Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Oh, Give Thanks

“Oh, give thanks to the LORD! Call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the peoples! Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him; Talk of all His wondrous works!” – 1 Chronicles 16:8-9

Writing thank you cards has become a lost etiquette. When I was growing up here in the south if someone gave you a birthday present or did you a favor, big or small, you were expected to write them a thank you note. It was just the polite thing to do. I was taught to include in the card a mention of the item by name, and something I liked about it. I’ve taught my children to write them as well. I think it’s important to acknowledge the kindness of relatives and friends.

If you were to write God a thank you note, what would it say? Think about that. Where would you start?

Here in the south if we have a baby or bridal shower someone keeps a list of who gave the gift and what it was. When the shower is over, its customary for the one who received the gifts to write thank you notes for each item on the list.

What if you had to make a list of what God has given you? What would it say?
1 Chronicles 16:9 says we are to “talk of ALL his wondrous works.” Friends, if we were to do that, we’d have no time for small talk, no time for gossip, no time to argue, and no time to whine and complain. What a blessing we miss by simply not acknowledging our own blessings.

This Thanksgiving I have many things for which to be thankful. This past year has been a real struggle for me. There were times when I felt Satan was attacking from all angles. At the top of my list of things I want to thank God for is YOU, my online friends. Having this blog and being able to share my thoughts on our Father God, Lord Jesus Christ, and the working of the Holy Spirit has lightened my heart, and kept my focus on higher things than this life. You all give so much love to me, and I know it must be the love of Christ through you. Words will never convey how much I appreciate your kindness and your friendship. May God shower you with blessings, shine upon your face, cradle you in His arms, and give you sweet peace.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Carrying the Daily Cross

“Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” – Luke 9:23

Mornings are tough sometimes. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job…most of the time. But some days I’d like to stay in bed. It’s warmth is much more appealing than the drudgery of getting dressed, rushing out the door, and dealing with the attitudes and politics of work all day. This was one of those mornings. I just really didn’t want to go to work.

I’d played several conversations that might take place over in my head. I’d chosen my comments, stressed over the likely responses, and decided what to say and not to say. I’d carefully picked out the right clothes so I’d look comfortable, but not sloppy. I’d done my hair and makeup. As usual, the entire time I was getting ready, I was giving my kids the checklist of questions we go through each morning.

“Did you brush your teeth?”

“Do you have your homework?”

“Where’s your jacket?”

“Did you make your bed?”

“Is THAT what you’re wearing?”

We were finally leaving the house and I turned the corner to exit my room. I wouldn’t call it a vision because that might be misleading. It was more of a “holy imagination”. As I turned toward the door, I imagined Jesus leading the way, walking ahead of me. He turned to look back at me and said, “Let’s go!” It was milliseconds in length, yet I recall his flowing robe as He walked and the clap of his sandals on the floor. He was walking ahead of me, leading the way, as I started the day. I cannot express to you in words known by man the feeling of peace that gave me. The entire day became filled with hope.

Jesus has told us to take up our cross daily and follow Him. For years I read this verse and I assumed Jesus wanted me to follow Him because He desired my obedience. I thought of it as a command to do His will, a job, and another rule to follow. I look at this verse differently now. I know following Jesus daily is for my own benefit. He goes before me. He doesn’t walk beside me like a friend. He doesn’t say, “I’ve got your back”, and wait for something to go wrong so He can react. He walks ahead of me. As I pass through the day Jesus is going before me clearing the thorns and briars to make it easier for me to carry my cross.

He knows our crosses. We each have one to carry. Every day the cross is different than the one before. Sometimes it’s lighter, and sometimes heavier. But each day there’s a cross to bear, and a path to tread.

Can you name what’s hanging from your cross? Perhaps it’s a failing marriage, a rebellious child, or emotional scars of an abusive past. It may be an enemy in your workplace, or a job that’s stealing your joy. Is it your finances, your health, or the health of someone dear to your heart? Whatever it is, Jesus knows about it. He knows the obstacles you will face, and He has prepared an easier path. Let Him lead the way.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

The Smallest Things

"Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows." – Matthew 10:29-31

Last night the kids and I decided to try one of the newer restaurants near us. They seated us against a wall near a doorway. I was happy at first because I now had a good spot for one of my favorite hobbies, people watching. As I sat down, I immediately saw there was a problem. A halogen light was shining right in my face. All the other bulbs on the track were shining straight down, but this one was cocked to the side shining directly in my face.

There were only three chairs, so I couldn’t simply switch seats. If I moved my chair to the other side of the table my back would be to everyone in the restaurant, and I’d be in the way of all the servers. So I sat there for about ten minutes with the light shining directly into my eyes. It must have been a ten thousand watt super bulb developed by NASA or something. It was beginning to truly hurt my eyes and I said to the kids, "Well, I guess I could cover my eyes!" And just as I put my hands over my eyes, POP! The bulb burned out!

I praised God! I said to my kids "See how much God loves me? He even cares when there’s too much light in my eyes!"

Now you may say it was just a coincidence. You may say that was "cool", but it probably wasn’t God’s work. You may even think God doesn’t have time to take care of the things that are that trivial with war and famine and disease throughout the world. But I have to tell you that from the bottom of my heart I know God took that bulb out of service for me.

He cares about even the smallest things in our lives. If you lose a button on your shirt, God cares. If you are lonely, God cares. If you get paper cut, God cares. If you’ve lost your keys, God cares. If you are stressed about a dirty house, God cares. If you are hurting because your last child has moved out, leaving you with an empty nest, God cares. Nothing in your life that causes you the smallest amount of discomfort occurs without His knowledge and attention.

Matthew 10:30 tells us that He has even numbered the hairs on our head. I love my kids beyond what I can express into words, but I’ve never took the time to try to count and keep track of how many hairs are on their head. Yet each hair that falls from their head causes Him to update His tally. As a mom, it’s very comforting to know God loves them beyond even what I can, and is watching over them that closely.

When things of this life bother you, even the smallest things, don’t hesitate to give them to God in prayer. Crawl up in His lap, unload all your cares, and lean on His shoulders. He will support you. He is on your side.