He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Psalm 40:3a

Monday, February 19, 2018

A New Creation

            As a teenager, I loved to watch the Miss America or Miss Universe pageants.  I was spellbound as the beautiful young women crossed the stage.  Not only did the contestants have beauty, but skills and intelligence.  I enjoyed every single segment as I had my own tally sheet to see which one I thought would win; who stood out among her peers.  After each of these events, I would daydream about how I could experience such a glamorous event. 

            I only participated in these affairs in my dreams since it takes many competitions to be able to participate in one at that level.  It takes a fair amount of wealth to be able to afford the    clothes, gowns and travel required to participate.  It also requires a certain degree of experience, that partly comes from participation, that enables a person to be able to speak well and have the knowledge necessary to compete intellectually. Our family simply didn’t qualify!

            But, undeterred, I was determined to alter who I was.  I attempted to “modify” my diet, read to educate myself, as well as, do the best I could in school.  Eventually, however, as the weeks passed, following the pageants, the dreams would diminish ….until the next year’s pageants came around again.

            It’s human nature to want changes.  We are often looking for ways to change something about ourselves; looks, financial status, careers, education and more.  Businesses do this, as well as governments.  Political figures are elected for just this purpose. They campaign, telling all who will listen how they will change the “landscape” of their particular state, whether economic, educational, or other—and all for good!

            As I pen this, our country is going through all kinds of changes.  Between the political climate, the unusual weather patterns, medical challenges, personal agendas for climbing the corporate business ladder, environmental concerns, educational policies and religious differences, change is inevitable, even if neighbors, relatives, children and spouses disagree!

            With disagreements come predicable adamant and sometimes loud and ugly words in an effort to make a particular opinion clearer.  That isn’t always the case, however.  It seems the deeper we dig in our heels to say our way is right, the less and less it appears likely!  We grow weary and sometimes just give up….not give in, but give up!

            As Believers, sometimes we take this same perspective in our spiritual life.  We are inspired by someone we’ve heard, a miracle we’ve witnessed, or a relationship we’ve developed with God.   But then time, and “life” interferes, and we lose our excitement, our dedication and passion to push forward toward our desired changes, much like the elected politician or my beauty queen dream. 

            We place our “spiritual life” on the shelf, as we allow the world to diminish our resistance to worldly behaviors, attitudes, perspectives, thought processes and even the company we keep.  I encourage you to reflect on your “dreams of alteration” to the person you are, compared to the person you would like to be.  Do your alterations align with God and Biblical principles, or are they more in line with the world?  Are you happy and content with the person you see in the mirror?

Monday, February 12, 2018

Loving Others With Your Passion

          A young woman visited our church congregation some time ago before her trip to a foreign, third world country, to do missionary work.  She would be teaching primarily young children, but given the area she would be in, explained it would be impossible to even give those she loved, information about exactly where she was. I found her passion and follow through amazing! 

         Passions that make a difference doesn’t require crossing the ocean however, and teaching in a foreign land.  Consider Debbie Fields who started her business selling homemade chocolate cookies that has grown into a business of over 4,000 employees.  Bill Gates is another visionary who in eighth grade, being passionate about computers, designed early video games.  We can’t forget Walt Disney who was persistent with his  art work and finally came up with a Mickey Mouse animation that grew into a huge business! 

         Everyone likes Kentucky Fried Chicken!  Colonel Sanders took a long ten year journey perfecting his “Secret Recipe” and selling each piece of chicken for five cents before finally finding someone who believed in him.  The rest of that story is history!  And finally, Shania Twain is another perfect example of humble beginnings, who at age eight, sang in bars to help make money for the family.  It wasn’t until her twenties before she made it to Nashville to become a huge star. There are plenty others who contend for role models as visionaries who didn't give up on their passion!

         God has gifted many of us with skills and talents we may not give a second thought to.  We are skilled at mechanics, sewing or quilting, cooking, teaching, conversing, cleaning, or a hundred other skills.  We may have a heart for the aged or very young, those who are in prison, or the poor.  We have expertise unique to us, in our area of the world, in which we live!  It’s when we use the proficiencies, which are “acting on our Godly passions” to aid those less fortunate, that we answer the call of God asking “Whom shall I send?”     

         Each of us are afforded opportunities every day to act upon our personal abilities that would in some way help another person, but very often we hold back because we are worried about “political correctness” and wondering if there will be someone who would misunderstand our motives.

         Perhaps you’ve even considered buying a sandwich in a fast food place for a homeless person, or volunteer to serve food at a shelter, visit a children’s hospital, or nursing home.  Following through can be daunting, considering the world we live in! 

         Certainly we all have our “own worlds” that are nothing less than busy!  It’s hard to find a time to commit to act on our Godly passion, when our own family already needs us.  But I encourage you to consider how you might be able to encourage someone else.  Send that note or visit a nursing home, or even take food to a shut-in, in your very own community.  There are countless ways to use your knowledge and capabilities to “love on” another person. 

         It’s during these times “of loving,” God will shine brightly through you, and enable you to share.  People all around are starving to be accepted and loved.  It may not be easy to reach out, but if you can pull on your courage, asking God to show you how, your unique passion for your community will be a very special gift for another person in need. 

         Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!  Share your passion…..share your love!

Monday, February 5, 2018

Renewal Of That Thought Dead

            My friend had a unique way of welcoming 2018.  He commented, “Not everything is dead that appears to be dead.”  He went on to explain how in the Eastern part of the US, it was easy to determine if a plant was no longer alive.  “If it was brittle and snapped off when bending, it was dead.  However, in the desert, plants aren’t necessarily dead, even if it looks like it.  He explained that bushes in the desert shed their leaves and even their fine moisture-gathering roots, but they seal prized moisture inside the main trunk.  They apparently become so dry, the twigs can be used to start a fire.”

            Seeds are another example of “it looks dead, but it’s not!”  Little brown, gray or even green or purple seeds usually just look dead!  However, place those little pods in the ground in Spring, add some warm sun and rain, and before long a beautiful plant grows from that little dead “thing!” 

            What struck me even more than this biology lesson was how he transferred this information to a spiritual perspective.  Each passing day allowed growth in areas he thought long dead.  There are places each of have buried deep within our hearts and brains that once were filled with excitement, joy and acute awareness.

            For some it might have been the joy of painting as a young child, which we decided could not be fostered enough to gain the professional status to be able to feed a family, or dance lessons, having our own farm/ranch, training service dogs, or teaching a classroom of students.  Life seemed to have its own route, and finances were sparse, so we were required to ignore that which provided immense pleasure.

            In our spiritual world, when we accepted Christ as our personal Savior, we rejoiced with gladness.  Our hearts were filled to overflowing with the excitement and joy that can only come from a relationship with The Lord.  Then, as before, life takes on a journey of its own, which crowds out time with God, dulling our relationship, joy, determination and pleasure we once counted on each morning before beginning our day.

            But it is a new year….A new day!  Each day provides the opportunity to begin new “habits” and find new strategies that lifts our spirits and brighten our mood, illumines our perspective and changes our attitudes!  Each day we are given the ability to rethink the path we are taking, and take the “road less traveled” if it brings us joy, peace and love!

            Our brain welcomes stimulation through wholesome and worthwhile reading.  Our hearts welcome encouragement by giving love to another, because love will be returned.  Our ears are given motivation to listen for all that is good and right in our world while our eyes are stimulated with seeing the rainbow, in spite of the clouds.  Our souls are given the inspiration to rejoice in the rain because it is in trials and tribulations, in the dark and gray all around, to grow and reach up, higher and higher toward a God that is real and beside us each and every step of the way.

            I encourage you to “wait” on the Father.  Read His Word, listen to His voice, allow His sunlight and moisture nurture “your field—your life” and grow.