Sunday, November 29, 2020

Heavenly Passwords


Each morning I open a brief You Version devotional app on my cell phone. 
I have been inspired to hear Christians from all around the world.

One day this week a minister in Calcutta, India shared inspirational thoughts about Psalm 100:4-5:

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise.

Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.

For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations.

I was intrigued when he said, "Thanksgiving and praise are heavenly passwords." He further drew me in with his word definitions.

"Thanksgiving,” he said, “is thanking God for what He has done. Praise is expressing words of adoration for who God is.”  

As I listened to this devotional, I pictured some of the gated communities I have visited.
Gates opened only after I entered a code or password.

Thanksgiving passwords get us into God's presence. Once inside, we can move on into a more personal setting with praise, followed by prayers and petitions.

My goddaughter had once been a missionary in India. I knew she would enjoy hearing this pastor.

She did, but her take on passwords was different from mine. Being younger than me and totally at home in the computer world, she pictured computer passwords.

That made sense to me, too. I remembered a teacher in one of my college classes holding up a thick address book one day. “These are my passwords,” she said, “I won’t get anywhere without them.”

The psalmist said God’s truth endures to all generations. In Psalm 100 we learn the importance of passwords and, young or old, we get the point.

Have you ever noticed how happy people are when we remember to say, “Thank you?” Or have you ever tried to tell someone what you really like about them?

Giving thanks and praise builds relationships . . . not just with people, but with God, too. It doesn’t happen automatically, however. Give it some thought. 

Sunday, November 22, 2020

The Fruit of Thanksgiving



The fourth Thursday of November is almost here. A lot of people have made plans for this holiday. You've probably been part of such conversations yourself. 

Thanksgiving Day is a fun public holiday. People talk about the traditional turkey and dressing dinner, along with things like sweet potatoes, green-bean casserole, and pumpkin pie.

I’d be surprised, however, if you’ve heard much about fruit for Thanksgiving. It’s a specialized individual item, but sharing it with others multiplies its pleasure. That’s why I’m encouraging you to include fruit this year.

Some of you think I’m talking about fruit salad. I’m not. I’m talking about what scriptures call “the fruit of our lips, giving thanks” (Hebrews 13:15 NKJV). The question is how and when will you bring it out?

Hopefully you won’t do what I did. I once served a beautiful well-planned dinner. The accolades of my guests made me feel great.

All that changed when I opened the refrigerator door. Staring me in the face was a big bowl of fruit salad. Fruit is not known for its longevity, and it would have been so much fun to share. Timeliness is important.

The challenge this year is to purposely include some fruit. Remember, the fruit of your lips is giving thanks to God. This is open to all people regardless of age, social standing or financial limitations.

Decide how you and your guests can share the encouragement of the fruit of your lips this year.

Need a starter phrase? Just say, “I’m thankful for (name it).” People could share fruit at the table or away from it. It’s Thanksgiving Day, remember?      

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Candles and Flashlights


Last week I was watching TV when suddenly the lights went off.
I had not been without electricity for years. Two things surprised me---the stifling feeling of complete darkness and the overwhelming silence.

I sat in my recliner, considering the situation. I thought I can see why people in solitary confinement might go crazy after a while. But a few minutes later I started to think now what shall I do?

First, I turned on my cell phone flashlight. God bless the person who designed that option. I used it to retrieve the flashlight on my desk, then I located the jar candle and matches in my kitchen.

The furnace was off, so I bundled up in a blanket. Then I thought my cell phone works---I’ll make some calls. I even received a couple of calls, though they were surprised to learn I was sitting in the dark.

Later on, the flashlight helped me read. When that became tiring, I decided to rest. I figured the lights would come on eventually. If not, at least I could count on daylight.

The darkness was a wake-up call. But about ninety minutes later the lights came on as suddenly as they had gone off. The first thing I did was turn on the furnace. Then I located a flashlight in each room.

My stifling darkness had been alleviated by light in various forms and different sizes. I was thankful for each of them.

Light comes into our world in different ways, too. The psalmist David declared, “The LORD is my light and my salvation” (Psalm 27:1).

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world (John 8:12 NKJV). He further declared that His followers were to let His light shine through them in good works, not for their glory, but to the glory of God (Matthew 5:16).

Don’t say, “I’m only a small candle.”
Don’t even think I’m only a flashlight. Just shine! Follow Jesus and do good works. Even a tiny light pushes away the darkness and brings hope around it.        



Sunday, November 8, 2020

The Promise of "T"


Moving from the Midwest to the Southwest was a big challenge.  
One reason was that I was moving with six weeks left in my Junior year of high school.

Another reason was riding to school on a metropolitan bus. I had always walked to school, even being able to get home for lunch! I was very unhappy with the cafeteria on my huge new campus.

I had one bright spot in my day: Mom and her tea. I looked forward to getting off the city bus at our corner, walking into the house and joining mom at the kitchen table. While we talked over my day, I learned to relax with tea, too.

Mom had a lovely smile and a calm demeanor. Proverbs 15:30 says,
“A cheerful look brings joy to the heart . . .” That was mom for me.

It wasn’t that we always talked a long time. It was just that she made my day seem worthwhile. Proverbs 12:25 says, “Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.” I felt like a dot in the sea of education and city life, but at home I mattered. Mom took time for me.

“T” means TIME, not TEA! Which human being does not need some exclusive time to be encouraged or made to feel appreciated?

I’m sure you’ve heard debates on quality time vs. quantity time, but to me that’s not the issue. I think we should simply do WHAT we can, WHERE we can, WHEN we can, with WHOMEVER we can.

Be thoughtful - - - get creative!
“T” could include talking, texting, treats, trails, teamwork, or even time for tea! Once COVID releases its social barriers, trips or tickets might be a choice.  

In your world this very day is a person---young, old, or in between---who could benefit from some of your special “T”. No one else can do it like you!



Sunday, November 1, 2020

Just One Little Candle


Have you ever been in the dark?
Light is something easy to take for granted. Just flip a switch and there it is---light!

I have rarely been without it in my lifetime. The few times I have been in the dark, I have been grateful for one little candle. It didn't matter if it was a single tall taper or a fat round pillar.

Light has always been a major factor in the world. In the Genesis story of Creation, the first thing God said was, "Let there be light" (Genesis 1:3).

Read further and you see light specialties---sun for day, moon and stars for night. Beautiful, yes, but practical. Their purpose was to make seasons and the passing of time. I wouldn't want to give up any of them, would you?

God is always into light, not darkness. He expanded light in different ways. He sent His Son who was declared "The Light of the world" (John 8:12). People, believing in Jesus, no longer had to walk in spiritual darkness.

Light was further expanded as Jesus instructed those who believed in Him to be lights, too. How? By their good works as they followed His teachings. They would bring glory to God (Matthew 5:16).

Over the centuries there have been lights which brightened the lives of millions. For example: Mother Teresa, Billy Graham, William and Catherine Booth, Father Michael McGivney, Corrie Ten Boom, and Jan Karon.

Have you heard of Sister Gaynel, Pastor Joe and Carolyn, Grandma Weber or Mom Mullins? No? Oh, I know why! Their lives of good works and good words brightened MY small world.

All these people have one thing in common---humility. Whether praising Mother Teresa or Billy Graham, each would insist, "I'm just one little candle." Mom Mullins and Grandma Weber would say the same.

Two important principles remain at work: (1) Someone is waiting for just one little candle to shine in their darkness, and (2) I am not called to shine where you can shine, nor vice versa.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

She Lived to be 100!


SHE LIVED to be 100!

As our pastor gave an open invitation to a memorial, my curiosity kicked in. I kept waiting for him to say the name, but he just said she had lived a little over one hundred years.

I decided to attend. It was my first opportunity to celebrate a centenarian. Yes, I know. A friend reminded me that people live way longer than that now days, but I’ve never met any of those either.

Her big and beautiful family, including great-grands, impressed me. It reminded me of Proverbs 17:6: Grandchildren are the crowning glory of the aged; parents are the pride of their children (NLT). The memorial reflected their love for her.

During the slide show I realized I knew this lady, though I had never met her. I had often observed her walking slowly toward church, holding onto the arm of her daughter-in-law. She was obviously a senior, but I would never have guessed her to be one hundred.

I wasn’t the only one who noticed they parked far out. Pastor said, “One day I asked why they didn’t drive up closer and use our portico?” Their reply? “She wants to walk.”

Imagine the changes this lady lived through. From the end of the horse-and-buggy era into the space age, for one thing. And think of the changes from wall-mounted party-line telephones, to desk-top rotary-dial models, to current pocket-sized cell phones.

During World War II she took her place in a factory to help with the war effort. She lived through the Depression and several recessions. Is it any wonder this was the verse on the front of her memorial brochure? The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged (Deuteronomy 31:8).

One comment on her life stuck with me. While sharing the accomplishments of this Christian wife and mother, Pastor said, “There were many changes during her life, but one thing remained constant---her values.”

What a statement! 

I hope people will be able to say that of me. 

What about you?

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Principle for a Good Life


I think I was a little spoiled as I was growing up.
Mom sewed for me and made things fit beautifully. She even sewed my wedding dress while I was attending college in another state.

A few days before the wedding, mom arrived with the dress, prepared to let it out or take it in. I took it all for granted.

During my growing years, if the dress was too short or the bodice too tight . . . no worries. Mom would let down the hem, or let out the bodice.

Emotionally we do things like that on a daily basis. We make allowances for things that bother us and keep us on edge. We let them remain in our minds and they give us no peace.

People look for personal peace in different ways. Some try to "let" it into their lives through alcohol or drugs---short-term solutions. Even TV becomes boring after hours and hours, too much sleep is not refreshing, and neither is constant snacking.

All of these things miss the principle for a good life.
Long-lasting peace does not come from things. It comes from a person who understands everything about us and the world we live in.

Let's hear it from Jesus, himself: Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid (John 14:27 NKJV).

In John 14:1 He said it again: Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 

If you are worried that He won't hear your prayer for peace, consider His words in John 6:37: The one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.

If that's not encouraging, what is?

Our world has always been full of troubles. Jesus' peace comes on an individual basis. Do you want it?

Step one: Do not let your heart be troubled any longer. Step two: Ask Jesus to give you peace, the kind that only He can give.