Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Palm Sunday



Palm Sunday

Then Jesus entered Jerusalem, and went into the temple. 
—Mark 11: 1

This Sunday, Christians across the world will observe Palm Sunday. Some know this day as “Passion Sunday”. It is the day that begins Holy Week and ends with Easter. Palm Sunday marks the day that Jesus humbly entered the holy city of Jerusalem on a donkey. People waved palm branches in celebration and others laid them down on the ground creating a path, showing respect. Ancient belief is that the palm branch represented goodness. The crowd shouted, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” While crowds shouted words of victory on Palm Sunday, it would only be days later than they would demand Jesus be crucified.


Holy Week tells of the biblical account of Jesus’ last day on the earth. The events of Holy Week can be read in Mark, chapters 11-16. We can experience the journey with Jesus. There is much to reflect on during this week that includes the Last Supper and Jesus’ walk to the cross. Sadness and darkness seems to prevail on the journey with only glimmers of hope, but on Easter Sunday, hope lives in the resurrection of Jesus. It is a reminder that we can do nothing apart from Him. He makes everything “new” again. He brings life from death. Take this walk with Jesus through the Bible this week so we can fully understand His sacrifice and love for us.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Praise

Praise

The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and He helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise Him. - Psalm 28:7

Some days my world seems to be smaller because I am seeing it from a different perspective. Teaching my little grandson has made me realize it is hard for me to make adult conversation when my husband comes home at night! Can anybody relate to this? I am well versed on Disney movies, nursery rhymes, ABC’s and playing ball with my little man! My enthusiasm and praise is measured in short sentences like “good job” and “good boy”.  And I see what praise can do to his little spirit. It is the greatest encouragement of all. His face lights up and eyes sparkle when he earns a sticker or gets a “high-five”.  What is praise? The dictionary says, “It is the act of expressing approval or admiration”.  I think of it as positive attention. And this I know…everybody needs it.  I think deserved praise is to the spirit what a hug is to the heart.

God says we are to praise Him. So often, we go to Him with our long list of requests, needs and wants and after we have deposited that list with God, we forget to praise Him. That is when we know we are off balance in our relationship with Him. When I find myself feeling down or in want, I make my list of all God has provided. Then I realize I have nothing to complain about and everything to praise Him for.

Be a person that praises. I don’t mean false praise, but one that acknowledges a good job, a good deed and creates an encouraging, positive environment. While teaching my grandson to pray, we begin with ‘thank you” for all God has given us. And then we ask God to bless our family. It is simple and sweet. God doesn’t want our fancy talk and big words. He just wants us to talk to Him like we would talk to a trusted friend. He is that and so much more to us. Think of how our praise must make God feel. He is so worthy of it.



Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Contentment

Contentment

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength. -Philippians 4:11-13 NIV

My daughter and I recently rode through the countryside and we snapped this photo of the horse seeking greener pastures. No doubt, he thought the long stretch outside the boundaries of his fence was worth it for an extra special breakfast. We chuckled that our life is often like that, too. No matter where we are or what we are doing, it sometimes looks more appealing to hop our own fence and live in another world. Of course, it is perfectly okay to hope and dream and make plans for positive change and growth, but somewhere in there needs to be a period of contentment about where we are at this moment. To always want more and never be happy with where we are is not the road God wants us to travel.  Sometimes God allows us to set our own pace. In the flurry of so much to do, if we sit with God each day and seek contentment in our life and circumstances, it will come.
But what about being thrust into situations that you have no control over, but yet must deal with. There are so many people that living with this by perhaps taking care of an ill spouse or aging parent that needs constant daily attention. There are broken families where a single parent is doing it all. Disappointments come that steal hope. Performing demanding physical tasks and responsibilities often depletes the energy that allows one to keep going. If that is you, know that you are not alone. God sees the situation you are in and sees your efforts. You are doing God’s work and you will be blessed for allowing God to use your hands and heart to tend to those that can’t tend to themselves. If you are a caregiver, ask God for what you need and trust Him to provide it.

It is said that it is not our circumstances that create our discontent or contentment. It is us. Perhaps if we change our reaction to situations when they arise, contentment is within our reach. All things are possible through Him.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Happiness

Happiness

He that handles a matter wisely shall find good: and whoever trusts in the Lord, happy is he. Proverbs 16:20

Something my mother and I would do this time of year would be to bundle up and go to the beach to feed the seagulls. It didn't matter what was going on in our lives at the time, we would lose ourselves in the fun and joy of it. But best of all was to sit in the car, looking at the ocean with my mother and having wonderful talks. We both talked and both listened to each other. A great time of sharing time and love.

It has been said that happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude. You know if you have it or not. You can walk into a room and sense the environment and immediately know if it exists there.

What is happiness? The dictionary says, “pleasure, contentment and joy”. And laughter often means the presence of happiness. Look at a child who gets tickled about something and laughs over and over again. They are sharing their pleasure. However, some folks believe they don’t have anything to laugh or be happy about. They may look to life for what it can give them. Happiness wouldn’t carry the weight it does if we didn’t experience the down times too. Abraham Lincoln said, “Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be”.  And that speaks to all of our circumstances, whether we are up or down. It is considered to be one of the most worth-while things is to do to put happiness into the lives of others. Proverbs 11:25 says “Who refreshes others will be refreshed”. So when we are seeking that sweet spot of happiness for ourselves, we must first do for others under God’s direction. It is there that we will find the spiritual contentment known as happiness.





Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Snow


(Photograph by Martin Glass)

Snow


Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3: 15-17

There are some people that like snow and some that do not. I happen to love it! The excitement and frenzy at the grocery store to stock up, to fill the gas tank of the car and to check the birdfeeders are all part of my pre-snow routine. Snow doesn’t come often, particularly to these parts, but when it does, it is memorable for young and old. A fresh blanket of snow on ordinary things makes them look extraordinary. Traffic slows and school and work stops. It’s a time to make that special soup, bring in the firewood and enjoy the beauty of the white scenery through the windows. There will be plenty of time for shoveling and scraping later, but for a moment or two, the snow makes us stop long enough to feel the peace that surrounds us. It’s like everything has been put on hold, if only briefly.

Sometimes we need something out of our control to make us stop our busy lives long enough to renew and reflect on our journey. It may be something as simple as a snowy day that gives us this time and causes us to lessen our pace. I notice that when snow is in the forecast, everyone seems friendlier, neighbors look out for one another and there is an overall sense of community spirit. Everyday can be like this. Living in peace with one another is a good place to be. God’s peace dwells within us and we just have to tap into this gift to enhance our lives and those around us. Like a blanket of snow that envelops everything in its path, God’s promise of peace fills and embraces us, if we allow it.


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Doing Right

Doing Right

So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. James 4:17

Each day we are given opportunities and free will to choose which road to take in our lives. We may want to cut a few corners when no one is looking. We think about putting ourselves first over others’ needs. Yesterday it was raining and I had to cut my dogs’ walk short for the sake of both of us getting soaked. But he knew he was shortchanged. He stared me down and if a dog can give its’ master a scowl, I got one! I have heard it said before and I chuckle at the thought: my goal in life is to be as good of a person my dog already thinks I am. There is some truth to this!!

Are you a person that others expect the best from, always trying to do right? Or are you that person that is known for lazy half-heartedness? But to go even further, if you are doing right to the best of your ability, but don’t have a loving attitude about it, there is no joy reaching heaven. The sweetness of a heart full of love for others, joined with a willingness to do the right thing, is a blessing to everyone. Aren’t we drawn to people like that? We study them, trying to learn from them and emulate their kind actions.  Well, you may say, “so many people do the right thing and they don’t seem to gain a thing by doing it”. But what we may miss would be the peace and joy that lives on the inside of a that person. Their riches are not measured by the things they have built or stored but by the lives they have touched. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” Philippians 2:3

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Seeds

Seeds

The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.  2 Corinthians 9:6. 

What are you expecting in life? Take a moment and explore that thought. Little children don’t understand limits. They are invincible and think they can do anything. School children are impressionable, and while dealing with peer pressure too, their dreams and expectations can be influenced. Young adults get a taste of real life. Working jobs, keeping a marriage healthy, balancing finances and caring for their youngsters. They have dreams but it is often hard to resist comparing themselves to their friends and co-workers. Middle agers may become caregivers for their parents and grandchildren and find little time for their own dreams. And then seniors start talking in terms of “how many more good years they have left”.  

Not everybody reacts in these ways, but it happens. If any of this describes you, be assured God placed dreams in your heart the day you were born. He planted them there. You just have to believe that there are seeds of greatness on the inside of you and set your expectations to align with God’s Word.


My grandfather loved gardening. He planted a beautiful flower, cockscomb, from seeds and they were the talk of the Garden Club and the neighborhood. Everyone had to stop by and admire the fruits of his labor. When I used these flowers in arrangements in the Jr. Garden Club, I received many first place ribbons. Imagine my delight when I found a little manila envelope recently, tucked in one of his books, that contained seeds from those flowers! Over 50 years old! Thank you granddaddy!  I am going to plant some of those seeds this week with great expectation and I will keep you posted.  The message is this: it is never too late to nurture those seeds of greatness and to dream the dreams instilled in us. Just believe and have expectations of good things. Even when setbacks occur, and they will, keep moving forward. 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Discipline

Discipline

My son, do not despise the Lord's discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in. Proverbs 3:11-12

As a southern born and bred woman, I have always put importance on manners. My children will tell you that they were disciplined to be polite, appreciative, grateful and respectful no matter what the occasion.  They are now respectable and respected adults today and for that I am grateful.

Now, while looking after my grandson, we are learning about manners too. It’s a new generation, living in different times, but some things don’t change and that is to respect others as well as yourself. He is learning the simple manners. Very basic. Saying “please” and “thank you”, sharing, not crying or throwing a tantrum when things don’t go his way. Then, napkins in laps, saying grace before a meal and saying “thank you” afterwards. This is a work in progress!!!

Yesterday, my grandson and I were lunching at a restaurant. Things started out well until the little one decided to shake his cup full of milk which was about to explode. I intercepted, and he let everyone in the restaurant know how unhappy he was that I took his cup away. Oh, he has quite a loud cry when he wants his way. Given that he is only two and a half years old gets him a little leeway, but not much…manners can be taught at any age, and sooner the better. We took a quick little walk outside the restaurant and I firmly told him that there was a better way to behave. That his milk might have spilled on the floor or gotten on the other people. The crying stopped, we walked back in, hand in hand, happy and ready for a good lunch. He understood firmly, but with love, that his actions were not acceptable. Sometimes, discipline is simply redirecting with an explanation of what is expected.  I have more patience now as a grandmother than I did as a mother. I don’t know how I managed back then and am glad I can’t remember!! My praise to parents everywhere for the hard work it takes to raise godly children in a fallen world.  And this grandmother is certainly trying her best!


God uses discipline to teach us. And it is said that discipline is the evidence of love. Setting boundaries for our children because we love them is exactly what God does for us. Enduring difficult times and hardships are things we should consider as possible discipline from God. What parent does not discipline his child and God is our Heavenly Father. Our nature is to rebel against boundaries that don’t suit us or that we don’t agree with. But often times, there is a bigger picture. If we allow it, God is constantly shaping us, molding us. And yes, disciplining us too. And that is how we can have a fruitful, faithful life living within God’s boundaries and expectations.