More of His Grace

 

“More about Jesus I would know, more of His grace to others show; More of His saving fullness see, more of His love, who died for me. More, more about Jesus, More, more about Jesus; More of His saving fullness see, more of His love, who died for me.”

An old time favorite hymn of mine is titled “More about Jesus” written by Eliza Hewitt. It was first published in 1887. It speaks of the major theme of the Christian faith…GRACE.

The word “grace” has numerous definitions.  Google “grace” and it will return over 54,000,000 results. Grace is more than a brief prayer offered up before a meal. Grace can be defined as having or giving favor or goodwill; such as showing kindness, forgiveness, charity, and mercifulness. It can be defined as mercy, clemency or pardon. It’s an unmerited favor one doesn’t deserve it.

One of the lines in that hymn brought to mind a story shared with me by a friend returning from a mission trip and a lesson about grace while there.

It seems one group of youth and adults didn’t understand the purpose of a mission trip and it sounded as if this group had less than servant hearts. The staff was confused by what they had observed and frustrated that they seemed to have had no impact on the attitude or heart of the group.

After listening to their stories the leader of the group said, “Remember, EGR.”  My friend thought, EGR?  She knew EEG, EKG and even EOG’s but EGR… what’s EGR? So she asked. The response was “Extra Grace Required.” The leader was reminding staff that some people and situations require extra Grace.

We all need to practice “EGR”, don’t we? If someone cut’s us off at the traffic light, think “EGR.” If there’s an empty grocery cart in that choice parking space at the grocers, think “EGR.” If our spouse has a bad day and snaps at us unintentionally, think “EGR.” If our child gets frustrated trying to learn a new skill, think “EGR.” The list could go on and on about when we could practice “EGR.”

But wait! That’s a lot of finger pointing. We must remember the old adage…”When you point your finger at someone, four of your fingers are pointing back at you.” Just as we have the opportunity to practice “EGR,” we probably are giving others a reason to practice it with us. Oh, no, not when we roll our eyes at a spouse’s comment; not when we raise our voice at our children before, we allow them to complete their explanation; not when we become impatient with a new cashier; not when…. fill in the blank.

There are many times when our actions don’t reflect the grace that we have received.

Instead of only looking for times to practice “EGR” with others, perhaps we should be hoping others will understand the mistakes we make and send a little EGR our way. God certainly has and does every single day.

I’m thankful for grace.

That old hymn is a reminder to practice “EGR.” Perhaps, just perhaps … This Is Your Song too. I hope so.

Hebrews 12:15 See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled.

 

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, forgive us for those times when we behave in an ungracious manner. Help us Lord to be a reflection of Your grace in all that we say and do. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen

 

 

The Magic Eraser

The selection of cleaning products on the market now days never ceases to amaze me.

The Proctor and Gamble Company boasts of the cleaning power of one of their products, “Mr. Clean’s Magic Eraser.” It promises to remove dirt, grime and even scuff marks with a single swipe with no soap, only a little water. I’ve used the product for several years, usually when cleaning the bathroom or to remove shoe scuff marks on the kitchen floor. It does okay. Sometimes I have to put a bit more “elbow grease” into it.

Today, I decided to test it on scuff marks and scratches on the walls that occurred from bumping them with furniture over the years… and grand-kid’s little finger prints as they learn to navigate the stairs without holding onto the handrail. I was surprised when some of the deep scratches seemed to disappear. The Magic Eraser didn’t disappoint. It had done just as it promised.

As I sat on the stairs cleaning off the marks, I thought about how God does just as He promises too.  Time after time I have gone to Him in prayer; prayers over broken relationships, physical healing, employment issues; prayers for my children and for my parents; prayers for friends and prayers for situations in the world. No, my prayers were not always answered as I thought they should have been. And yes, I got really angry at God sometimes.  But you know what? As I matured (or calmed down as the case may be in some instances) and looked back at the situations, I could see how His answers were for the best.

Scripture tells us in 1 John 1:9 (ASB), “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  Believe me, I do a lot of confessing!

As I continued to clean, another scripture verse came to mind; Hebrews 10:17 (NIV), “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”

I like the way the Voice quotes it,

“I will erase their sins and wicked acts out of My memory as though they had never existed.”

I had to smile when that scripture came to mind. Just like the Magic Eraser took away all evidence of the mars on my walls, God erased the mars on my soul. He will do it for you too.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, your mercy and grace is amazing. Thank you for the daily reminders in my life…something as trite as the Magic Eraser…that you are faithful and true to your promises. God you never cease to amaze me! In Christ name. Amen.

Sipping “Limonade Rose”

I’m trying to be more mindful of my diet by including more organic and less processed foods and beverages. Notice I said “trying.” I’m finding it difficult to replace all of my favorite caffeinated drinks, such as tea, coffee and cola. I’ve discovered a brand of flavored teas that are very tasty and can be enjoyed as a soothing hot beverage. While sipping a hot cup of tea called “Limonade Rose”, I read the side panel of the box. It said…”Just imagine capturing your childhood in a glass when your lips touch upon the tangy citrus of the pinkest of lemonades. Just a sip and you’ll hear the laughter of your youth ringing through the years.”

As I sipped the tea, I conjured childhood memories. Thoughts kept coming to mind about vacation bible schools. That one week during summer just at the end of the school year, when churches dedicate each weekday, or evening, to children. Oh, not memories of my childhood, but about the children I used to teach.

Train a Child

I remember nights of meetings in homes of co-teachers for many weeks ahead of VBS, as we studied the lesson plans together and laughed at our attempts to make the “simple” crafts to teach the children.

I remember children running wildly around the church yard, laughing and giggling as they waited to line-up to march inside.

I remember little faces lighting up as they were chosen to be the one to carry in the American and Christian flags, and the big ol’ pulpit bible that weighed as much as the child.

I remember how proud they were when they could quote a whole bible verse at week’s end without any coaching and how they proudly displayed their crafts on parent’s night.

Simple songs still ring in my mind. “Yo Tengo un amigo que me ama, que me ama, que me ama. Yo Tengo un amigo que me ama, su nombre es Jesús – I have a faithful friend who truly loves me, who loves me, who loves me. I have a faithful friend who truly loves me and Jesus is his name.”

The dedication of many men and women who were willing to give up a week of their time to help out in summer VBS made it possible for the children to learn how God loved them and salvation was not just for “grownups.”

The tradition of Vacation Bible School still continues in many churches. For many children, VBS week is the only time they hear about God’s love and Jesus for the first time.

I’m reminded of 2 Timothy 3:14-15

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”

I encourage each of you to put into practice today’s verse. Make time to acquaint yourself again with the sacred writings and share them with a child. Imagine capturing a child’s memory by offering them the delightful taste of God’s love and salvation through Christ Jesus.

What about you…any VBS memories as a child or teacher? I’d love to hear them.

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for placing people in our lives who continue in their faith and are willing to share and teach your word, the sacred writings, with us. Father God, help us to be that person also. Help us share with others, by teaching in VBS, by offering words of comfort, a cool glass of water, or by being examples in our friendships. Like the aromas of herbal teas, we drink in the aroma of your steadfast love. In Christ name we pray.

Mother’s Intuition or the Holy Spirit?

1 Corinthians 12:8-10

for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.

That time when you know something’s just not right. You have a feeling that just won’t go away. What is it….?

I received a text message from my daughter at 6:34 a.m.  She was just getting home from an overnight stint in the emergency room with her husband. He had a bicycle crash that resulted in dislocating his clavicle from his shoulder.  Ouch!

Ahhh…that explained a lot. Let me take you back through my previous day.

The previous afternoon, around 4 p.m., I was trying to figure out a tax issue at work. My head was spinning. In my frustration, I threw my hands up and flopped into the back of my chair. Ouch!!! My shoulder let me know immediately it was not healed from recent surgery. It ached the rest of the day.

I was restless all that night with dreams about medical facilities. I awoke at 5:30 a.m. feeling weepy with an unknown heaviness and queasiness of stomach. My husband and I talked about this feeling, putting it off on the pending weekend obligations that always make me feel like that. Then at 6:34 a.m., I received the text from my daughter. Immediately, the feelings went away.

Mother’s intuition or the Holy Spirit speaking….?

Was throwing myself into the back of my chair, causing my shoulder to ache, happening at the same time my son-in-law’s bike crash happened? I don’t know. (Mother’s intuition or the Holy Spirit?)

Was the night of restless sleep and dreams of medical facilities occurring at the same time my daughter and son-in-law were in the ER? I don’t know. (Mother’s intuition or the Holy Spirit?)

I’d like to think a little of both.

God speaks to us in many ways, doesn’t he?  How has he spoken to you?

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, what an awesome God you are. You speak to us at times we are not even aware of. You urge us to pray for or visit friends at times when we don’t understand why. Thank you Father for the obedience of my family and friends to listen to those urges and pray for me, a loved one, a friend or the passerby. Father it is my prayer that we always listen when you speak, even when we don’t know why. In Christ’s name I pray. 

Proverbs Women in My Life

Proverbs 31:29-31  “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all. Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Honor her for all that her hands have done,  and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.”

If you read of the perfect woman in Proverbs 31, like me you may think she is surely a fictional woman. That type of perfection is IMPOSSIBLE!

Well, I have had to change my thought process on that bit of scripture, at least part of it anyway. God brought a woman into my life eighteen months ago. One whom I have been privileged and blessed to learn from. A quiet spoken, humble woman, named Ms. Moffett. I have only known two other such ladies my entire life with the same attributes.

The first one I met when I was still in my teens. She was a member of the church that my boyfriend (now husband) grew up in. “Ms. Mildred.” I can still see Ms. Mildred’s sweet smile and hear her melodic alto voice that brought music to life as she sang hymns of praise and adoration in the choir. She too was a soft spoken woman. She was such a prayer warrior and taught me so much about prayer. She was so in tune to the Holy Spirit that I was sometimes in awe of how she “just knew” things. For instance, one morning about three months after my father died, she stopped by my house on her way to work. She said the Holy Spirit told her I needed her that morning and she MUST go see me before she went to work. For you see, I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. I had not had the opportunity to grieve my father’s passing, when three months from the day he died, that my grandfather died. I had been praying the morning Ms. Mildred stopped by. I had been playing the blame game, accusing God of not caring. I asked Him to please, please help me understand. Then, not twenty minutes later, Ms. Mildred knocks at my door and asks if she may come in and pray with me. She helped me let go of the anger and hurt so I could grieve. She gave me that sweet little smile and a hug and was on her way. I have never forgotten Ms. Mildred. She went home to Jesus a few years ago. Every time I pass the house where she used to live, I am reminded of how she would go into her prayer closet, literally a closet, and have conversations with God, lifting others in prayer.

The second woman was Mrs. Bean. You know, I don’t think I ever knew her first name. Everyone called her, “Mrs. Bean” or “Grandma Bean.” She was in her mid-eighties when I met her. She became a member of the church my husband and I joined after we left the church he grew up in. I got to know Ms. Bean while I was doing an oral history paper for one of my college classes. I had the privilege of sitting with her and her ninety-two year old sister for six weeks while listening to their life stories. Ms. Bean was another woman who believed in having personal conversations with God. Towards the end of our time together, a financial hardship fell on my family. Ms. Bean pulled me into her bedroom one afternoon. She wanted to give me some money. I wasn’t about to accept it, knowing that she lived on a fixed income and needed it more than we did. I told her I couldn’t accept it. She kept insisting I take the gift. So, to appease her, I said I would have to talk to my husband first. Ohhhhh, that did not sit well with her! Her come back to me was, and I quote, “YOU do not have to talk with anyone, because I talked to the Lord, and HE said you were to have this.” How did one argue with that? She too, is now with Jesus.

Ms. Moffett, a Presbyterian minister, came into my life when a healing balm was needed. I and the congregation for whom I work needed healing from hurtful actions from previous leaders. (No, much as we would like to think, there is no perfect church on earth.) I digress… back to Ms. Moffett, a gentle soul who offers encouragement with a quiet word and a gentle hug. She leads in such a way that even uncomfortable tasks or ministries become a joy and blessing. She teaches scripture in such a way that even a little child can understand. Never have I met anyone that exemplified the fruits of the spirit as she does. (22 But the fruit that the Spirit produces in a person’s life is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these kinds of things. Galatians 5:22-23)

It was such a bittersweet time to listen to her last sermon and to rejoice with the members of the church as they honored her with a farewell luncheon. Many words of affirmation were spoken as tears flowed down our cheeks and hers as we spoke our goodbyes and well wishes.

One of the things that she said made me stop and think and ponder over it. She spoke from 1 Corinthians where Paul speaks of where he planted and Apollos watered. She went on to talk about how God has orchestrated the people and events from creation to the present time to be foundations to build upon to lead the church and lead the lost to Christ, and that she is thankful to be part of that foundation.

Yes. I have had to change my thoughts about the Proverbs woman. For some, it is attainable.

Prayer: Oh Heavenly Father, thank you for placing “Proverbs” women in my life as I journey with Christ. You know my weaknesses, Father. I pray that I will always bring to remembrance the examples of those women as I seek to become a “Proverbs” woman.

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So Many Roads, So Little Time!

Who doesn’t enjoy riding down beautiful, scenic highways? Few folks really enjoy flat, straight roads, especially bikers.  Flat roads are practical when you are in a hurry, but really who likes driving them. (Well, give me a straight road, and I can ride all day.)

Owning a motorcycle doesn’t make one a biker. I know that from personal experience. My little electric blue 2010 Honda 250 Rebel sits in the garage gathering dust with just little over 1000 miles on it. It looks pristine, except for a tiny little dent in the gas tank. The memory of the fall causing that ding and seven broken ribs has kept me off the bike now for almost four years. It has taken the joy out of my ride.

Many people have ignored or rejected God because they think He wants to take the joy out of their ride. They think their only option is to stay on that straight flat highway. But God loves us and wants us to have a wonderful ride through life. Jesus said in John 10:10, “…I have come that they might have LIFE and have it to the fullest!”

Kerr Dam - my first ride
Kerr Dam – my very first ride as a new rider.

Hmmm….think I’m gonna gather my courage to get back on that little Rebel and pick a road. I’m missing too many blessings.

Prayer: Lord, springtime brings many bikers back on the roads to enjoy the beauty of the nature you have created. God, protect them, give them traveling mercies and may your Spirit forever whisper to them on their journey.

Wandering the Blue Ridge with the 23rd Psalm

Stream in the Blue Ridge

My husband and I took a day trip up to the lovely Meadows of Dan along the Blue Ridge Parkway this past fall. The preceding week had been “one of those weeks.” You know, the kind that beats you down both mentally and physically. I needed a break from the madness.

Looking out across the mountains and valleys filled with the colors of autumn brought a peace to my weariness. As we wandered along trails beside quiet brooks and creeks, breathing in the crisp air and watching gold and red leaves float down through the tree tops to settle at our feet, I let my mind wander too.

The 23rd Psalm kept playing in my thoughts throughout the day. God’s whisperings of grace reassuring me that in my weariness He was still with me.

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. (It’s true Lord. I tend to let my wants get the best of me sometimes. Yet, when I stop and assess what I have, it’s clear to see that you have provided everything I need. I have shelter. I have food. I have friends and family who love me. I have your mercy and forgiveness.)

He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside quiet waters. (In John 4:14 you promise that whoever drinks the water you give will never thirst. The water you give will become a spring of water welling up to eternal life.)

He refreshes my soul. (I can come to you when weary and burdened and find rest for my soul, for yours is a gentle and humble heart. Matthew 11:28-30)
He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. (By your words I can see where I’m going. Your scripture gives guidance and teaches what I need to know for making life decisions; for caring for others; for sharing the gospel.)

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. (In Deuteronomy 31:6 you promise you go with me; you will never leave or forsake me.)

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. (In 2 Corinthians 9:8 you tell me you are able to make every blessing of yours overflow, so that in every situation I will always have what I need for any good work.)

Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, (God, you tell me in Romans 8:35-39 that nothing will ever be able to separate me from your love that is revealed in Christ Jesus.)
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. (You promised that because I believe in your son, who died to take away my sins, I will not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16)

 Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for giving  rest through the beauty in the world you created and through the promises in your Holy Word. In our dark valleys of weariness, grief or despair, we may always find you there, shepherding us if we let you. In Jesus name I pray . Amen. 

GOD FORGIVES, THE CANYON DOESN’T

My son recently visited the Grand Canyon. He captured some beautiful snapshots of its grandeur. There were pictures of magnificent golden sunsets; skies as blue and clear as I have ever seen them; panoramic views that seemed to stretch into infinity. Dangerous looking ledges with him sitting on them with his feet dangling over the edge. Gave this momma heart palpitations!  I’d like to think he must have had some soul searching on his visit there, and drew closer in his walk with the Lord. He titled his photo album, “GOD FORGIVES, THE CANYON DOESN’T.”

Upon his return, he sent me a text to wish me a happy birthday and to tell me to be on the lookout for a package. I couldn’t imagine what he could be sending me. So for days I anxiously waited with anticipation for its arrival. The package finally arrived. When I opened it I found a white t-shirt with a 2×3 inch screen print of a man standing on the edge of a ledge overlooking white fluffy, cumulous clouds in a sea of sky. A larger screen print of the same scene encompassed most of the back of the shirt, with one exception. Captioned alongside of the ledge were the words, “ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN.”

Also in the box was a small plastic zippy sandwich bag with a rock in it and a piece of folded lined note paper. I said, “A rock?” My husband in his infinite wisdom said, “Yeah and the tear jerker note.”  I removed the rock, feeling the weight of it in my hand, running my fingers across the smooth edge of one side; feeling the roughness of another; peering in a hollow on another side. I admired the many colors that shot through this odd, yet fascinating piece of stone. Then I read the note. “It’s not much, but you now have your very own piece of the Grand Canyon! Love You!.”

sunset in the canoynAs I looked at the screen print again and read its caption, and fingered the stone, scripture came to mind about another man’s visit to a great and high mountain.

Revelation 21:10-27 New International Version (NIV) tells of that visit.

10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. 11 It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. 12 It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel.13 There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west. 14 The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

15 The angel who talked with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city, its gates and its walls. 16 The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 12,000 stadia in length, and as wide and high as it is long. 17 The angel measured the wall using human measurement, and it was 144 cubits thick. 18 The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. 19 The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth onyx, the sixth ruby, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth turquoise, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst.21 The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass.

22 I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. 24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. 25 On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. 26 The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. 27 Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

My son’s note said “it’s not much.” Not Much? No, it’s priceless! Sharing in even the smallest way, when paired with love that shares the heart of God, means more than words could ever say.

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, your handiwork is all around us declaring your holiness and reminding us that a new glorious city will one day be here among us to dwell in with you for all eternity. Thank you for the gift of a rock to remind me how great it will be. Continue to remind me to share even the smallest things with a heart that is reflective of your love.

Weed or Seed?

Your Mind Is a Garden.Your Thoughts Are The Seeds.You Can Grow Flowers Or You Can Grow Weeds ~ Life Quote

I use this quote as my FaceBook background picture. The quote is a reminder to me, as well as to folks who visit my page to be mindful of our conversations.

I found the picture on a website named Quotespictures.com.  It didn’t reference who or where the quote is from. After doing some sleuthing I found that it is a quote by someone named Terry Prince.

The principle of sowing and reaping is used throughout the Bible.  It is an axiom of life that we generally reap what we sow.  It teaches and reminds us to be mindful of our thoughts and actions. Consider these verses.

2 Corinthians 10:5 “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.”
Proverbs 15:1 A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

I especially like this one.

Psalm 141:3 Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips!”

There are natural consequences to our actions. The world of physics operates under the law of cause and effect. An apple seed is planted. It produces an apple. A Granny Smith seed produces a tart apple. A Red Delicious seed produces a sweet apple. The same can be stated for our spiritual life too. There is no way around it: every time we choose an action, we also choose the consequences of that action.

My husband has Mimosa trees planted in our yard. They also go by the names “Umbrella Tree” or “Powder Puff” tree. Imported from China in the 1700’s, most grow wild now. A very exotic looking tree. It produces a very pretty pink puffy flower. They are deceptive plants though. It’s very seldom one may be purchased. Nurseries and garden centers actually categorize them as weeds because of its ability to multiply and mature so quickly. They can grow from a seed or sprout new growth from the base of an established plant. The tree/weed can easily grow to 20ft in one or two years.  Any new growth should be pulled as soon as possible to prevent maturation. The entire root must be removed since broken fragments may re-sprout.

Thoughts can be deceptive like the Mimosa tree. Looks all flowery, but just a weed. Our thoughts can be tart like the Granny Smith apple or sweet like the Red Delicious.

Yep, our thoughts are like seeds. We can grow flowers or we can grow seeds. What grows in your garden of thoughts?

Galatians 6:7 says, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.”

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the reminders to control our thoughts. It’s so easy to let flowery words and actions of others influence us. Forgive us Lord, when we fail to pull the weeds. Father we sing this song to you.

may the words of my mouth
and the meditations of my heart
be pleasing to You
pleasing to You
may the words of my mouth
and the meditations of my heart
be pleasing to You my God

You’re my rock and my redeemer
You’re the reason that i sing
i desire to be a blessing in Your eyes every hour and every moment
Lord i want to be Your servant
i desire to be a blessing in Your eyes

In Jesus name. Amen