IRON SHARPENS IRON – FRIENDSHIP

IRON SHARPENS IRON

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.  – Proverbs 27:17

IRON SHARPENS IRON

Yesterday I told you what I do not want to be – a stumbling block.  Today I’m going to focus on what I do want to be – an iron sharpener!  This year my goal is to bring out the best in everyone – including myself!  You’ve heard of friendships where the two or three just keep “feeding” off each other and getting funnier and funnier, right?  I love it when that happens – even if it’s off the wall and silly.  If I can be the friend who makes others laugh and spew diet Dr. Pepper out of their nose…  what can I say?  It’s my mission in life and when that happens, I can say mission accomplished!  My work here is done.  You’re welcome!

Real life is stressful and often awkward and uncomfortable.  Should friendships be the same way?  I really don’t think so.  There’s nothing worse than spending time with someone you want to escape from – and you spend the whole time hunting for the nearest exit and plan the escape in your head.  Let’s face it…  those are the friendships you have to re-think.  You just do – and yes, it’s sad.  Some people are not meant to be in our lives for the rest of our life.15822977_1868319833412478_4287722067523972073_n

Thank you, Lucinda – for keeping me polished!  I’m so glad that God allowed our paths to cross!

For those friendships that seem destined to be, how can we be an iron sharpening friend?  I’m glad you asked.  Here are a few ideas:

  1. Pray for your friend – and for your friendship.  If your friendship is covered in prayer everyday, it will be strong and won’t crumble over petty things.  I tend to be upfront and honest in friendships because I appreciate those qualities in my friends.  One day I was feeling especially envious and a bit jealous of a friend’s success when I did not seem to be gaining ground with my project.  I told her about it, knowing that she would appreciate my honesty and candor.  She helped me by first of all praying for me – and secondly, she started pointing out some positives that I had missed somehow.  She knows if the shoe was on the other foot, I would have done the same for her.
  2. Cherish the friendship because God designed it.  Review the start of your friendship once in a while.  Let your friend know that you appreciate what she brings to the friendship and how much better your life is now because of it.  Praise God for the way ministry grows and matures when Christian friends work together.  Ask God to impress on you and guide you to the next project.  It’s amazing and wonderful how God brings your separate work together as one very large witnessing tool.  Be thankful when others are helped by your ministry – thankful of course to God, but also to each other.  Don’t take friendship for granted.  Friends don’t grow on trees.  Most of my friends would think that visual was hilarious.  I also imagine they’d imagine me hanging by my tail like a monkey, with a banana in my mouth (I have to be eating – well DUH!)
  3. Communicate as clearly as possible.  A friend and I were chatting on facebook not long ago about this.  We agreed that messaging on facebook is more challenging than talking face to face because there’s a lack of facial expression in the communication.  Then we joked about using emojis – or really over-using them – in an attempt to let others know that we’re smiling 🙂 or 😀  or that we’re loving what they’re saying <3.  Of course, when I’m talking there’s always the popular – I’M CONFUSED.  :-/  Yeah – I really use that one frequently.
  4. Don’t try to fake it.  God knows everything about everything, so it makes no sense to keep anything from your friend in the Lord.  It’s a temptation to keep the “downer” stuff to yourself so you don’t bring her down too – but if you do, you are robbing her of the opportunity to lift you to God in prayer.  Maybe you’re going through something that you don’t even feel like you can pray about yourself.  I’ve been there and I’m sure you have too.  Let your friend know what’s up so she can pray for you.  It is a privilege and an honor to pray for a friend.  Don’t let silly pride keep you from asking your friend to whisper a prayer for you.

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We eventually get where we’re goin’ – together.  I want to be an iron-sharpening friend.  I hope you do too.  Let’s all work together to sharpen some iron in 2017!  🙂

WORLD HUMAN SPIRIT DAY

TL 2-17 SORLD HUMAN SPIRIT DAY

Today is WORLD HUMAN SPIRIT DAY.  This holiday was started by Michael Levy of Point of Life in 2003 to promote a human spirit that lives the creative, peaceful, loving life that it was meant to live.  People all over the world are encouraged to take 2 minutes at 3pm ET to meditate and find the true spirit of freedom and peace that lives within each of us.

Of course, I’d say it would be a good idea to pray for those 2 minutes.  Be thankful to God for all the blessings He’s given you.  Thankfulness is not just for the month of November, you know!  It’s good to give thanks to the Lord year-around with a humble and contrite spirit.  That’s the way to find peace, love and compassion within.

PRAYER TO SEEK GODI PRAY BEFORE I PLAYThe most difficult part of being a pianist in church is playing the invitation hymn at the end of the service.  That is when God’s Holy Spirit speaks to everyone – it’s a solemn time and I was always afraid that I would do something to distract from that precious work – for I am so very, very human at times.

It’s good to celebrate the strength and courage of our human spirit – but how much better to acknowledge the source from which we glean those characteristics!  How much better our own spirits become when mulled with the precious gift from God – His own Holy Spirit, which Jesus promised us when He ascended into Heaven!

May we take 2 minutes today to bask in the warmth of His amazing love.  May we stay silent and listen to what He is saying to us.  May we willingly have our spiritual batteries recharged by Him and lift our hearts and hands in reply, letting Him know we love Him.

Join me today to celebrate the human spirit, yes – but more importantly, to celebrate the power source – God’s precious Holy Spirit.A BIG CUP OF A BIG GODIf God (and His Holy Ghost) came in a coffee cup…  hmm – interesting!  🙂

 

LUKE 6:22 ON 6/22

TL LUKE 6 22 ON 6 22

Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.  – Luke 6:22

Does it bother you to be excluded from the “popular” group?  Do you think co-workers or others in your class hate you, or at the very least misunderstand you?  Well – me too, but I want to encourage you and let you know that God is blessing you while the world turns its back on you.

When we trust Christ and accept His gospel, it means there is an automatic target painted on our backs.  We have to  keep the eternal perspective in mind and remember that God’s blessings on our lives is forever and the acceptance or rejection of other people – well, it’s temporary and means little or nothing in the grand scheme of things.

Really – sometimes when we are excluded from some activities – it’s nothing that we need to be engaged in to begin with.  God really does protect His children from harm and keeps us safe.  We have to lean more on Christ when we are feeling especially left out.  By the same token, we need to pray that God will provide a safe haven with like-minded friends where we can feel accepted and loved.

Why is church so important?  It’s almost like a support group of sorts, where we are not seen as the world often sees us.  Finding a group of believers where you can feel comfortable and at ease to speak your thoughts and beliefs means so much to Christians.

While we are not to spend all of our time hidden inside the church building with like-minded brothers and sisters, it’s good to have a soft place to land after we’ve done our best to share the good news of Christ with a world that does not even almost understand what we’re talking about.

At times, we will be hated and rejected in this world simply for what we believe.  We profess, preach, teach and believe the full gospel of Christ from beginning to end.  Our Messiah came in the flesh and was the Son of God according to His divine nature, yet the son of man according to His human nature.

He walked the earth doing miracles – doing good.  He suffered, bled and died on a cruel cross as the Lamb of God – the only worthy sacrifice for the sins of every man on earth.  By the power of God He arose from the grave and sits at the right hand of the Heavenly Father.

When Jesus ascended into heaven, He left us a helper known as the Holy Spirit.  God’s Holy Spirit helps us navigate this life and do what God would have us do.

One day God the Father will instruct Jesus to come back to earth to take those who love and trust Him to heaven to live forevermore.

MEET GOD AT THE DOOR

God blesses His children – even when others make fun of us, reject us, and intentionally hurt us because of our faith.  It’s my prayer that you will notice less of the temporary hurt and look beyond to the eternal blessing from your Heavenly Father.  🙂

 

 

 

 

BUTTERFLY AWARENESS DAY

TL 6-7 BUTTERFLY AWARENESS DAY

6-7 THE RIVER OF JORDAN

On a September afternoon long ago, I was made aware of butterflies.  I knew that God sent miracles on request because He loves us.  Today is BUTTERFLY AWARENESS DAY!!!  Thank You, God, for butterflies and the joy they bring.

In those moments where I’ve thought, ‘I need a sign,’ a butterfly appears, whether it’s a real one, an image on a T-shirt or a tattoo on a waiter’s neck.  – Roma Downey

I spent a week with my mom in the hospital.  On high doses of morphine for pain, she was blissfully unaware of anything, sleeping.  I sat and thought, “This is it.  I have to say goodbye now.”  I put Vaseline on her lips once in a while and tried to focus on a book.  I think I read each page about ten times.  I couldn’t think about what I was reading.  My mama was dying, and my life was about to change in so many ways.

Prayer:  The world’s greatest wireless connection.  – @JesusGraces on Twitter

You know, those phone calls you get at 3 am?  Those phone calls are never the Publisher’s Clearing House letting you know you won.  They are never good news.  No – and if someone passes in the night, what good does it really do to wake the family while they are sleeping and fortunately unaware of what has transpired?  Can this news not wait until the next morning?  At any rate, the phone call came.  My mother went home.

Her home going celebration was simple, as she wanted.  She was never one for fancy doings.  I knew what to do because she told me many times.  What dress she wanted to be buried in and what kind of flowers to order.  It was as if I was just carrying out the orders she’d given me.  I did it without much effort because I was so numb.  I tried not to think about the fact that I’d never get to have a talk over tea with her again on this earth.  I couldn’t think about that.  There would be time to grieve later.  Right now – details.  I have to attend to the details.  It must be right.  I had to make her proud.

At the viewing, friends and family were kind.  I just kept thinking I wanted to jump in that casket with her.  Dive right in there and go with her.  They frown on that though – turns out those caskets are made for one.  They don’t do twofer funerals.  So I moved on to plan B.  Wait…  what was plan B?  Oh…  well – prayer.  I prayed.  I prayed for a sign.

Dear God,

I am so sad today.  Would you mind just sending me a small sign to let me know that You are here and that you still love me – and that mama’s ok?  Thank You!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

God answered that little prayer.  I looked up from praying and saw some turquoise blue butterflies right around the bouquet of turquoise blue hydrangeas I arranged in a large vase beside the casket.  I’ve never seen turquoise blue butterflies in Kansas before – and I have not seen them since that day.  It’s my very special sign from God that everything is alright – with me – and with my mom.

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Oh – did I mention that the dress my mom wanted to be buried in was a turquoise blue dress?  Did I also mention that turquoise blue was her favorite color?  And – all of my family and friends honored that sweet woman by wearing turquoise blue to her graveside service.  Yes – God made sure those butterflies were the perfect color.  Don’t even try to persuade me that there is no God – and that He does not care deeply for His children.  I know better.  🙂

 

 

1 JOHN 4:16 ON 4/16

1 JOHN 4 16 ON 4 16

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.  God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.  – 1 John 4:16

Aren’t you so thankful for the love of God?  We can’t always depend on friends or loved ones to have unconditional love – but God understands us when no one else does.

Hurt people hurt people.  That’s how pain patterns get passed on, generation after generation.  Break the chain today.  Meet anger with sympathy, contempt with compassion, cruelty with kindness.  Greet grimaces with smiles.  Forgive and forget about finding fault.  Love is the weapon of the future.  – Yehada Berg

Yesterday a “friend” on facebook disapproved of an opinion I had.  It’s no secret that I’m a conservative Republican and there are certain hot topics that push my buttons.  I’m not a fan of socialism at all.  My parents lived through WWII and I’m well versed on the benefits of living in a free nation.

My “friend” told me she thought I was hard-hearted and didn’t think my opinion was very Christian like.  Sometimes “friends” can be downright judgmental and cruel.  It’s funny that a person who does not know the real me (we’ve never met) has the nerve to say those things.  Well – I think she completely misunderstood what I was saying – but we know misunderstandings happen between friends – sadly, even between Christian friends.

Those comments really hurt me and I asked God to help me be kinder and softer – and I asked Him to help me forgive and forget.  The faster I can do that – the happier I will be.  God knew what I was trying to say on my timeline – and I guess that’s all that matters.  Should I not voice an opinion on facebook?  Sometimes when I bite my tongue, I almost bite it in half!  Believe it or not, I’ve shown great restraint!

I don’t think it’s wrong for me to have an opinion about the direction our country is going in.  If we just stay quiet, does that help?  Has it helped so far?  We all need God’s strength and His comfort.  His light and His guidance.  The future frightens me and I love liberty and freedom.  I see it slipping away bit by bit and oh yes – that scares me.  And yes, I know God is in control.

At times like this I’m reminded of this familiar verse:

God didn’t promise days without pain, laughter without sorrow, or sun without rain, but He did promise strength for the day, comfort for the tears, and light for the way. If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it.  – Unknown

Unknown sure does write some good stuff!  It’s a shame we can’t give someone credit for those wise words.  They are so true!  Because God loves us so much, He will help us do better and be better.  I still don’t think it’s right for Christian brothers and sisters to browbeat each other into “submission” – that’s not our job.  Instead, we need to pray for one another – even when we don’t agree with each other.  God can deal with each of us so much better than anyone else.

Look, nobody is perfect – and I’m like at the very TOP of that imperfect list.  I do my best to be kind and loving, and if something I say doesn’t come across that way, I do apologize.  I hope you will forgive me.

YOUR VICTORY IS WON

On Easter we celebrated the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!  He is our example and He is the one who will help all of us be better human beings.  Criticism from other Christians really doesn’t do much to help anyone.  But God – and God’s patience, His guidance and His love – will stay with each of us – forever.  He will make me better.  I listen to His gentle prodding.  His Holy Spirit helps me, comforts me and sustains me.

It does my heart so much good to know I’m not the only conservative in the country.  I’m in good company!

We drove around in an old Pontiac…  towing a one-wheel trailer.  We weren’t itinerant:  It wasn’t The Grapes of Wrath, but it wasn’t uptown either.  It gives you a sort of conservative background, being raised in an era when everything was scarce.  – Clint Eastwood

Well – we had an old 1968 Chevy – when I got my driver’s license, mom and I shared the car.  I drove to school and when I got home, she drove to the grocery store.  We were not a wealthy family – and yes, when material possessions are scarce, you appreciate and take better care of what you have.  People make me feel like I have to apologize for that – and no, I won’t.  I’m so very grateful for all I have.  Today I don’t want for anything because I know what it’s like to have nearly nothing.

Shouldn’t we be adult enough to discuss political differences without name calling? If I have a political opinion that you don’t agree with, don’t poke at my standing with the Lord!  That’s not cool.  I’m praying for your enlightenment on the matter.

The day the Lord created hope was probably the same day He created Spring.  – Bern Williams

To the sister who wants me to grow a more tender heart:  you really don’t know me – but instead of criticizing and judging – try praying for this ultra-conservative Republican Christian.  I need it – I really do!  Wink!  😉

 

A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

TL A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART (28)

HE WANTS TO HELP

The moments when I am able to just be still and know that God is God are the most precious times I know. I know people are busy and it’s a busy world, but if you can just leave the busy behind and shut yourself off for just a few minutes every day. Be alone with your Creator and let Him speak PEACE over you. What a difference that would make!

I know there are some who don’t believe it. Find out for yourself. Don’t ride on my cloud – get your own. Spend some alone time with God. Pray and read God’s Word. This life is not difficult, but there’s a temptation to “skip” devotion time which is not good.

It’s interesting that God gets no credit for anything good that happens, but then when something bad happens He is suddenly the scapegoat and the one who is automatically blamed. People who have a close personal relationship with God know better than to go there. God does allow some things, granted, but He allows the good all around us every day and it’s taken for granted.

God wants the very best for His precious children. He does not desire that any should perish but that all come to a saving knowledge of Him. He loves and cares for you so much.

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.  – John 14:27

There’s not enough money in the world to buy the PEACE that God gives. There are not enough medications to mimic the PEACE that God gives.

There are 4 easy steps to live in God’s PEACE:

Pray… ask… receive… bask!

The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.  – Exodus 14:14

The LORD will fight for me! BOOM! 🙂

NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS WEEK

TL NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS WEEK

EMPTY OR FULL

The Bible does not speak either for or against the concept of New Year’s resolutions.  It seems the most common resolution has to do with breaking a bad habit or two, such as smoking or lack of exercise.  The Bible instructs us to keep exercise in perspective.

For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.  – 1 Timothy 4:8

Most New Year’s resolutions have to do with the physical realm, and not the spiritual realm.  As Christians we can do better.  Maybe we should resolve to read the Bible every day or to attend church more regularly.  The problem with these resolutions is that there is no real power behind them.  The way to make resolutions matter and stick to them is to pray for the power source to come into your heart and life to kick-start the change.  Ask God’s Holy Spirit to help you keep your resolutions – if you really want to keep them. 

I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.  – Philippians 4:13

If God’s Holy Spirit is the center of your New Year’s resolution, it has a better chance to succeed, depending on your commitment to it.  If it is God’s will for something to be fulfilled, He will give you everything you need to fulfill it.  If a resolution is not honoring God or does not agree with God’s Word, we won’t receive the Holy Spirit’s help in fulfilling the resolution.

I am the vine; you are the branches.  If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.  – John 15:5

It’s okay to make non-spiritual New Year’s resolutions, but it’s the spiritual ones that have the added power of God’s Holy Spirit behind them.  How about asking the Lord for more wisdom this year?

 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.  – James 1:5

Pray for wisdom about how to keep your resolutions.  Rely on God’s strength to help you and find an accountability partner to help you along.  There will be weak moments and discouragement, but those are the times you just have to get up, dust yourself off and begin again.  Learn from mistakes and move forward.  Don’t become proud or vain with success, but give God all the glory.

Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this:  He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.  – Psalm 37:5-6

We are faced with choices every day. Will we ask God’s Holy Spirit for wisdom in decisions or will we try to navigate these choppy waters on our own? Most Christians will tell you the reason they don’t get really worked up about anything is because they know where their strength comes from. It comes from God. There’s something about knowing that He has control of absolutely everything! That brings such comfort and joy to my soul. It helps me relax when things get a bit sticky in my life.

So what will your choice be today – empty and uptight, or full and contented?

The choice I make today is FULL – and I’m going to go on to say – FULL TO OVERFLOWING! I need the love of God in my heart and in my life. Bring it on, Lord! With Your help, I can do ANYTHING!

 A New Year’s resolution is something that goes in one year and out the other.  – Author Unknown

This year we will make spiritual New Year’s resolutions and pray for God to help us to keep and maintain them.

God bless you in 2014.