Category Archives: General

After the Votes Are Counted

trump-and-hillary

Did you know that it was God who ordained government? Romans 13:1 says, “… there is no authority except that which God has established.”

Sometimes we don’t understand His thinking; and sometimes we just plain don’t agree with His choice of leaders, so we must remind ourselves that even in the tough times God is still sovereign over all.

Whether this election goes our way or not, let’s remember that…

God is still in control.
Jesus is still His Son.
The Holy Spirit still comforts.
The Bible is still true.
Heaven still awaits all believers.

And, even though…
We still have flaws;
We still fall short of God’s glory;
We still need forgiveness, and
We still need a Savior…

We can rest assured that God still loves us and patiently waits for us to come to Him so He can shower us with His love, grace, and mercy. When we do, He will show us how to extend His love to others…regardless of how they voted.

The Wisdom of the Election Process

Voted

“Has God not made foolish the wisdom of the world?” 1 Corinthians 1:20.

The election process has turned into one big fat mess. I first noticed something was slightly awry when I voted in the primary.

The “how to make my selections electronically” were explained to me before entering the voting booth. But once in there, I realized that I had to vote for delegates for my candidate–people I’d never heard of–and out of the gazillion delegates listed, I could only vote for 19 of them. What??? If I were voting for one candidate wouldn’t I want him or her to get all the delegates?

That just didn’t seem right to me. Now both parties are up in arms over the delegate count. Who gets what and how many, and how you can win the popular vote and lose the state. None of it makes sense when you consider that whoever designed that process also added into the rules that if the party doesn’t like the candidate who wins the popular vote they can change the rules at the last minute. What???

Foolish me for thinking that each of us has one vote for one candidate, and that one vote added to other like votes would go to one person. But that’s not how it works. We vote for delegates. I wonder why they don’t call it the delegate election. Hmmm. But then again, maybe they will since they can change the rules to suit themselves.

God has indeed made foolish the wisdom of the election process.

A New Strategy for a New Year

happy-new-year-2016

Have you ever lost heart, or your motivation, or your sense of purpose? I have. I’m there now. I feel like I’m just going through the motions.

As I walked Jethro, I said, “Lord, I know You’re with me. You live in my heart; but I just don’t feel Your presence.”

I really said that.

Then I started reading Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. From prison in Rome, Paul wrote to encourage the church not to lose heart. From prison!

If anyone had reason to lose heart, it was Paul. But he didn’t. Instead he chose to pray for us. As a result of his prayer, I sensed a new strategy forming for the new year–a strategy to seek God’s point of view more frequently so I can understand the bigger picture; and a strategy to ask Him for a fresh and more frequent infusion of His power, from His Spirit to mine, so I can come closer to accomplishing His will for my life.

Then it occurred to me. That’s a new year’s resolution I can keep. All I have to do is seek and ask. God will have to do the work. Happy New Year to me!

And Happy New Year to you, too.

May God crown your year with an infusion of His strength and goodness.

Voice Control

Go around

Jethro, my black lab, is half my weight but twice my strength. Walking him can be a difficult task especially when he’s being lured by a fresh or different scent. So it’s important to keep him under voice control.

In times of his enticement, he wants to leave my side to follow wherever his nose leads him like the other night when he kept trying to cross the street. Over and over again I had to stop, apply the brake on his leash, and say, “Go around,” to keep him out of the street and by my side.

Jethro knows what it means to “Go around.” He learned it the hard way.

Being a head-strong dog, he would often sniff his way to the far side of a tree or mailbox, get his leash wrapped around it trying to free himself, then look to me to get him untangled.

In order to enjoy an otherwise peaceful walk with Jethro, I taught him how to backtrack and get himself out of his own mess by applying the brake to stop his forward progress and saying, “Go around.”

Now I can use the same command to prevent him from following his nose to the far side of an obstacle in the first place. But on this particular evening our walk was a constant struggle–a battle of wills. Jethro’s will versus my will for him.

He wanted to walk on the side of the street where there were lots of new smells to investigate at a house that’s being renovated. His enthusiasm to explore far outweighed any possible concern for dropped tacks, nails, and other sharp objects in the yard that could hurt him.

Our twenty minute walk was a constant herky-jerky stop and go. He waited while I took two steps forward then tried to sneak behind me to cross the street. I’d stop, brake the leash, say, “Go around,” and wait for him to come back to my side before resuming our walk.

After we had gone through that routine numerous times, I wondered how God puts up with me during those times when I’m as stubborn, strong-willed, and prone to wander as Jethro is.

Jethro’s struggle also mimics the universal one–the desire to control our own destiny, to go our own way, and to do our own thing in our own time.

But the thing is, we don’t often know what’s best for us. We don’t see the big picture, so we make poor decisions. We go where we shouldn’t go; say what we shouldn’t say; and do what we shouldn’t do.

Struggling against God’s will for us is a struggle we tend to repeat. But God is good. His patience with us exceeds our patience with our circumstances. His love for us exceeds our love for ourselves. His grace is greater than all our sins and wrongdoing. His mercies are new every time we need His forgiveness. And if that weren’t enough, His gift of the Holy Spirit guides us with a loving yet convicting voice that prevents us from wandering too far from His side if we only listen.

Just like Jethro’s hearing me say, “Go around,” prevents Him from getting hurt or in trouble, our listening to and heeding our Master’s voice prevents us from getting hurt or in trouble, too. That’s why it’s important that we stay under the Master’s voice control.

I’m listening. Are you?

Down and Out? Look Up!

Fish symbol 4

Have you ever had a series of days when nothing seems to go your way? Trouble after trouble keeps piling up? Days and days that you’re supposed to be counting it all joy, but the only question you have is, “How? How can I count it all joy? It isn’t!”

I have.

While putting up my gheenoe for the winter, I ripped a hole in my left calf on the trailer’s tail light holder and will be in wound-care for six weeks.

A couple of days later, I drove through some unknown, unseen something that made my lungs shut down immediately, so I’m on big drugs just to breathe again and wearing masks to avoid further damage from the mold and dust of dying leaves.

Then I went for another oil change at Walmart. I know–pure stupidity, but I thought I’d give them one last chance to get it right. I checked their shelves, told them I’d seen Motorcraft Synthetic Blend 5w 20 in stock, and asked them to change my oil with it. They did the deed in record time–30 minutes–and charged me $75. They said, “The price of oil musta went up.” I paid it, looked at the receipt when I returned home and discovered they had put Mobil 1 in my car.

And running in the background of injury, illness, and emotional distress is an ongoing battle with TVA allowing the guy who bought the lot next to me to cut down a live tree on my shoreline so it won’t fall down on his dock which hasn’t even been built yet. To add insult to injury, TVA is allowing him to ignore the rule that requires owners to build their docks 10′ inside their own property line. For the record, that would place his dock on dry land, 60′ from the water’s edge. He has no waterfront property, but he will cut down a live tree, build his dock, and park his 22′ pontoon in my backyard with TVA approval.

Count it all joy? How! I started counting my blessings.

1. The wound-care staff is warm, friendly, and really good at their jobs. I enjoy going there, and they will heal my wound.

2. Even though my lungs are ultra-sensitive to environmental changes, my doctors have me on meds that allow me to live a normal life and immediately deal with life threatening situations.

3. I’m all for giving people a second and third chance, but at least I have oil in my car and the money to pay for it until I decide where to go for the next oil change.

4. And I’m so blessed to live in my own home on a beautiful lake with wonderful neighbors who call to check on me if my blinds aren’t open when they pass by.

Counting my blessings changed my perspective. Then just this morning, Sarah Young’s JESUS CALLING reminded me, “Instead of wondering about what is on the road ahead or worrying about what you should do if…or when…, you can concentrate on staying in communication with ME [Jesus].”

Peace began to replace my inner turmoil. After breakfast I walked Jethro by the lot next to me that has already been cleared. I looked up to see a grapevine that had doubled back on itself to form the sign of the fish. And I was reminded once again that God is my ever-present help. He is with me always in all ways, and with Him, I can handle anything life throws my way. He promised.

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1

Knock! Persistence Wins

persistence

In teaching His disciples about prayer, Jesus made it relevant for them.

He said, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity [boldness] he will surely get up and give you as much as you need…to him who knocks the door will be opened.”

Knocking means never, never, never giving up. It requires the same kind of persistence and repetition that Jethro, my black lab, uses to wake me up every morning. 

I pretend to be asleep when he enters my room, but the sound of his 3-footed gait makes a distinctive sound as he limps down the hall, so I’m awake but playing possum by the time he arrives bedside.

He begins his persistent get-up-and-feed-me routine with a single “Woof” while sitting as close to my face as he can sit. The second “Woof” comes before I can count to ten. By the third “Woof,” Jethro has become a little impatient and puts his foot on my bed to push it for emphasis. Now, our morning routine has reached the critical point.

If I keep my eyes shut and quietly say, “Lie down,” I can buy two or three more minutes of sack time before he sits up and starts the routine all over again. But if I open my eyes when he nudges my bed, he starts a series of joyous body slams that shake my bed until I get up. Either way, his persistence wins.

Like the man in the story, I don’t get up to feed Jethro because he’s my friend or because he’s hungry. I get up to feed him because he’s not going away until I do.

Jethro’s “Woof,” nudge, body slam routine is equivalent to “Ask,” “Seek,” “Knock.” His efforts escalate until he gets what he wants.

That’s how we are to approach prayer.

If asking doesn’t generate immediate results, we must invest more time, patience, and persistence in our prayer lives, because God knows we need more face to face time with Him.

He knows we are a work in progress, and through prayer we are conformed to His will for us. So the amount of time it takes for God to conform us to His will is the amount of time it will take for Him to answer those prayers that require knocking. The more stubborn we are, the longer it takes.

So pray without ceasing and never give up. Go boldly and persistently before the throne of grace and keep on knocking until the door of opportunity opens, and you walk through it.

If it’s time to storm heavens door for a job you want, or forgiveness for something you’ve done, or salvation for a loved one, keep knocking!

“For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks the door will be opened.”

That’s a promise from the One Who keeps His promises.

Seek: A Command with a Promise

magnifying glass

“Seek,” is the another of God’s commands followed by His promise, “You will find.”

Remember, God answers our prayers based on His plan and purpose for our lives and His will and perfect timing in any given situation.

“Yes” answers come immediately because whatever we’ve asked for fits within God’s plan and timing for us. “No” and “Wait” answers require some seeking and knocking on our part.

Seeking is an active process rather than just a verbal one. It requires time and patience for searching. Whether you’re looking for a lost item or a hidden meaning, your search will lead you to deeper understanding of what God wants you to learn.

While “Lord, where did I put my car keys,” might lead me to a lot of drawer opening, paper shuffling, and frantic room-to-room searching, God will use the time I spend searching to reinforce the adage, “A place for everything, and everything in its place.”

I’m not saying that God is into adages. But He is a God of order and peace rather than confusion and would much rather see me at peace than scurrying around the house like a squirrel trying to cross the street.

Whether you’re looking for your car keys or something much deeper like the meaning of life or a better understanding of a Bible verse, your quest for answers begins with your need to know. Your wait for answers can turn into hours, days, months, and sometimes years of seeking and searching until finally through that wall of silence comes an understanding and the discovery of God’s greater purpose as His promise, “You will find,” comes to fruition.

When the mystery is finally revealed to you and the puzzle put together in your mind, you will discover that through your time of seeking and searching, God has brought you into agreement with Him. And that’s what He wanted all along.

Three Levels of Prayer

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You’ve probably heard that God answers our prayers with “Yes,”  “No,” or “Wait.” But did you know that your very first prayer of forgiveness establishes a relationship with the King of the Universe Himself? Continuing prayer, or simply talking with God, maintains that relationship with Him.

When we ask according to our needs (not wants), God answers according to His plan and purpose for our lives and His will and perfect timing in any given situation.

“Yes” answers come immediately. That means that whatever we’ve asked for fits within God’s plan and timing for us. “No” and “Wait” answers require some seeking and knocking on our part.

Jesus told His disciples, “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened,” (Luke 11:9-10).

Did you notice that God’s commands to ask, seek, and knock are all followed by His promises?

It will be given to you when you ask.
You will find when you seek, and
The door will be opened to you when you knock.

In other words, if you do what He tells you to do, He’ll come through for you. That’s a promise.

Ask, seek, and knock represent three different levels of prayer, all of which arise out of a need.

ASK prayers are verbal requests that will be met immediately with a “Yes.” All you have to do is ask. For instance when we ask for one of God’s attributes like wisdom, we will have access to His wisdom immediately.

That’s what James 1:5-8 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God…and it will be given to you.”

James goes on to say, “But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because…that person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.”

You see prayer is a two-way street. When we ask, God answers based on our trust in Him. We prove our trust by putting His shared wisdom into action.

Here’s an example: As I was multi-tasking in the kitchen, my back was turned to the wok of oil heating on the stove behind me. When I felt heat on my back, I turned around to discover the oil on fire with flames leaping three feet high and toasting the cabinet above the stove.

While a gazillion solutions for putting out the fire raced through my mind, in rapid succession I said, “What do I do? What do I do? What do I do?”

Quick as a flash, the answer came to me, “Stick it in the oven!

I grabbed a hot pad, wrapped it around the handle, flung open the oven door, stuck the fiery wok in and shut the door. No fuss. No mess. It was a solution I’d never thought about before. But I asked, trusted, received and acted on God’s wise answer and lived to tell about it.

God sits on ready to supply all our needs. So ask believing, and you will receive.

(The next blog will be about the next level of prayer: SEEK. Stay tuned.)

Remembering Aunt Ludy

Aunt Ludy note

Senior saints make great mentors, and Aunt Ludy was one of mine. No, she wasn’t my real aunt. She just wanted her younger friends to call her that.

I first met Aunt Ludy in the senior adult Sunday School class at Pleasant Valley South in Lindale, Georgia. In the year 2000, her 1940’s look with her little white gloves and hand-made dresses reminded me of Sweet Polly Purebred. The fact that she topped off her look with a Marilyn Monroe wig startled my sensibilities. I had to get to know this woman.

Even though she was twenty years older than I, our friendship grew. She became one of my spiritual mentors. She’d read her Bible cover to cover every year since the printing press started churning them out, so I figured she had all the answers. Besides, she’d already rewritten the entire Bible and had a friend type it for her. I called it the ALV–Aunt Ludy Version.

She enjoyed searching the Scriptures, answering my questions, and recommending books for me to read. She even gave me a copy of Arthur W. Pink’s Gleanings in Genesis.

Aunt Ludy book titles

Aunt Ludy and I enjoyed lively and sometimes deep discussions. She said my questions made her think.

We laughed a lot, too. After I got to know her pretty well, I told her she reminded me of Sweet Polly Purebred in a Marilyn Monroe wig. She raised her delicate hand to her lips and said, “You make me blush.”

Those chats with Aunt Ludy were like salted mines that always yielded spiritual nuggets and life lessons that stuck with me. I especially remember the time I joined her in the common room of her building to work a jigsaw puzzle. As we searched the table for just the right piece of the puzzle, our conversation turned to “witnessing.”

As if on cue, the lady mail carrier stopped by to say, “Hello.” When she continued down the hall, I asked Aunt Ludy if the mail lady was saved.

She said, “I don’t know if she is or not.”

“Well, don’t you think you should find out?” I asked. My boldness usually elicited an equally bold reply.

“No,” she said.

Shocked by her swift and negative response, I tried to create a sense of urgency in her.

“What if she steps onto that elevator, and it crash-lands and kills everyone in it?”

“Well…” she said without finishing her sentence.

I sat dumbfounded by her apparent lack of caring. Then I realized that I was just sitting there, too, with my imagination running wild.

What if the elevator really crashed? What if she really dies? What if she goes to hell because I didn’t witness to her? What if I’m her last chance to hear the Gospel? How can I live with her blood on my hands?

I bolted from my chair and hurried to the elevator.

“Excuse me,” I said, “do you live in this neighborhood or do you just deliver the mail here?”

The mail lady looked at me curiously without responding, so I continued. “I just wanted to invite you to church if you don’t already have a church home.”

She smiled and said, “I do have a church home, but I haven’t been much lately.”

“God surely does miss you,” I said. “Why don’t you go this Sunday? You’re saved aren’t you?”

“Yes, I am…” Her voice trailed off as she lowered her head.

“Then I know God really misses you. Why don’t you talk to Him about it?”

Just then the elevator door opened, and she made a quick exit.

I walked back to the table amazed at my reaction.

“She’s saved,” I said, feeling relieved.

“Good,” Aunt Ludy responded without looking up.

I sat down to look for another piece of the puzzle. But, not willing to let the subject drop, I asked, “Why haven’t you ever talked to her about her salvation?”

Aunt Ludy studied the piece in her hand, reached across the table and firmly snapped the piece into place as she said, “Because I wasn’t the one convicted. You were.”

Wham! Wisdom landed a blow.

God didn’t command me to tell others to witness; God commanded me to witness, “making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil,” (Ephesians 5:16).

And Jesus said not to put it off. Don’t procrastinate. “Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest,” (John 4:35).

Senior saints have fields wisdom and life lessons ripe for the picking too. And I’m so thankful for the time Aunt Ludy allowed me to glean the fields of her learning.

Rest in peace, Aunt Ludy.

Aunt Ludy memo

Dragging Dead Weight

Driftwood

Kayaking one morning, I found a piece of driftwood floating in the lake that I thought would look good as a free-form garden sculpture. I could just picture Creeping Jenny crawling all over it.

Hoisting it onto the back of my kayak required strength I didn’t have, so I tied a rope around it to drag it home.

What a lesson that was.

Paddling a straight line is easy by myself. But I struggled with the weight of this big, weird-shaped piece of driftwood in tow. The heaviest two feet of it dragged underwater like an anchor holding me back. I tacked back and forth so much, it was hard to tell if I was making any forward progress at all.

I paddled hard and gave my body a good workout. Then it dawned on me: sometimes life is like dragging dead weight. The burdens we carry get heavy. We may not be able to see the progress we’re making, but we are strengthened in our struggle.

And the burdensome things that slow us down are the things that God will turn into something beautiful…even more beautiful than the garden sculpture I envisioned.