In 1929 the Coca-Cola Company developed an ad campaign around the slogan “The Pause That Refreshes.” Of course, they were talking about drinking an ice cold Coke. We look for opportunities to take a few moments to stop and recharge. It’s a healthy habit, to allow your body to recover from the physical and mental stresses of life. Continue reading “The Pause that Refreshes”
I saw something disturbing today. I took my youngest son to the grocery store with me and when we parked in the parking lot there was a vehicle next to ours that had words written on the hood. I couldn’t read the words clearly but as I got out of my van I saw small hangers with children’s clothing inside the window. There was at least one small child in the back seat. As we walked away from the van my son turned to look at more words written on the rear of the vehicle. He turned to me and said, “Mom, did you see that? That says ‘homeless family. hungry, can you help us'”
My first thought was one of compassion. But I must confess, the next thought was to wonder if it was for real or some kind of an angle. I am a victim of the culture I live in and I have become suspicious of people who would take advantage of those who are too trusting or gullible. Obviously the adult who was driving was inside the store. As we entered the store I walked around getting our groceries and wondering which person was the one.
By the time we got back out to our van the vehicle was gone.
All day long I’ve thought about that family. What if they really are homeless? What if I could have helped? Did God want me to help? I didn’t even ask Him. I just went about my own business. I have thanked God several times today for all the ways He provides for us. I’ve thanked Him for giving us a home and food to eat. But it all seems shallow some how. Do I just say “Thank You Lord” while people around me are hungry and have no place to sleep?
How will I ever learn to pay attention to what’s going on around me? How will I know when God wants me to act if I don’t ask?
My prayer is that God would do what he told Ezekiel. That He would take my heart of stone and give me a heart of flesh. One that would feel greater compassion for those in need. And that I would see God’s children through His eyes and not my own.
God’s promises are not earned by our behavior. Sometimes He requires our obedience but that’s not the same thing as performance or merit. God sees our potential and not our failures. We cannot be disqualified from receiving God’s promises if our hearts are truly His. We don’t have to earn His love, compassion or peace by measuring up to some standard. He loved us first, before we had a single opportunity to prove our loyalty or commitment and His peace can be received anywhere, anytime. There is nothing we can do to make God love us any more than He already does.
In this high-tech age of cell phones, email, instant messaging and texting it’s easy to stay in constant contact with the people in our lives. Sometimes we even go to extremes and carry on instant conversations with several people at one time. That can sometimes lead to confusion or misunderstanding. I’m sure if you’ve used texting or instant messaging at all, you’ve experienced a situation where your words or tone have been misunderstood and you had to go back and clear things up. Continue reading “Instant Communication”
I’m sure you’ve hear people say that they have “felt like dirt” or have been “treated like dirt.” We immediately understand the implication. It means they have not been treated as they think they deserve.
But the truth is, that’s exactly what we are. Genesis 2:7 says, “God formed man of dust from the ground.” And Genesis 3:19 says, “For you are dust and to dust you shall return.” That sounds pretty clear to me. Why should we think we deserve to be treated like anything more than the dust that we are? Continue reading “From the Dust”
When was the last time you felt foolish…or embarrassed…or humiliated? Pick one. It probably hasn’t been that long ago. You may have felt shame as well.
All those labels try to attach themselves to us when we’ve done something, or been blamed for something that threatens our self-image. Our self-esteem: Something the world works very hard to build up and then tear down over and over. Continue reading “Who Determines Our Worth?”
So much of the Proverbs are directed at the power of the tongue. If only we could get it in our heads that words are powerful. God created the universe with words and He tells us throughout the Scriptures that our words also contain power. But people use words so carelessly. We speak things we don’t mean, we say things we regret.
Proverbs 18:21 says “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” And yet we sling words around so carelessly, never considering the consequences. We can cause so much damage to another person without ever laying a finger on them. What would it be like if we allowed God to teach us to control our tongues? What would our families be like? What would our churches be like?
How different things would be if we could give encouragement instead of put-downs… comforting words instead of sarcasm. If only we could respond with love instead of anger and impatience. How different life would be.
God’s Word has two major themes that are so simple. The first is “come” and the second is “go.”
He asks us to come to him, first to be saved and then for relationship. He doesn’t have a long checklist of things we need to do to be saved. We don’t have to pre-qualify. We just have to “come.” To believe that Jesus is who He says He is. It doesn’t matter what stage of life we are in or what our past looks like. We don’t have to clean up our act. We don’t have to have all the answers. We just have to “come” and we will be made new.
If this is true….what are we waiting for?
God’s second theme is “go.” As our response to God’s willingness to love us unconditionally and save us, He asks us to go and tell others so they can experience eternity with Him as well. Again, God doesn’t have a list of qualifications we must meet before we can answer the call to “go.” He uses the young and old.
Are you young? “But the LORD said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’ because everywhere I send you, you shall go, And all that I command you, you shall speak.” (Jeremiah 1:7)
Are you…not so young? “The righteous man will flourish like the palm tree, He will grow like acedar in Lebanon.Planted in the house of the LORD, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still yield fruit in old age; they shall be full of sap and very green.” (Psalm 92:12-14)
He uses people from every class and culture. He doesn’t need to see our college diploma. He doesn’t need references. Yes, there are certain areas of ministry where some degree of training is helpful. But you don’t need training to go to your family or your neighbor. You just need your story about how God loved you enough to send His son to take your place. You can be used on the day you receive salvation right up until you breathe your last breath before being ushered into God’s eternal kingdom.
There is a famous painting by Edvard Munch called The Scream. It is a clear portrayal of absolute agony. Much of the world can identify with the picture in some way. There is so much pain in humanity that we can all look at that picture and get the point that life can be overwhelming. But the picture also says something else. It suggests a hopelessness that cannot be expressed in words. A silent scream of desperation.
Have you ever felt like your circumstances seemed hopeless?
There is speculation as to the intent of Munch’s painting. Is the scream coming from the person portrayed or is he holding his ears to shut out the noise around him? Either way, God, has an answer to this desperation.
In Psalm 18:3 it says “I call upon the Lord who is worthy of praise and I am saved from my enemies.” Our enemies aren’t always flesh and blood, sometimes they are things unseen. The key is calling on the Lord.
In Psalm 124:8 it says “Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” There is power in the name.
Sometimes life brings us to the place where we are desperate for God to act. We need Him and we need Him fast. I’ve had several of those times in my life…when my mother was diagnosed with cancer…when I was paged in a toy store and upon arrival at the service desk then told to call the local hospital emergency room to find out that my five year old son had broken his leg…or when I was told that two of my young sons would be hospitalized with encephalitis at the same time.
Those were all times when I used the theme of Munch’s painting in a very different form. There was a silent scream coming from my spirit as I walked the long aisle of that toy store but it wasn’t a scream of agony, although I was certainly feeling that at the moment. No… the scream I experienced was just as desperate but consisted of a single word…JESUS! I was shouting that name with everything in me but no one in that toy store heard it. Only the Father in Heaven heard my cry.
Now, it’s a cry that I send to Heaven often. I learned that I don’t need to be in a desperate situation to cry out to Jesus from the depths of my soul. I can do it when I feel like things are beginning to get shaky or I can do it anytime I feel like I just want more of Him. I can silently shout the Name of Jesus anytime at all and hear it echo through the heavens.