A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

When God calls a person to do a job, He is very sure of Himself and knows who He wants and why.  There are people in history whose lives leave me smiling because there’s no doubt in my mind that God was right smack dab in the middle of their circumstances – working!

Did you know that Moses didn’t want to be a leader?  He argued with God about it – no, no don’t pick me!  I can’t be a leader ‘cuz see, I have this stuttering problem and it’s really going to slow Your plan down.  Well…  we see here what God had to say about that!  It didn’t do Moses much good to argue with God.

Helen Adams Keller was born in 1880.  She was an American author, political activist, and lecturer. Oh, did I fail to mention that she was the first deaf-blind person to earn a bachelor of arts degree?  Her life story has been the subject of at least two very popular movies that I know of – both starring Patty Duke, if I remember right.  Helen’s life seemed hopeless at first, didn’t it?  If a person ever offered hope and inspiration to the world…  it was Helen Keller!

Cornelia ten Boom (Corrie) was born in 1892.  She was a Dutch watchmaker and Christian who, along with her father and other family members, helped many Jews escape the Nazi Holocaust during World War II.  She and her sister and father were imprisoned in a concentration camp for their actions.  Corrie’s sister, Elisabeth ten Boom (Betsie) was born in 1885.  While incarcerated in Ravensbruck concentration camp, she died at age 59.  Corrie and Betsie’s father, Casper ten Boom died just 10 days after being imprisoned.

Corrie ten Boom’s famous book, The Hiding Place, describes the ordeal.  My dad bought the book for me, and in 1976 he took me to see the movie.  Did God use Corrie and her family?  I believe He definitely did – and that story still serves to inspire people all over the world.  My dad said at the very least, it reminds us of what we never want to see again in the world.  It also reminds us that no matter what the world says to do…  as Christians we are obligated to obey our God and do the right thing to honor Him.

If we will place our frail an imperfect selves in God’s very capable hands, trusting that He will work in and through us for His glory, we will be amazed and may even inspire others in the bargain.  I wonder if Moses had flat refused God – if he would have ended up in the belly of a whale – ???  Or…  maybe a camel or something – ???  Oh, it’s a good thing he was obedient, I think.  Yeah.  🙂

 

A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

Has God given everyone at least one gift?  You know, I think we sometimes look at what God has given us and make the paralyzing mistake of comparing our gifts or talents with those of others.  That is exactly what the enemy of your soul wants you to do – he would like nothing better than to see you paralyzed, believing that somehow your gift is not good enough for God’s use – so you just sit back and let someone else serve instead.  I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve seen that.  I think it’s satan’s favorite pastime. 

Another sad scenario is when some people in the church begin to compare and pit two similarly gifted people against each other.  I’ve been in that situation and I can’t think of anything that is more hurtful and damaging to a soul – it’s what the Bible calls A STUMBLING BLOCK.  When I hear people tell me that they think I’m better at (fill in the blank) than someone else – I try to stop it in its tracks!  We’re not in the church to be playing AMERICAN IDOL – which, by the way, is a terrible name for a program (have the producers not read the Old Testament)?

Churches are filled with lost souls who have been saved and redeemed by a loving and kind Savior.  None of us deserve salvation, do we?  We’re all just trying to serve Him the best way we know how – and it’s because we love HIM – not because we’re in some church competition with anyone.  Always encourage people to use their gifts to serve.  If there are 15 pianists in your church and you think some are better than others (which, I mean – duh – there will be some better than others)… encourage each and every one of them – period.  No comparisons…  no mention of how good one is or how not so good another is – no!  God gave all 15 pianists TALENT and wants them to use that gift to further HIS kingdom.  The church needs to buy a clue and quit copying the world – stop it! 

My eyes were opened when I was part of a Southern Gospel group years ago.  We traveled as a caravan around Kansas and Oklahoma, playing concerts along the way.  I was never more unhappy and unfulfilled than I was then – it was honestly a reminder of the old BATTLE OF THE BANDS.  I just wanted to go home and play piano in my home church, where I thought the people who knew and understood me would forgive a sour note here and there.  I wasn’t cut out to perform – that’s not who God made me to be.

We serve the Lord with the best we have to give – no matter what gift He has given us.  There’s a place to serve the Lord – for all of us.  There should be room for every gift without being compared to anyone else.

I’ve said this time and again…  but I will say it again – it’s not about us anyway.  It’s about God, His grace, mercy, love and promises to us.  What we give back is our response to all that He’s done for us.  We go and tell and share because He commands that we do that.  We use the gifts from His hand to that end.  That’s what it’s about.  We teach, pray, study, and serve others with the light we’ve been given from God through Christ Jesus!

Even if you think one person is better at (fill in the blank) than another…  please don’t voice that opinion.  It’s the most hurtful thing that a person can do and is a stumbling block.  It may seem that you’re encouraging the one – which is okay – but don’t do it by discouraging the other.  I’ve been on both sides of that fence and it’s so hurtful when you’re the one who doesn’t quite have what it takes like the other person does.  People have stopped using their gifts because of that very thing.  It’s just not a good idea to compare people’s gifts.  Let’s just be thankful that people are willing to volunteer their time and share their talents.

Serve to spread the gospel in any way you can.  We don’t keep the gospel of Christ tucked safely away and say…  “Yay – I’m saved – that’s all that matters.”  The word gospel means GOOD NEWS – and it is to be shared.  If there is a way for you to share with a gift that God gave you…  then it’s what you should do!  🙂

 

 

A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

Before the death, burial and resurrection of Christ Jesus…  all of mankind was in big trouble – by that, I mean we were lost – like, unbelievably, no GPS can help us…  lost!  Until Christ took the sins of the world on Himself – there was no hope of redemption.  That would be a very sad ending for us, wouldn’t it?  But God made sure we were not left hopeless.

Christians have good news to share.  The Savior was sent to earth by His Father – sent here to live, serve, teach and be the ultimate and final sacrifice so that mankind can make Heaven their eternal home.  That is what Easter is all about.  HOPE. It’s the greatest hope imaginable.  When God raised Christ from the dead…  HOPE was born!

Each person has a decision to make regarding the Lord.  You will either accept His gift of hope or you will reject it.  It’s not my job to judge anyone (and I’m quite pleased about that), but it is my job to share my faith…  and so I do.  There’s no fence walking allowed – you will either live on one side or the other.  God is not an elderly grandfather who winks at sin, making excuses for His children.  God is love, yes – but He is also fair and just.  You can’t pretend to be His and go on living like you’re not.

God wants everyone to come to a saving knowledge of His Son, Jesus Christ.  He wants us to grow in our faith and share this good news with others.  Being a good person and doing random acts of kindness is certainly commendable and so needed in today’s society to be sure, but a genuine walk with the Lord is what will get you through and to Heaven when this life is over.  Keep it real and honest because you know, God knows everything.

So…  you know which side of the fence you’re living on.  If you would like to meet this Generous Carpenter, it’s not that difficult.  Just have a little talk with Him.  Yes…  WITH Him.  Prayer is a two-way conversation.  Listen – trust me.  God talks back – He speaks to your heart.  Let’s pray:

Dear God,
I know I’m a sinner, and I ask for your forgiveness.
I believe Jesus Christ is Your Son. I believe that He died
for my sin and that you raised Him to life.
I want to trust Him as my Savior and follow Him as Lord,
from this day forward. Guide my life and help me to do your will.
I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

If you’re living on the wrong side of the fence (and only you know if you are), I hope you prayed this prayer and meant it.  I also hope that this is the first of many conversations you have with God, through His Son, Jesus Christ.  Once you begin living your life for God, it’s a journey you’ll not trade for anything.  Putting my faith and trust in God through Jesus was the best decision I ever made.  God bless you.  🙂

 

 

 

A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

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You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.  – James 2:24

Once again we hear from the no-nonsense half brother of Christ.  We all know that good works is the result of strong faith in Christ Jesus.  As we lean strongly on Him every day, He shows us avenues of ministry along the way that we can either choose to follow or not.  When a person comes to a saving knowledge of Christ, they are justified.

Our works have nothing to do with our salvation – for that was taken care of by our LORD – he hung on the cross and died to save us – nothing we do can save our souls – we need to accept HIS sacrifice on our behalf.

Does James contradict Paul?  NO.  The apostle Paul was talking about eternal matters while James is referring to earthly matters.  We don’t have to do good works to get to Heaven – but doing good works is something we want to do because we have faith and a desire to serve the Lord.  How do we serve Him?  We serve other people.  We are His hands, His feet.  We put feet to our faith.  God loves a cheerful giver…  it’s about more than money.

I can talk about having great faith all day long, but until I put some feet to that faith, it’s just lip service – am I right?  Doing good won’t save my soul, but I still want to do good – be kind, and act on my faith.  🙂

A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

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Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.  – Romans 12:10

There are two kinds of people – and I’ve known and loved both kinds.  Some people walk into a room and say…

HERE I AM!

Some people walk into a room and say…

THERE YOU ARE!!!

There are two ways you can display a basket.  It’s true – and you can tell a lot about a person by looking at the way they display their baskets.

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I’ve been to the Longaberger Homestead 3 times and we’re planning another trip soon.  While there, I’ve made a couple of baskets and learned a bit about basket weaving.  The baskets are made from the bottom up.  The one helping starts the base – so it will have a stable foundation to set on.  When you get to the top, the person helping usually pretty much takes over because making the collar of the basket is tricky.  When the final piece of wood is put on the collar, they give it a haircut.  They snip it on each side and on the end.

When you display your basket, you can put the side of it with the haircut where you see it or where others see it.  It’s not the prettiest part of the basket, but it has to be there.  See what I mean?  Those who display the haircut side where they see it more than others do – well, they put more importance on what others see than on what they see.

It may seem like a small thing – but it’s a bit of basket psychology to tuck away in the back of your mind.  Oh yeah…  it’s a thing!

Of course it’s about more than baskets – it’s about how we treat others on a daily basis.  Meeting needs, first of all in our own households – then out from there.  Showing honor and esteem to others more than ourselves is not about punishing ourselves – it’s just about being more kind to others.  Simple nice actions and random acts of kindness can go a long way toward making others feel honored.

For example, let me challenge you to thank a person in uniform for their service the next time you see them.  Any uniform – no matter what the job is.  Ah…  you’re realizing how many people wear uniforms in their jobs now, aren’t you?  Good!

Seriously…  so many people in uniforms wonder why they bother some days because they don’t feel honored – heck, they don’t even feel wanted most days.  A simple “Thank you for your service” goes a long way.  People need to be recognized for what they contribute to the world.

Law enforcement officers need our encouragement more now than ever.  Our military needs encouragement more now than ever.  If your trash man wears a uniform – go out next week and thank him for doing such a good job!  Even if he doesn’t – do it anyway.  I wouldn’t do that job – eeeeewwww.  Bugs and stuff.  Ugh – no.give-a-lift-when-needed

HONOR is not a word we hear much these days – and certainly not a concept we’re familiar with.  That needs to change – and it can change one person at a time.  Will you be part of the change for the better?  🙂

 

 

THE LITTLE DRUMMER BOY

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The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.  – Acts 17:24-25

MERRY CHRIST-MAS!!!  I know what you’re thinking…  what a strange Christmas song to talk about on Christmas Day.  Well, I haven’t gone off the deep end…  yet.  Wait, let me double-check.  Nope…  I’ve still got it together!

This is my favorite Christmas carol – and let me tell you why.

The little drummer boy is completely fictional and not biblically based, as we all know; however, that little boy represents us as Christians.  He loves the baby Jesus and wants to give his very BEST to Him.  Why?  The passage in Acts makes it perfectly clear that Jesus doesn’t NEED anything from us, but we NEED everything from Him.  Well, he wanted to give his best because he knew to Whom he played.  We give because we love.  It’s as simple as that.  He loved us first – but we give because of love.

Today I wonder if we give our very best to Him?  In our daily lives, do others see our relationship with Christ?  Do we do for others because they are God’s children and we have a desire to be representatives of Christ to them?

I pray that every day I strive to do something good for someone – EVEN if that something good is praying for a friend.

If you had been in Bethlehem, what would you do?  Would you give Him the very best you have to give?  Just something to think about today – on Jesus’ birthday.

if-i-were-thereMy will, my life, my heart.  ❤

This song reminds me that I need to give my best to Him.  Pa Rum pa pum pum…  🙂

I hope you have a very Merry Christmas!

I’m going to take a little break from writing, but I will be back for the new year, refreshed and focused.  I want to give my BEST to Him…  pa rum pa pum pum.  meerkat-459171__340

This is me when I’m taking a break from writing – except I’ll have a TV remote.

May God richly bless you in the coming year.  I believe 2017 will be the best year yet!  I’m going to rest my brain and my fingers this week, but I’m looking forward to doors of opportunity opening as God leads me to exciting new writing challenges!

Let’s end 2016 with a prayer…  asking our Heavenly Father to prepare our hearts to give the best we have to offer today and in the future.

drummer-boy-prayerOne final note – but it’s important.  Thank you SO MUCH for following this blog and reading it every day.  I hope and pray that something along the way has encouraged and inspired you in some way.  I appreciate those who have followed me on Twitter and facebook.  I pray for you every day.  There are so many needs, but we serve a BIG God – He’s bigger than any problem we encounter here.  Have a wonderful week.  Look for me again on January 1st.  🙂

VETERANS DAY

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Hip2save.com have compiled quite a list of freebies and discounts for veterans and active military!  Check them out here:  http://hip2save.com/2016/11/09/veterans-day-2016-freebies-and-deals/

November 11, 1919 was proclaimed the first commemoration of Armistice Day.  After World War II the name was changed to Veterans Day.

To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…  – President Wilson

Originally the day was to be observed with parades and public meetings, along with a brief suspension of business beginning at 11:00 a.m.

These days we don’t see many parades or public meetings…  and nobody suspends business…  ever.  Today, businesses offer veterans discounts and freebies!

The idea is to show appreciation to a veteran – not just today…  but everyday!   It’s amazing what a simple THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE does for someone who has made a sacrifice for this country.freedom-to-praise-himThose who fought for our freedoms deserve our respect.

The willingness of America’s veterans to sacrifice for our country has earned them our lasting gratitude.  – Jeff Miller

 

Honoring the sacrifices many have made for our country in the name of freedom and democracy is the very foundation of Veterans Day.  – Charles B. Rangel

Whatever your plans for today…  we do want to say THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE!  We enjoy our freedom because of the sacrifice you’ve made.  🙂the-meaning-of-honor

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ECCLESIASTES 11:6 ON 11/6

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Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let your hands not be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well.  – Ecclesiastes 11:6

As tempting as it is to snuggle under the comforter and sleep until spring…  we can’t do that.  We have seed to sow and work for our hands to do.  As Solomon says, we don’t know if the seed will grow or die – and we don’t know if the work our hands find to do will prove to be successful – but we do know if we give up…  nothing will be accomplished.  That’s not good and God’s not pleased.bless-others

http://keepfaithrunning.com/ Check it out!

Some commentaries associate the morning to youth and the evening to older folks.  The same rule of thumb applies – we work ’til Jesus comes!  We don’t do the same type of ministry in our 50’s that we did in our 20’s – that’s just the way it is.  There are more challenges as we age, but it’s not an excuse to quit.  Regardless of your age, you can ask the Lord to open doors of opportunity for you.  There’s work to be done, and maybe you’re the one for the job.

I’ve had such fun trying new ways to minister to others.  I like to write and help other writers by making designs, guest writing and ghost writing.  BOO!  😀

So even though the days are shorter and darkness falls so much earlier now, pray for ministry opportunities.  God will give your hands work to do for Him.today-is-tomorrow

A ministry doesn’t have to be large, it just has to be sincere.  Serving others for Christ is all that matters.  If you’re singing at a nursing home or helping in a homeless shelter or whatever your hands find to do…  do your best!  Trust that God will provide the increase through your efforts.dowhat-you-can

I have friends who have gone overseas to do mission work.  Sometimes I think, “Wow…  that is really putting feet to your faith!”  But do I know how much many seeds I sow decide to grow?  NO!  I write what I’m led to write and leave the rest up to God.  Isn’t that what a ministry or a mission does, whether it’s in the U.S. or abroad?  I’m so much more contented and focused in my ministry when I stop comparing the importance of my ministry to that of others.14962614_1839527242958404_872399760063475835_n

Be open to the leading of God’s Holy Spirit…  and you will be amazed (and a little surprised) at what may happen next.  It may become the great adventure of your life!  🙂

MEMORIAL DAY

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Praise the Lord, who is my rock.  He trains my hands for war and gives my fingers skill for battle. He is my loving ally and my fortress, my tower of safety, my rescuer.  He is my shield, and I take refuge in him.  Psalm 144:1-2

That we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom; and that government, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.  – Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address, 1863

Precious Heavenly Father,

As Americans pause today to remember those in the military who have given their lives for the freedom we enjoy, we pray You would remind us to look to You for strength, comfort and guidance.  Be close to all who serve in our Armed Forces.  Bless them and their loved ones.  Grant them with Your loving protection and let peace prevail among the nations, O God.  Let Your mercy rest upon our land, even as we acknowledge with thanksgiving Your blessings on America in the past.  We pray Your perfect will be done in all our lives, and that our men and women in uniform be protected by Your Almighty hand.  We pray You turn both military and civilian hearts to Your holy Word where true peace for sinful souls exceeds all human understanding.  May we repent of sin and walk so closely to You, Lord, and find Your saving grace on a daily basis.  It’s in the matchless name of Jesus, our Savior and Your beloved Son, who alone gives this peace and hope for eternity, we pray,

Amen.

Customs surrounding Memorial Day have changed so much since it began back during the Civil War.  For starters, it was first known as Decoration Day and was not always observed on the last Monday of May.  We should try to keep some decorum though, I believe.  Our society has become so casual – and we need to know the “do’s and don’ts” about Memorial Day.

General Orders No. 11 stated that “in this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed,” but over time several customs and symbols became associated with the holiday.

• It is customary on Memorial Day to fly the flag at half-staff until noon, and then raise it to the top of the staff until sunset.

• Taps, the 24-note bugle call, is played at all military funerals and memorial services. It originated in 1862 when Union Gen. Dan Butterfield “grew tired of the ‘lights out’ call sounded at the end of each day,” according to The Washington Post. Together with the brigade bugler, Butterfield made some changes to the tune.

Not long after, the melody was used at a burial for the first time when a battery commander ordered it played in lieu of the customary three rifle volleys over the grave. The battery was so close to enemy lines, and the commander was worried the shots would spark renewed fighting.

• The World War I poem “In Flanders Fields,” by John McCrea, inspired the Memorial Day custom of wearing red artificial poppies. In 1915, a Georgia teacher and volunteer war worker named Moina Michael began a campaign to make the poppy a symbol of tribute to veterans and for “keeping the faith with all who died.” The sale of poppies has supported the work of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

I have to admit, I did not know about the poppies.  It’s important that we learn about customs so we can keep them alive.  🙂

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A COMMENTARY FROM THE HEART

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There are different meanings behind the word CHARACTER.  We talk about a character that is portrayed in a movie or program on TV.  Sometimes we refer to a person as a real CHARACTER…  it’s usually not a compliment.  It’s rare these days to hear that a person has a good CHARACTER, meaning that they can be trusted and live an upstanding life.

Which one of these definitions describe you now?  No, wait – don’t tell me.  The real question is, which one of these definitions would you like to describe you in 2016?

Character is the ability to carry out a good resolution long after the excitement of the moment has passed.  – Cavett Robert

It’s going to sound like I’m trying to lay guilt on you, but which one of these CHARACTER definitions would Christ be pleased with where you’re concerned?  Hmm…  that puts it in a different light, doesn’t it?  I’m pretty sure He would not like for me to BE a CHARACTER – not in that way.  And I won’t be acting anytime soon, so…

There is just one kind of CHARACTER to be known as – that is to have a good CHARACTER – a good reputation, a good track record, as it were…  He is pleased when we are what we’re supposed to be as His child.

Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.  – Maya Angelou

Sadly, there are a ton of examples of Christians who put forth all the right stuff – or so it seemed – and in the end, they were not genuine in their relationship with Christ.  If we are going to claim Christ is our Savior, we need to tow the line in the relationship.  I’m not fussing at you, I’m talking to me too.

THE YEAR OF DAILY STEPS

We fail because we’re human, but we need to do our very best in spite of the times we fail Him.  God is so faithful to us and He does forgive when we ask.  In 2016, let’s put our best foot forward in our relationship with Christ and be people of good CHARACTER…  when the world sees us, may they say, “Yes, this is a little Christ…  a Christian with good CHARACTER.”  🙂