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Be preparedĀ 

1 Peter 3:15,16 – “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.”

Well, the packing is almost done. I have been thinking about as many scenarios as possible to prepare for. I have bandaids, moleskin for blisters, a first aid kit, sunscreen, muscle rub, medication for pain and headaches, aloe. I have extra clothes. I have water bottles to fill. My goodness, I can’t believe all the stuff I have packed!

I like to be prepared. I don’t like to be caught off guard. I have even written off the address and lock box info for the house we are staying at just in case I don’t have cell phone service. I try to be prepared. 

But how well do I prepare myself for spiritual journeys? 

Each and every day is a new challenge, a new focus, a new opportunity to share Christ with someone. But am I ready?

Getting into the Word is a great start. Reading and studying and thinking about God’s precepts and principles is a necessary step in growing and preparing. 

Prayer is also a necessity. How can we expect to be ready for any spiritual battle or situation if we don’t communicate with The Commander and Chief? 

There is also one more thing that helps get me ready for spiritual journeys – my brothers and sisters in Christ, aka – my church family. I need them. I need their love. I need their support. I need their encouragement. But you can’t have that church family if you don’t make the sacrifice to be a part of it. 

Be prepared. Be prepared for life. Be prepared for spiritual issues and battles. Be prepared to be in His Word. Be prepared to spend time with your Savior. Be prepared to find love in your church family. Happy Monday. 

It seems so minor…

Ruth 4:13,14 – “So Boaz took Ruth, and she was his wife: and when he went in unto her, the LORD gave her conception, and she bare a son. And the women said unto Naomi, Blessed be the LORD, which hath not left thee this day without a kinsman, that his name may be famous in Israel.”

Obed. He may not be the most famous person in all Israel, but in the eyes of those closest to Boaz and Ruth, he certainly was famous. He was a child of blessing. 

Ruth was a woman of Moab. She had married an Israelite and was barren for the 10 years (or so) that she was married to him. And then, he died. Long story short – when Naomi, her mother-in-law, decided to go back to Israel, Ruth went with her. She left her family, her country and everything she had ever known to follow Naomi. She trusted Naomi and in some way (although it’s never mentioned), I believe she trusted God. When they got to Israel, Ruth’s reputation proceeded her. Everyone knew what she had done, what she had given up and what all those sacrifices showed about her character. No need for Ruth to brag or put on an act – everyone already knew. 

And then there’s Boaz. He was a godly man from the get-go. He showed kindness to everyone. He was fair and honest. He was compassionate. He was a man of integrity. 

To bring you up to speed on this verse, Boaz procured Ruth as his wife in a legal and binding agreement that was wrought in truth and honesty. And because Ruth chose God’s way in her life and because Boaz demonstrated God’s principles in all he did, God blessed them with a son. And that son, Obed, was in the lineage of David and, therefore, in the lineage of Christ. How cool is that!

My point is this – you never know how far your obedience will reach. You have no idea the impact you are making on some person’s life that you may never know or meet. I mean, think about it – the obedience of Ruth and Boaz has impacted my life – not only in reading and studying about them in the Bible, but most importantly, because of Jesus. That’s enough to get those glory bumps going (goose bumps)! 

Don’t think that your random acts of kindness or just following God’s principles are something minor and unimportant. They are incredibly important! You may be changing the life of someone important with your “minor” acts of obedience. Be that change. See the forest, not just the trees. 

Oh, middle school…

Proverbs 27:17 – “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.”

Middle school girls. Know any? With all the hormones and sudden interest in boys, it can be a terrifying and heart wrenching and just plain stupid experience. It is all drama, drama, drama. 

Right now, my thirteen year old daughter is experiencing friend troubles over a boy – an eighth grade boy. Now, I have had an eighth grade boy, so I can say this – rarely is a female friendship is worth destroying over an eighth grade boy. But this is something these girls are going to have to figure out. My advice seems futile and until someone gives, they are all at a stalemate. It is sad. 

But one thing this whole bit of drama is doing for our precious girls is teaching them valuable life lessons. They probably don’t understand, but they are sharpening one another. They are teaching one another. They are learning how to live in a world where things don’t always go your way and people don’t always behave like you think they should. They are learning that they are going to have to put on their big girl panties and deal with things instead of turning away from the situation. 

Friends are beautiful treasures that can decorate your life like nothing else but can also weigh heavy on your heart at times. But a true friend is one that walks with you through all the heartaches you face – even when that heartache is from another friend. 

Friends sharpen one another. 

So, let me encourage you to be a friend. Be a friend that walks the walk and talks the talk. Be a friend that is life long and precious no matter the situation. 

The Perfect Recipe

Psalm 34:12-17 – “What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good? Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile. Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it. The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry. The face of the LORD is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth. The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles.”

I love to cook. If you could see my bookshelf for my recipe books, the claim would be confirmed. I love the joy on a person’s face when they taste something super yummy. I love the gentle sounds that people make when something is oh, so good. Typically, that doesn’t happen without just the right recipe. 

Hence the thoughts for today…

When David wrote this psalm, he gave us a fabulous recipe, a recipe for life. Here’s my take on it: “You wanna have good, long life? Don’t gossip. Don’t lie. Don’t create problems. Watch your mouth. You walk away from things that even smell bad. You look for things that will honor and glorify God, and you run after them with all you’ve got.” 

Life provides us with so many opportunities to chase after things that have pushed God out of the picture. Things that don’t bring peace are easily found. And my, oh my, there are so many opportunities to run our mouth. Isn’t life pretty much summed up in those three bad choices? Poor attitudes and selfishness are easily captured. 

It takes work to keep your attitude in check. It takes effort to keep selfishness far from you. It takes a muzzle, sometimes, to keep negative things from flying out of your mouth. 

Now that I have hashed through some of the negatives of life, let’s see if we can determine some positives. 

God’s eyes are on those who pursue a right life. He hears their prayers. He is attentive to their needs. He never leaves them alone. 

Jesus Christ was the only One to make it off this earth with no sin. Praise God for that! The rest of us need to have His commitment as our goal. We should strive to be like Him. That is the “life…and love of days” to “see good” that David is speaking of here. 

The new year is just around the corner. People will soon be contemplating goals that, more than likely, will never be attained in the upcoming year. So why wait? Start today. Wednesday is a great day to start living the perfect recipe. Oh, it will be hard. The devil will throw trials and tribulations in your path. But who cares? You know the end of the story. Keep going. The “oohs” and “ahs” are just up ahead in Heaven. 

HE IS STILL IN CONTROL

Isaiah 41:10 – “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”

Matthew 6:34 – “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”

Isaiah 14:24 – “The LORD of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand”

So for the last few days, everyone has asked me, “What do you think about the election?” My response has been, “God is still in control.” A few people have come back with a “Really?” But yesterday, one lady, who is through her lineage a Jew, said to me, “You really believe He is still in control? I’m not so sure.”

I. Was. Heartbroken. I don’t understand how anyone could question whether or not God is in control. But when someone who professes to be a Jew and knowing their heritage and all that God has done for them says to me “Really?”, I am troubled. 

Whether or not you are happy or sad or burdened or depressed or concerned about the way things are going right now, God is in control. He always has been and He always will be. Crazy people may rule the land. (They have been, right?)   Fanatics may be throwing temper tantrums in the street. Extremist may be marching around trying to intimidate everyone. But GOD IS STILL IN CONTROL!  

I think the most troubling thing about some of the discussions where people question whether or not He is still in control is this – where is their hope? I HAVE to believe that He is still in control. Otherwise, I think in would curl up in a ball in the corner and wait out the rapture. He is my hope. Knowing that He is in control gets me out of bed and gets me through dealing with crazy people. It is what puts one foot in front of the other. 

My hope, my trust, my comfort is solely in Jesus Christ my Savior. As the old song goes, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I dare not trust a sweeter strain but wholly lean on Jesus’ name. On Christ the solid rock I stand. All other ground is sinking sand. All other ground is sinking sand.”

Having the right attitudeĀ 

Colossians 3:23-25 – “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.”

My children are both in Spanish 1 this year. As we were driving home from soccer practice yesterday, my son was complaining about the trouble he was having remembering the Spanish words. He feels that the teacher is going way too fast. They learn a few words and have a quiz at the end of the week. My son feels that he doesn’t have enough time to digest it and learn it. And oh, was he complaining about the teacher! Whine, whine, whine. And he usually doesn’t do that sort of thing. So, it took me aback a little because of it. I guess he had had enough and needed to vent. I get it. We all need a safe place to let it out every once in a while. 

However, I felt that this was a great time to try to convey the message that we need a good attitude even through tough times, because a poor attitude makes the tough times even longer. So, I tried giving him an example of when I was in college and I loathed a class. I talked to him about the fact that I had to daily remind myself that I had to have the right mindset for class or it dragged on forever. 

And then Mr. Reason comes out – “Mom, that sounds really good. But do you understand how difficult it is to actually do it?”

I love that kid. He doesn’t just take what I try and teach him and keep his mouth shut. He challenges and brings out thought and reason. It’s great…and difficult sometimes. 

You see, there are just some times in our lives that are hard. Our schedule may look like a toddler had a hay day with a pencil because it is so crazy. Our instructor may ask us to do the impossible – learn a foreign language. Our boss may expect more out of us that we think we can muster. Or Jesus may ask us to leave it all and follow Him. 

Whatever it is that we have been asked to do, we need to do it with a willing heart. We have to choose to be pliable and ready to learn. We have to choose to be flexible and decide that we are going to face this challenge with a smile on our face. 

And that’s hard. But in doing so, we allow ourselves the opportunity to be blessed by God. And what greater blessing could there possibly be than hearing – “Bien hecho, mi hijo” (Well done, my son – thank you Google translate!).

Root rot

Proverbs 4:20-27 – “My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh. Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee. Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee. Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.”

My job, now, is in home health. That means that I get to go out into the community and meet all kinds of interesting people. 

One of my patients was a citrus farmer. He was telling me about a disease that sometimes hits orange groves. It starts at the roots. By the time you take note of the disease, the tree is a goner. The first indication of a problem is that the top of the tree begins to die. And that happens 2 years after the tree is infected! Two years!

Problems are everywhere and in everyone’s life. It is how we identify and address the problems that is important. You can’t let something sit and fester for a while before you tend to it. No, when a problem arises, you have to hit it head on. Putting it off will only cause things to get worse and worse. 

Some people frown at disciplining a small child. “They are little. They don’t know any better.” Exactly. That’s why we need to teach them when they are young!

Some people will notice something odd in a relationship and just sweep it under the rug. They don’t address the abnormality until it becomes normal and a problem. That’s when relationships fall apart – friends and marriages. 

Someone will detect a slight change in their body and brush it off because they are too busy. And before you know it, you have a full blown medical incident on your hands that could have been avoided if you had just paid attention. 

Big problems rarely begin as an explosion. Usually, there are little rumbles here and there that get overlooked or pushed aside. We are too busy to address them. 

Solomon warned his son in these verses against this very thing. He instructed him that he had to keep the Word of God with him always. He needed to keep it in the front of his thoughts always to guard his heart against problems that will surely come. 

Things are going to be happening all around us. Temptations will be at every turn. Problems will arise. Evil will try to pull us away from what we know is right. But we need to keep our eyes fixed. We can’t let root rot happen.

Satan wants to get in at the root and destroy us from the bottom up. If he can get us away from God, he can win. It starts with neglecting your Bible. And then church becomes an option. And then activities at church just happen on the wrong days. And before you know it, root rot. The top of your tree gets brown and things begin to taste bitter. 

Guard your heart, my friend.  Allow the Holy  Spirit to reside in your heart to hold you close to the One who can carry you through it all. Don’t let root rot take ahold of you.