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!

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.

Handwritten Letters

Handwritten Letters

Sadly I believe the art of writing a good letter is almost lost. I used to send handwritten letters to many people and even had a pen pal for many years. But now it seems a Hallmark card is good enough and a printed letter only goes to close friends and family at Christmas time. Facebook and other media gives a way to send a quick thought but there is no substance. My husband and I have been going through many boxes of memorabilia containing letters from our college years. Not only did they express our feelings for each other but information about classes, dorm mates and happenings on campus and back home. I found some letters my parents sent each other while he was in the Air Force and a letter my Grandma sent me before she died the summer I was a camp counselor. These letters hold a snapshot of life in the past but also reinforce the foundation my life was built on.

The second part of the Christian Bible, called the New Testament, consists of the Gospels, Acts, Epistles, and Book of Revelation, which together describe the life and teachings of Jesus, the efforts on the part of Jesus’s followers to establish the Christian Church, and a prophetic vision of the Second Coming. These epistles were handwritten letters to various young Churches scattered around the then known world and have been meticulously preserved for us.

 Luke, the beloved doctor, sends his greetings, and so does Demas.15 Please give my greetings to our brothers and sisters at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church that meets in her house.16 After you have read this letter, pass it on to the church at Laodicea so they can read it, too. And you should read the letter I wrote to them.17 And say to Archippus, “Be sure to carry out the ministry the Lord gave you.”18 Here is my greeting in my own handwriting—Paul. Remember my chains. May God’s grace be with you. Col 4:14-18

These letters contain names and places of real people that were being taught how to live as Christians in a pagan world. The letters teach deep theology and practical solutions to problems we still face today. Within the pages are words of admonishment similar to, “please get along and take care of each other” as well as words of encouragement for these early saints, “Stand firm in His word.”

In our fast paced instant messenger world we can just read a quick verse on our phone or listen to a podcast at the click of a button. I don’t think we appreciate the time It would have taken quite for these letters to reach their intended readers. That is what we would call real snail mail. I do know that we take for granted our free access to these letters and the rest of scripture. I am old school and personally prefer a printed paper copy to read and re-read the words on a page and let it speak to me like a personal letter.

Did you know we are to live out our personal lives so others can “read” about Jesus even if the don’t own a bible?

Your lives are a letter written in our hearts; everyone can read it and recognize our good work among you.3 Clearly, you are a letter from Christ showing the result of our ministry among you. This “letter” is written not with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. It is carved not on tablets of stone, but on human hearts. 2 Cor 3:2-3 (NLT)

I have a challenge for you dear readers and it is three fold.

  1. Send a handwritten letter of appreciation to someone in your life. It will mean far more than you could imagine.
  2. Pick up a paper copy of God’s word, sit and read a whole passage or chapter. Let His word sink into your heart. Think about the people in that passage, the person who wrote it, does their situation apply to your life?
  3. Ask yourself if anyone can read about Jesus by watching how you daily live.

Are You A Percolator Christian?

Are You A Percolator Christian?

I love a good cup of coffee and we are Dunkin’ fans in my house. Did you know that after the Boston Tea Party in 1773, drinking tea became an unpatriotic act and sealed coffee’s fate in America?

It only takes a few minutes on Google to learn there are at least five official ways to brew coffee and thousands of opinions as to what is the best brand and method. The coffee culture has seen a lot of evolution and advancement in how we make our coffee and the devices available. The making of coffee is a serious business to connoisseurs and baristas alike.

In the movie The Bucket List, billionaire Edward Cole was handed an article about his beloved Kopi Luwak coffee which is widely considered the most expensive in the world.  In the Sumatran village, where the beans are grown, the wild Palm Civet eats and digests the fruit then defecates the beans. The villagers then collect and process the stools. It is the combination of the beans and the gastric juices of the tree cat that give Kopi Luwac its unique flavor and aroma.  (This is all true, but I won’t be buying it at over $100-600 a pound.) 

A coffee percolator is a type of pot used for the brewing of coffee by continually cycling the boiling or nearly boiling brew through the grounds using gravity until the required strength is reached. They can be manual – used on the stove top – or electric. I often use a large electric percolator when we are entertaining. Coffee percolators once enjoyed great popularity but were supplanted in the early 1970’s by automatic drip coffee makers. (We love our programmable one.)

I can honestly say my love for God’s Word is far greater than my love of coffee but I know I should spend more time “cycling through” or meditating on the context rather than reading on autopilot.  Reading through a passage several times gives a much deeper insight into how I should apply it to my current situation.

  but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. Psalms 1:2 (ESV)

 The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.  Psalms 119:130

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

Invented in 1929, the French Press method is widely considered as the best and easiest method for brewing superior and consistent coffee. In a press pot, ground coffee is soaked, steeped and strained in hot water; therefore the flavorful essential oils, caffeine and antioxidants are better diffused and preserved.

Due to the Covid 19 shutdown I missed several opportunities for being soaked in God’s word and spending time with other believers. A Christian family camp and a writer’s retreat are two places where I feel God’s word being poured over me in very different ways. When I spend more quiet time away from the daily grind to steep in His Word I feel refreshed and renewed. Time away can help “the essentials diffuse and be better preserved” in my heart and mind.

Do you automatically make time for reading the Bible as a daily habit just like drinking your coffee (or tea)?  They say that coffee is a healthy antioxidant for the body but God’s Word can lift your spirits and strengthen your inner heart. I challenge you to make some time and space to let the words percolate in your mind and pour over your soul this week. 

 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.       Psalms 19:14 (ESV)

Window Shopping,Retail Therapy and the Coupon Queen

Window Shopping,Retail Therapy and the Coupon Queen

I usually enjoy shopping.  Especially in a mall or plaza but my favorite place is the Christmas Tree Shoppe!  And I have one real close to my house.  I don’t enjoy food shopping as much because….well, it can be frustrating. There’s too much to think about like meal planning.

I’ve studied and discovered that there are three types of shoppers. A Window Shopper , lookinwindowis someone who goes to a store just to pass the time. They like to browse and get ideas with no real intention of actually buy something.  We all probably do this when we are on vacation and go into one of those “gift shops” and gasp at the price tags. Just looking, thanks.

Another type of shopping is called Retail Therapy. This person is in a bad mood, trying to avoid a situation at home or is just plain bored. They really don’t NEED anything except to get out of the house. They are just looking for something yet nothing in particular.  But there is great satisfaction in a good buy, great sale or finding an item that they might need happens to be on clearance.

IMG_1313The third type of shopper is a Coupon Queen! These people know what they want and are very intentional about getting it at the best price possible. They make a big investment in time searching for sales, clipping coupons and searching for special deals.  There is great joy in saving money and getting extra bonuses. They share their deals with friends.  (I like to buy one, get one free and give it to the food pantry.  Thought I would just throw that in).

I’ve also discovered that people can have these views when it comes to Christian living, like attending church, reading the bible and praying.  The Window Shopper – is just visiting to see if there is anything that might catch their interest. There is no intent or purpose. They feel no need for fellowship with God or others. They are just browsing without taking anything to heart or home.             bigchurch

The Retail Therapy person comes to God when they have a problem or need in their life. Or maybe they come to church out of habit not really expecting anything. It is a great joy to hear special music or hear a guest speaker that makes them feel good.  They kind of pick and choose aspects of the Christian life according to various situations or circumstances.

openbiblehandHowever, the Coupon Queen manages and invests her time in prayer, bible study and fellowship with other Christians. She enjoys learning something new from God’s word and shares answers to prayer with friends.  Listening to Christian music or reading a good book adds joy to the day. She shares her “great deal” with others.

The Bible is the best guidebook for life105 Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.  Psalms 119:105 (NLT)

It offers comfort in hard times:  27 “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”John 14:26-27 (NLT)

Know you are valued and loved: 29 What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin ? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it.30 And the very hairs on your head are all numbered.31 So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.    Matt 10:29-31 (NLT)

The Bible offers eternal life: “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.   John 3:16 (NLT)

Eph.2:8    For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,

What could be a better deal than our salvation? It cost God everything.  But it is a free gift for us. All we have to do is receive it.

In this New Year, will you invest part of your busy schedule to read and study the Bible?  Will you put more time into the eternal rather than temporary bargains of today? If you do, your life will be filled with a heart full of joy, peace that passes all understanding and love that knows no limits.  What kind of seeker of God and His Word will you be in 2018?