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”.

 
 

SOUL RESTORATION

SOUL RESTORATION

My husband and I like to watch Antiques Roadshow on PBS.  It is interesting to watch as people bring in their various collections, yard sale finds and family heirlooms to be appraised.  Sometimes you can just tell that the Appraiser is very excited by a particular piece.  He will begin to explain the origin and history of the find but then declare that the article is quite valuable but if it is properly restored it will be worth far more than ever dreamed.

We have an old bureau that had belonged to my husbands’ Great Aunt.  It was usable but in sad shape. The top was worn and veneer broken. We didn’t think restoring it to the original finish would be worth the work since it was not an expensive wood. Instead, my husband carefully sanded down all the surfaces several times and patched the broken places. It took several coats of paint as the wood was very dry and I ordered new special knobs and handles to replace the old plain ones. It was a process that took time. It is still an old vintage piece but looks better than before inside and out.

The biblical meaning of the word “restoration” is to receive back more than has been lost to the point where the final state is greater than the original condition.  The point is that someone or something is improved beyond measure.

Peter had really blown it by denying he even knew Jesus while standing in the courtyard while Jesus was inside “on trial’. But today you can visit Tabgha, a quiet cove on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee in Israel. There a church was built called “the Church of Peter’s Primacy” to commemorate Peter’s restoration. He was not restored to go back to fishing but to move forward as “the Rock”, the chosen leader for the disciples and early Church. 

Humans were created in God’s own image and are of great worth in His eyes. No person can stray so far away that they cannot be restored by His grace. Jesus explained that to us clearly in the parable of the prodigal son. God wants to use us for His service and glory despite our faults and failures.  

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.          2 Cor 5:17 (ESV)

…put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.      Eph 4:22-24

Maybe you can’t identify with the “prodigal son” but you are more like his brother.  Life didn’t seem “fair” and he was angry. Has your Bible gotten dusty or is your thought life rough around the edges? Are you stuck in old habits and patterns of life that make it difficult to function properly?  Maybe your joy has lost its luster? The past year and a half has been very difficult.  Wherever you are or whatever situation you find yourself in, let God do some deep cleaning in your heart and restore your soul. As long as you have life, God has a plan and a purpose for your life.

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.                     Psalms 51:10 & 12

Mom’s Who Pray

Mom’s Who Pray

Being a Mom is a full time responsibility and privilege. Moms who pray know they can’t accomplish all that is required for children to grow into strong, healthy, self-sufficient, law abiding citizens without asking for the Lord’s help.  

Hannah had no children and even though her husband loved her, his other wife made life miserable. In those days, a woman’s worth was measured by bearing children. As a family they went to the Temple where Hannah, being deeply distressed, prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly. She vowed that if God gave her a son, she would bring him back to serve the Lord.  Hannah was speaking in her heart; only her lips moved, and her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli (the Priest) took her to be a drunken woman and reprimanded her. But Hannah answered, “No, my lord, I am a woman troubled in spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord.” Eli then blessed her. She became the mother of Samuel who became a great prophet, priest and judge over Israel and she was blessed with other children as well.     1 Samuel 1

Moms who pray know that God hears the cry of their heart.

… For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.     Romans 8:27,27

Moms who pray know they don’t have all the answers and ask for His wisdom and guidance.

And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.        1 John 5:14-15

Moms who pray will hand over their worries to the Lord in exchange for peace.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus       Phil 4:6-7

Moms who pray will praise God despite current circumstances because they know He is in control.

Mary was a poor, young, unmarried woman when told she was to become Jesus’ mother. In her small village there would be a lot of gossip and disapproval. Her response to the angel’s message was a beautiful song of praise.

46 And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, 47  and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; 49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name…”    Luke 1:46-49

Moms who pray, trust in a big God who loves them and their children (grandchildren) far more than they can imagine. Faith accepts that God has a better plan even if the results are never seen. Hannah prayed for a child she so deeply desired. Mary praised God for a child given to her in an unusual and unimaginable way. Both women trusted in their Heavenly Father to provide for their needs.

There are all types of women who fill the roll of Mom; biological, adoptive, foster, grandmothers and aunts but will you be a Mom who prays?

WOUNDED

WOUNDED

Over the years as a surgical nurse I helped create wounds in my patients in order to remove disease or fix a problem with the body’s mechanics and then we close the wound carefully to allow for healing.  An open and or unattended wound cannot heal but instead will become infected and as the infection grows the surrounding healthy tissue will also be affected. The Surgeon in this situation has to make an existing wound even larger to remove the diseased part and cleanse it thoroughly to allow the body to heal properly. All wounds come from an injury but aren’t limited to a cut in the skin. A wound can be superficial or deep, emotional, physical or spiritual.

Lisa Terkeurst said, “Right now in the middle of the pain you didn’t cause- the change you didn’t want, or the reality you didn’t know was coming…your life can still be beautiful.”

There are wounds that have been inflicted upon us and God knows about those. The abuse you have endured, the betrayal of a friend, the losses you have incurred and every bump and bruise you have had along life’s journey are known to Him. He also knows about the wounds you have caused: that careless word, the lies and juicy gossip heard, the selfishness that hurt another.  He knows it all. The diagnosis is the same – SIN.  Sin causes injury, separation, pain, decay and death.

Another fact about wounds is they leave scars.  I have a large scar that runs half way around my body from chest surgery that I had – twice. There weren’t any “scopes” available then to help make the scar smaller. Our scars remind us that we once were wounded but have been healed and mine is a part of a much larger story of God’s guidance, protection, provision and healing.

 Kintsugi is a centuries-old Japanese art of repairing broken pottery and transforming it into a new work of art with gold, the traditional metal used in Kintsugi. The name of the technique is derived from the words “Kin” (golden) and “tsugi” (joinery), which translate to mean “golden repair.”. The scars and cracks of the broken ceramic become the focus and turn the object into something unique and exquisite.

 

In Hebrew the word el Rapha , means to make healthful. Jehovah el Rapha means The Lord Who Heals. Like the Kintsugi  pottery – God wants all of the pieces of our lives- our wounds and brokenness – our joys and good times too. He will cleanse us and make us whole and beautiful both inside and out with new purpose.

He was despised and rejected— a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care.
4 Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins!5 But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.6 All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all.    Isaiah 53:3-6 (NLT)

 At this Lenten season especially we look toward the cross and all He accomplished for us. Our healing begins on the inside when we ask for forgiveness and offer Him all of our heart, soul and mind. Come as you are – He offers freedom from sin and guilt, peace in uncertain times and a calm assurance that we are never alone.  Let Him make something beautiful of your life.

When Godly Leaders Fall

When Godly Leaders Fall

Christians around the world have been grieving the news of sexual misconduct by yet another highly respected Christian speaker and writer. Although he has now passed away some may feel he escaped punishment for his double -life. I am sure he fell on his knees in shame when he met our Savior face to face. My goal in my writing is not to dissect individual lives of fallen leaders but to examine how sin has repercussions that are far reaching. Pastors and church leaders are human too but we tend to put them on a holy pedestal and expect them to have somehow obtained a kind of spiritually impenetrable shield around them. In reality, they need our prayers more than anyone because when they fall from grace many are affected. Shock, a sense of betrayal, anger and a loss of trust in them or the institution they lead are some responses.

King David was a simple shepherd boy turned great warrior because God blessed, protected and made King. In his personal life David was a failure as a husband and father. By the time he was 30 he had seven wives and later added more wives and concubines (at least ten) to his harem. He turned a blind eye when his daughter was raped by a half brother, Amnon. Her brother Absalom took justice into his own hands, killed him and fled. Later Absalom rebelled against David’s authority as king and defiled his fathers concubines. David did nothing to make restitution or reconciliation with his children which almost split the Kingdom. His family was a mess.

Many of us are familiar with the story of Bathsheba. David was home when he should have been fighting with his men. Viewing his kingdom from a rooftop he spied a beautiful woman bathing. Instead of averting his eyes he sent for her and slept with her. Finding out she was pregnant he tried to get her faithful husband to sleep with her as a cover up. When that didn’t work he put Uriah in the midst of battle to die. The prophet Nathan confronted David with his great sin but despite his repentance the baby died. There are consequences to sin.

How many people were affected by this great sin? His trusted guards knew what he did, he was not with his men fighting, he betrayed his wives, had an innocent man killed – Uriah’s family suffered loss – the new baby died and his children had more division. The whole kingdom suffered. Wow – not such a great guy after all.

Why is he called “a man after God’s own heart”? Because David never forgot where he came from and had a deep desire to obey God. He loved God’s Law and had absolute faith in God’s power and protection. No matter what the circumstance were he was always grateful even when on the run from Saul. David pours out his heart in the book of Psalms for us and we can identify with his raw emotion. He truly repented of his sin and accepted the consequences. He was called a man after God’s own heart , not because he was perfect, but because he knew where to turn when he messed up.

That is why we love David. We love his stories of great bravery in fighting the giant Goliath. Do we have “Goliath’s” in our lives and need to depend on God’s deliverance? We admire his ability to soothe Saul with his harp and his great friendship with Jonathon. Are we looking towards God for peace of mind? We learn a great lesson from his sin with Bathsheba….God sees everything and there is no hiding from Him. We live in a broken world with the same flaws, fears and failures as then and there are many life lessons in his story. We love the Psalms that were recorded for us: songs of gratefulness, wonder and praise; prayer for help and courage; psalms of brokenness and repentance. David’s great sin did not diminish God’s love for him or keep God from fulfilling His promises. David’s sin did not take away all the great things he had accomplished either.

So when we hear of a godly man’s (woman’s) fall we should pray for all those affected especially the people working for their ministry. Their sin damages their personal character but not necessarily their message. We need to realize that we all fall short of God’s glory and need to be surrounded by godly people to lift us up. Will your daily prayer be to live a life for God’s glory and be called a man/woman after God’s own heart?