fresh start this year – not to diet or quit something or demand more from ourselves and condemn ourselves when we fail – but to allow the Holy One, Our Creator and Designer to remake us into the new creation He has planned. Let’s embrace our own remodel.

Demolition. Let Him tear down walls that separate us from others and go for the open concept. Let Him tear out the roots of sin in our hearts and replant us in Himself as an obedient and fruitful branch being fed by the Vine. Let Him rip pride out of our walls and replace those rusty rotten pipes with a humble servant spirit. Sounds painful and not much fun doesn’t it? It will be. Painful and not fun. But the beauty of the end creation will be worth it.

architect-architecture-black-and-white-1537008Design. He has the design plans finished for you, Sweet One. He has a plan for me and a plan for you. Your house may look similar to the one down the street, but it is distinctive, unique, and appealing to certain people as no other house can be. Your blueprint is laid out in His Word, the Bible. If you follow it closely you will wind up with a firm foundation of wisdom, sturdy walls of understanding that allow you to live in safety and peace, and rooms filled with precious and pleasant riches. (Proverbs 24:3-4) That’s why it’s so important to consult His Word daily to make sure you are following the Designer’s plans.

Construction. Are you willing to undergo a year-long construction project in your inner house? How about a life-long one? That’s what it really is. But the beginning can be tough. Are you ready to add extra rooms? Need to raise the ceiling and put in a new sturdy beam to open up the interior of your heart? Are you ready to have that magnificent master bath with a shower with a dozen shower heads to cleanse you and warm you and comfort you when you’re stressed? Do you desire a gourmet kitchen where you can feast on life-giving, healthy, restoring morsels? The construction period will be hard, but it will be worth it! All you have to do is commit to starting today. Just like with Chip & Joanna, you will face obstacles and setbacks some days or weeks, but you get another fresh start each day, each week, each month, remember?

Decorating. Allow Jesus to add the finishing touches. He has a PhD in Interior Design you know. He’ll pick just the right colors, textures, and styles to make your life a warm home open to visitors who need your wise advice, care, and love. And you’ll be shocked how He is able to re-use, repurpose, and redeem your old furnishings and adornments.

Landscaping. Jesus has a green thumb too. He can make the outer beauty of your heart cause others to pop into your yard and ring the doorbell just to ask, “Who did all this?” “Where can I get someone to do a home make-over for me?” “Can you get me in touch with Him?” You really won’t have to assault strangers with the Gospel in the Walmart parking lot as you fear you will. Your landscaping will give you a platform that draws others to your Master Designer! You’ll have your own private episode of Fixer Upper to show them how you got in touch with Him.

It’s January 2019. Take this opportunity to start fresh. It’s demolition time. Turn your remodeling over to the professional; all your handyman work on your own is useless.

Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Psalm 127:1

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(Join us at Gardendale First Baptist Church this winter for our year-long focus on building our lives and homes. We will begin Tuesday, January 15, with a 10 week study called HomeBuilders, that teaches scriptural truths upon which to build godly lives and homes. Find out more at Rooms Full of Riches or on our Events and Information page.)

Trust in the Midst of the Storm

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Prov. 3:5-6

I’m learning some things. In the last 4 or so years I’ve learned several new vocabulary words, acronyms, acrostics, terminology, and grammar. All with a common subject matter, meteorology.

If you’d’ve asked me 16 years ago if I’d be learning said subject matter, I would’ve laughed and likely said “Never.”

Something else learned. Never say never, for the King alone knows what the future holds.

When two are one, one is bound to know what the other knows. Case in point words like dew point, humidity, wind speed, rotation, high pressure, low pressure, atmospheric, thermodynamics, cyclonic, lightning (so not the same as lightening) precipitation and hurricane.

They are no longer benign words heard on the television or in the background. Now they mean something. There is value associated with them, and I’d’ve never thought that was possible. Today I watched my man, finish his coffee and assess the weather for the day. Typically he starts with the gold standard in Alabama weather, and today was no different. As he watched Mr. Spann confirm via video what he had just told me, the catastrophic results of an approaching hurricane, I could see him thinking. His hand on his head, the strain a visible result produced by the calculation of the prediction was spread across his face. He intently listened and processed what was being said, what was not being said but what he knew. What 4 years of hard work and an A average GPA has taught him. What daily forecasts, prognostications, and such have yielded in him and he never said a word.

I’d’ve been a bona fide basket case but he just sat there drinking his coffee. Swig after swig from a cup that was a gift some years ago, a cup that summed up what he does and what I am instructed by the King to do but do not always. To lean not upon my own understanding but to press into the God of the Universe. There black pretty letters scrolled into a green background, “Trust.” Plainly written. He pondered over what was in front of him and he was living it out perfectly. He knows the facts, he knows the potential outcome, yet he trusts and he prays and he doesn’t panic. I love that about him, I always have. He is a good weatherman but an even better Man and I am so very thankful for him, for his humble and quiet leadership and for the adventure that I get to be a part of since we are yoked together and the two became one.

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers,they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire,you will not be burned;the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God,the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” Isaiah 43:1-3 

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A Clear Image

Photography is a favorite hobby of mine. The first camera that I ever used was a box camera. I went to summer camp when I was very young and my mother sent her camera with me so that I could record the fun of camp. The Brownie camera had just made its kodak-2627941_1280debut, so my mother sent her old camera with me to camp. I thought my photographs that were captured on black and white film were beautiful. That was the beginning of my quest to capture moments in time. I remember when Kodak had a commercial with a song about taking pictures. The song asked, “Do you remember? Do you remember the times of your life?”

My photography has graduated from that box camera through the years to many other types of cameras. One of the first items that my then soon to be husband and I purchased together was a 110 camera with a flash. We were so proud of our camera. Because it was a cartridge, 110 film was easy to load. No more pulling a little bit of film from the canister to feed it and wind it just a little and then snap the back shut and wind a little more. Later in our marriage we used several types of 35 mm cameras. We have boxes of pictures and a file cabinet of packages of negatives that are a result of our love of taking pictures.

What is film? you may ask. Google it.

When digital cameras were available, we made the move from film to a camera card. Much of that technology has changed since then. We enjoy setting up backdrops in our home and taking special pictures. A lot of planning goes into those pictures.

beach-camera-cellphone-861099.jpgSo why do I like a camera when I have a phone that takes amazing pictures? Most people never think of cleaning the lens of the camera on their phone. Most people have little specks of dirt or grime that they may not see as they take their picture but it is there. Phones go everywhere with us. If the lens is not clean if affects the picture. Even the best camera only takes great pictures if the lens is clean. When we take pictures with our backgrounds and lights, I remember to check the camera lens because of the extra effort it takes to use a camera. I have to be sure the battery is charged and the camera card has enough space for the pictures I plan to take to record special moments. All that effort is for nothing if the lens is not clean.

Our life is like a camera that records the moments we experience. No matter what kind of camera or phone you have or what filters you use, the actual picture is only as good as the quality of your lens.

Is the lens of your life cloudy? When is the last time you have cleaned it?

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Romans 3:23 tells us “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” This tells us that the lens of our life could never be clean enough.

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Scripture tells us that David prayed “Create in me a clean heart O God and renew a right spirit in me”. Psalm 51:10 ESV

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Romans 5:8 assures us “that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us”.

1 John 1:9 NIV tells us “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

These scriptures tell me that Jesus will always be there to cleanse the lens of my life. He died for me so that I could live with Him for all eternity.

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The next time you take a picture, remember to clean the lens of your camera and then, remember who cleanses the lens of your life. Take time to thank The Lord for his cleansing and the love he showed us when he died for us.

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Happy New Year!

    He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3:11

A Time for Everything

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

A time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
A time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
A time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
A time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
A time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
A time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

What do workers gain from their toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-14

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