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The sky is always blue beyond the clouds. There is always hope and encouragement here.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A Vapor


Driving through the Smokey Mountains is such an extraordinary experience. The mountains are thick and dense. They are high and steep. The Pigeon River runs through, wide and long. The vegetation is abundant.
Early in the mornings and in the evening it gets foggy. Real foggy!
It looks like smoke. It really does. Smoke with no smell.
But as the day gets brighter the fog lifts quickly. And then it's gone. Now the beauty of the mountains can be viewed in all their splendor.

The Bible tells us that our lives are just a vapor. We are here, then we are not.
Sometimes I forget, I think we all might forget how short our lives are. 
We go about, day to day, making plans, and living our lives as if we have forever.
We don't! We may not have the rest of this day. We don't know.

Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit." Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that." (James 4:13-15 NASB)

Monday, July 29, 2013

I Quit


When I was a kid I lived in a neighborhood with a lot of kids. And during summer vacation it was nothing to have a gang of 15-20 kids playing together somewhere. 
We did not have parental supervision, we didn't have play dates, we didn't even have a playground until a few years later. 
But we got along. At least for the most part we did. We probably had our spats and disagreements but without adults fanning the flames, we got over things pretty quickly.
However I remember one boy, his name was Kevin.
Kevin was an only child. He always had to go home early. And he wasn't allowed to get dirty. But Kevin had the best stuff.
His kite was brighter and flew higher. His bike was shiny and new. And he owned the ball and bat that we used to play.
Yes, I can remember those long afternoons of baseball. We would choose captains everyday and then one by one they would pick their team. I honestly don't remember anyone getting upset or feeling left out of our playing. We really were a good bunch.
The games were great. Until Kevin had to go home. Because he would hang his head and mutter, "I gotta go." And there would Kevin, the ball, the bat and the game.
So then the rest of us would slowing find something else to do. Some would go off to new adventures but some of us would hang around sitting on the bleachers or sitting in the dugouts until our own supper times. 
But it was different now. We were a game. We were playing together. We were all about one mindset. Now we were stragglers, because one had quit.
I'm sure you know the feeling. We all have been on the losing end of a quitter. 

I was thinking about all of this as I was meditating on a scripture passage that caught my attention the other day.
Acts 15:37-41
New International Version (NIV)
37 Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, 38 but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. 39 They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, 40 but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the believers to the grace of the Lord. 41 He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.

Here are Paul and Barnabas traveling around the known world making disciples and starting churches. And when the time comes to go again Barnabas wants his cousin, young John Mark to come along. 
Paul refuses. He says no, we took him once before and he quit on us and went back home.
The two men had a very sharp disagreement about this issue. It was so bad that they split up and went their separate ways, each taking someone else with them. Paul took Silas and Barnabas did take John Mark.

The Bible doesn't tell us why John Mark had quit the journey the first time but his quitting had quite an affect on those two men.

Do you ever feel like quitting? Just giving up? 
When it comes to our Christian walk we can't quit. We can't give up. Our walk isn't just about us and it is not going to always be easy and pleasant.
But when we quit, we will have an affect on others. Maybe our family members, our friends, our non-Christian neighbors that are watching you, co-workers and on and on.
Be tenacious. Do not be pulled apart. Stick to your beliefs and doctrine. Be persistent. Your salvation is very valuable.
Don't be a quitter.








What describes You?


I love adjectives. They have always been my favorite part of speech. Description words. They make a dog, a big, furry, brown dog. They make a flower become a long stemmed, red rose. They make a book be a story of long lost love, rekindled.
Words also describe my experience from Church services yesterday.
I am still energized and uplifted from the worship service and Sunday School yesterday. I get excited when we have such good, thought provoking studies with others and then to hear God's word spoken so intensely.
In the book of Acts, Luke writes (I like to imagine him as an original blogger) about the places they visit and the believers they make and meet along the way.
I love the words he uses to describe the people from Berea. He said they are noble minded, eager to receive the word, and studious. 
Wow, they sound like a great group.
I wonder if someone would describe me using any of those words and all three, well I can strive to be like the Bereans.
How would you be described?


Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. Therefore many of them believed, along with a number of prominent Greek women and men. (Acts 17:11, 12 NASB)

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Mirror, Mirror


What keeps you from being your best? At what point in your efforts do you tell yourself, "It's ok to stop now?" 
I have so many unfinished projects. I have started to diet so many times. I have been meaning to "get around to" doing so many things in my life time.
I do not understand why I am like this. But I know one thing, I am not the only one.

I think a lot of what we do and do not do is based on how we think of ourselves ( I will never get this done, I'm not smart enough to study that, I have no willpower, I'm not strong enough, I lack the money.) You get the picture, right?
And a lot of what we do and do not do is based on how we think others see us, (my mom said I'm too dumb, he said I'll never get anywhere, they said no one would believe me.)

What if we had a "God mirror" that when we looked into it the reflection we would see was the person God sees when He looks at us?

Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. (2 Corinthians 5:16, 17 NASB)
For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6 NASB)

Once we are Christians and become "new"(according to Romans 6,) God sees the righteousness of Christ when He sees us. He also according to Phil. 1:6 sees how we look as a completed, whole person living their potential.

Imagine if you lived your life according to your potential instead of the limitations that we and others place onto us!

Take a look back into that mirror. Can you see the potential there? What can stop you now? Nothing!!!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Sing


Have you ever heard a child singing while they played? Have you ever heard a woman singing as she went about her housework?
This morning while reading my Bible I asked myself, why do people sing?
Some sing when they are happy, some people sing when they are sad. Old time railroad workers sang to keep rhythm as they pounded railroad spikes. Ancient people sang stories and legends.
Some people don't like to be heard singing. 
But everyone sings at some point.
Why do you sing? When do you sing? What do you sing?
I love to her people sing, especially when they sing their feelings. Are you happy and thankful this morning?

Sing for joy in the Lord, O you righteous ones; Praise is becoming to the upright. Give thanks to the Lord with the lyre; Sing praises to Him with a harp of ten strings. Sing to Him a new song; Play skillfully with a shout of joy. (Psalms 33:1-3 NASB)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Get The Log Out


 I once had something in my eye. Oh, it hurt so bad. It felt like it was scratching and shredding my eyeball. And I did that thing you are never supposed to do, I rubbed it. 
I thought for a minute that I had gotten it out but I just moved it to a different part of my eye, so now I was tearing up another place on my eyeball.
I asked a friend to look in my eye to see if she could see anything but she didn't. I felt sure that as bad as it hurt that it had to be big enough to see. 
Finally after awhile what ever it was worked itself out and I had relief.
If you had something in your eye, I wouldn't feel it, but you sure would.

In scripture, Jesus uses the following illustration:
Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye. (Matthew 7:3-5 NASB)

In other words, why do we concern ourselves so much with someone else's faults, something that should be bothering them and rubbing them sore, yet doesn't affect us; Especially when we have more than a speck of faults in our own lives?

Usually when we offer to help someone get something out of their eye it is because we are concerned for them. And true, when we see a "speck" of sin in someone's life we should be concerned for them. But you cannot be removing someone's "speck" if you have a log of sin in your own life.

It is not pleasant to be "corrected" by someone that you know has faults as big or bigger than yours.
And if you are doing the correcting, you better have "clean eyes."


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Plumb Line


A plumb-bob or a plummet is a weight, usually with a pointed tip on the bottom, that is suspended from a string and used as a vertical reference line. The instrument has been used since at least the time of ancient Egypt[1] to ensure that constructions are "plumb", or vertical. A plumb-bob and line  can only determine straightness if the object is vertical.
A plumb line can also be used to find an objects center of gravity.

Thus He showed me, and behold, the Lord was standing by a vertical wall with a plumb line in His hand. The Lord said to me, "What do you see, Amos?" And I said, "A plumb line." Then the Lord said, "Behold I am about to put a plumb line In the midst of My people Israel. I will spare them no longer. (Amos 7:7, 8 NASB)

Therefore thus says the Lord God, "Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone, A costly cornerstone for the foundation, firmly placed. He who believes in it will not be disturbed. "I will make justice the measuring line And righteousness the level. (Isaiah 28:16, 17 NASB)

God has gotten out His plumb line.  It is straight. It is true. How do you measure up? 
Is your foundation built on Jesus, that Costly Cornerstone? Are you straight and tall? Where is your center of gravity?

I pray that we can stand straight and centered before God.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Knowitall


Ever know a "knowitall?" 
Some people like to spout off everything bit of useless knowledge they possess to impress people. (Picture Cliff from the tv show, Cheers.) I guess their desire is to be thought of as brilliant. 
Some people ARE smart. They pick up information easily and retain it easily.
Some people work hard to be smart. They see the need for knowledge so they study and learn and study some more.
Some people are wise. They have wisdom. Wisdom has more to do with experience than book smarts. You can be wise with very little book smarts. 
Wisdom is learning about life, the importance of it, the purpose of it. It is learning, valuing, accepting and living the life we have. 
You can give someone knowledge, but you cannot give wisdom to someone. You can share wisdom and maybe someone will understand gain their own wisdom from your sharing.

My mom used to tell me that a knowitall has no wit at all. I believe that for the most part. Have you ever met someone that is trying to impress with their smarts? They usually are too serious and no fun to be around.

I would rather choose wisdom than knowledge, but I think true wisdom would tell you that you must also have knowledge.

The Proverbs are full of verses on wisdom. Choose one today to read and meditate on. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Question

I have a question:

Do you linger in bed or are you an "up an at 'em" person?
At what points do you have your first words with God?

Well, I guess that's 2 questions. Lol
Enjoy painting your picture today. Make it a masterpiece.

Picture by J. Howorth


Something Helpful


Saturday, July 20, 2013

Help Needed


Ever have too much month at the end of the money?
I'm sure that we all have been in situations when you don't know how you are going to get all the bills paid.
I have had times when I would have to choose which bills to pay this month and which ones to let go. 
I have had to feed my kids boxed Mac and cheese and hot dogs for 3 days in a row because that was all we had in the house.
Times were hard for us back then. Work was scarce, cars broke down, kids got sick and still the bills needed paid.
It takes money to live and even survive in this world. And there never seems to be enough of it.
Sometimes that is a result of foolish choices, sometimes it is because of laziness, but most often it is not. It is just circumstances. 

Someone once told me that if I had two pair of shoes or pants, that I was rich. I didn't see it that way. I have always owned at least two pair of shoes and pants and so have every member of my family.
We have never ever really been with nothing at all to eat either.
I have never had to sleep without a roof over my head unless I chose to.
My kids have always had a school to attend. And we have never been without a vehicle for a long period of time.
So, I guess, I never was truly poor or needy.

But there are those that are. 
We sometimes tend to look down on them like they chose that life. 
The homeless, what happened? The orphaned, what happened? The battered wife that took her kids and fled, why? The man with the sign on the street corner, what brought him there?
Is it up to us to ask? Is it our right to know?

My mom used to tell me, "If you want something, give it away." What?!? That seemed like flawed logic or "flogic" as my son calls it.
But I have learned over time what she meant and it is true. 
God says to help them.
In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.' " (Acts 20:35 NASB)
One who is gracious to a poor man lends to the Lord, And He will repay him for his good deed. (Proverbs 19:17 NASB)

If you have a few extra dollars or some spare change I know of a Christian place that really could use your help. It is a preacher and his wife that have taken in 30 orphaned children. They are attempting to raise and educate these children and keep them safe in a very hostile environment. They are struggling financially. If you want more info on helping them inbox me.
If you don't feel moved to help them but an help someone else, please do.
We really are rich you know.


Friday, July 19, 2013

I, I, Sir



I have heard people say they were waiting to buy a home because things weren't perfect at the present time.
People wait to get pregnant until they are financially stable.
Sometimes you hear reasons like, "if the time was right," "if the money is there," "if circumstances are better," "we'll see how I feel."

You know, we can't sit around doing nothing as life passes by us. 
We can't wait for perfect because perfect will never happen until we get to Heaven. 
God needs us now. he will use you as you are or He will make you as you need to be.
Be a willing servant for Him.
Be like Isaiah and say, "I, I, Sir."
Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?" Then I said, "Here am I. Send me!" (Isaiah 6:8 NASB)


What shall I wear?


"For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, 'What will we eat?' or 'What will we drink?' or 'What will we wear for clothing?' For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:25-33 NASB)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Good Words



Coffee time is such a wonderful time for me. I love the stuff and I know many of you do as well. And there is nothing better than a good cup of coffee while visiting a good friend. 
I used to have a friend that came over every morning for coffee and we would sit and wile away the morning while "solving all the world"so problems" through our discussions. It was a good friendship.
Later in my years I had a job where I came to work and spent the first 1/2 hour discussing the events of the morning with the other person in the office that was now going home since I came to work. We always did this over a cup of coffee. However in this instance there was a lot of negativity. As she relayed the events and the happenings, she would make fun of or put the employees down. And sometimes I found myself regarding people with all the negativity that she had projected. 
Words are powerful and very influential. Some people can flourish under the direction of kind words and others will deem themselves useless and no good because they were told that while growing up.
Please be careful of your words and how you speak them.
Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. (Ephesians 4:29 NASB)


Monday, July 15, 2013

The Big Apple and Sin


I used to shop in New York City. I loved going to visit the Big Apple. The lights, all the moving billboards, the yellow blur of taxis, Central Park, and thousands and thousands of people. 
One of my favorite parts was visiting Chinatown. There are hundreds of shops lining the streets, selling every kind of bauble you can imagine. I filled my bags with bargains.
But there were people there that would "bump" against you and whisper famous name brands of popular items such as purses, watches, brand new hit movies, expensive cologne, etc.
They were wanting to let you know that these things were available for sale if you were willing to pay their prices. AND always these items were illegal in some way. Either they were stolen, illegal knockoff imitations or just exploitation of tourists.
I have to admit that on more than one occasion I participated in purchasing some of these items. It seemed exciting to me. I felt like I was really getting good bargains. But usually once I got the stuff home, you could see the true value of the "junk" that you bought.
I wonder if New York is called "The Big Apple" because of the temptation for sin like in Eden?
It can be easy for us to justify why we do things that aren't godly, at least in our own minds. God expects better of us.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9 NASB)

Everyone sins. All of us sin every day. Each of us, no matter how hard we try not to, still commit sin every single day.
But we don't want others to know that we do. We want to "hide" from it, just like Adam and Eve did. 
We are ashamed and feel that people will think less of us if they see us acting unrighteously.

But I believe that it speaks volumes if people see you admit your wrongs, show your sorrow and then change your behaviors.
We need to be confessing our sin to each other. We need to be helping each other to be holy.
Hold each other accountable. Please, hold me accountable.

 Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries. (Hebrews 10:24-27 NASB)

Friday, July 12, 2013

Discontentment

My neighbor mowed his grass now I have to mow because our yard looks bad compared to his.
I wonder where she got that outfit, I would like to have a shirt like that.
I wish I could cook like her.
Wow, they are doing good on their diet. I need to start one.
Your church does that? I wish ours did.
Your kids are honor roll? I wish mine were smarter.

Discontentment is a killer of joy.
Comparison robs you of happiness.
Satan is behind it all.

Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor. (1 Corinthians 10:24 NASB)

Thursday, July 11, 2013

How to eat an Elephant


Problems--- how do you look at them?
There is an old story by Jack Jones that goes something like:

Many moons ago there lived a young warrior in a small mining village. He
dreamed of marrying the Chief’s daughter. Her beauty was legend across the
mountain villages.
Each year during the Spring Solstice the Chief would hold a banquet in her
honor and allow suitors to vie for her hand. And each year the great
warrior suitors would leave the banquet disappointed and confounded. For
the task which the Chief put them to was an impossible task. How does one
eat an Elephant?
Great warriors from across the land again gathered during the spring
solstice. The enormous pile of roast elephant sat all but ignored in favor
of more exotic delicacies as all the warriors had given up on the Chief’s
challenge many moons ago.
As the night wore on the Chief noticed that a young warrior had seated
himself next to the enormous pile of roast Elephant and was taking steady
determined bites. The dancing started, and still the young warrior ate. The
old men and women returned to their huts and still the young warrior ate.
The moon crossed the night sky and still the young warrior ate.
The next morning the Chief saw that the young warrior still sat at his
post, eating determinedly. Even though the young warrior had eaten through
night the pile of roast Elephant looked unchanged in size.
The aftermath of the banquet was cleared during the day and still the
young warrior continued eating. The Chief ordered that the roast Elephant
be left for the young warrior.
The young warrior ate through the day and the second night.
The next morning the Chief called for all of his villagers to gather around
the roast. “My good villagers, I have an announcement”, said the Chief in a
deep and resonate voice. “Today my daughter marries!”
The crowd hushed. “But no one ate the Elephant”, yelled one brave and
slightly intoxicated villager.
The Chief, with a sly smile upon his face, turned and pointed to the young
warrior who was still diligently attacking the roast. “Stand young warrior
and tell me: how do you eat an Elephant?”
The young warrior stood. His stomach visibly engorged. He took a deep
breath and then said in a proud and calm voice, “Chief, one bite at a
time.”
“My dear villagers, I never cared whether my daughter’s suitor could eat an
entire Elephant. I was looking for a special warrior who had the grit and
determination to tackle any problem, no matter the size. I wanted a warrior
who would never quit once he set his heart upon a goal. And today I have
found that warrior”, said the Chief.

Some people make mountains from molehills. Personally, I prefer molehills. 
I hate problems and obstacles but the best way to handle them is head-on.
Everyone has problems! Everyone does. You may not want to believe that but it is true.
If you can think of one person that you think doesn't have problems, then it is probably because they have more confidence, more optimism and less tendency to procrastinate.
Something's may seem just too big. But get at it, peck at it, nip at it, start the project, begin the conversation, put aside just $5.00 a week and don't touch it. 

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10 ESV)


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Help

I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; From where shall my help come? (Psalms 121:1 NASB)

I remember memorizing this verse at a summer youth camp .
We also learned verse 2.
My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth. (Psalms 121:2 NASB)
As we repeated this verse during the evening worship service, everytime we said the word, "help" we clapped our hands. 
Doing this little exercise reinforced the verses in our minds. I still want to clap my hands at the word when I read or cite these verses .
Memorizing scripture is a valuable tool. Knowing God's word will give us the wisdom that we need to grow and be strong as we encounter daily trials.
Use whatever means possible to memorize His word.
I promise when life gets difficult and you bring to mind a scripture, it will help (clap) you get through the hard times.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Lifter of my Head


 A Shield About Me 

Thou, O Lord, are a shield about me
You're my glory and the lifter of my head
Thou, O Lord, are a shield about me
You're my glory and the lifter of my head

Hallelujah (3x)
You're the lifter of my head
Hallelujah (3x)
You're the lifter of my head

Thou, O Lord, are a shield about me
You're my glory and the lifter of my head

Hallelujah (3x)
You're the lifter of my head
Hallelujah (3x)
You're the lifter of my head

Yesterday in church we sang this song. I don't recall ever hearing it before. I did not know the words or the tune. So, I listened as everyone sang and as I often do, I studied the words.

God is a shield about me. ( He is a force field of protection, all around me)
He is my glory. ( I am nothing without Him. Everything I am today is because of Him.)

But then it says that He is the lifter of my head and this is where my brain went into overdrive.
What did that mean? And it is repeated over and over throughout the song. 
Then I got a mental image:
A little girl, frightened and alone. Maybe she is sad or hurting too. She sits, downcast and afraid. Her head is hanging low. 
Then He comes, The Protecter, the One who wants to "shield" her from hurts and pains. He cups His hand under her chin and "lifts her head" until their eyes meet. Then He holds her face in both of His hands. 
She sees in His eyes the refuge, the protection, the love He has for her.

Wow,! I get it now. I understand now why King David wrote this Psalm of praise. God is a shield about me.
He is my glory.
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah
He is the lifter of my head.
The One who lifts your head is a wonderful comforter.
Thank You God for being all of that and so much more to me.