Have You Heard the Pumpkin Gospel?

Have You Heard the Pumpkin Gospel?

A story of a new start with God!

My big round pumpkin shows me God gives us a clean heart.

He will forgive our mess-ups. He offers a new start.

The slime that fills the pumpkin, all stringy slipp’ry goo,

reminds me of my insides before God makes me new.

I scoop the mushy gushies like God cleans out my sin,

When He says “I forgive you,” I smile a great big grin.

Come look into my pumpkin: he is all clean inside.

And outside he is wearing a smile that’s big and wide.

God’s love is like a candle that shines from iside out.

It’s beaming deep within me, and so I now can shout.

To glow like my big pumpkin and have a nice clean heart,

ask God to please forgive you. You’ll have a brand new start.

By Mary Manz Simon

Matthew 5:14–16
14You are the light of the world. A city located on top of a hill cannot be hidden,
15nor do they light a lamp and place it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it shines on all those in the house.
16In the same way let your light shine before people, so that they can see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

Dear Readers, This delightful story, “The Pumpkin Gospel ” can be found in boardbook style on Amazon and at Christianbook.com for your children and grandchildren.

Majesty, Monarchy and Sovereignty

Majesty, Monarchy and Sovereignty

The Western world has been closely following the funeral proceedings for Queen Elizabeth, the longest reinging Monarch of the British Empire. The costumes, choreographed pageantry and traditions have held us captivated because they date back hundreds of years. Elizabeth stood for continuity and tradition even though she withstood a tremendous amount of change within her family, her country and the world. Even her kingdom has become smaller through the decades since 1953.

A monarchy is a form of government in which a person, the monarch, is head of state for life or until abdication. The succession in many cases is heriditary. It was the most common form of government until the 20th century. Most of todays modern monarchies tend to be constitutional in nature that exercize limited or no political power.

I learned that only the Queen (or now King) is referred to as Her Majesty. All other royalty are calledYour Highness . Majesty is a noun meaning regal, lofty or imposing grandeur, the supreme greatness or authority. Although Queen Elizabeth was sovereign (the only one, highest rank of the monarchy) she too bowed before the God of heaven and earth recognizing that He placed her in her position and she had a duty and responsibility to rule wisely.

Besides the crown, the other objects that signify the British monarchy are the Orb and Scepter which were crafted in 1661. The Orb is an eleven inch hollow gold sphere with a cross on top representing the monarch’s power in the Christian world. The three foot long Scepter represents the temporal power of the king or queen in the secular world and is associated with good governance.

What is the biblical definition of sovereignty? The bible teaches us that God is the source of all creation and that all things come from and depend upon God. Sovereignty means that God as ruler of the Universe, is free to do whatever he wants. He is not bound or limited by the dictates of his creation or created beings. He is in complete control over everything that happens here on this earth and throughout the universe. He is Lord of heaven and earth and cannot be opposed. He does not change. God is Omnicient, Omnipresent and Omnipotent. Read Psalm 139

Colossians 1:16–17 (ESV)
16For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.
17And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

Jeremiah 32:17 (ESV)
17‘Ah, Lord GOD! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.

What a comfort to know that God loved us so much He sent His Son to restore the broken relationship between us. The Sovereign God of the universe promises to be with us, guide us and give us strength to make wise decisions every day. He holds us together when we feel like everything around us is falling apart. Our God is an awesome God.

Perils of Social Media

Perils of Social Media

I have to confess that I’ve found myself wasting way too much time scrolling through Facebook posts.  I casually pick up my phone and look to see local news, friendly posts and then something catches my eye like “Weird Tales From the Woods” and I get sucked in. It’s like falling into a black hole and waking up to find I’ve been drifting for a half an hour or more.  What happened and where did the time go?  It definitely becomes more of a problem when I am bored or feeling lonely.

woman-3083376__340 It’s a waste of time to engage in political or ethical discussions which then become debates that spiral into pointless arguments. Warning alarms go off in my head telling me to EXIT quickly. )  I had to unfriend one person because I  thought I was having a discussion with him when two of his “Facebook friends” jumped in and started to verbally attack me when they realized I was a person of faith.

“… guard what God has entrusted to you. Avoid godless, foolish discussions with those who oppose you with their so-called knowledge… ”     1 Tim 6:20 (NLT)

I was not raised in an era of instant technology and information. I have learned the hard way to be very careful when commenting on a friends’ post or re-post.  The definition for discernment is:     1. the ability to judge well.   2.   (in Christian contexts) perception in the absence of judgment with a view to obtaining spiritual direction and understanding.

Social Media can be such a wonderful thing. I love seeing pictures of friends and their texting-1490691_960_720children, grandchildren, celebrations and travels. I appreciate the encouragement of a shared scripture verse or sermon link. It is exciting to read updates from missionaries and ministries we prayerfully and financially support. Multimedia is such an important part of our everyday it would be hard to live without it.  Slowly I have become more aware of the dangers of time thieves, half-truths, one-sided news and opinions. I have also blocked acquaintances that share photos or memes that I don’t care to see!

Did you know that the Bible gives guidelines for what we view in any kind of media even though It was written thousands of years ago?!

23 Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.
24 Avoid all perverse talk; stay away from corrupt speech.
25 Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you.26 Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path.27 Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil.                              Prov 4:23-27 (NLT)

We need to guard our hearts, minds and time. An old computer expression was “garbage in – garbage out” – you need to have clean programming for the system to work properly.  Sometimes its a matter of training and discipline. God has given us passages like this one to use as a guideline.

8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.           Phil 4:8-9 (NLT)

As for me, I am going to limit my time on Facebook. I need to avoid the click-bait sites . I will try to stay away from the  political blah blah blah and discern what is true from other sources.  I really do want to use my time wisely and protect my heart. I encourage you to use the verses above to help you gain a new perspective on  the use of social media and Christian living today.

words

A Diamond in the Rough

A Diamond  in the Rough
Quartz

When our daughter was in Middle School she had an interest in rock collecting so for Christmas we gave her a rock tumbling machine. Her kit came with a small variety of geodes.  The machines they design for kids are very noisy and take what seems like an eternity to semi polish a stone. Geodes are rocks that are plain on the outside but can have beautiful crystals on the inside. These polished stones can be found at rock shops all over the country.

The world’s love of diamonds had its start in India, where diamonds were gathered from the country’s rivers and streams. Some historians estimate that India was trading in diamonds as early as the fourth century BC.  Today diamonds are plentiful compared to other precious gemstones and can be found all over the earth.

A diamond has to go through a lot before it reaches the jeweler’s display case. It forms deep in the earth under extreme heat and pressure. It’s ejected violently upward until it arrives at or near the earth’s surface. It’s forced from its hiding place by nature or by man. Then it’s cleaved and cut and polished until its natural beauty shines through.

World’s largest uncut diamond auctioned in 2016

Diamonds are then graded in four categories to measure value. First by Carat or it’s size and secondly by the Cut which displays the jewelers skill in making the stone sparkle. The next grade is grade for lack of Color, clear being the best . All diamonds have an inclusion or tiny unique imperfection developed when it was forming , like a birthmark, which determines Carity. The Master Jeweler can tell the difference between a diamond and quartz and sees the microscopic details within.

Industry statistics indicate that approximately one ton of earth has to be moved for every one carat of diamond that is mined, so in the case of the 1.60 carat diamond about 4.25 tons of earth were moved… That’s a lot of dirt for a tiny rock. (from pricescope.com) Only 30% of diamonds mined are used for jewelry the rest are used in industry for drilling, grinding and cutting among other uses.

We are all like a “diamond in the rough”. He sees our imperfections and knows our value and uniqueness. He already knew all about us before we were born and has a purpose for our lives.

Psalm 139:15–16 (ESV)
15My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.16Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

God is Sovereign and wants to mold us into the person we should be. But like a potter with a lump of clay, we are a work in progress. Some people require a lot more “dirt” to be removed before moving on to the next step but that too is part of the process. (sorry no verses for cutting a diamond)

Jeremiah 18:2–4 (ESV)
2“Arise, and go down to the potter’s house, and there I will let you hear my words.” 3So I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was working at his wheel. 4And the vessel he was making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand, and he reworked it into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to do.

When we are going through difficult circumstances of any kind it is easy to question what God is doing. But He ultimately desires the best for us. He will use the pressure of trials to help us grow in faith and resilience. We will shine brighter in our testimony because He puts the sparkle of love, joy and peace into our lives.

Zechariah 13:9 (ESV)
9And I will put this third into the fire, and refine them as one refines silver, and test them as gold is tested. They will call upon my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘They are m
y people’; and they will say, ‘The LORD is my God.’ ”



What is Your Moral Compass?

What is Your Moral Compass?

I believe our society is losing something extremely valuable to the wholeness and vitality that makes us unique and united. No not the honor due to the American flag , that is only a symptom of the problem. We have lost our moral compass. America was founded on the Judeo Christian ethics that support the right to life ( all life is valuable in God’s eyes from conception to death) liberty (the freedom to choose how/where you will live ) and the pursuit ( the right to achieve one’s personal goals) of happiness.

The definition of morality In the American Dictionary is, ” a personal set of standards for good or bad behavior and character, or the quality of being right and honest.”

In my research I found that people have different definitions for their personal moral compass. Our former first lady, Michelle Obama, was quoted as saying, “I’ve learned that as long as I hold fast to my beliefs and values and follow my own moral compass then the only expectations I need to live up to are my own.” That sounds all well and good except that as first lady the country had certain expectations as to her moral character and behavior. I have heard people say “well, that is my truth“. What does that even mean? If my truth says my car will go 40 miles on one gallon but the manufacturer states that it will only go 24 mpg then when I ignore that little blinking warning light – I will run out of gas. That is truth.

In the movie Guardians of the Galaxy Rocket, the genetically engineered racoon, is talking to Nova Corps and asks, “What if I see something that I wanna take and it belongs to someone else?” “Then you will be arrested.” “But what if I want it more than the person who has it?” “Still illegal.” “That doesn’t follow. No, I want it more, sir.” It was humorous because most people share the basic moral belief that stealing is wrong.

The ten commandments, also known as the Decalogue, are a set of biblical principles relating to ethics and worship that play a fundamental role in Judaism and Christianity. God gave His people these rules to help make them a separate and holy people but it does not take away the basic problem of sin. Jesus Christ paid the penalty for breaking God’s law on the cross.

Ralph Waldo Emerson stated, “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” Dennis Prager put it this way, “The moral north reads south and the moral south reads north. Much of the world’s moral compass is broken.”

Jeremiah 17:9 states, The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it

Since we naturally tend to be selfish and self-centered God has given believers His Word and an internal spiritual compass – The Spirit of Truth.

How do we find TRUTH? John 14:6–7 (ESV)
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Our internal compass John 15:26
26“But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.

Our Guide 2 Timothy 3:16–17
16All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,
17that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

Put God First Proverbs 3:5–7
5Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
6In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
7Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.

Everyday is a new beginning. I hope you choose Gods’ moral compass that always points true north.


Do You Know Your Assignment?

Do You Know Your Assignment?

Our son just competed in the Special Olympics USA Games in Orlando, FL.  22,000 athletes, coaches and families from all fifty states and the Caribbean islands came together for a week of hard competition in a wide variety of sports.  We are proud to say our son won a gold, silver and bronze in his athletic events and division. Jeremy was the only one to wear braces on his legs to assist with running but these games are about abilities – NOT disabilities.

One of the t-shirts team Massachusetts wore says, “We understood the assignment”. Each athlete had been chosen last year to compete in these games based on previous competitions. They practiced as individuals and teams to get in shape for their individual sports and had their eyes on the big challenge ahead. No one goes to these games hoping just to be there and watch. The goal is to win a gold medal! And more than a years’ worth of planning and preparing went on behind the scenes to make it all happen.

The Christian life is described by the apostle Paul as a race or competition much like the Greek and Roman Olympics in the first century.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.25Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.26So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air.27But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (ESV)

Unfortunately, I think most modern Christians treat their assignment like a walk in the park. We go about our daily lives enjoying the good around us and then get frustrated and respond poorly when unforeseen obstacles are in our path. I certainly have been guilty of this when I am not in “spiritual shape” and preparing for each day or week ahead.

Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches. 1 Corinthians 7:17 (ESV)

We are created in different sizes, shapes, backgrounds and God has given each of us different gifts and abilities to use for His glory. The Bible tells us He calls, prepares, equips and empowers us to live godly lives that will cause others to want to know Jesus. My assignment is to run the race He prepared for me day by day with purpose and intention. Purpose is the reason why I do what I do and intention focuses the attention needed to make things happen. Each day I must prepare myself with time in prayer and in His Word and also make extra time for training in the arena He has called me to live and work.

I love the Special Olympics athlete’s oath .

Obviously not everyone will obtain a gold medal and that’s alright. We aren’t given the same strength and abilities or assignment but everyone will be held accountable for how they use what they have. There are many questions we can ask ourselves to better our position. What obstacles or sinful habits stand in my way of success today? Did I prepare well this morning, week, month? Was I focused to do the best I could? If not, what attitudes, distractions or problems do I need to bring before The Lord and deal with? Endurance comes with practice, trial and error but never by giving up. Are you “all in” to run the race or are you just sitting by the sidelines?

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, Hebrews 12:1 (ESV)


I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14 (ESV)