Keep Your Tools Sharpened

Keep Your Tools Sharpened

I recently bought a new set of steak knives and a vegetable peeler. I really can’t remember how old the ones we were using were. Not a big deal, right? But oh what a difference they made! Cutting through steak was easy and not like sawing through rubber and oh how quickly the carrots were peeled! Over time and with use the wear and tear affects their sharpness and effectiveness. It’s a gradual decline in the cutting edge that isn’t noticeable until simple tasks become difficult. All chefs, carpenters and gardeners know how important it is to keep their tools clean and sharpened to avoid injury and get the best results.

Many of us have not been careful to guard our minds from the constant barrage of adds telling us what we need and what to believe. The immoral and often untrue drone of the media feeds into our subconsciouses. We believe the lies and fall into the trap of mediocrity as our souls become dull to the decline in the very fabric of our society. There aren’t many ways to God – Jesus said ,”I AM the way”. There can’t be a “my truth” and “your truth”, there is only THE TRUTH. We shouldn’t be tied up and confused by all the jargon being spit out by the world. God’s word tells us that it doesn’t need to be this way. It’s NOT supposed to be this way for His children. Jesus was quick to answer Satan with Scripture. The value of memorization is incalculable as the Spirit will bring verses to mind in our need.

 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. Eph 6:13-18 (ESV)

 Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.9 Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are. 1 Peter 5:8-9 (NLT)

We keep our focus sharp by reading His word, prayer and being in fellowship with other believers. How can we encourage each other if we don’t know what is going on each other’s lives? God has always called His people to corporate prayer and worship. We sharpen each other by discussing God’s word and how to apply it to our daily situations. The blessing of having services online during our national shutdown has caused some to stop the habit of coming together at all.

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 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25  not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Heb 10:24-25 (ESV)

 Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. Prov 27:17 (ESV)

I believe we are in the beginning of the End Times. Keep looking up and your tools sharp!

Seeds of Potential

Seeds of Potential

There is a bumper crop of apples in New England this year.  The too hot and too wet weather for people was great for the fruit trees.  Each seed has potential for life and growth and an abundant harvest. Each apple has the potential to be used in a lot of ways….eating, baking pies, muffins, pastries, making cider, applesauce, decorating and the list goes on.  An apple tree takes eight years of growing before it will bear any fruit and then varying amounts each year. How many apples will there be in its lifetime?

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Did you know that apples are not native to the US? They were introduced to North America in the 17th century by European colonists and their descendants.   Most stories about the American folk hero John Chapman, aka Johnny Appleseed, are more fiction than fact.  Born in  Massachusetts, he planted apple orchards as far as the Midwest. He  never married, lived a very simple life and shared the message of God’s love to everyone including native Indian tribes.

The word potential means, “ having latent qualities or abilities that may be developed and lead to future success or usefulness”.   Synonyms for potential are possibilities, prospects, promise, capability and capacity.

The Bible tells us that most of the twelve disciples were hard working but uneducated men.  They were trying hard to understand and follow Jesus’ teaching but questioned how they could possibly do what He asked.   5  The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” 6 And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.         Luke 17:5-6 (ESV)

We serve a God with Whom nothing is impossible.   When the Hebrews were taken out of Egypt – God parted the Red Sea.  When David faced off against the giant Goliath – God took him down with a stone and a slingshot.  When Daniels friends refused to bow to the kings statue  – God rescued them from the fiery furnace.   Jesus fed 5000 people with only a little boys lunch.  

 For nothing is impossible with God. Luke 1:37 (NLT)

Since we don’t have any mustard trees in New England, can I use the term “apple seeds of faith”?  Is your faith as small as an apple seed?  Every person has potential and so does each day. We need to find our gifts and abilities to develop and use them by reading the Bible – God’s manual and by talking to the Master Gardener.   Every day we are given new opportunities and choices to share our faith with a lost and hurting world.   Just think of all the possibilities!           

Whatever circumstance you may face today ask God to show you the potential within and take a small step forward even with “faith like an apple seed”.

 
 

The Majesty of Autumn

The Majesty of Autumn

It is officially Autumn in New England. Autumn brings a change in the air; warm days and cooler nights.  The treasures of harvest time bring feelings of excitement and gratefulness.  The most beautiful wave of color is beginning to surround us as summer comes to an end. Locals and people from all over the world come to New England to see the colorful countryside brought on by a large variety of trees but notably the maple. One maple tree by itself can display a gorgeous array of color from green to yellow to fluorescent orange and reds.

In the past few years I have intentionally tried to take notice of and enjoy all the little things. I refuse to hit the crazy squirrel trying to cross the road. I purposefully slow down to look for turkeys and deer even if the person behind me hits their horn. I encourage you too to not miss the sights and sounds  and smells all around us. We are in too much of a rush, too glued to electronics, too tired trying to multi-task and we are missing out on the simple joys of LIFE!

My family walks to a nearby stream where there are approximately 100 ducks ( the neighbors feed them) but they will be migrating soon. My hummingbirds have already taken flight and butterflies will leave also. How do they know where to go and when? Kids today don’t even think about it because there is no interest in what is happening in their own backyards. There is so much to learn from nature but we and our children are losing something precious – the gift of imagination and wonder.

Enjoy the beauty of the autumn colors while walking or driving or even when stuck in traffic .  No matter how bad the day or whatever the season we can choose to see and enjoy God’s beauty. A big buzz word we hear is mind-fullness but it really means purposefully using our senses to lift our heads out of the mundane and refresh our souls. Take time to smell the last rose, eat a fresh picked apple and take a walk in the park. Watch as the birds form a V pattern on their migration to warmer areas. Our hearts can be soothed in knowing that God is providing for them and will take care of our needs too. A reminder that we shouldn’t worry about the little things.

… look at an ant. Watch it closely; let it teach you a thing or two. 7 Nobody has to tell it what to do. 8 All summer it stores up food; at harvest it stockpiles provisions. Prov 6:6-8 (MSG)

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26  Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Matt. 6:25-26 ESV

Majesty is not a word we commonly use unless referring to the British monarchy. Majesty is the quality of being beautiful, dignified and impressive. How else can you describe a mountainside splashed in all the brilliant colors of a 152 count Crayola box -the largest assortment they make. It is awesome, breath taking and inspiring. The old hymn “How Great Thou Art” comes to my mind with the phrase ,”then sings my soul”. My wish for you in this season is to slow down and enjoy His beautiful masterpiece.

Remember Who You Are

Remember Who You Are

It has been 27 years since Disney’s The Lion King premiered in its animated form but is still a globally loved film and musical. Strong messages of love, friendship, hope and responsibility are wrought throughout the story. Although critics complained about the violence, terror and stereotypes within the film, isn’t that real life? In the past year and a half we have been overcome by things we do not understand. How can a tiny virus shut down the world? Our planet is feeling the impact of climate change from massive forest fires, floods, tornadoes and earthquakes causing much catastrophic damage. Violence and terror both locally and globally have increased. But for the Christian, one thing has remained unchanged. God is Sovereign and in control.

I believe there are some life lessons we can apply from The Lion King.

Simba said, “As you go through life there is so much that I don’t understand. And the only thing we know is things don’t always go the way we planned.”

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.         Prov 3:5-6 (ESV)

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.   Jer 29:11

Rafiki said, “Oh yes, the past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it, or learn from it.”  “Look beyond what you can see.”

  And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.    Romans 8:28

Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. 14 Let all that you do be done in love.     1 Cor 16:13-14

Mufassa said, “While others search for what they can take, a true king searches for what he can give.” “You have forgotten who you are and so have forgotten me. Look inside yourself Simba, you are more than what you have become,”

Often I think we, “THE CHURCH”, have forgotten WHO we are. We are sons and daughters of the King of kings but some don’t behave like it. We have taken our spiritual armor off and haven’t protected our hearts and minds. The division over mask wearing has wreaked havoc in some churches. I am not saying we should be foolish and carry on with our lives as if nothing has changed. I am requesting that we please follow proper guidelines and stop fighting the government because Satan is our real enemy. God wants us to grow and be more than we are.

We are the adopted children of God and therefore sons and daughters of the King of Kings. We are called to be ambassadors for Christ and carry the only message of reconciliation with God and promise of heaven. We need to walk wisely and wear our armor.

“Clothe yourselves with God’s truth, put on the breastplate of God’s righteousness (not our own) and your feet should carry the gospel of peace. Hold the shield of faith before you to be protected from the arrows (lies, deceit, hate etc) of the evil one. Wear the helmet of salvation and carry the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. Pray at all times and be alert.”  From Gal. 6

Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”  Deut 31:6

We have a message of hope and peace to share. And thanks to technology we can find newer ways to reach out and help others. Remember this world is not our final home. Remember who you are.

Faulty Navigation

Faulty Navigation

On a recent much needed long weekend trip my husband and I were so proud of ourselves for packing so efficiently and getting on the road earlier than usual.  The weather was cloudy but dry and the traffic wasn’t too bad. We had a general idea of where we were going and set the GPS for our final destination. We headed north through Boston only stopping briefly and continued on.  I casually read exit signs that should have caused a “bell to go off” but it wasn’t until we were way off course that we stopped to check the GPS setting.  Somehow it was programmed wrong and we were near Bar Harbor 80 miles farther north than Boothbay Harbor the town where we were supposed to stay! Luckily for us we pulled over at an ice cream shop but then we had no alternative but to turn around.

A harbor is a body of water sheltered by natural or artificial barriers. Harbors can provide safe anchorage and permit the transfer of cargo and passengers between ships and the shore. The word “harbor” means to shelter or keep safe. We were safe but far off course.

Navigation is the process or activity of accurately ascertaining one’s position and planning and following a route. And that was our problem. Usually my husband carefully checks paper maps before any trip and checks for any detours or construction along the route. I had the confirmation from the hotel in my purse which gave directions including the exits to take. But I failed to double check it and at the rest area we didn’t look at the wall map. Instead, we were trusting in our GPS which told us to keep going straight but was programmed wrong. We had been so weary of the everyday grind and anxious to be on vacation we failed to fully prepare.

 “Monotony can dull your thinking until your mind slips into neutral. A mind that is unfocused is vulnerable to “the world, the flesh, and the devil,” all of which exert a downward pull on your thoughts you’re your thinking processes deteriorate, you become increasingly confused and directionless. The best remedy is to refocus your mind and heart on Me, your constant Companion”.    From Jesus Calling,  2004

Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. 6 Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track.      Proverbs 3:5-6 (The Message)

When we get tired and let our guard down we plod along thinking we are doing okay. We will miss the cues that tell us something isn’t right if we fail to consult God’s map for living.  The Bible warns us of bumpy roads, dangerous intersections and detours as well as promising scenic routes and restful stops. We cannot fully navigate through the challenges of life without His help because our minds are easily swayed by what we read and hear in the media and from other people. Our attitudes and our choices can be compromised. That is why we need to be very careful what voices we are listening to.

Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go.        Josh 1:7 (ESV)

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.       Psalms 119:105 (ESV)

So, we turned the car around (another word for repent), read the directions and reprogrammed the GPS. We did have a good weekend away but it would have started off much better if we had not been in a rush. Next time we will be sure to check all maps and not be detoured by faulty navigation.

On Tuesday I Quit

On Tuesday I Quit

You might have heard the story about the husband who comes home from work to find his wife sitting on the sofa reading a magazine. Looking around the house he saw the sink and counters were filled with dishes, toys were strewn all over the place, laundry is sitting in the basket unfolded and the kids were loudly banging something in another room. “What in the world happened?’ he exclaimed. To which she replied, “Every day you come home and ask what I did all day. Well, today I didn’t do it.”

Some days are like that. On Tuesday, I quit. Not my work as a nurse. I am already retired. I came home after dropping my son off at his work and looked around the messy kitchen. “Why in the world had four cutting boards been used for making two lunches? Why can’t the other humans in the house put their mugs and glasses in the dishwasher?” I said to myself. “That’s it. I quit. I am only doing what I absolutely have to do.”

Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.     Eccl 2:11 (ESV)

King Solomon was right!  If I do the laundry, there will be more. When I pull the weeds, new ones grow. I am not being ungrateful. I truly love my home and appreciate all that God has given us. God sees my mess but doesn’t care about it. He cares about my heart.

There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, 25 for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment? 26 For to the one who pleases him God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy …   Eccl 2:24-26

 Do all things without grumbling or questioning, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, Phil 2:14-15

My light cannot shine very bright if my energy is low. Maybe it was the crazy weather but I was just plain weary. We are admonished to do all things without complaining but we get cranky if we are tired or hungry. I needed to take my own advice and rest. I needed a nap. I needed to hydrate. I goofed off on social media. I prayed and sat outside. Despite having a full refrigerator, we went out for dinner.

Although we shouldn’t let our family run around in dirty underwear, most household tasks are not urgent. People are more important than chores. Maybe you feel like I did and need to just quit and recharge. After all it is summertime. Tomorrow is another day and I can begin again with a better attitude and a renewed spirit. Besides the laundry pile will only get bigger.