Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Quiet Moments With God -- How Great Is Our God.

This week I'm a guest on K Dawn Byrd's blog at www.kdawnbyrd.blogspot.com. She asked me if I would share three things people didn't know about me. One of the three that I mentioned is a speech impediment I had when I was a child.

A speech impediment doesn't sound like a big deal, but it was for me. The response from others left deep wounds. I'd try so hard to make people understand what I was saying, but I couldn't do it. One by one the other kids turned away from me. I was different. My mother says I'd try so hard to communicate. I'd say something over and over until I was yelling. Who wants to listen to someone yell gibberish at them?

It took only two years of speech therapy to cure my speaking difficulties, but another twenty to heal my wounded heart. Sometimes, even today, I get hurt without real cause and I can trace the hurt all the way back to the days when I was an outcast.

Even when I felt I was good for nothing God had plans for me. Surprisingly some of those included public speaking. Not only do I speak for all sorts of groups, but I love it. Who would have guessed.

In a response to one of the people who commented about my speech impediment on K Dawn's blog I said, "How great is our God!" He is great, beyond our understanding. He can do more with our lives than we can dream or imagine. I love the verse Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future."

When I was a wounded little girl I had no idea what God would do with my life. I couldn't imagine that He'd bind up my broken heart and teach me to trust Him. He knew what lay ahead for me. What an amazing thing He has done.

He has a plan for your life too. Trust Him. Keep walking your path and be amazed at how great is our Lord.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Friday, July 22, 2011

Topic Of The Day: Bookstores--A Thing Of The Past?

Our small town is losing its Borders bookstore and its Christian bookstore, both in the same month. They are the only two in our community.

Our town's not the only one who is losing its stores. For months, brick and mortar bookstores have been closing across our nation. One by one, we've watched them fall, overtaken by huge online corporations, electronic books and a sick economy. How far will it go? Will we one day remember libraries with fondness and tell our grandchildren and great grandchildren how wonderful it once was to stoll along aisles of bookshelves where we could choose anyone we wanted? Will we have to explain what it feels like to curl up in a chair with a good old fashioned book?

I'm sad. Each Mom and Pop store represents people who invested time, money and their hearts into their business. Employees lose jobs and communities lose a place where they can connect.

In the Bible, God speaks often about how important it is for people to gather together. And I don't think He's talking just about churches, but all sorts of locals where we join others and are linked because of similar interests. I've been talking to people in my community who are stunned and they're asking, "What happens now?"

As long as I can remember I've loved books, real books made with paper and ink, not some hand-held device with the image of a book. I love the smell and feel of books. I make notations in some and the best ones I keep to read again.

The trend toward electonic books has come too far to stop. For centuries, books have been treasured, but in this quickly evolving world we seem willing to release one of mankind's most precious creations with barely a blink of the eye.

Convenience sucked us in. It's so easy to simply click a button and either instantly download a book or wait for it to arrive in the mail. Will real books go the way of our bookstores? What will we do when there are no more real books?

Have you thought about where you'll get your next Bible? What will happen when we can no longer hold a Bible in our hand, write notes in the margins and highlight special portions of scripture? I can't imagine a world like that.

I usually write posts that are uplifting and encouraging. And although the changes in the book world are hard for me to take, I don't think books are going to disappear. We will always have them in one form or another. I'm just going to miss the old fashioned bookstores along with the old fashioned books.

For now, I'm hanging on to my books and I'll share them. And although it will no longer be possible for me to drive into town and wander through my two favorite bookstores I'm continuing to do well without an electronic book.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Monday, July 18, 2011

Quiet Moments With God -- Whisper His Name

Recently in a devotional I read, the author talked about whispering God's name. I remembered a time, as a young woman, when I was in the midst of darkness and all I could do was say His name. I knew very little about Jesus, but He carried me through days of fear and heartache. I didn't know Him as Savior, but I knew His name was powerful and healing.

I was going through one of the toughest times of my life. I'd recently lost a baby, my father had died from cancer, a dear friend had also succumbed to cancer and I was in the midst of a divorce. I had no strength for battles. But I found myself in the midst of one. I needed a job badly and the place that hired me was in the middle of a strike. Each day I had to cross a picket line going in to work and going out.

That first week Kathy, a friend of mine, stopped to visit me. Kathy told me she was a new believer. To be truthful, I didn't understand and didn't really care. I had "more important things to think about" or so I thought. That evening before Kathy left my house she said something that stuck with me. She said, "I just want to tell you one thing. Jesus loves you."

I didn't know Jesus, but I needed to be loved and I needed someone to stand with me. Every day when I crossed that picket line people hurled obscenities at me, but I repeated over and over, "Jesus loves me. Jesus loves me." Saying the words gave me strength and shut out the foul words and accusations. The Lord loves to hear His name and He knew I needed to hear it too.

My life was in ruins and each day I felt as if I were wading through a river of sorrows. But through my tears I'd whisper, Jesus loves me and I'd go on. He carried me. He lifted me up. And then one day I heard a television minister speak of Jesus. He shared the gospel and I listened. And then I knelt in front of the television and gave my heart to Christ. He lifted me up from a pit of despair and I said His name again and again. His name--His beautiful name. To this day, when I say the name of Jesus it soothes my heart.

Say His name -- He hears and I know He smiles.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Monday, July 11, 2011

Quiet Moments With God -- Love Never Fails

I love my grandchildren. God has blessed me by planting them close. We get to spend a lot of time together and I'm convinced they're exceptionally lovable. They teach me things about life that I might not see if not for them. I learn from their goodness and their naughtiness.

Recently, I've been thinking on the behavior of two of my grandsons. They're usually buddies who support one another and share good times. However, they sometimes forget that they even like each other. They strike out with unkind words and sometimes with their fists. After one of these episodes they go through a process of rebuilding the relationship. They're just kids and so this doesn't usually take long, but the conflicts happens again and again. There's competition over who is smarter, stronger better at video games or athletics. I don't know why they compete but I do know that it begins with self.

I've seen conflict rise up between friends, business partners and family, including church family. Clashes have the power to destroy relationships and can tear apart organizations, including our churches. They begin for various reasons, but if you go to the core of the matter you will most likely discover that it began with self.

Sad to say, human beings are self-centered. We want what we want when we want it. And on top of that, we think we deserve whatever that is.

There is a way to avoid this kind of destructive behavior. 1st Corinthians, chapter 13 shows us the way, but today I'm going to focus on just four verses, beginning with verse 4. "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails."

Straight forward and simple. All we have to do is love one another. If only it were so easy. It should be. God is love and He lives in us. So . . . shouldn't we possess the qualities described in 1st Corinthians 13? We do, but our sinful nature gets in the way.

There's only one man who lived a sinless life--Christ. We're all sinners and incapable of living a sin free life. Nevertheless, most of us can do better. Imagine what our lives would be like if we lived out the above verses. The first word that comes to my mind is peace. If everything was about love instead of self I'd be at complete peace with whatever comes my way. What about you? What do you see when you consider the possibility of loving at all times?

Because we're human we commit sinful acts and thoughts every day, many times a day. We muffed up perfection way back in The Garden. But alls not lost. We can create a world that possesses more justice, more kindness, more love. If each one of us will strive to be more like Christ we will love in a way that will impact our world for good.

Perhaps making a vow (not to be taken lightly) to follow Paul's teachings on love would be what we need to kick start a better way of living out our days. We can begin each day by renewing our vow and doing our best to catch ourselves when we are tempted to do otherwise. We would love more completely and I guarantee that our heartache over the failings in our lives will fade, at least a little . . . for love never fails.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Topic of the Day: The Verdict

The verdict is in. People are in shock. Casey Anthony innocent?

For nearly three years, we've heard what a monster Casey Anthony is. And maybe it's true. I don't know her heart, only God does. In recent weeks, during the trial, the news media pounced. They crucified Casey Anthony, reminding me of sharks in bloodied water.

The United States has a judicial system that was created to avoid things like lynch mobs. It's imperfect, but it works well most of the time. I agree that Casey Anthony's behavior was bizarre, suspicious and immoral, but that does not mean she murdered her daughter.

There is a standard in this country that says a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty. I'm embarrassed and ashamed of the conduct shown by our press and the "experts" and, yes, some of us. We needed to hear all of the testimony before a decision could be made. And sadly, so much of what we heard through radio and television was inaccurate. We were not on that jury, and we do not have the right to decide Casey Anthony's guilt or innocence.

How many of us made up our minds, pointed fingers, ridiculed the attorneys and determined guilt or innocence through the distorted lens of the media? What should we have done? Perhaps we should have prayed for the family, including Casey Anthony. After all, as vile as she may seem, God loves her. Did we pray for truth and justice? Did we pray . . . at all?

The morning the verdict was announced I read a devotional given from the viewpoint of God. He said, "I love to make your life a glorious adventure." The words pierced my heart. I am blessed. He has made my life a glorious adventure, even with the many troubles and heartaches I've endured. But the Anthony family, no matter what the verdict, have most likely lost their opportunity for such a life. Their lives are a waste land. They lost a beautiful child, their integrity, their faith in one another. They threw accusations at each, were mired in lies and their lives torn to shreds. And a sweet little girl lost her life.

God wanted better for them. We should want better for them.

Consider carefully the choices you make. And choose -- Love. Joy. Peace. Grace. Pray for others. Do not squander your lives. May it be a glorious adventure.

Grace and peace to you from God.