Can We Agree to Disagree, Agreeably?

Can we agree to disagree agreeably?

We will not always agree, we may never agree at all. But that does not excuse us from agreeing on one thing: the most important thing and that is that we love one another.

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” -John 13:34

We are called by our Father to walk and live in love. Ouch. Not always easy. Our views may differ from politics to where the best vacation spot is and oh, so often how we interpret certain scriptures. But we are MANDATED to love one another. Not just say that we love but to obey “the law of Christ” which is the law of love.

“Love empowers us to fulfill the law of the Anointed One as we carry each other’s troubles. If you think you are too important to stoop down to help another, you are living in deception.” -Galatians 6:2,3 (from the Passion Translation)

While Jesus was in the Upper Room with His disciples, preparing them for ministry. He knew that soon He would no longer be walking with them. (They had no idea what was about to take place). He tells them I am leaving, and you cannot come with me, BUT, I am giving you a new commandment. It is stronger than the old one found in Deuteronomy.

“Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” -Deuteronomy 6:5

This is a NEW command. It carries even more weight than the old, and in some Bibles it is written in red (I love that).

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.
By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” -John 13:34,35

How did Jesus love them? How did He love us?

“We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” -1 John 3:16

JeAgree to Disagree pin image, hands holding flowerssus teaches them, and in that teaching we are taught as well that we have a calling to love. The mark of a believer is love. Ouch.

We won’t always agree, but we can love! It seems that we are always at odds with fellow believers. Let us set aside our opinions and ideas and differences and what makes us happy and live according to the law of love.

If we say that we love Him and we do not love our brother that is right next to us, we are liars. We cannot love God whom we have never seen if we can’t love those in the faith that we see all the time! It’s the truth! Look it up, 1 John 4:20,21 (that is another ouch, to me! I am writing to myself).

Love for God and obedience to His Word go hand in hand.

Elisabeth Elliot pens it well, “When obedience to God contradicts what I think will give me pleasure let me ask myself if I love Him.”

Elisabeth Elliot Quote: When obedience to God contradicts what I think will give me pleasure, let me ask myself if I love him.

Does my opinion (that most times does not really matter) put such a wedge between my sister/brother and I that it contradicts God’s command to love as Christ loved me, then in reality……do I love Him? Ouch.

I am challenged by these words of Jesus. I am convicted by these words written in red.

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love one for another.”  -John 13:34,35

I want to be part of His redemptive plan here in my little neck of the woods. I may not live in another country spreading the Gospel to an indigenous people, I may not be called like Mother Theresa for my life’s work to be helping the leper. But in the here and now, I want to able to fulfill His plan for my life in sharing Gospel. And I cannot do that without truly loving my brother and sister that are serving Him as well.

Let this be our prayer today, and let us live and walk in love:

Dear Father, You have many children in many places around this globe. Move each of our hearts to compassionately respond to those needs that intersect our actual lives, that in all places your body might be actively addressing the pain and brokenness of this world, each of us liberated and empowered by your Spirit to fulfill the small part of your redemptive work assigned to us,.” (and I am adding these words, let us love one another)
From Every Moment Holy

We are His disciples and everyone knows it is true…..when we love!
We can fulfill our part and walk in obedience IF WE LOVE.

Facing Trials With Joy

I love the book Hinds Feet on High Places.

My favorite part of the book is when Much-Afraid, the fearful deer that is trying to escape from her fearing and unkind relatives is beginning her climb to the high places.

Along the way she passes through a desert. Facing Trials with Joy pin image - little yellow flower surrounded by rocks

Not one green thing is growing, no tree, no flower, and no grass.

And as she is passing near the desert dwellers living in their tents and huts, she spies something in a lonely corner behind a wall.

It is a golden-yellow flower, growing all alone.

There is an old pipe connected with a water-tank.

And in that pipe was one tiny-tiny hole that every once in a while, a little drop of water would escape.

And where those drops fell one by one, there grew one little tiny golden-yellow flower.

Much-Afraid had no idea where the seed had come from. There were no other growing things. No birds to drop the seed. So how did this flower grow there….

“She stopped over the lonely, lovely little golden face, lifted up so hopefully and so bravely to the feeble drip, and cried out softly, “What is your name, little flower, for I never saw one like you before.”“The tiny plant answered at once in a tone so golden as itself,
“BEHOLD ME! MY NAME IS ACCEPTANCE –WITH –JOY!”

Acceptance-with-Joy! I have it highlighted in my book. I have written it out so many times. I have never forgotten it.

Didn’t James tell us that same thing?

Count it all joy, brethren, when you face trials of many kinds!

“My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but JOY, because you KNOW that the testing of your faith produces endurances; and let endurances have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, LACKING IN NOTHING.” -James 1:2 (ESV)

Trials will come, friends. James did not say if, he said WHENEVER you face trials of various kinds. That word “various” in there is important. Our trials and problems will come in every size and variety you can think of. Some may be sickness, sadness, financial, loneliness, and we can add Corona Virus.

We are told to react in an unusual way.

Count it all joy—be content in them. In the end these testings’ produce in us steadfastness, patience and endurance.

The New Living Bibles puts it this way:

For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.

A chance to pass the test.

Endurance/patience will have its full effect.

Meaning we will have the endurance to withstand the trials that come our way. We become mature!

And in that maturity, we become complete – We will be lacking in nothing.

Beth Moore puts it this way:

“The idea is that we grow up fully in Jesus during our tenure her on planet Earth, BEARING MUCH FRUIT, giving God glory, and not missing a single thing Christ died on the cross to give us. He has a goal for each of us, and His desire is to completely fulfill it.”

So, in this trial we are all living in, let us find that we can be like the little yellow flower and have acceptance with joy. Not joyful for what is happening, but joyful in the knowing that in the end our faith will be stronger and we are bearing much fruit in the storm. AND we know the One that is Peace in the midst of the storm.

Helping In the Midst of Restrictions

Red. Yellow. Green. These are levels of COVID-19 “stay at home” restrictions in the state of Pennsylvania. We are headed to green in our county —what ever that will look like. Life has certainly changed for all of us over the past 2 months. Whether we live in the USA, France, Bolivia or Italy, it doesn’t matter. And it will look different for quite a while. Things have changed.

At the beginning of my lock down I found myself sad because of the small things that I was unable to do for other people in my community.

The doors to help and share the Kingdom of God were now closed.

Social distancing put a huge lock on them.

My daughter, Terrilyn, lives in Bolivia where she and her husband serve in orphan care. They are experiencing the same thing there – longing to serve and limited in that capacity. One night while we were talking about how we were both (in a sense) mourning the freedom to serve others, she asked me a question:

“Mom, what are you doing to minister to those around you while we are all shut in? Mom, what can we do? What can anyone do to serve?”

After our conversation my mind has settled on that question.

What can I do for The King of all Kings at a time where we are told to social distance?

There is story in the book of Acts 20:2-12, about a young man named Eutychus. Paul was in Greece meeting with the believers there. He was teaching them well into the wee hours of the morning. They were in an upper room with lamps burning and a young man, Eutychus, was sitting on the window ledge (yikes!) and he fell asleep and fell from the third story. He “was taken up dead.” He literally died. And Paul, got in involved! (No social distancing here.)

“But Paul went down and after embracing him, he said, “Do not be troubled, for his life is in him.” -Acts 20:10

I can’t begin to tell you how much I love this account!

Helping in Restrictions pin image - woman talking on phoneNot that Eutychus fell, but that Paul got involved! He went down and threw himself on Eutychus! Just an FYI the name Eutychus means “fortunate”—-how true that name was for him! Paul did not stand on the sidelines watching, he threw himself into someone’s life that needed his help. I am continually challenged by that! I believe that part of our pilgrimage here is to help and serve and get involved! Sometimes that means we totally give of ourselves, no bars held, for the sake of another person.

Fast forward to 2020—COVID-19.

It’s impossible to do that in the physical. BUT, in the spiritual we can. We can be invested all the way!

  • We can pray for one another.
  • We can comfort one another.
  • We can encourage one another.
  • We can build up one another in the most Holy Faith.
  • We can look for needs that can be met by our words or the mail system. Most of all by our continuous prayers.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”
-2 Corinthians 1:3-4

The old, old gospel hymn, Wonderful Words of Life, is how we can get involved during a time that we are physically restricted.

Sing them over again to me,
Wonderful words of life,
Let me more of their beauty see,
Wonderful words of life;
Words of life and beauty
Teach me faith and duty.

Refrain:
Beautiful words, wonderful words,
Wonderful words of life;
Beautiful words, wonderful words,
Wonderful words of life.

Sweetly echo the Gospel call,
Wonderful words of life;
Offer pardon and peace to all,
Wonderful words of life;
Jesus, only Savior,
Sanctify us forever.

We can be daughters of encouragement to everyone around us! Speaking words of life. Pick up the phone! Write a card! Sing to one another! Those beautiful Words of life!

When Fear and Anxiety Reign, Remember His Words

“By the anxieties and worries of this life Satan tries to dull man’s heart and make a dwelling for himself there.”
-Francis of Assisi

Worries, anxiety, hopelessness, fear, loneliness… all of these feelings seem to be raging inside of us right now. We are living in a time that none of us could have ever imagined. It seems that our lives have been turned upside down and inside out.

I have to think that there was a time and place when a group of people felt the same.

Perhaps not because a virus had taken over, but because they had lost the One they depended on and loved just a few days before. These people were the followers of Jesus. They had watched their Lord brutally crucified just a few days before. They had never fully understood what He meant when He taught them and walked with them. Their mortal minds were not yet opened by the Spirit of God to understand and remember the beautiful promises of God. And there they were, a small band of his closest followers, walking to His tomb. Their hearts in despair and their minds filled with loss and confusion.

Does that sound familiar, my friend?

“But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body. While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while He was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified and on the third day rise again.” Then, they remembered His words!
-Luke 24:1-8

Their hope was restored when they remembered!

When Fear and Anxiety Reign, Remember His Words (pin image, girl reading Bible)Yes, He did tell us that would happen! He told us He would rise again! Suddenly their brokenness was made whole. Their mourning turned to joy. Jesus was alive!
They remembered His words!

Friends, when we are struggling for answers and when life seems out of control, there is only one place to go—-to His word, so as to remember His words.

He is God and He never lies. (Titus 1:2)

He has given us His eternal word and His eternal promise that He is in control.

I want to remember His Word:

“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread for them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. HE WILL NOT LEAVE YOU OR FORSAKE YOU.”
-Deuteronomy 3:16

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
-Romans 8:38-39

“He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.”
-Isaiah 40:29-31

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”
-Psalm 46:1

(I really love the one from Romans!)

So, in these days if you are anxious of heart and worried (which is totally understandable), do not allow the enemy of our souls to make a dwelling place for those things. But, instead, remember the Living Word of God!

The age-old hymn gives us precious council—trust in Jesus, trust only in His Word.

‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,

Just to take Him at His Word

Just to rest upon His promise,

Just to know, “Thus saith the Lord!”

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!

How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er

Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!

Oh, for grace to trust Him more!

Then, they remembered His words.
-Luke 24:8.

The Perspective We Need When Troubles Come Our Way

My kitchen window gives me a perfect view of my backyard. At the very edge of it sits my flower garden. It is not huge, nor is it extravagant. But it is lovely, when it is in bloom.

Perspective We Need When Troubles Come Our Way - pin image, planting flowers in dirtRight now, there is nothing there, just a strip of dirt. But I can see in my mind’s eye the beauty that will soon come peeking out. Lily of the Valley, Lungwort, Golden Star, Iris, Day Lily, Lambs Ear and some other beauties are sleeping under the dirt. It won’t be long before they start to come to life and peek out of ground. They are hidden at the moment, but I know they are there. Slow and steady their beauty will surround me once again.

Even though the attraction of my garden is not there at the moment, I am always mindful that something lovely is coming.

The cold winter season, the dark days and early nights may have lulled my flowers to sleep. But once that sun begins to shine and the spring rains come, they will display their splendor once again. The amazing thing is that each of them found a home in my garden as a seed or a tiny starter plant from a friend, and every year they grow bigger and stronger and brighter. Their roots are deeper, their stems stronger, and the flowers brighter and bigger. I would call them “hearty”. If I lost my perspective on that little garden, if I lost sight of what it really is, then I would fill it in with grass seed and be done with it.

How often the physical is a picture of the spiritual!

When problems and disappointments consume me, when tragedy knocks at my door or my ambitions fail me, there is the temptation to lose sight of the eternal.

YET, I KNOW THAT GOD IS ETERNAL AND THIS LIFE IS TEMPORAL.

“We are handicapped on all sides, (Paul said), but we are never frustrated; we are puzzled, but never in despair. We are persecuted, but we never have to stand alone; we may be knocked down but we are never knocked out.”

2 Cor. 4:8,9 (Phillips Translation)

I will not allow the problems and pains of this present life (and all I need to do is turn on the news – Corona Virus, stock market, elections) to destroy the fruit nor the fragrance of the garden that is growing in me.

What does the spiritual garden contain?

“But the fruit produced by the Holy Spirit within you is divine love in all its varied expressions:
Joy that overflows,
Peace that subdues,
Patience that endures,
Kindness in action,
A life full of virtue,
Faith that prevails,
Gentleness of heart, and
Strength of spirit.
Never set the law above these qualities, for they are meant to be limitless.”

Galatians 5:22,23 (The Passion Translation)

Just as fruit grows in an inconspicuous and concealed way and a daisy cannot take on the scent of a rose, the fruit of the Spirit can never be imitated. Nor does it come to fruition overnight. It is a slow and steady process that reveals who we really are. The fruit of the Spirit is what a person is, not what he does.

Today, my garden is nothing, not one sprig, not one stem, just dirt. But underneath the ground the Artist – the Master Gardener – is working. The garden is not blooming yet, but it is getting ready. Just like us, as we are not made – we are being made. This is part of the process of the Spirit at work in our lives.

Often times real spiritual beauty and growth can only come by the winds of affliction.

As the winds blows a plant it grows more cells on the stem to make it thicker and stronger to prevent it from being blown over.

“Awake, O north wind; come, O south wind! Blow on my garden so that its fragrant spices may send out their sweet smell.”

Song of Songs 4:16 (NET Translation)

My friend, I remind myself (often) that I am a work in progress. We are all flowers gently blooming with winds blowing against us. With each adversity may we dig our roots deeper and become more mature spiritually. After all He displays His handiwork not only through nature but through man as well!

Precious Spirit of God won’t you blow on our garden that we may send out the sweet fragrance of Christ!

A Challenge to Live Life More Simply

“The simple life.”

That is what it is called, Simple Life Amish Tour. It is 2 hour guided tour of the Amish community that is right here in my back yard. The woman that hosts this tour has become friends with many of the beautiful people that the tour visits. As I listened to her talk and share about the conservative and simple life that these precious souls lead, I was humbled and quietly convicted.

“Aspire to lead a calm and peaceful life as you mind your own business and earn your living, just as we’ve taught you.” -1 Thessalonians 4:11

A Challenge to Live Life More Simply - horse and buggySusan, our guide, was a wealth of knowledge not because she has studied the Amish or is Amish herself, but because she has gotten to know the people. They are not merely acquaintances – they have become friends. We stopped several times along our route so that she could greet the numerous children running and playing in the snow and hand out candy. I was astounded that she knew each and every one of their names. Betty, Dan, Benny, Levi…  And not just their names, but what they have been up to. Susan was not hurried; even though her van had 4 guests in it. And with each stop it was evident that these children were very precious to her. Every business that we visited, she once again knew what the shop owner was up against, or going through, or if a baby had born. In my imagination I could see a lovely basket filled with seeds of love and kindness that she was tossing all around her.

She was intentional.

Intentional—done on purpose; deliberate; purposed

Are faith and family the most important thing in my life?

As we traveled on the country roads we learned more and more about this simple life that can be led. Please, don’t get me wrong: I could never be Amish. 😊. It would be way too hard for me. But the question kept creeping into my mind, “Could I simplify my life enough to put faith and family always first? I think I do, but do I?”

“You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your passion, all your energy, and your every thought. AND you must love your neighbor as well as you love yourself.” -Luke 10:27

Am I taking time to help others without seeking my own glory?

Susan shared with us that when there is work to be done, a house to be built, a garden to be planted the people stop what they are doing and come together to make one other’s load light. And it is normal for them, just the way of life. No one is too busy to help, nor do they blow a big horn to announce what they are doing.

But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. – Matthew 6:3

I came home inspired by a people group whose life style is as far from mine as the east is from the west. I was challenged by our precious tour guide, Susan, to step out of my own garden to see what my neighbor is growing. Their flowers may be different than mine, but oh so lovely.

A quote from Charles Dickens came to mind that afternoon:

“Do all the good you can, and make as little fuss about it as possible” -Charles Dickens

That is my personal call to action! How about you?

“Take advantage of every opportunity to be a blessing to others, especially to our brothers and sisters in the family of faith.” – Galations 6:10

Understanding Intimacy with God

I heard something last year and it has not left my thoughts. A woman was sharing on what it means to be intimate with Christ and she said, 
“into me, YOU, see”.

What is this “intimacy with God”?

Understanding Intimacy with God pin image, girl smelling flowersWe all long for intimacy in one form or another. We find it in our friendships, through our children, with our spouse, in groups, one on one, the list goes on.
 Intimacy is closeness, familiarity or friendship.
 It is a sobering thought that there is NOTHING hidden from God. He even knows the number of hairs on my head! He knows my heart better than I know it myself. Not one motive that I have can be hidden from Him!

INTO ME HE SEES

Selah. Precious Gardener of my Heart would you….


Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!

Psalm 139:23

Yes, it is a sobering thing that we are fully known by God. Yet, I find it comforting, He knows me and understands me – and he loves me. And in return I long to know Him, intimately.

O God, you are my God,
and I long for you.
My whole being desires you;
like a dry, worn-out, and waterless land,
my soul is thirsty for you.

Psalm 63:1

It takes time to know God.

Time is our greatest commodity and the one thing that we seem to be the most selfish with. But in time seeds become flowers and bushes bloom. In time acquaintance turns to friendship and friendships can last a lifetime.

And with Jesus, well, time just makes Him sweeter and dearer to me. Not only do I not pull back at the knowledge that He sees into my heart, but I long to see into His.

A.W. Tozer said, 
“Come near to the holy men and women of the past and you will soon feel the heat of their desire after God. They mourned for Him, they prayed and wrestled and sought for Him day and night, in season and out, and when they found Him the finding was all the sweeter for the long seeking.”

Are you longing for intimacy with the Master Gardener?
 Ask Him now, “search me O God and know my heart today.
” After all nothing is hidden from Him, not a weed not a dead branch, and He alone brings into His Light all that is His.

I want to know Him intimately
.

What Attitude Should We Have?

Epieikés! Ep-iei-keia! That Greek word that looks so strange often times rings loud in my ears! I can hear my daughter’s voice saying that word to me “Mom, epieikeia”. I even had a little sign made and it hangs over my desk.

What is “Epieikeia”?

You’ll probably recognize the verse in English:

“Let your gentleness (epieikeia ) be known to everyone. The Lord is near.”
-Philippians 4:5

Epieikeia.

You might substitute some of these words: Sweetness. Gentleness. Moderation. Patient. Yielding.

Summed up it is this: Sweetly Reasonable. To always be gentle with others. To be kindly affectionate. To have a gracious attitude.

Wow! Those are indeed words to live by.

In a world where everyone is in a hurry and impatience is at an all-time high, where people shoot each other over the slightest disagreement, I am told to let my gentleness be known to all!

I love how it is recorded in the Wuest expanded translation. Listen to this:

“Let your sweet reasonableness, your forbearance, your being satisfied with less than your due, become known to all men. The Lord is near (in that His coming may occur at any moment).
-Philippians 4:5

Being satisfied with less than my due.

It takes me right to another verse found in the book of Romans:

“Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another;”
-Romans 12:10

So how can we choose this attitude in every day life?

What Attitude Should We Have?It can be as simple as any of the following:

  • leaving the last cookie for the next guy
  • taking a chicken thigh instead of the breast
  • opening a door for someone at the store
  • paying it forward in a checkout line
  • helping to clean up the mess when the party is over
  • sharing from the abundance of what we have
  • or leaving a bigger tip than usual for the waitress.
  • GOING BEYOND YOURSELF IN THE LOVE OF CHRIST.

Let me bring it closer to home, though.

For me it begins each time I want to get angry when I think I have been wronged. When I want to NOT do what I know that I should do because it is inconvenient. Or when I am not especially crazy about the person that needs me. When I want to raise my voice to prove my point. When I want to hang up on the telemarketer—(ouch, I am showing my true colors now!)

I can hear my sweet daughter saying to me “Mom, epieikeia”. Distance has taken her far from me, for she lives in Bolivia, so I look up at the sign above my desk and I am reminded to live as Sweetly Reasonable.

How about you?

Do Paul’s words echo in your heart to always be gentle with others? Kindly affectionate? A gracious attitude? Sweetly Reasonable?

I challenge you to make a reminder today! Grab an index card or a piece of paper and write it out. Then, put it into practice. Let our humility, consideration, fairness, gentleness, and our sweetness be known to everyone for the coming of the Lord is at hand.

“Let your gentleness (epieikeia ) be known to everyone. The Lord is near.”
-Philippians 4:5

Side note, if you do make a sign or a reminder of it, I would love to see a photo of where you put it or how you use it!

Willing to Serve, Like a Pencil in God’s Hands

I have a book on the table in my hallway. It is called, “Mother Teresa: Her Essential Wisdom”.

I often pick it up and just read some of her thoughts and quotes and glean from her wisdom. She is one of the faces on my personal Mount Rushmore. Her kindness and legacy astound me.

Pin Image for Willing to Serve, Like a Pencil in God's Hands - Mother Theresa bookRecently I had one of those days when I needed a little advice from this precious sister.

And here is what I read:

“I don’t claim anything of the work. It’s His work. I’m like a pencil in His Hand. That’s all. He does the thinking. He does the writing. The pencil has nothing to do with it. The pencil has only allowed to be used.”

pen·cil
[ˈpensəl]
NOUN
an instrument for writing or drawing, consisting of a thin stick of graphite or a similar substance enclosed in a long thin piece of wood or fixed in a metal or plastic case.

Mother Teresa was a tiny woman that loved God with all of her heart, fed the Lepers and cared for orphans. She was tireless in her care of the poor, the dying and the outcasts. She gave her life to serve others and called herself a “pencil in the Hand of God,” consistently willing to be used in whatever way He saw fit.

I want to be like that!

A pencil.

A vessel.

An instrument.

Whatever the task may be I want to be willing and ready to be used by the Master.

There is an old gospel chorus that often echoes in my heart —

Jesus, use me, and Oh Lord, don’t refuse me,
For surely there’s a work that I can do.
And even tho’ it’s humble, Lord help my will to crumble
Tho’ the cost be great, I’ll work for You.
I am quite certain that there is nothing greater than to be used as a pencil in God’s Hand. I am His and His alone. Whether I live or whether I die, I am His and He is mine.

It echoes words we find in Romans 14.

“For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.” – Romans 14:8

After dwelling on these words, we can find ourselves calling out to the Gardener, asking Him, “Let me live, Lord, to do Your will and to promote Your Glory. Let me be a pencil in Your Hand.”

Why not ask him today what small task you can do. look for the privilege to serve another, for in that we are serving Jesus. After all, no task is too great or too small when we do it as unto the Lord!

“Each one of us is merely a small instrument; all of us, after accomplishing our mission, will disappear.” Mother Teresa

Plan for the Future, but Make the Most of Today

I was sitting on my porch this morning taking in the beauty of fall in the air! I found myself reflecting that this is the 59th fall I will experience! Hard to believe. The older one gets we often say things like—where has the time gone, the days go faster as you get older, time flies.

Days like today my mind goes to the question that the apostle James asked:

What is your life like? For you are a mist that appears for a little while then vanishes. -James 4:14b

…a vapor
…a puff of smoke
…a fog
…a breath

Plan for the Future, but Make the Most of Today

I don’t think James was trying to depress anyone!

I don’t think he is trying to say that our lives are of no value or that we do not matter. In verses 13-17 it is clear that James is calling out those believers that are putting all of their confidence in their personal business and travel plans. He is warning the “go-getter” that we do not know what tomorrow holds. Yes, we can plan, but let us hold our plans loosely lest HE wants to change them!

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there doing business and making money. Yet you do not even know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wishes, we will do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil. Anyone, then, who knows the right to do and fails to do it, commits sin. -James 13-17

Are the days going faster as I get older? Probably not.

I think I am just more aware of what a treasure each day is.

“Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, bless you before you depart. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow. “ Mary Jean Iron

Just as the leaves are so fragile as they begin to fall, so are we.

Friend, let us plan on making today count.

Let’s not worry about tomorrow or bank on our own ideas. Let us make the most of today, for it is “a mist that appears for a little while then vanishes”, after all.

That does not mean that we should sit on our porch doing nothing! A gardener works hard to keep his garden growing, watering and weeding, pruning and re-planting. Our spiritual garden includes all of those around us, be it children, friends, siblings, parents, grand-children, acquaintances, neighbors.

What good can you do today to help your spiritual garden grow?