A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

Do you know a control freak?  Maybe you ARE a control freak.  Who determines what you will do today?  I think sometimes, especially here in America, we’re so accustomed to being FREE and having that FREE WILL in living, it’s easy for us to believe we are in complete control of every aspect of our life.

Some people think if they hit the gym every day and pulverize some veggies to replace home cooking – they will somehow hang on to youth and vitality in life.  You do know that even America’s toughest trainer will one day grow old, get weak, and die, right?  There comes a point when we will all be dependent – and that scares some people.

Now, that’s not to say that we just curl up and give in…  I’m sure not a fan of that either.  God wants us to be happy and healthy and take care of ourselves – and He doesn’t mind if we are independent as we live our lives – He just doesn’t want us to be detached from Him.  He created us because He wanted someone to talk with – and through prayer, we talk and listen to our Heavenly Father.  Do you ever wonder though – why does God want to be my friend?  What is so interesting about me that He should care?  I don’t know the answer, but I’m sure glad He does care, aren’t you?

Oh I like that devotional so much!  I use a lot of those old sayings, because I learned them from my parents – lol.  I don’t think it’s a bad thing to say them as long as we know that they are old sayings – and NOT the gospel truth from God’s Word.

Isn’t it sad when people ignore God until they need something – or get in a bind?  God wants to hear from us on a regular basis – and He wants to hear about laundry day just as much as He wants to hear how much money I need.  He always wants to hear praises to Him – He inhabits our praise!  We love and praise Him all the time, whether there are needs to share with Him or not.  Every day is Thanksgiving in a Christian’s life.  🙂

Advertisements

THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT

tl-12-1-adventToday is the third Sunday of ADVENT.

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth,
    burst into jubilant song with music;
make music to the Lord with the harp,
    with the harp and the sound of singing,
with trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn—
    shout for joy before the Lord, the King.

Let the sea resound, and everything in it,
    the world, and all who live in it.
Let the rivers clap their hands,
    let the mountains sing together for joy;
let them sing before the Lord,
    for he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness
    and the peoples with equity.  – Psalm 98:4-9

Though the arrangements of this familiar Christmas carol have changed through the years, the message is still crystal clear – THE LORD HAS COME – JOY TO THE WORLD!  Everyone from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir to Mariah Carey has recorded it…  and is it any wonder???  Everyone loves to sing about the hope and JOY that came down to earth on Christmas night.

Did you know that Watts actually wrote this song as a testament to the SECOND COMING of Christ – not His birth?  Ah – that puts a whole new spin on things, eh?  I know when I hear the lyrics in the future, I’ll think of them much differently.

Based on the last part of the 98th Psalm, English songwriter Isaac Watts wrote the lyrics to this uplifting carol.  It was first published in 1719 in Watts’ collection; The Psalms of David: Imitated in the language of the New Testament, and applied to the Christian state and worship.

The carol is called Joy TO the world…  but what about Joy FOR the world?  God came to earth incarnate…  FOR you and me.the-name-of-joy

joy-prayer

“The Bible talks plentifully about joy, but it nowhere talks about a “happy Christian.” Happiness depends on what happens; joy does not. Remember, Jesus Christ had joy, and He prays ‘that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.'” — Oswald Chambers

Try to find some time to reflect on all the blessings in your life.  As you seek joy this Christmas, consider that God sent His Son – joy incarnate – to the world – and for the world.  Praise God for His awesome gift.  Oh, and may I add…  praise God for His awesome gift that is yet to come!  🙂

 

CAROL OF THE BELLS

tl-12-9-carol-of-the-bells

Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.  – Luke 2:11 

Carol of the Bells is of Ukrainian origin.  Did you know that this was originally a New Year’s Carol?  These lyrics were written in 1936.  Through the years this old tune has been given several different lyrics, but Carol of the Bells has been a Christmas classic since then.

It’s not quite Christmas without bells, is it?  Obviously there are jingle bells, but in church we are more likely to hear a handbell choir.  Some churches have bells that ring on a regular basis – but even so, when it’s Christmas, the ringing of the church bells has a special sort of meaning.  It’s as though the bells are proclaiming, Christ is born!  Come and worship the Lord!  Let’s prepare our hearts, proclaim the good news and announce to everyone that hope was born in Bethlehem!

RING THE BELLS!!!

ring-the-bells

When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child,  and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.   – Luke 2:17-18

bell-prayer

Did you know in Victorian times it was fashionable to go caroling with small handbells to play the tune of the carol?  Sometimes they would just play the bells and not sing along.  Each person in a handbell choir is vitally important.  You are only responsible for one or two bells, but knowing when it’s your turn to play either of your bells is crucial.  If you miss it – then…  OOPS!

The bell’s rhythm and pitch indicate joy at Christmas and are symbolic of the harmony existing in the society.  Bells act as a go-between from heaven to earth, between God and man.  Sometimes new church bells get dedicated and even baptized before being used.  I’ve never been to a bell baptism, have you?  It’s quite a visual…  I’m trying to imagine what that would be like.  🙂

 

 

MATTHEW 10:28 ON 10/28

tl-10-28-matthew-10-28-on-10-28

Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.  – Matthew 10:28

Several friends and acquaintances of mine have recently been diagnosed with terminal illness.  I feel such sadness and heaviness in my heart for them – but I never know the right words to say.  I think back to the time when my dad had terminal pancreatic cancer.  He was dying and we all knew it.  I tried to remember what it was like to be on the other side of the situation – as a family member.  I don’t remember a lot of what people said – but I remember more of what people did.  It was the same thing when my mom passed.  People shared of themselves – they shared light and love when I was a mess.share-light-love

Everyone was kind and encouraging to me – but a few people actually DID things and I remember that.  When my daddy died, a sweet lady in our church not only sent flowers, she included a little ceramic pumpkin for me to keep after the flowers died.  I let her know I thought that was real nice of her.  When my mama passed, even though there were not that many people coming to our house, our pastoral family went above and beyond the call of duty to provide sandwich stuff!  Oh my we did not go hungry!  I remember my sister-in-law and brother-in-law washing dishes and thinking that was so kind of them.

If our loved one knows the Lord, we know they are going to be alright.  We know that they are going to Heaven where everything is just right.  The soul does not die – but lives on – but the family that is left…  well, they are left here to figure out how to begin a new “normal”.   I always ask God how I can help them do that.  I ask God, “What can I DO for them?”

When families suffer loss and are at their lowest, isn’t that when Christian folk can shine the light of Christ in their lives in a very real sense?  Words are fine, but actions are better and make more of an impact on their lives.  After a loss, everything is fuzzy when you’re trying to listen to kind words.  Most of the talk just flies over your head.  You hear what people are saying, but you’re just so grief-stricken, you can’t process what’s being said.

So – how do you avoid hell and make Heaven your eternal home?   Open the closet door where you keep the secrets and sins.  It’s not easy to show God what is inside your closet.  Think about this though – He already knows about it, so…  who do you really think you’re foolin’?  We are so human – but the good news is…  He is so GOD!  If you ask God, through His Son, Christ Jesus, to forgive you of your sins – He is faithful and just to do it.  Trust Him for the rest of your days – and for the time when this life is over.

whats-in-your-closetI pray that you know the Lord as your personal Savior.  This life is brief and these bodies are so very frail and fragile, aren’t they?  I also believe we are living in the last days (I see some of you rolling your eyes) – yeah, I know I’ve said it before – but I’m going to say it again.  Be ready, for you know not the hour.  Did you know that Jesus doesn’t even know?  He’s waiting for the Father to tell Him when to come get us outa here!  It would be selfish for me to say I hope it’s soon because many are not ready – and He doesn’t want any to perish in hell.  He wants everyone to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and ask Him into their hearts and lives.  THEN – only then will the peace of God wash over you and your life will never be the same.  The peace of God surpasses all understanding.  I hope and pray you know HIS peace in your life.  🙂

BRING YOUR MANNERS TO WORK DAY

9-2 BRING YOUR MANNERS TO WORK DAY

We learned so much from Ernestine, didn’t we?  She taught us how to behave in the workplace…  be tough, but use humor at the most crucial time (when you actually want to beat the tar out of someone).   She taught us that we need to wake up, get up, dress up (making certain you have earrings and a matching bracelet), and show up to work on time!   We also learned that it’s okay to snort on occasion during a conversation and laugh at the appropriate time.  Thank you, Ernestine!

When Ernestine’s job phased out, they introduced her to a computer and put her in a cubicle with enough room to turn your chair exactly one half turn in two directions, but not enough room to stretch your legs out in front of you.  She no longer worked for the telephone company, but for a health insurance company.  The building was in downtown Wichita, Kansas and she worked on the 6th floor.

Wait…  that’s not Ernestine – that’s me.  Okay – we’re talking about me and my job.

How do we take our manners to work with us?  I’m so glad you asked.  I happen to have made a list.  I made this list a few years ago, long before I retired.  I’ve been waiting for the perfect time to share it – and it seems the opportunity has present itself, so…  here it is.

  1.  Whether you got up on the right side of the bed or not is unimportant…  you must begin by looking at yourself in the mirror and practicing your smile.  Good manners in the workplace begin with a good attitude, and a good attitude depends on your view of yourself.  It’s true!  If you like you, then it follows that others will like you too!  I’m not advocating the self-love, can’t get enough of myself junk that hit songs are made of these days – NO.  I’m just saying a healthy self-esteem is a step in the right direction, that’s all.
  2. Pray about the coming day.  I hear you saying, “I don’t have time for devotions in the morning – I have to get to work!”  Did I say anything about having actual devotions in the morning?  If you happen to be a disciplined person who gets up and hour earlier to accommodate that into your routine, then good for you.  For the rest of us…  pray while you’re in the shower – God hears you there too, you know!  By the same token, if you get up early enough to take a jog or a run or a skip around the neighborhood – you are disciplined enough to take care of your physical body…  doesn’t your spiritual self deserve some time too?  Jus’ sayin’…
  3. Be geared up to have a great day, but be prepared for worst case scenario.  Don’t let anything blind side you.  Remember who you are and that regardless of what happens, God loves you.  People do not always love you, but that’s not in their job description.  Let’s face it, we don’t pick our family and we don’t pick our co-workers.  These are just people who need to make money.  That’s the only reason they are there – just like you.  Don’t expect to make friends.  If you do make friends, that’s a bonus!
  4. I had a pet peeve about elevator etiquette.  If you think about this rationally, it makes sense.  When you get to work and need to get in the elevator to get to the 6th floor, it’s okay to push the button and stand there – that’s fine.  But don’t stand right next to the doors of the elevator!  If there are folks inside the elevator who want to come down to the 1st floor, they will need to have some space – give them room to exit the elevator before you get on!  For Pete’s sake, don’t just charge into the elevator right after the doors open!  It made me cray cray when someone would do that and I’d be trying to exit with some degree of decorum and integrity intact.
  5. Don’t talk about anybody ever…  gossip is not pretty in a family, in a church, or in a workplace.  It’s dangerous territory – do your best to rise above the temptation.  It is tempting because some people can make you nuts, but keep that information to yourself.  A better idea is to just pray for the ones who grate on your nerves.  Funny thing, but once you start to pray for them, you don’t dislike them so much and sometimes you begin to understand them better.
  6. It’s perfectly fine to speak cordially to co-workers, but to stand around and chit-chat and laugh and carry on is rude and annoying to others.  It’s distracting when some are trying to think about – you know, work.
  7. Be available at break time or at lunch for co-workers.  Some ministry doors have been opened to me at work.  It’s amazing how much you can share with a co-worker about your faith over a Wendy’s burger.
  8. Did you know that when you’re talking on the phone with a person, when you smile, they can HEAR that you’re smiling?  It’s weird, but it’s true.  Genuine courtesy is refreshing.  We’ve all met people who seem fake and robotic where courtesy is concerned.  Work on making common courtesy a part of who you are as a person.  With a little preparation and thoughtfulness, you can be a person with genuine courtesy.  It’s still better to give than to receive and to think of others before yourself.

So like Ernestine, we can go to work all scrubbed up and spiffed up, with our smile, sense of humor and manners on board.  Have a GREAT day!  🙂

PREPARE YE THE WAY OF THE LORD

TL 12-1 PREPARE YE THE WAY OF THE LORDAre you a griever?  Do you know another griever?  Maybe part of preparing your heart and mind for the birthday of Christ should include a conversation with another griever.  It really does take one to know one, and we feel so much better if we can share a Christmas memory.  Some memories make us laugh, others make us cry – but they are all so very precious and we hold them close – especially during the Advent season.

Click image to enlarge

I’m fortunate to have many friends who are grieving the loss of loved ones.  I’m even more blessed to have the freedom to talk about the loved ones I miss this year.  More importantly, however, I try to be a good listener as well – and let them talk about their loved ones.  Sometimes we tell the same stories over again, but that’s okay.  By repeating those tales, we keep them alive in our hearts and minds.

https://youtu.be/mz10SNKxblg

It took me a long time to come to terms with this, but even though my loved ones have gone to heaven, it is still the same Spirit that watches over us.  Of course, they know God in all His beauty and splendor now – and I still see as through a glass dimly…  but the day will come when we will both be in His presence.  That is the hope we hang our hat on, isn’t it?

THE SAME SPIRITGrieving people don’t mind if their grieving friends shed a tear or two – and usually they both shed tears in empathy.  There is no shame in that…  we got so used to certain traditions and happy times with these people – and they’re now gone.  It hurts – that’s just the heart of the matter.  ❤

God of compassion,

There is such a hole in my heart!  Today should be a day of joy, but I feel only the emptiness and loss of someone so beloved.  While the world celebrates around me, I remember Christmas celebrations of the past and I long to have my loved one with me.  I bring my sorrows to you, Lord, like some odd gift of the magi and dump them at your feet.   In my blind tears I wonder if anyone can possibly understand the depth of my sadness. Yes, you can.  You sent your son to be with us in our deepest sorrows and I know that even though I might not feel it at this minute, you are here with me, grieving with me, caring for me in my sadness and loving me.  Dearest lord, help me to turn to the one I miss so much today and speak.  Help me heal the loss of our parting and help me not to regret the things I didn’t say.  Sorrow tears at my heart, but today I ask that my loss soften my heart and make me more compassionate with everyone I meet.

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen.

CELEBRATION IN HEAVENWe’re blue when our loved ones are not around at Christmas time.  We can’t help but think of the past – old traditions and fun times with family that will never happen again.  I know heaven is a beautiful place and would never wish for them to come back here – but by the same token, I really miss them!  😦

PREPARE YE THE WAY OF THE LORD

TL 12-1 PREPARE YE THE WAY OF THE LORDThe most happy people are the most thankful ones…  so today, let’s give thanks to God for all our blessings.  Yes, I know we just did that at Thanksgiving – but guess what?  We’re going to do it again – and again – and again every day until the Lord comes back to earth to snatch us away!

Click image to enlarge

It must be very difficult to be parents of a teen today – they want so much technology – and that’s so expensive!  It’s a challenge to teach them to not look at what their friend has and want one too.  How can that be done?  Well, I think a lot of people are going into debt trying to make sure their teen has the best of everything.

A CHRISTMAS RAINBOWBe thankful for a Christmas rainbow…  what a gift from God above!

Teach teens the value of money – and the importance of being grateful for the stuff you already have.  Technology changes daily!  The newest thing comes out about 5 minutes after the used-to-be new thing gets opened.  Teaching teens how to be contented with what they have is an excellent strategy.  Let them know how many hours they’d have to work at McDonald’s to earn the new toy they want.  That’s a reality check right there!

Lord, thank You for this newly blessed day that not only gives me a shot at being a better me, but a future and a hope.  – Pauline Seaport

The happiest people are the most thankful people.  I might add that if we are thankful to the Creator of all – it’s that much more meaningful.  I’m thankful to God for all He’s done in my life – not just for the stuff I have.

Sometimes you have to stop dwelling on the ones who have done you wrong and start being thankful for the ones who do you right! – Nishan Panwar

Thankfulness for small things can bring a chuckle to me sometimes.  I have a habit of putting my pen in my mouth before I type.  Today, I got finished writing and was ready to type – I popped my pen in my mouth and noticed that it smelled like CHOCOLATE.  I’m not joking – my pen smelled like chocolate!  Call me crazy, but I was thankful for that!  If we live in a perpetual attitude of gratitude – it makes all the difference in my life.  I think God laughed along with me!  🙂