Of Ships and Fires

If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs.  So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!  And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life,  and set on fire by hell.  For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind,  but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.  With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God.  From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.  Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water?  Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.

James 3:2-12

One thing we all have in common is the misuse of our tongue. Either overuse, underuse or inappropriate use. Perhaps the tongue runs ahead of our mind and the spirit of God spewing words that wound, words we often wish we could put back inside us. On the other hand, there are times when we know we should speak up and speak truth, but nothing comes out. We quench the spirit. Then there are the words that just make us cringe, not from evil, but from insensitivity, error, or just not thinking. In our scripture James warns us about our words.

We would all be careful with a match in dry woods. We’d be cautious using our grill during a drought, we wouldn’t dump the used charcoal in dry leaves, and most likely we’d follow Smokey the Bear’s instructions and douse it with water as we would a campfire. James says we should be equally on guard using our tongue. Are we careful where and when we use our words? Do we sum up each conversation and determine if it is the season for that word? Do we douse the spark with water when we do say something that incites another or injures them? The water of a apology, explanation or whatever action it takes to resolve our misuse of this muscle in our mouths?

James also compares our tongue to the rudder of a ship. The rudder directs the course the ship will take. Depending on how the rudder is handled, the ship may sail safely into calm seas and arrive at its destination in a timely manner. Or it could flounder in shoals, run aground or plow into another ship doing irreparable damage. What about the ship of our lives, how’s the trip going? Perhaps you find yourself always at odds with a husband, mother-in-law, co-worker, or even a stranger. There seems to be tension, a war of words or constant misunderstandings. Our tongue often is the rudder that has steered us into the situation, and it will take some careful steering to get us out.

So how do we handle the tongue?

First, we handle the heart. Words that come out of our mouth flow from the peace or chaos going on in our hearts. James says words are simply the fruit of the tree – if we’re a fig tree we grow figs and if we’re an olive tree we grow olives. What kind of tree are you? An anger tree? A fearful tree? A frustrated tree? An insecure or lonely tree? Our solution for issues with our tongues is to allow Jesus to heal our wounded hearts and turn us into Blessing trees or Kindness trees or Joyful trees or something similar. To have a heart change it takes going to see the Great Physician, spending time in His Presence and allowing Him to work on us and make the necessary repairs. As we are recovering we begin bearing the fruit we see in the verses below, good fruit, from a good tree – a healed heart.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.  And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Galatians 5:22-24

Second, we obey. We exercise self-control even when we would feel more justified in making a smart remark or saying something hateful derogatory. Obeying the call of scripture to put others before ourselves, to walk humbly, to control our tongues is difficult. It takes a constant awareness of where our heart is leaning and a minute by minute decision to submit to God’s ways. But Girls, we can do it. God is at work in us, empowering us to live Holy lives, we simply follow through and do what we know to do.

So today we are challenged to be tongue-tamers! Which is even more challenging than being a lion tamer! We can do this. We want the ship of our lives to take a peaceful voyage that uplifts others as we travel on. We don’t want to be arsonists running around setting fires! Take it one day at a time. No wait, one minute at a time! We can do this!

Hidden But Still Seen

We sat around the table discussing the logistics of the days to come, hashing out details and making plans when our host began to apologize for the perceived annoyance behind us. 

“It’s the dog. She wants in.” 

All of us around the table were pet owners so we encouraged our host to let the girl in. She scratched at the door and whined on the covered porch but as our host walked toward her, the fifty pound pup began to jump in excitement. Her big paws echoed as she did so, and she made no hesitation in coming to investigate the semi-strangers seated around her dining room table. She sniffed and prodded, she nuzzled and nudged. She shed a bit and our host apologized again.

I laughed.

When we spoke to her and acknowledged her presence, all of our voices, with the exception of our host, became elevated. 

We welcomed her to our meeting.

Her name is Scout, the dog not the host, and she captures what a Southern canine is. She is heavy footed and clumsy, slightly overwhelming and full of love with no shortage of kisses. Our host scolded her and attempted to shoo her away from our glass table top work space. 

Scout was beside me checking out my bag. I was petting her behind the ears at the time when the scolding and redirective came. She made a move away from me and attempted to hide. I started to laugh at the irony.

“We used to have a dog that would hide under our glass table and look up at us thinking she was hidden” my friend across from me said to the group. 

I began to laugh even harder. 

How many times have I been like this, like that dog? Doing my dead level best to hide when my idea of a hiding place is completely transparent. I will be wallowing in sin and trying to hide that from the Lord, from myself even. How many times do I think I can hide from Him, and truth is, I might as well be a 50 pound shedding, slobbering, retriever, beneath a glass table top. 

There is nothing in all creation hidden from him, (Hebrews 4:13) but how many times do we attempt to hide ourselves from him. How many times have I held close those secret things that He alone can sort out, make right, and heal?

As we all laughed at the absurdity of this pup’s reasoning I acknowledged there are times when I am no different and just as irrational.

The whole experience also reminded me of my children. When they were little they would cover their eyes thinking just because they couldn’t see me, I must not be able see them. Hide and seek was always a bit less challenging back then. 

It would take years for them to realize that their not being able to see did not negate my ability to see them, much like the Lord I reckon. Just because I do not always see Him working doesn’t mean He isn’t, and just because I think He can’t see me, doesn’t mean he can’t.

Your View of the World

How do you see the world? Do you see all your life as happenstance? Or do you see the world as created and ruled over by God? Do you look at each person you interact with as a unique and loved being? Do you realize that you, and they, are here for a purpose? Do you get in a situation and feel like you don’t know what truth even is any more? Do you wake up each morning and face the day based on the Bible or the latest news or social media issue? Do you understand that we have a real enemy in the spiritual realm, or does the Devil seem like a superstition to you?

How you react to each of these questions reveals your world view. A world view can be secular or religious, faulty or true, helpful or harmful. It matters how you see the world.

What has shaped your view of the world? The family who raised you contributed to your world view. So does your church, school, or friend group. Society as well as the books you consume or movies and shows you watch also impact your perspective of the world. Living life in a sinful world impacts the way we see the world as well. We can become jaded, our faith can be whittled away, and we can find ourselves in the middle of a sea of doubt.

What are we to do? We need to first see if our view of the world is true. Is it based on truth? 

Do you personally have a biblical worldview? The following questions from the Barna Group research will help you see if you do. Think about and answer in your own heart the following questions. Try not to give a rote Sunday school answer, but examine your heart and evaluate what you truly believe in your heart of hearts.

  1. Do absolute moral truths exist?
  2. Is absolute truth defined by the Bible?
  3. Did Jesus Christ live a sinless life?
  4. Is God the all-powerful and all-knowing Creator of the universe, and does He still rule it today?
  5. Is salvation a gift from God that cannot be earned?
  6. Is Satan real?
  7. Does a Christian have a responsibility to share his or her faith in Christ with other people?
  8. Is the Bible accurate in all of its teachings?

A Biblical worldview is based on the infallible Word of God. When you believe there is an absolute moral truth and that the Bible is entirely true, then you allow it to be the foundation of everything you say and do. The only foundation worthy to build a world view on is the word of God, the Bible. It is our only source of truth.

But according to Barna Researchers, only 14% of all American adults read their Bibles daily. The rest of them/us, the 86%, the majority by a long shot, go spiritually hungry those days they are not in God’s word. Where are you in this data? Where are you today? Have you gone off to your day’s challenges spiritually nourished for what the day may hold? Or are you starving yourself spiritually?

Making It Home: What is a Home?

What is a home anyway? Is it the house? Is it the people who live in it? No, I guess that’s the family. Maybe it’s the atmosphere within a family’s house. Or maybe it’s your community – you know how when you are driving back from a vacation there is a point you get to where someone in the car says “It’s good to be home.” Perhaps it’s your people, even beyond blood relatives. When you are with them it just feels like home. But what is that feeling?

In the book of Ruth, the idea of home had several slightly different meanings. In chapter 1 verse 6, home was Naomi’s country and people. In verse 8 it was Ruth’s “family home,” the household she grew up in. In verse 9 home indicated marriage and family. By chapter 3 verse 1, Ruth and her mother-in-law, Naomi, are back in Naomi’s hometown, and she implies that Ruth’s home would be a place she could be provided for, find protection, and the ruins of her old life could be redeemed. Finally, Chapter 4 verse 11 shows Boaz’ home as his household, but also as a place of hope and possibility where love can come and children will be born.

Whatever your heart definition of home is, let us remember what home is not. It is not your physical house however big or small, fancy or rundown, quaint or sprawling that may be. It is not your belongings. It is not stuff to be acquired in a building. It is not made by other people, it springs from our own heart. It is not the sum of all our past successes and failings, nor is it a list of all you’ve done. It’s not the mess of dirty dishes and laundry, nor is it the pristine perfection of the magazine photo. Home is what we create.

How like our loving God to allow us as His image-bearers to also create as He created! So as you create your home, know that it starts in your heart. A heart full of peace, joy and love can only come from a relationship with Jesus. Otherwise our hearts will be discontent, searching for something better, and longing for more. First Timothy 6:6 says, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” This is where home is born, in a godly heart full of contentment because it rests in Him.

Working Out

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9

It’s week four of a renewed effort to work out here at our house. There have been several days of aches and pains, lots more water drinking and some planning and setting alarms to make it happen. We are finally hitting our stride and the initial torture is becoming a welcome routine. We are seeing results: toned muscles, increased stamina, and endorphin triggered feelings of well-being. Everyone knows the results do not come with only 1 day or even 1 week of beginning to work out. We realize it is a process. Muscles develop over time. The heart muscle is strengthened over time. Weight loss and overall fitness accrues over time.

Why is it then that we don’t apply some of those considerations we know about physical fitness to our spiritual fitness? Let’s paste the physical truths over into the spiritual realm.

The Preparation. You have to plan to do it or you won’t.

  1. Set the alarm for an earlier time to do physical or spiritual discipline!
  2. Have the gear ready. We lay the workout clothes out for physical fitness. Spiritually we need to have all our “gear” ready: Bible, notebook, and pen at a minimum.
  3. Expect resistance. Muscles ache and bodies are weary, tired, or we feel lazy that day, but we fight through it for physical exercise because we are working for a future long term goal. Spiritually we won’t want to get up and do it some days. We all have to fight against tiredness, weariness, laziness and the enemy! Fight through it for that long term goal – spiritual health. We are building faith muscles!
  4. Have your Go To place! For me it’s the track at the soccer field on sunny days and the treadmill or bedroom floor on really stormy/cold days. Spiritually, it’s my back deck, or my big cushy livingroom chair if it’s rainy or cold.

The Procedure.

  1. Begin gently. I didn’t run a marathon my first morning out. And we don’t decide to outline a whole book of the Bible our first morning into developing a habit of time with the Lord. Stretches and light exercise for the first day physically equals prayer time, reading a verse or paragraph, and journaling one (1) truth the Lord touched my heart with through those scriptures.
  2. Build up over time. After a month a faster pace, longer time and heavier weights are in order, as are more intense prayer, a longer time, deeper study of the Word, and finding a way each day to apply what you learned or share it with someone else.
  3. Vary the routine. Everyone who counseled me on starting back exercising said, “Find something you like to do and do it consistently. But when you feel bored and tired of it, throw in something new for variety.” Same with the spiritual. Keep that routine going, but throw in something new. Instead of just reading the Bible try these: *Listen to it! – on 1.5 speed – while you walk on the treadmill! *Study it with your Strong”s concordance beside you to look up the meanings of Greek or Hebrew words. *Hand copy a verse, paragraph, or chapter. *Memorize a verse. *Outline a chapter. *Paraphrase it in your own words. *Draw it out with symbols. *Or my favorite – Underline key words asking your self 3 questions 1) What do I see? 2)What does that mean? 3)How do I apply it / What should I do in response?
  4. Ride that wave. When you find your sweet spot and it has become a habit, ride that wave! Let the normalcy of it or the joy of it or the after-effects of it be a force to propel you to keep on – physically or spiritually!

The Payoff.

  1. Toned muscles. Our faith is often small because we do not work it out. As you grow and have faith in small things you will have the spiritual strength to have faith in the more challenging things we face.
  2. Increased stamina. We will find a desire to go further with the Lord, not get winded and overwhelmed by our time with Him, and we will be fit for the long haul in life spiritually.
  3. Weight loss. The weight of this world that we carry will begin to seem easier over time – but remember how slowly that happens physically – the weight seems to come off in tenths of an ounce some weeks! It happens very slowly spiritually too. But look back in one year’s time and you’ll be amazed.
  4. Feelings of well-being. As we spend time with the Lord and lay our worries in His hands to handle, and as we immerse ourselves in the truths of scripture, we gain a sense of well-being in knowing that God is for us and will go with us.
  5. Increased overall health and fitness. Just as a year of consistent physical exercise yields surprising results in overall fitness (BP down, diabetes under control, joints stronger, easier breathing, coming off medicines, etc.), spiritual exercise yields results we can’t imagine: peace, wisdom, contentment, relief from worry and fear, growth, etc.

So the challenge to you today – Get Spiritually Fit! Go after God like you go after your exercise program! Or for some of us, go after God first and He’ll help us with that desire to go after physical exercise. How do you do it? Plan ahead each night – set the alarm – be prepared. Expect resistance at first, but Do It Anyway! Find your place and make it a sacred place for you and Your Father to meet. Begin gently – build up over time – vary the routine – then ride the wave! You will gain more than you can imagine!

I Saw It Coming

Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.

Psalm 143:8

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A crow sat cawing above me, that usually puts me in a bad mood but even the incessant noise couldn’t ruin my disposition. The gentle fall breeze blew and the cool was a welcome reprieve. The last of the knockout roses left dropped a few petals, fall was definitely making its way in.

I love fall and the beauty it brings. Almost all the good things in my life have happened in fall so I welcome it when it arrives in Alabama. 

That morning as I sat in the cool, I remembered the night before. I’d been sitting at the kitchen table, when my husband had interrupted my thoughts, calling me to the front porch. Supper was done and after a long but good day of ministry, I was tired. I sat doing some before bed things as my teenage children completed chores and homework assignments. My husband who was standing at the front door implored me again,

“Come here you gotta see this. All y’all c’mere.” 

We halted out activities and did as he’d asked. He was standing in the yard pointing to the heavens. He does that a lot. Sees things in the clouds with a clarity no one else sees. I often feel like I’m taking a heavenly pop quiz for which I am utterly and completely unprepared. 

The sky was full of clouds, streaks of purples, blues, and dark pink. The sky looked majestic, yellows gave way to oranges and the beauty of it all was stunning. Surely he was pointing out the beauty of the sunset. 

This one would be easy. 

He pointed again and asked, “You know what that is?

“A sunset.” 

Surely he doesn’t think I’m so ignorant of the skies that I do not recognize a sunset. I followed up with a compliment of the sky.

“It’s beautiful! That is amazing!” 

His upward pointing hand fell to his side, “No Baby, that’s the cold front.”

How had I missed this one?

“Tomorrow will be a beautiful day and the temps are going to be amazing. Fall is on its way Baby!”

He patted my shoulder, perhaps out of sympathy for my inability to see what he had seen and interpreted, perhaps because he is no stranger to my affinity for fall. 

He then began to outline the push of cold air that had formed a roll cloud, the skies above were made up of waves of clouds and you could literally see the front that was bringing in the cool of the following days. 

As I sat that morning and felt the breeze I realized the night before I’d literally seen the cool on its way in. My husband had literally pointed out cold air, something previously unseen by my eyes, as it altered the atmosphere in such a way to create a thing of beauty. 

There are times when I don’t see it coming, the change in the atmosphere, life circumstances. I get blindsided by the unknown and unforeseen. However, I can rest in knowing that I know the One who knows all: the beginning, the end, the in between. I recently was reminded of a quote by Corrie ten Boom, which put that reality into perspective for me. She said, “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” She is correct, we can absolutely trust the One who is never caught off guard and never guilty of saying, “I never saw it coming.”

Being a Mother is…

As I sit in my “office” (outside on my deck) this chilly fall morning, I am overwhelmed with the joy of being a woman and a mother. We’ve been doing the “Jesus & Women” Bible study by Kristi McClelland, and it has brought lightness to my heart to see how Jesus spoke with women, honored women, and lifted them up from their sin, disease, or lowly status. As God would have it, I “just happened” to be drinking coffee out of one of my favorite mugs that states: Being a Mother is a Holy Privilege. Oh how true! But Oh how often I let the cares of the world blind me to this truth. Anybody with me?

How often when the kiddos were little did I long to be somewhere else, socializing, taking a romantic vacation, doing something more exciting than mundane laundry or changing diapers? When they were elementary age, how often did I shoo them out of the house to play with friends? And how often as they were teens did I take it for granted that they would always be there heading in and out of the house laughing, chatting, or griping about having to clean up?

Now as an empty-nester, I look back and realize how much I overlooked what a Holy Privilege this motherhood thing was. But we don’t get do-overs. So I pass along my encouragement to you moms who are still in the thick of it – relax and absorb the Holy place in which God has placed you. You are doing a holy work. Rest in the fact that He will allow you to accomplish all that really needs to be done. It is eternal souls you are guiding. Laugh and enjoy them. You don’t have to make them perfect. Pray with them and apologize when you need to. All that is necessary is to simply love them and guide their hearts toward the King the best way you can. No perfection or status purchases necessary.

The primary way we moms manage to affect our kids for God’s kingdom is by staying in an obedient, loving relationship with God. Reading His Word. Listening to His voice. Conversing with Him in prayer. Living out what He whispers to us each day. Keeping the faith when it would be so easy to turn our backs on it.

What keeps us from staying close to the Lover of Our Souls? For most, it’s not the big, huge sins, it’s the everyday mundane distractions that Satan uses to lure us off track without us even noticing.

I was reminded of the Parable of the Sower. You remember the story. Jesus tells us about the sower (Jesus Himself) sowing in different kinds of soil: the hard path, rocky soil, among the thorns, and on good soil. The seeds in the various places yielded varying results in growth and development. Some never sprouted. Some plants were scorched and died after they came up. Some were choked out and never bore fruit. But others grew and flourished into a fruit bearing, thriving plant. Listen to Jesus’ words as He explains those last two types of soil. See if an arrow pricks your heart.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”

Matthew 13:22-23

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Isn’t that last one what we all want to be? Planted in good soil, bearing the fruit of a faithful life. But to be that we have to have the kind of soil in our heart which allows that to take place. Too often, I have a thorny heart where the weeds of the cares of the world choke out my fragile plant of faith and make me fruitless. I long for these times to disappear, but it all depends on whether I am tending the soil of my heart.

Mamas out there, being a mother is a holy privilege. Fertilize the soil of your heart. We hear so much today about “Me Time.” I’m all for it – let’s make sure the firstfruits of our Me Time is offered to God as we sit at His feet and allow Him to weed the garden of our heart. I challenge you as I challenge myself today. Stop what you’re doing for even 20 minutes sometime today and tend to your heart. Tend to your relationship with the Father. Soak in the truths of His Word and listen for His still small voice. Then go and obey!

Live out your Holy Privilege with all you’ve got for as long as you’ve got!

Dig out those weeds and thorns!

God’s Word is Puposeful

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:10-11 NIV

Don’t you love this extended metaphor comparing Gods Word to the precipitation that falls on the earth?

It is given to us by Father God through the prophet Isaiah, and communicates so many truths in 2 short verses.

1. Like rain or snow, Gods Word is sent down from Heaven. His Word is as much a part of His provision for us as the daily rain!

2. What does rain do? It waters the earth. God’s Word waters our parched souls. Cleansing rain and refreshing joy come through His Scriptures.

3. Rain and snow not only water the earth, but they give growth. I’ve never seen it, but scientists tell us that a barren, scorched desert can burst into bloom after a quenching rain. Our souls also blossom and prepare to be fruitful when drenched with God’s Holy Word.

4. Plants do not bud and flourish just to be colorful; they bud to bear fruit and be useful. They have a purpose that is begun by the rain. God’s Word is the rain that causes our lives to bear fruit unto righteousness.

5. That flourishing plant yields 2 things: seed for the sower ands bread for the eater. In other words, The rain of God’s Word causes fruit in our lives that provides sustenance for our immediate, daily needs (bread) and provision for our future needs (seed to plant and harvest, time and again).

6. God’s Word will accomplish what He desires.

7. God’s Word in our lives, homes, churches, communities, and nation will achieve the purpose He sent it for.

We trust God for rain that sustains the earth. Trust His Word for truth that sustains your soul.

Making It Home: Coffee

We all have our ideas of what makes a house a home. My home would not be home without coffee. We all have our morning rituals. Mine is basically grab a cup of coffee and head out on the deck with my Bible. No talking please, at least until I’ve finished my first cup. Oh yeah, and there’s a “Poppy, go outside?” mumbled as I head out the door. And he does. I’m at home. I miss this ritual when I’m away from home.

Right now I’m sipping my fully loaded Green Mountain Breakfast Blend with Peppermint Mocha creamer as I type. So how about some observations?

  1. Coffee is a seed/bean from a plant. It is planted carefully and grown in the shade until it can be transplanted into moist soil where the roots can get established.
  2. When a coffee plant grows, matures, and bears fruit, it is ready to be put to use for the purpose it was made.
  3. Coffee is put through the fire to make it useful for our purposes. In a 550 degree oven, the beans are roasted until they reach an inner temp of 400 degrees. This browns them and allows the flavorful caffeol oil locked inside to emerge. (My source)
  4. Coffee is ground to make it useful for our purposes. The beans are put through grinder and ground to bits, and no longer even looks like a bean, a necessary process for the flavors to come out as we make it into the cup of coffee we drink.
  5. Coffee is put through hot water to make it useful for our purposes. It is soaked in boiling water to release its flavor.
  6. Coffee is hard to swallow black (just my opinion!).
  7. Coffee is bitter when percolated, so add a dash of salt.
  8. Coffee is best when filled with yummy creamer.
  9. Coffee energizes and gets the day started off right.

Lessons we can learn from coffee: The Christian life is like coffee.

  1. When we allow Christ to make His home in our heart, His seed is planted in us and that Christ-like character begins to grow us into a new person that will eventually take over and transform the old us. (2 Corinthians 5:17) Like coffee plants we need careful attention as we are developing. We need to be in the word and prayer and with other believers at this point to get our roots established.
  2. We will grow, mature and bear fruit, becoming the person God designed us to be and ready to be useful to the Father, waiting for Him to process us. “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:20)
  3. Our preparation for God’s purposes often involves being put through the fire, ground to bits, and feeling like we are drowning in boiling water. We will no longer even look like who we were before this. This change is not fun, but it is necessary. We are roasted (tested), ground (remade), and brewed in hot waters (humbled) where the sweet flavor of Christ is released and put to use.
  4. We often are hard to swallow at first. We may be bold and brassy and tend to storm the gates of hell with a water pistol in our zeal, but God isn’t through.
  5. He keeps working with His creation. The Holy Spirit seasons us with salt to get rid of the bitterness, then adds cream to make us appealing to the lost world He is seeking. He develops in us the fruit of the Spirit and we become tasty to those around us. They desire to drink in more of the Jesus in us.
  6. We become to each other that energizing, flavor-filled source of encouragement!

I realize my extended metaphor is rather a loose one, but you get the picture. As you welcome people into your home for a cup of coffee or meet another lady at Starbucks, I encourage you to remember that Christ is at work in you, even in your personal hard times, using you to encourage others in their Christian walk. You are helping others to develop a home in their hearts where Christ dwells and works and uses them to spread flavor to the world as well.

Thanks a Lot

“Do you know how lucky you are?
How fortunate?
How blessed?
Do you know how incredibly good you’ve got it?”

Those words rang through my mind as I traversed the roads, curvy and double lined paved strips of asphalt, familiar to me. I’d been to the library where I borrowed a book or two to read, free of charge pending I don’t lose it and return it on time. While there my kiddos placed folded pieces of paper with a name of their choosing in a box labeled “name the Guinea Pig” I am fairly certain Gerard was at the top of the list of names they’d narrowed down for the recently acquired library mascots. After the library I was heading to the pool with my children, all nearly grown, yet they did not shrink away from me or avoid spending time with me. Not as often as I thought they would at this age anyway.

Do you know how blessed you are despite living in a tumultuous time, adversity at multiple turns, pestilence and affliction, despite circumstances that would declare otherwise?
Do you know that you have breath in your lungs and Spirit in your body?
Do you know how blessed you are?

The thoughts were somewhat foreign to me as I struggle sometimes to have a good attitude.

I am a glass half empty-pessimist most days kind of gal. Truth is negativity comes easier to me than positivity. I find it most ironic that my blood type is actually B-positive. It is as if the Good Lord Himself needed to infuse me with the reminder to be positive from 120 days post birth when total red blood cell type conversion took place. Up until then I carried within my veins my Mama’s O positive blood type and I reckon the Lord also knew I needed to be rapidly transfused with that B-positive blood type because I was a jaundiced little gold nugget for quite some time, or so I am told and photos indicate, as I have no recollective memory of it. I digress.

I once went to a conference and a speaker spent an hour telling everyone how to be happy. She ended her talk with a statement backed by her research regarding happiness.

She said, “Research shows that the happiest people are not necessarily the wealthiest people, the people who have the most material things, the people who have climbed the corporate ladder. Those are the very people I would think are the happiest. Research has shown the happiest people are the grateful people. The ones who spend their lives being thankful.”

I smiled as I immediately remembered the favorite Madame Blueberry episode of VeggieTales that I had nearly memorized by heart as it played on repeat as my children were growing up. Madame Blueberry had discovered that all the things from Stuff-Mart couldn’t make her happy but that a happy-heart is a thankful-heart.

I try and remember that on the days I do not feel overwhelmed with joy is it because I am not overwhelmed with gratitude. The King’s word says in 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Don’t get me wrong I have yet to get it right and my grateful days could stand to be increased in quota but the King’s word is true, and I can trust the key to happiness is stamped with the word “Grateful.”