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

Monday, October 26, 2015

Going The Extra Mile

             My friend tells the story of her little one, Layla, who had a special stuffed duck she called, Darla. Layla carried Darla everywhere.  In fact, it was the only way Layla would drift off to sleep at night.  If Darla fell out of the crib, regardless the hour, Layla could not sleep until Darla was back in her tiny hands.  My friends went on vacation at Christmas time when Darla was about four, and of course, Darla came along. They left to return home before Layla was completely awake and somehow, to everyone’s horror, after the return trip home, it was discovered Darla was left behind.  Calling the hotel where they stayed, it was discovered Darla was indeed in the hands of others who would have to take care of her until she was returned to Layla. 

            The parents weren’t quite sure what to tell Layla to ease her pain until they talked with the hotel staff, who suggested they tell her Darla was part of a special team assigned to help bake cookies for visiting children. When the return of Darla arrived in the mail, they were delighted to see photos of the baking project with Darla overseeing, and a box of cookies to eat!  This is a great illustration of going the extra mile.  Certainly the hotel had no obligation to accommodate the child, aside from returning the left behind animal, but gave the child the visual of something important, easing her anxiety.

            Given the world we live in with a plethora of differing views and opinions there are times when we find ourselves in situations we’d really rather not be in.  Yet this is the perfect time to go the extra mile.  It presents the opportunity to extend our hearts filled with the love of Christ, unmatched any other way.  We all want others to accept us where we are, even when we aren’t right.  And it’s okay to disagree.  But to disagree in love can be problematic, when we refuse to accept others when they disagree with us. 

            I am not remotely suggesting we have to accept what we don’t believe, but rather accept the person, and if agreeing is not an option, then agree to disagree, at least until a later time when emotions are not running at a full gallop and thoughts can be expressed without anger or hostility.  This, too, is going the extra mile.

            There are many ways we can go the “extra mile” in our every day lives, if we are open to stretching ourselves.  Sometimes it takes the flowing of creative juices to come up with something unique, but it can absolutely be done.  In the meantime some suggestions might include sending the author of a particularly interesting book a note telling the author why you thought it was special; when grocery shopping and you find a deal requiring a purchase of two and get one free, give the “free” one to a neighbor; invite a homeless person to dinner or take a book and a gift basket to a senior in a nursing home.

            My point is there are so many ways to offer a kindness, which for the recipient is going the extra mile, because it is way more than they expected! It is what Jesus did every day.  So I challenge you to evaluate your every day experiences.  Let your creative juices run wild, as you birth new ideas to recharge other people’s lives, with ways you can go the extra mile.

     #travel  #randomactsofkindness  #kindness  #goingtheextramile

Monday, October 19, 2015

God Is Number One

         I am not a mathematician, but the idea of numerology in the Bible completely fascinates me!  One article describes God as 'The Great Geometrician'. 1 To say God did not design through mathematical laws and numbers is to miss the intricacy of the laws which govern our natural world.  Our universe, the solar system, the weather, the Earth itself, our bodies and more are a testament to natural laws. For all the scientific study that has been done, Science has a very long way to go to even come close to understanding it all!  This didn’t just happen randomly. God in his magnificence, designed it!   
            The numeric patterns and consistency we see in our natural world, also exists in the Bible.  Nearly one in every five verses contain some reference to a number. What is amazing is knowing there were 40 men who wrote the Bible, over a span of 1,500 years!1  And most of the men who penned the words did not even know each other! Add to those facts, the numerology demonstrated within the Bible, is consistent through all the writers and the time span.  Only One could make that happen!  God!
            The number one affirms there is only one Creator, the Oneness of the Godhead, yet the unity between God, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  One also is seen in the singular sacrifice of Jesus for the forgiveness of sins.  It is only through the blood of Jesus we can obtain salvation. Only through Him can we find one hope, one faith, one baptism, one Lord and Savior!  (Ephesians 4:4-6) There is no other.  Jesus is the “firstborn of every creature.” He was there at the time of creation!   As the “first of the firstfruits” his resurrection makes it possible that all those who know Him, will also be resurrected into eternal life!
            The number “one” is clearly important to God.  It is so important, the first commandment instructs us to worship no other gods, except the One True God.  With all the falsehoods in our world that go against this commandment is it any wonder there is such turmoil?  I hate to even think about counting the number of different faiths that reject God as Sovereign, or Jesus as the Savior of the world. 
What’s more, our society has created so many different kinds of gods, there is an attempt to push the One True God right out the window!  False gods have been around since satan entered the picture back in the Garden of Eden.  He wanted to be god!  Greek Mythology created gods, the Egyptians created their gods as did many other nations.  They were created from rocks, gold and other metals or minerals.  Natural phenomenon like the moon, sun and stars were also named as gods; even the Earth, wind and animals, all of which God created!  But there is only one God.  He is Holy, and there is none before him or none that come after.
All other gods are false.  Those religions who claim a human as god have buried the human man who died and all that remains are his bones.  Jesus died on the cross, was buried, but rose again and is alive and well.  There are no bones in His grave.  He’s NOT there! He rose to be with the Father and we, His children, will rise one day to live with him forever. 
Are you ready?  His return is so close…… perhaps even imminent!

Monday, October 12, 2015

To Tell The Truth

          Many years ago a relative shared the story about her little girl who at school lunch one day, was playing and careless, causing her thermos to fall to the floor, shattering the inside.  When she came home that night, the daughter told her mom the thermos was broken because her friend took it and while she had it, dropped it.  The mom asked the girl if the teacher took care of it and her daughter said, no, the teacher didn’t care.  The mom of course, contacted the teacher via a note with some questions.  The teacher responded with complete surprise, saying she didn’t know anything about it.  As the story unraveled, the mom felt awful for her immediate reaction of annoyance at the teacher, since she finally learned the truth, that her own little daughter was responsible for the broken thermos.  And worse, her daughter lied trying to cover up the incident and finally for the problems the little girl caused for her dishonesty.

            The little girl in the anecdote is just a small example of how skewed our minds can become if we first begin to be dishonest.  Once the little girl told the original lie, she had to continue telling untruths to make her story work.  The only thing is she didn’t account for her mother’s reaction and actions of the tale!  In her mind, she must have just assumed her mother would believe her (which she did at first), without further questions!

            Our world seems overrun with untruths.  It seems a day doesn’t pass when there isn’t at least a question regarding something said, printed or seen on television or the Internet.  It’s become so prevalent, there are sites like snopes.com for email scams and hoaxes, FactCheck.org for political checking, OpenSecrets.org for elections and public policy, TruthOrFiction.com for email virus warnings, rumors and more; and Hoax-Slayer designed for email and Internet scams.1  

What does this say about our society? The follow up question is what does this teach our young people?  Our youth spend more time on the computer than my generation ever did. They’ve grown up with technology as the “norm” in their lives.  If there is a need for such fact checking on so many levels, aren’t we teaching our children it’s okay to lie, as long as you don’t get caught!?

Satan was the first deceiver and the consequences of believing his lie were dire. It’s no different now than then.  Every lie requires a consequence.  As the lie grows and gets more complicated, the consequence gets bigger.  The only way to avoid such issues is to be honest in the first place.  Openness, clarity and truthfulness are the means to having peace rather that gut feeling that one day, the truth is going to come out and we’re going to have to pay!

Just as the little girl above had to finally deal with punishment that would likely not have been anywhere near as severe, or not happened at all,  had she just told the truth up front.  It was an accident.  Yes, she probably would have had to admit, she was careless, but nonetheless, it remained an accident.  As it was, her lie grew and involved other people who were not responsible and she was indeed found out!

So I challenge you this week to think twice before you share a story, or believe one!  Is what you are hearing, reading and sharing the absolute truth?


Monday, October 5, 2015

Flooded With Light

        There has been a lot of rain on the East Coast the last few days and has caused much worry in the minds of millions of people with the threat of hurricane force winds, rain and flooding, even with the storm going well away from the coast.  Cloudy, rainy days make for a slower, sleepy kind of feeling.  They have a similar ambiance as snow storms in winter, in the sense it makes us feel inclined to pull out a good book, turn up the fire place (or add another log to the fire), and sit down to enjoy a tale that creates amazing visuals in our mind!

While I usually enjoy these kinds of days, sometimes, even when I seem to have no reason to feel sad, I feel dreary and blue.  Then the sun peeks out and suddenly I feel warm and cheerful again.  The light from the sun honestly changes my mood.

What’s interesting, is to learn some people suffer from “Seasonal Affective Disorder” meaning clouds and darkness can actually increase negative feelings that seem to be stronger than the energy around that might create a good feeling!  Some people have even found the need to move to another climate (or at least make a seasonal move) to help alleviate these feelings that can have a debilitating effect on daily activities.  Only when they can feel the warmth of the sunshine can they finally feel alive again.

            The Living Bible in Ephesians 1:18 inserts the words “I pray your hearts be flooded with light….” instead of using "I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened...." found in other versions. When our hearts are flooded with God’s light from his Word, we can feel the warmth, peace and “cheerfulness” of knowing a God who loves and cares for us.  Just like the sun’s light changed my mood from dreary to happy, so God’s word can change my mind and heart from cloudy and uncertain to positive certainty of His presence and peace that passes all understanding.

       This is especially important when I’m facing a challenge or trial in my life where there doesn’t seem to be any answers.  We each deal with situations in our lives which can be particularly burdensome whether it’s health related, financial, in relationships, or even within our families.  Life seems to have a way of throwing us a curve which sometimes darkens not only one day, but several and in some situations weeks, months and even years where we just can’t seem to see the sunshine for more than a moment at a time, and even those moments seem far and few between!  It’s dark and dreary, stressful and frustrating.

            It’s only when we can see and accept God’s love and light that we can have a measurable amount of peace.  Our lives, when focused on Christ, can truly be “flooded with a Light” that no amount of darkness can hide.  So I challenge you to dig deep into God'w Word and let Him flood your heart with a warm glow that infuses you with positive energy and sustains you no matter what the circumstance.