Thought For Today

I am so glad that you have found this site and I hope you will find encouragement and joy as you read through my thoughts on God, family and life.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Practicing Thankfulness

Practicing Thankfulness




In the book of Luke, Chapter17 verses 11-19 we read of Jesus healing the ten lepers.  

Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”
 When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.
 One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice.  He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.
 Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where is the other nine?  Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”  Here we see that it was a Samaritan that made the choice in returning to give thanks to Jesus for his healing.  The other nine quickly forgot about their recent plight and went back to their old lives again.  This seems very counter intuitive for us in understanding thankfulness.  


In this passage we see that the lepers stood at a distance when first addressing Jesus.  We have to ask why?  The reason is that whether a person was a Jew or Samaritan, they would have been quickly stoned by getting too close to those who were well. They were supposed to stay in the Leper Colony and there they would live and die isolated from the rest of humanity.  By leaving the camp they knew that if seen by anyone, they took the chance of being killed and as you can see, it was a very big chance.  

When leaving the camp they as a group knew that Jesus was their only hope of getting well and so the risk outweighed their security of staying in the Leper Camp.  One can only imagine their fear, anxiety, and trepidation when starting out on this dangerous journey.  So, if the risks were so high, then one has to ask, “Why didn’t they come back and thank Jesus for such a wonderful miracle as their healing?”  Was it short-term memory loss, or that of being so overjoyed that they forgot how and who it was that healed them? I know that it seems utterly amazing that this would even happen, or at least until I have examined my own life as well.  

In recalling the many answered prayers that I have been given and the times that I failed to thank the Lord for them, then I realize that I too fall into the 9 who didn’t return.  What of the time I hesitated at the stoplight and then saw a speeding car run the red light or the time that I felt strongly not to go out into the night and realized later that the road was not safe for driving on? “Was it God who was prompting me not to do what I was about to do?”  I believe yes it was and the Bible is full of occasions where God sent his guardian angels to protect, guide, minister to and keep safe his children. When I failed to say thank you for these things, it was I who focused too much on myself, and the situation rather than on thanking God for his kindness, protection, and generosity. “Please Father, give me a heart of thankfulness today by opening my eyes, ears and heart to your guiding presence.”





Friday, December 14, 2018

Practicing Thankfulness

Practicing Thankfulness

In the book of Luke, Chapter17 verses 11-19 we read of Jesus healing the ten lepers.  

Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”
 When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.
 One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice.  He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.
 Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where is the other nine?  Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”  Here we see that it was a Samaritan that made the choice in returning to give thanks to Jesus for his healing.  The other nine quickly forgot about their recent plight and went back to their old lives again.  This seems very counter intuitive for us in understanding thankfulness. 
 


In this passage we see that the lepers stood at a distance when first addressing Jesus.  We have to ask why?  The reason is that whether a person was a Jew or Samaritan, they would have been quickly stoned by getting too close to those who were well. They were supposed to stay in the Leper Colony and there they would live and die isolated from the rest of humanity.  By leaving the camp they knew that if seen by anyone, they took the chance of being killed and as you can see, it was a very big chance.  

When leaving the camp they as a group knew that Jesus was their only hope of getting well and so the risk outweighed their security of staying in the Leper Camp.  One can only imagine their fear, anxiety, and trepidation when starting out on this dangerous journey.  So, if the risks were so high, then one has to ask, “Why didn’t they come back and thank Jesus for such a wonderful miracle as their healing?”  Was it short-term memory loss, or that of being so overjoyed that they forgot how and who it was that healed them? I know that it seems utterly amazing that this would even happen, or at least until I have examined my own life as well.  

In recalling the many answered prayers that I have been given and the times that I failed to thank the Lord for them, then I realize that I too fall into the 9 who didn’t return.  What of the time I hesitated at the stoplight and then saw a speeding car run the red light or the time that I felt strongly not to go out into the night and realized later that the road was not safe for driving on? “Was it God who was prompting me not to do what I was about to do?”  I believe yes it was and the Bible is full of occasions where God sent his guardian angels to protect, guide, minister to and keep safe his children. When I failed to say thank you for these things, it was I who focused too much on myself, and the situation rather than on thanking God for his kindness, protection, and generosity. “Please Father, give me a heart of thankfulness today by opening my eyes, ears and heart to your guiding presence.”

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Through a Child's Eyes





Many times God uses our children to show us the way to our hearts.  One day last summer, when returning home from Target we noticed a woman standing alongside the road.  She was dressed in a very colorful skirt that was blowing in the gentle warm breeze.  I noticed that her hair was shrouded by an enormous hat that covered her head, as well as her shoulders.  The hat made it difficult to see her face as she looked down towards the road.  I then noticed all her bags beside her and I knew that she was on a long journey. I looked over at Abby and she at the same time looked at me.  “Dad, I don’t think she has a place to live!”  I agreed with her and so with my daughter’s leading, we drove over next to her.  She was somewhere in her late 50’s and was wearing a larger than life smile.  As we got near to her , Abby asked me if we could give her something to help her out.  Seeing that she had many needs, I searched my wallet for something to give to her.  All I had was a ten dollar bill.  Abby smiled at me and reached out of the car to give it to her, and this woman accepted it with a kind smile and said, “Thank you!”


We talked with her for a long while and she told us that she had lived in the area many years ago. Her family had fallen on hard times and she now was heading west in an attempt to meet up with a friend.  I glanced over at Abby and I could see the compassion that Abby held in her heart for this kind woman. 
Looking over at our new friend, we asked if there was anything more that would do for her. She then told us that she was heading to the interstate and could use a ride if that wasn’t too much to ask. The interstate was 7 miles away and it was all-uphill. Abby then told her that we could give her a ride and she readily accepted.  As we drove she told us about her life and the ups and downs that she had gone through, some being bad as well as some that brought her happiness.  She in turn asked us about our lives and Abby innocently related about herself and her time with friends in the church. She then asked if we were Christians and Abby said that we were.  Abby then volunteered by asking if we could pray for her.  Our friend accepted and said with a warm expression, “Thank you!”  

As we were driving along towards the interstate she had asked how far the St. Charles exit was. I responded by saying that it was about another 20 miles.  She said that it was a place that would be a wonderful launching point for traffic heading west.  I looked over at Abby and I could see in her eyes that she wanted to do this for our friend.  Looking away from Abby to this woman who was holding a larger than life smile, I offered to take her there.  She readily accepted and it was the beginning point for her many questions about our faith.  Abby did most of the talking and I did the driving.  
As we past the mile markers heading west, I came to realize that there was something about a child’s faith that made the conversation so innocent and wonderful.  I prayed by myself as we traveled along while Abby exchanged things about her life, as well as listening to this complex lady share about her walk through life.  When the time came to say goodbye, we knew that we would never meet again, at least in this lifetime.  I though was strengthened by Abby’s innocent faith, and through her, God was teaching me about his ways through Abby’s actions.  I also learned that day more of what our Savior meant when he said to his disciples in Matt. 18:3 “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” It was a day that I was privileged to be a part of a child’s faith in action.  Jesus was teaching me about giving, unconditional acceptance, and about loving a person that wasn't dependent on appearance, but more by what was inside the heart.  Jesus was teaching me about himself through my child. “If you have done this to the least of them you have done it to me.”Matt: 25:40  




Sunday, December 9, 2018

The Great Egg Bake of 1967



My thoughts this evening are wandering back to the time of being a teenager, which come to think of it, took place many years ago.  It was a very hot summer and I was struggling to find relief in the cool shade of a big elm tree in my home town of Jackson, Minnesota, but that dream of sitting the day out at Ashley Park was not to be.  A friend called and asked for my help in bailing hay at his father’s farm. They were short handed and two hours later I found myself stacking hay in the direct heat of the day.  My friend was driving the tractor while I was stacking the hay bales on the flatbed.  I quickly found that wearing a short sleeved was a big mistake.  I looked down beyond my short sleeves and I could see deep scratches forming on my arms.  They not only hurt, but they itched as well.  The hot sun was directly above us and I had to glare into it every time I tried to stack each new layer above my head.  By the time I had reached seven rows high on the rack, I was totally exhausted and unbelievably hot.  I was so looking forward to the cool ride back to the barn, and that of getting a cold drink of water from their well.  Since we had a full rack of hay, I found that the only place for me to sit was at the top of the hay bales.  I must say though, I was looking forward to feeling the breeze on my face as we slowly sauntered back to the barn.  While enjoying the slow ride and the soft bales of hay beneath me, I glanced over my shoulder, to my left and I could see a lake nearby and my thoughts went to the pristine blue water and thought how cool it would feel on my bloodied arms.  
I imagined myself running into that pristine lake all the while its water was rushing over my body. This dream was soon shattered by my friend, he must have noticed that I was eyeing the lake as he saw me drenched in sweat looking out over the horizon of the body of water before us.  His voice then obliterated the calm that surrounded me as he hollered from the tractor, “I know how to cool you off!”  He then put the tractor into road gear and I found myself bouncing through the pasture atop 7 layers of hay, all barely staying on the flatbed trailer.  At that moment, I tried to yell with all my might for him to stop, but he would have none of it.  To my horror, up ahead I could see a dried out creek bed with its depression in the ground, all fast approaching us.  I knew that if the flatbed hit the creek bottom just right, I would end up being catapulted into the air along with a ton of hay following right behind me.  As we hurdled toward the depression I could see my life fasting approaching its untimely end.  The only thought going through my mind was, “I am only 16 years old and I want so to live a long life!"

We suddenly hit the creek bottom and instead of the wagon digging into the dry dirt, it miraculously skidded over the hard ground instead.  I thought, “I am still alive!” as I checked all my body parts to see if any were missing. No sooner did that thought flash by in my mind when all of a sudden I became acutely aware that the bales of hay were separating under me.  I frantically looked down and I could see 8 feet below to the flatbed’s floor.  At that point in time the bales separated further and I found myself dropping helplessly to the floor, all the while the hay bales above me were crashing together as quickly as they had come apart.  I then found myself shrouded in darkness.  The stifling heat from bailing now seemed nothing in comparison to the confined space of the hay holding me in place.  I could hardly breath as the tractor slowly came to a halt.  When I thought I might indeed live, I heard my crazy friend speak, “Are you all right?”  I muffled out an angry response that was full of threats that I knew I could not carry out in my present state.  I then demanded that he get me out of this mess right away.  Expecting an apologetic response, but all I heard was, “I’ll just wait until we get to the barn, no use tearing the bails apart and have to put them back again.” At that point my anger was beyond control, but my screams went unanswered due to the fact that all I could hear was the old John Deere slowly putting up the pasture lane to the barn a quarter mile away.  

Needless to say after being unstuck from the stifling hot bales of hay, I shared my thoughts of what I knew him to be.  He just looked at me and smiled and said, “I think you will live!”  At that point I wasn’t responsible for my actions, I Jumped over to the nearby hay pile, spotted a clutch of very old hen eggs that had sat there in the baking sun for I don’t know how long, and I went for them.  I grabbed several eggs, very gently, and began to toss them at my perplexed friend.   At that point he began to realize the gravity of the situation and sprang like a wild cat behind the bales, but not before one of my rotten eggs found its mark.  A short time later I found that it was not as gratifying as I had originally thought, because I then
realized that I had to put up with his stink for several more hours of work. My sense of smell was begging me for relief during this very difficult time.  My anger was soon melting, along with my resolve for getting even. I was certain at that point that vengeance was not sweet at all, it was indeed very painful for the both of us. My struggling friend and I seemed to realize that the only way out of this conundrum was either for him to take a bath or for the both of us to dive into the lake. 
 The lake it was!   

Friday, December 7, 2018

Where Do We Stand With God


Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Servanthood


I recently read an article sent to me by a relative.  It was about a young high school girl applying for a job.  She was apologetic about her lack of experience in getting into the many careers that are on the market today.  Contrary to her belief, the respondent was very impressed by this young lady’s work experience.  She came from a farm and had done everything from driving a tractor at age 12 to taking care of the animals before and after school.  In short, she knew how to work and how to do it in a timely manner and that impressed the business man. 

If one were to follow successful individuals, that is, those who have successfully accomplished many things in their lives, it would be evident that hard work was the basis for their success.  Nothing worth holding onto can be achieved by having things given to an individual; it is gained by plain hard work and ingenuity.  In some instances, inheriting large businesses and estates are lost not only because of a lack of experience, but also because these individuals didn't have the drive to sustain the gift that was given to them.    

In relating this to our walk as Christians it can be said that our salvation is an undeserved gift, and that is so true.  But, what is done after that is accomplished by a balance of duty, faithfulness, and service toward God in one’s walk with him.  The analogy of a docked boat in the harbor is so apt; it cannot be used for fishing if it is not out on the open water doing what it was made to do, and likewise, we must be willing and able to move when God’s spirit compels us to do what he has made us to accomplish.  Two people in Israel amazed Jesus with their faith, the Centurion who asked Jesus to heal his servant, (Luke 7:1-10), and the Greek woman who asked Jesus to deliver her daughter of demons (Matt. 15:22). Neither were Jews and that made their life that much harder living in a foreign land, but they did not give up, they actively pursued their goal of seeking our Lord for his healing hands in the lives of their family members.  Love propelled them forward with an earnest drive to seek God out at all costs.  God does have a purpose for each of us in serving him.  By taking time to pray, studying his word, and to listening to his Spirit, we can know what (His) purpose is for our lives.   

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Giving It To Him

Giving it Away

Paul talks about the need to discipline the mind.   2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us that we are to "demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."



Sometimes in our minds we try to make something that is simple, very complex.  In viewing children at play, we see that they, many times break down their relationships with other children to the most basic level.  “I like you!” “You hurt my feelings!” “Please come here and play with me, I want you to be my friend.”  

There are no mysteries with children and so life is much simpler for them.  After we grow up though, we have many more challenges that face us, and that leaves us with a lot more questions at the end of the day. Our thoughts are being bombarded with the news media, work, play time and activities throughout our waking hours.  It becomes hard to be alone and to face solitude.  So, how do we quiet our thoughts and take control of them each day?  One might say, “I don’t have time to find my quiet place at work!”  Is there a simpler way though?  For myself, I might have a thought that is not right, or uplifting either about myself, or another.  At this point I remember what the apostle Paul said about taking captive every thought that sets itself up against God.  I then in my mind box that thought up, wrap it with a string and give it to our Savior.  It then becomes his and not mine anymore.  Simple, yes!  Complex, no!  

Jesus asks us to give him our burdens, in other words, he wants to have what troubles us. In Matthew 11:29-30 Jesus says, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am meek and lowly in heart:  and you shall find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”   Again, Jesus is asking us to give him what we don’t want.  In Matthew 18:3 Jesus tells us that we must become as little children.  “What, it can’t be that simple, can it?”  Yes it is, it is that simple.  If we are to have the mind of Christ, we must think and act as he would.  In order to do that, Jesus wants to help us with our thoughts by taking those thoughts that are not of him away from us, that is, if we decide to give them to him.  He won’t take them forcefully we must give them to him willingly.   So it is that we are then becoming like little children with our Heavenly Father.






Wednesday, November 28, 2018

How Do We Understand Love?


How does the Bible define love? 

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Creating

It is in our nature to create. God has given us this gift from the time we were toddlers until the day that we breathe our last breath. Since God has created this world, he has given us this gift as well. What will you create today? Will it bring joy to others as God's creation has done for us? Where we focus our eyes, minds and attitudes determines the outcome of our creation. Father give us today the mind of you, our creator, so that as you have given to us, so we too can give to others as well.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

God's Balance of Nature

Flowers for me instill the wonder that God puts within each of us. I see the bees gathering nectar to make honey which supports life for the colony to survive, while butterflies drink the nectar for their
nourishment all while promoting God's design for reproduction in spreading pollen from plant to plant.  
When looking at the flower I can see so much of God's plan here on the Earth.  
Each thing that He has created always promotes the life of another while guaranteeing the giver's existence and its future.  

One day though when picking off a wood tick from my arm, I got frustrated and wondered if God made a mistake with such a horrible creature that draws life from others and does nothing to help sustain life outside of its own sphere of selfishness. Shortly after that, I read that ticks are one of the main diets of wild turkeys. Again through this discovery, I was reminded that God has taught me once more about the importance of the balance he has created to promote life.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Looking Forward To An Unknown Future


Spring eternal and only 4 months to go! The nice thing about seasonal changes are that we always have something to look forward to. Do you remember as a child when you waited for your birthday, Christmas or some special event that would soon take place? We too can have the heart of a child when we get excited about change rather than fearing it.

Jeremiah 29:11
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

My Hands On Introduction to Animal Husbandry

In thinking of my childhood there are many memories that brought me laughter and joy

that had taken place over the years.  In telling of this real life story I will use a fictitious name for my friend in protecting his identity.  For the readers here, before entering into the realm of farm life, perhaps one should question whether to read this or not.  Please in fact refrain yourself from this written material if you have a queasy stomach in relationship to animal waste.  

When young, I would go out to the country at times to get away from the city life by returning to the beauty of nature that is found in the wild.  One such country event was set before me during a warm summer weekend.  My friend from high school had invited me to his farm to go swimming.  I was looking forward to arriving at his parent’s farm, which bordered on a lake.  As I rode out into the country, I felt the July heat rush past my face and I had envisioned a long dock with which to test my running speed as I hurdled myself in the cool refreshing waters of a pristine lake.  As with some dreams they are not always as we envision them, but the secret is when you get soup instead of steak, enjoy the soup as if it were steak.  

Upon arriving at the farm I found my school friend Bill chasing the cows out of the barn after milking.  I stood there watching the trotting bovines rush out to the pasture, and as one hurried by me, I could hear a steady stream of gas finding its way out of the rear end of this speeding zephyr.  I chuckled to myself thinking, and yet wondering, we were told in school that cows could not do that, and yet here was an animal that was defying all the academics and their lectures on animal husbandry.  

Looking up, I could see my friend Bill waving at me with delight seeing that I had indeed arrived. Looking over the barn door at the roofline, I could see that the barn itself was leaning dangerously to one side.  That made each door on the barn sag the opposite direction.  Bill obviously could see the concern on my face and noticed that I was eyeing the barn very closely.  He then began to laugh and said that his dad’s barn was the only one that went south for the winter.  I chuckled a little nervously when he then began waving me towards the barn. As I walked in I could see something that I had never saw before, calves looking through the windows to my right and left.  What drew me to them was that the windows were about my shoulder height and my first reaction was that I wondered how calves could have such long legs.  No sooner than when I entered the barn I noticed that the calves were almost kneeling down to look out the windows.  I thought that the windows themselves were awfully close to the existing floor until I saw that the calves were indeed not standing on the floor, but on hardened manure.  My logic was reinforced by the tell tale signs of aromas charging into my nostrils.  In amazement I looked over at Bill and he let out a belly laugh that seemed to frighten the calves nearby.  “Dad told me that I had to clean out the stalls before going swimming, do you mind helping me?”  I was stunned by what I saw before my eyes, which made me very saddened by what I perceived as the poor calves meager existence.  I proceeded to watch them as they nuzzled the ceiling beams just over their heads.  Feeling an intense sadness for my bovine friends, I gave in to him and ignored my rising anger and said, “Of course Bill!” 

I found that I wasn’t dressed for the job before me so I tried futilely to dance around the more squishy deposits found on the bottom layers of the manure.  My friend just laughed as he watched me move left and then right trying avoid the falling remains of processed meals once enjoyed by our bovine friends.  As I lifted the pitchfork into the spreader outside the barn door, Bill started to tell me about his uncle who left the manure in his barn so long that it bent the pitchfork tines when he tried to extract it from the barn. He went on to say that his uncle was left with only one choice after that.  My interest at this point was peaked since we too were going through the same dilemma as his uncle.  I asked him, “What did your uncle do?”  Well, Bill then stopped his work, smiled at me said matter of factually, “He took his plow and backed it into the barn and dug down into the hardened remains and pulled the manure right out of the barn.”  What seemed funny to Bill was not what I was feeling at the moment.  Bill’s dad had small stalls and would not afford a plow to enter the barn without taking out the door, walls and perhaps the whole barn with it.  I then resigned myself to the fact that this job was going to take much longer than first thought.  As I looked over at the immensity of the barn, I wondered, “If one were to remove all the excrement from the barn, would it still stand on its own accord, or would it indeed travel the rest of the way south until it was level with the ground?”


When the job was complete, I looked down at myself in dismay, but there was one consolation for myself at this point, that I had driven my motorcycle to the farm instead of using my parent’s car.  If it had been my folk’s vehicle, I don’t think they would have ever have allowed me to drive their car again, or possibly for them as well.   

Monday, November 19, 2018

Feeble Attempts at Gardening

My thoughts go back a few of years ago when I was struggling to rid my garden of chipmunks that were eating everything I had planted. I decided to trap them and after exterminating 50 plus chipmunks in our decimated garden, I gave up on having any crop that summer. My vegetables were a total loss and I was very discouraged as one might think.  Anne thought visiting Disney World would cheer us all up.  We were looking forward to the character meal where our children could visit with the different Disney animal celebrities.  Everything was going really well and I was beginning to forget my garden at home.  About that point though when looking down at my salad plate, my countenance dropped as I recalled the beautiful row of lettuce that was recently destroyed by our hungry forest chipmunks.  With all my might I looked up and I decided I was not going to ruin this vacation by thinking anymore of my garden.  I looked up and smiled at Anne, and then proceeded to watch everyone having fun; I soon forgot my garden malaise back home and with a determination of monumental proportions, I put my whole heart into enjoying the moment. 
I could see many Disney animal characters visiting with the families around us.  I then looked over at  our children who were presently visiting with Chip and Dale.  I quickly took another bite of the salad and then looked over just in time to see Chip and Dale jump backwards while speaking to our children.  Chip hit the railing so hard that I thought he was going to tip over the guard rail and drop 20 feet below.  He quickly recovered his balance as well as his composure.  Both chipmunks then tentatively patted our children on their backs and then systematically starred at me as they passed by our table.  As my son returned to his chair, I looked at his childlike composure of happiness as Will looked eagerly at his desert in front of him.  I then bent over and asked my son in a whisper as he was seated next to me, "What did you say to Chip?"  Will, matter of factly looked over at me and said, " All I told him was that, 'My daddy kills chipmunks!'"  At that point I almost choked on my salad.  Perhaps there was some unforeseen chipmunk karma taking place as I found myself gasping for air.  Needless to say, I imagine Chip and Dale are still telling other potential chipmunk characters of that meeting with a little boy from Minnesota. Now, a few years later, I still feel a little uneasy when seeing Chip and Dale pass by when walking through Disney World.  Perhaps they do too!

Friday, November 16, 2018

Acts of Small Kindness

Noble deeds do not begin at the point of great sacrifice, they start with the small hidden actions of helping others which many consider insignificant, but not to the one's who initiates them. Thurmer


A memory: Being Abby's dad I was quite moved by her actions one night a few years ago. Our family had planned for this event many months in advance and everyone was so happy at the festive atmosphere of the Princess Dinner at Disney World.  In the midst of this long awaited celebration, Abby glanced over at me and asked quietly why I looked so sad.  I told Abby what I saw at a nearby table and said that is what made me sad.  I noticed that this little girl has no princess dress like all the other girls and was without her mother, even though her father was doing everything he could to make this night very special for his little girl."  No sooner had the words left my mouth when I saw Abby get up from her chair at our table, having disregarded the Disney Princess' wandering from table to table, and sat down with this little girl. Both of them sat on the floor and talked for the longest time. I could not hear their conversation, but I did hear the little girl say to Abby at there parting, "You truly are a princess!"  Her father looked over at me and said very kindly in a very quiet voice, "Thank you!"  He was almost in tears and I found myself moved in the same way.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

A Soldier

A Soldier: I am reminded that it was a soldier that Jesus said had the greatest faith in all of Israel. He was not even a Hebrew, but the enemy of the Israelites, a Roman Centurion. (Luke 7:9) 
None of the Hebrews, including Moses, were allowed into the promise land. It was two soldiers (Joshua and Caleb) that entered the promise land because they were not afraid of the enemy and their size. It was because they had the faith to believe that God was on their side. (Joshua 1:24) 
A small man turned into a soldier in just one day. God chose him not because of his looks, size or popularity. God chose him because of his fierce love for his Lord. With God on his side, he conquered the Philistines by beating a giant called Goliath with only one stone, his name was David. (1 Samuel 17) This one battle gave the soldiers of Israel the courage to go after the Philistines and defeat them. 
A soldier believes in his duty, the cause that he fights for and will do his responsibility regardless of his feelings or the loss he has to suffer. He is willing to sacrifice even himself for his comrades and his country. His faith in our Lord is no different. He knows that his belief is rooted in a God who gave his only son for us so that we could one day be with him in heaven. His son freely laid his life down for the ones he loved and a soldier knows that he can do no less if that is what he is asked to do.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

He Stands At the Door and Knocks

One can judge the character of a person by how they treat the helpless, weak, vulnerable and depressed. That is when one's true nature either shines or reveals its cracks.

We learn as we grow up to disguise our feelings in order to protect ourselves from those that are less than kind. Often I have seen children trying to make themselves into a shadow on the playground, or in activities where teams are formed. They are afraid of the taunts of those who find self worth in belittling those who cannot defend themselves. At times, these traits are from learned behavior that is generated from outside the school settings. In many cases these bullies find themselves the object of belittlement in their home environment or that of their own neighborhoods. Some call it the pecking order and that is only understood all the more by spending an hour looking at birds on a feeder.

So how does one counter the bully in the room? There is of course the physical avenue of restraint that I tried as a child in school, that is, to protect the fragile individual, but only with varied success. Then again, what does that prove, only that you are either stronger than the bully or faster and/or more agile, or on the other hand, less strong and you get yourself beat up as well. But there is another way, and that is to show kindness to the bully. It is totally unexpected and as scripture says, it puts burning goals on their head. Meaning that deep in their hearts they feel guilty for what they did. The bully is left to run from these feelings, or he makes a 180 degree turn choosing not to be like the person or people who treated him in that way. This might seem like a simple decision, and it is for some, but change in most cases comes hard. Habits are hard to change, along with those feelings that well up inside when you relive the brutality of your own past events perpetrated on you.

Jesus said that he is the way and the life. (John 14:6). He tells us here that his example will show us the way, but how do we do that since change is so very hard. Cory Ten Boom lost her father and sister to the Nazi's trying to help the fleeing Jews. Her father died in a prison cell and her sister died in the same concentration camp that Cory was in. In the end, God provided a miracle and Cory was accidentally released from the camp. After the war she preached of God's love and how we need to seek his love and forgiveness. This only became more than real for Cory when she faced one of her concentration guards sitting across from her while traveling. He confessed to Cory that he had accepted Christ and that God had changed him. After telling her of his conversion, he asked Cory to forgive him for being one of the men responsible for her sister's (Betsy) death. Right then Cory (later relates) that all she wanted to do at that moment was to kill that man for what he had done to Betsy. Then God's gentle voice spoke to Cory's heart and she knew that she must be obedient to his will and not that of her own. Cory responded out of obedience to God and said to the man, "I forgive you!" At that moment God took all the hate she had for him and turned it into his love for this individual. Her heart was changed in an instant. It was not only this man's forgiveness that needed answering, but Cory's anger and bitterness that needed to be let go of as well. Jesus said, " Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart and you shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matt. 11:29-30)
Because Cory was obedient to God, he was able to release her from this burden in her heart that needed healing. What burdens are you carrying, do they need to be lifted from your heart and soul? Jesus is waiting to hear from you, he stands at the door and patiently knocks for you to open your heart to him. Revelation 3:20






Monday, November 5, 2018

Leading The Blind

This twin is blind in his left eye. The other twin helps him 
around.
Manage

I remember the twin with both good eyes would gently wait for his partially blind brother to follow him into the forest. No greater love! It reminds me in how Jesus waits for us to follow him. Though we do not know where he is going, like the partially blind twin, we know that where God leads us is the best place to be.