Pages

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Puddle-Jumping Praise


PUDDLE-JUMPING PRAISE


Oh, Boy! A Mud Puddle!
As a child I enjoyed rainy days. After a storm I would put on my rubber boots and go puddle jumping. Of course, part of the fun was not always missing the mud.

I used to laugh when I saw the TV ad about the little boy stomping through mud puddles. Then he’d track up the house and his grandpa would clean up the mess. Mom did that for me.

Rain can be both a blessing and a curse. To farmers about to harvest crops, it’s a curse. To forest fires it can be a blessing. But there’s something to be said for that child-like joy and freedom found in puddle jumping.

As we become adults, we generally become more subdued. But isn’t it refreshing to meet people who freely express their joy and delight in life?

What surprises me is when this joy is expressed by people dealing with major mud puddles caused by life’s storms.

A great example is David, the shepherd boy who became king.

Rain and Mud Bring Challenges
Early in life he dealt with the puddle of being discounted by his family. God sent a prophet to David’s home to anoint a future king (1 Samuel 16).

All David’s brothers were brought before Samuel, but he did not get a yes from God on any of them. He asked, “Are there any more sons?”

David’s father replied, “Yes, the youngest is tending sheep.” Samuel said, “We’ll wait. Bring him in.” When David, arrived, Samuel got a yes from God and anointed him with oil.

David had more rainy days and lots of mud before much puddle-jumping praise. He spent years running for his life from King Saul (1 Samuel 22-24). He also created a muddy problem by committing adultery with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11).

Mud Is Not A Barrier to Joy
Anyone who has read the Book of Psalms knows David shares both his muddy experiences and his puddle-jumping praise.

Here’s an example: “Praise be to the LORD, for He has heard my cry for mercy . . . my heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to Him in song (Psalm 28:6-7).

No one gets through life mud-free, but puddle-jumping praise can be a life-changer.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Be Glad We're Not Copies


BE GLAD WE’RE NOT COPIES


There Is No Variety Here
I know we’re physically the same. Regardless of color or culture, we all have five basic senses. We hear, see, taste, touch and smell.

In Infant and Preschool classes, I learned that our body is called a trunk. From it grow appendages like arms, legs and head. I’m glad we’re alike in those ways.

What intrigues me most is the differences in our personality traits. Some people call that temperaments. There was a time when I researched it. My favorite author, then and now, is Florence Littauer.

There Is A Lot Of Variety In These Tags
She wrote a book called *PERSONALITY PLUS, How to Understand Others by Understanding Yourself. 

Humans have enough common characteristics to create four different temperament charts. Then Florence continues to explain how each temperament varies due to endless combinations of strengths and weaknesses. 

I’ve been reading the Book of John. Chapter twenty really intrigued me with its description of three people who came to check on Jesus’ tomb.

Sunrise Can Be Enjoyed By Early Risers
Early in the morning, Mary of Magdala arrived firstWhen she saw the open tomb, she was shocked. Her immediate reaction was to run and tell Peter and John.

When they heard her report, both men took off running. John outran Peter, but when he got to the tomb he only bent over and looked in.

Peter came running up and barged on in to see for himself what was there. John followed him in.

Matthew Henry, Bible commentator, noted that John could out-run Peter, but Peter out-dared John. Not only that, perhaps John motivated Peter to run faster, while Peter’s boldness gave John more courage.

I’m glad we’re not simply copies of one another. Our differences make life interesting. They even encourage us to grow and spread our wings.
Calmness Has A Beauty All Its Own

Yes, I know differences also cause anger and disagreements. But there’s a characteristic available to ALL temperaments: Self-Control.

If you have worked on developing that trait, I’m sure you've seen how it leads to tranquility.


*PERSONALITY PLUS, How to Understand Others by Understanding Yourself, Florence Littauer, Fleming H. Revell, Grand Rapids, MI, 1992.

Other personalities material by Florence Littauer is available from CLASServices.com or www.thepersonalities.com 






Sunday, October 27, 2019

How Sorry ARE You?


HOW SORRY ARE YOU?


It’s never easy to say, “I’m sorry, please forgive me.” If it does come easy, it may not be fully sincere.

We have to humble ourselves to say, “I’m sorry.” Who but us knows our inward battle to get to that point?

A Good Movie Can Be Fun
I enjoy a Hallmark movie called THE MAKEOVER. Hannah is an educator and speaks with precise English. Being self-righteous, she doesn’t realize she's a snob.

She and her associate work with school systems; tutoring is not their business. But a less-educated man asks if Hannah will teach him to speak better. He would like to move up in his company.

Listening to him talk, Hannah is appalled. Only after prodding from her co-worker does she agree to take him on.

Hannah’s wit is biting and she's clueless about her effect on people. Her associate finally tells her she's been extremely hard on her protégé and she owes him an apology.

It’s funny to watch Hannah try to apologize without actually saying, “I’m sorry.”

Another Apology for the Same Thing?
Have you ever had someone apologize to you more than once for the same thing? I have, and by the third time I just let their words roll off. I think if they really meant itthey wouldn’t keep doing it.

Some people treat God the same way. They say, “I’m sorry, God,” when they regret something they’ve said or done. It takes more than regret, however, to bring about change.

That something deeper is repentance. That’s when a simple “I’m sorry” does not lessen your regret. Deep down you realize you must actually change your ways.

The Apostle Paul had a two-part message about this: (1)) Repent and turn to God, then (2) prove your repentance by your deeds (Acts 26:20).

Peter shared similar words: (a) Repent, (b) turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out, and (c) times of refreshing may come from the Lord (Acts 3:19).

How sorry ARE you? 
Whether talking to God or to people, 
true sincerity comes from the heart, 
not just the lips.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Release to Renew


RELEASE to RENEW


It's Relaxing By The Water
For years my husband and I enjoyed vacations by returning to San Diego, California. We had previously enjoyed living and working inland. East County was only a twenty or thirty-minute drive from the coast, depending on your goal.

We would take our VW van and head toward the water on our days off. It was fun to park on the cliffs of La Jolla. Sometimes we would park and enjoy the views from Harbor Island toward Point Loma.

Walking in neighborhoods north of Hotel Del Coronado was always fun. But we also enjoyed the boardwalk in Seaport Village.

Mexican Food Is Tasty
As residents, we ate at our favorite Mexican restaurant about once a week. After moving away, we would try to return there on each vacation. It was amazing how long their lunch menu remained unchanged.

At last it came under new ownership. Though we got there only periodically, it was a noticeable change.

Solomon wisely declared, “There is a time for everything (Ecclesiastes 3:1).” That includes a time to leave the past behind.

We decided if we were going to revisit this area, it was time to find a new restaurant. After all, the old favorite had once been new, at the point of its discovery.

We humans rarely make changes unless we’re forced out of our comfort zone. In a restaurant that could mean the food doesn’t taste the same. In a store, your favorite brands may no longer be available.

It’s easy to fall into a comfortable rut, but change can actually give you a boost. You might notice that your eyes sparkle and your mind is engaged as you excitedly share with someone your new discovery.

Freedom: Release to Renew
But these are not the only things that can be brought to life by release.

Do you need to let go of an annoying habit? A consistent, unfulfilled expectation? A sense of boredom because nothing ever changes?

You can spark up your life. But you must release to renew.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Stash With a Purpose


STASH WITH a PURPOSE


While discussing TV shows, a friend asked, “Do you watch the one about hoarders?”
Have You Ever Watched Hoarders?

“To be honest,” I said, “I just can’t stand to see stuff piled from wall to wall in every room.  There’s hardly any place to even sit!”

I confess that I’ve been a collector of many things over the years. I’ve even had a dedicated “junk room” now and then. It was nice to have it out of sight, out of mind.

But now and then I’d ask myself, “Why am I keeping this stuff?” Highly motivated, I would start sorting through things. I always felt good about the resulting pile of charitable donations.

Goods or Cash---Both are Worthy Donations
If you’ve ever visited a thrift store, it’s easy to see truth in the old saying one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

I’ve met people from the Depression Era who saved an endless variety of things. Some even went so far as to build extra cupboards or buy huge plastic containers for storage. When I think of what they went through, it’s not hard to understand their motivation.

It’s not wrong to do what we can to provide for future needs. God even prepared an entire country for a coming famine. You can read the full story in Genesis, Chapter Forty-One.

Pharaoh, an Egyptian king, had two troubling dreams. In searching for an interpreter, someone mentioned Joseph. He was a former slave, now in prison, but known for interpreting dreams.

Joseph listened to the king’s dreams. Then he left and asked God for the interpretation. The basic message was this: Seven years of abundant harvest would be followed by seven years of famine.
Fields of Wheat Are Full of Hope

In appreciation for this warning, Pharaoh appointed Joseph to a high leadership position.

Joseph began storing grain in the good years. When the lean years arrived, there was such an abundance he even sold grain to neighboring countries. His stash had a purpose.

There is always a certain amount of wisdom in planning ahead. But for what purpose?

Scriptures instruct us to love our neighbor as ourselves. In fact, James 2:8 calls this “the royal law.” But I have heard people describe how they would use force if someone tried to steal their stash in perilous times.

Only You Know the Answers
Who doesn’t believe hard times will come? Even among people who choose to plan ahead, results will vary.

Some will label their stash: For Me and Mine Only.

Others will stash with a broader purpose: In Case of Emergency, Open and Share.

Which label would most describe you?

Sunday, October 6, 2019

What's Wrong With Boundaries?

WHAT’S WRONG WITH BOUNDARIES?


Some people dislike limitations of any kind, even the logistical variety. But boundaries have been in place ever since the Garden of Eden.

An Apple Simply Represents Temptation 
Adam and Eve had full run of the garden except for a verbal boundary. God said, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Genesis 2:16-17).   

Read the third chapter of Genesis and you’ll see that Eve fell for a lie and ate from the tree. Adam allowed himself to be drawn in, too.

Since verbal boundaries were not enough, God set up a visible boundary.

First, Adam and Eve were banished from the garden. Then God placed cherubim and a flaming sword that flashed back and forth at the entrance (Genesis 3:24). That would be hard to miss.

Fences Illustrate Boundaries
An old western song says, “Don’t fence me in.” Personal boundaries can keep people both in and out. Lack of boundaries can cause people to become exhausted, and even resentful, of the very people they want to help.

As a caregiver for both my husband and father, hospice urged me to be sure to care for myself. It was up to me to make time to get out for a walk or run errands. When I explained what I needed, both my husband and father supported my decisions.

A wise, but anonymous, person said, “Whatever you are willing to put up with is exactly what you will have.”

Henry Cloud, author of a well-known book on BOUNDARIES, said, “You get what you tolerate.”

Think about it.

Unless we set meaningful boundaries, our life will simply keep flowing away. Instead of a spring of living water, we will become a dry well.

So, what’s wrong with boundaries?

Nothing. They are a necessary part of healthy living.                      

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Thank God for Dirty Dishes


THANK GOD FOR DIRTY DISHES


Doing dishes has never been my favorite thing. When I was growing up, mom and I made a deal. She would do the evening dishes while I would practice my piano lessons.

I was quite happy with that arrangement, but as an adult I have often wondered if mom had the last laugh? Practicing piano was not my favorite thing, either.

Dirty Dishes Can Be a Good Thing
Yesterday I looked at the dishes piled in the sink and said, “I guess I have to do the dishes.” Instantly I thought every dirty dish represents food. That got my attention. I’m always thankful for food.

What about some other negative attitudes I might have carelessly expressed? It wasn’t hard to think of some.

I often say, “I have to fill up with gas.” The positive side is that I have a car to drive. Saying, I “have to clean up the bathroom,” should remind me to be thankful I don’t have to clean an outhouse.

Dirty Clothes Can Be a Good Thing, Too
If I “have to do the wash,” I should be thankful I’m not wearing rags and my clothes are capable of being washed. But there’s another thing.

In past years I often had to pack up dirty clothes and haul them to a laundromat and back. You can see why it’s easy now to thank God for my home washer and dryer when I “have to do the wash.”

I always enjoy reading Proverbs, and today this one came to mind: Without oxen a stable stays clean, but you need a strong ox for a large harvest (Proverbs 14:4 NLT).

That’s not hard to understand. If we choose to have oxen, horses or animals of any kind in a stable, we “have to muck out the stalls.”

Look for Positives in Your Negatives
According to Paul’s letter to the Colossians, we are to always be thankful (Colossians 3:15). Why not include little things as well as big things?

Even people who simply load a dishwasher can thank God for dirty dishes and the food He provided. In a restaurant dirty dishes may seem overwhelming, but be thankful for the income they represent.

The scenario differs for all of us. 

Next time you say “I have to” do something, try this. Think about the positive side, and be thankful.