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Friends

Proverbs 18:24 – “A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.”

Yesterday, our youth group completed our annual pizza date and collection of items for Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes. We had several teenagers join us on this excursion. And man, did they ever have fun!

I loved looking down the table at lunch and seeing all those glasses of soda hovering around plates of pizza. I enjoyed listening to them laugh and poke each other. I was grateful for their kindness and respect to those around them.

And then when we got to the store to collect our items, I was touched by their heart in gathering so many different items for their individual shoebox. They were concerned about this child’s hygiene, eating utensils, toys/entertainment items and other things that they could use around their home. 

And after the needs of the shoebox were met, that is when the laughing started. I could hear my son and several other boys just giggling and having a grand ole time. I went to search them out and what did I find? They had found the masks and was trying several on. It didn’t matter that the masks were too small. It didn’t matter that they were being stared at. All that mattered is that they were having a great time.

Then they went to the church house. After practicing for a puppet show and working on some music, they began playing spoons. It’s a card game that can get very intense, but they love it. It is a tradition for them. They laughed. They yelled. They were reaching over one another and knocking down chairs. They were having a great time. It was spectacular!

I tell you all of this to remind you of this – friends are important. Godly friends are even more important. It is needful for you to have fun with your friends. It is needful for you to serve with your friends. God has given us the opportunity for friendship and He wants us to enjoy it. Schedules are busy and life gets hectic, I know. I am right there with you. I wish I had more time for friends. I miss girls night out. It seems like I am so caught up with all the activities my kids are involved in that I forget to make time for my friends. 

So this week, let’s do something about it. Even if it is just sending a text or an email, reach out to a friend. Let them know that you are thinking of them. Let them know you are praying for them. 

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Baby Believer

1 Peter 2:2 – “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.”

My daughter has a good friend that accepted Jesus as her Savior this school year. Since that time, she and my daughter have been reading and discussing the Bible together. It’s really cute, if one forgets to read a chapter, they have to give the other one a dollar.  If they neglect to read more than one chapter, they have to buy a spirit ribbon on Friday and the other one gets to decide where they wear it, like on their forehead. Not something I would do, but it is the way they hold one another accountable.

Last night, they were face timing and discussing what they had read the night before. My daughter’s friend had made a list of questions to talk to her about. She is a new Believer who is hungry and thirsty for the Word. She has been taught so many different things from so many different people that she just wants to know what Jesus says about everything. And what better place to find it than the Bible.

When was the last time you and some close friend of yours had that sort of discussion? When was the last time you were hungry for the Word of God? When was the last time you made a list of questions to discuss with someone about what you read in the Bible?

Heart pricking, isn’t it?

The older we get, the less likely we are to ask questions. We don’t want to look foolish. But this young lady doesn’t care what she looks like to others. She wants to know God more and more. And her questions are thought provoking. They make you stop and consider what was going on, who Jesus was talking to and why. It’s a great way to learn. 

I also think that we ebb and flow when it comes to reading God’s word. We have times when we are really diligent about it and other times when “stuff” gets in the way. Maybe we all need some sort of accountability partner to keep us reading. I think it would be good for us. Maybe it would get us to sincerely desire the Word of God in a whole new way. 

So this week, I want to challenge you to read His Word diligently. Let His words so seep into you that you are contemplating long after you close the Book. And ask questions. Teachers always tell their students at the beginning of the year that there is no such thing as a stupid question. And it is so true. More than likely, someone else is thinking the same thing. Go, learn and grow.

Gray head

Proverbs 20:29 – “The glory of young men is their strength: and the beauty of old men is the gray head.”

Yesterday, I had a patient that was a young teenager in Munich during World War II. I had a million questions to ask her, but since it was our initial meeting, I kept them to a minimum. 

As I was laying in bed last night thinking and praying about my day, many of the people I have treated in the past came back to my memory. I saw their faces. I remembered their story. I remembered our story. It made me smile. 

I have been so blessed to have had so many truly amazing and history filled people in my life. I treated a man who survived the beaches of Normandy. I have treated people who have overcome significant medical incidents. I have treated many completely ordinary people with extraordinary personalities – beautiful souls with hearts to share. I have treated people who have challenged me physically, emotionally and spiritually. I have cried in the bathroom because they passed away. I have listened to them cry and have laughed profusely with them. I have been there when they did something they never thought they could do. 

So as I was thinking about all of this, this verse came to my mind. The thing that I have right here and right now is my strength. Oh, I’m not ready to compete in any competitions but I can hold my own, so to speak. But I try to be strong emotionally and spiritually too. Sometimes people need that just as much as they need my physical strength. I do this because one day, I will be the gray head. I will be the one telling stories and crying with some poor soul that has to try and teach me how to get in and out of bed. Truly, I hope the Lord comes back before then. But if He delays, I know He will send me someone like me to laugh and cry with. 

My point is this, our aging population is vitally important. They have so much to offer. We can’t neglect or forget about them. They need love and compassion and respect. God has them here to teach us and nurture us and love us in a way that we don’t yet comprehend. So reach out to that person that is struggling to get their groceries in the car. Reach out to that neighbor who can’t easily bring in their garbage cans. Take some time to listen to their stories and hear the desires of their heart. God has them here for you. Love them. Happy Friday. 

Extra Icing

John 10:27,28 – “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.”

I had an amazing experience yesterday.

I was seeing a client and this client told me, out of the blue, that they thought their death was close. This client has multiple medical issues but seems to be functioning fairly well. I probed a bit and found out more information but nothing that would necessarily substantiate the fears that were expressed. 

Yet, I felt the Holy Spirit impress upon my heart that I needed to confirm and/or present the plan of salvation to this person. And I did. It was amazing. I told my client very bluntly and candidly about what it takes to KNOW that death is not the end. And my client confirmed that they had the free gift of salvation in their heart. 

I’m a nobody. I love what I do. I love being in contact with people and helping them and walking through all sorts of situations and problems with them. But when I get the opportunity to speak to someone I have grown close to about Jesus and His free gift of salvation- well, that’s just extra icing on the cupcake. I don’t push it but I don’t hide it. And when God was speaking to my heart yesterday, for once, I listened. And it was beautiful!

So I want to encourage you to live it out. We never know how long we have or how long the person across from us has. Yesterday, I heard His voice and I followed and it was truly a blessing in my life. I encourage you to do the same. Happy Wednesday. 

Mighty Man of Valour

Joshua 10:7-10 – “So Joshua ascended from Gilgal, he, and all the people of war with him, and all the mighty men of valour. And the LORD said unto Joshua, Fear them not: for I have delivered them into thine hand; there shall not a man of them stand before thee. Joshua therefore came unto them suddenly, and went up from Gilgal all night. And the LORD discomfited them before Israel, and slew them with a great slaughter at Gibeon, and chased them along the way that goeth up to Bethhoron, and smote them to Azekah, and unto Makkedah.”

Happy Memorial Day from Kauai!

I just finished my morning perusal of Facebook and was admiring all the posts relating to this day. All the pictures of the soldiers. All the pictures of the families crying next to their loved one’s tombstone. It makes me so sad. I think about all those families who have lost loved ones and who have loved ones on the front lines. I appreciate all those people who willingly put their lives on the line for me every single day. Their sacrifice amazes and encourages me. 

And I know this day is a day we set aside to remember our military and their sacrifice, but I also want to remember the military of the past – the long ago past, say, Biblical times. 

Joshua was a warrior. He was devoted to the Lord and he was devoted to Moses. He was one of the scouts to the Promised Land that said, “Come boys! We got this!” when all the others said “No way!”. He was a “mighty man of valour”. 

I want you to take a close look at this passage. You see, Joshua went up to fight these guys. But I want you to look at Who went up before them – the LORD. Now, when you see “LORD”, the writer is talking about Yaweh. This is the Most Holy Name of God. This name is not used frequently. When the writer wrote it, they had a very specific ritual they had to go through just to write it. 

But my point is this – Joshua was not a mighty man of valour on his own. What made him so was his firm belief and confidence in God. He knew that God + him equals more than any one person or army could conquer. He knew that with God on his side that nothing was impossible. He diligently asked God what He wanted him to do. He determined in his heart to follow after God no matter how crazy or ridiculous the plan sounded (remember Jericho?).  This was a true mighty man of valour. 

So to all our military personnel and their families, I salute you and I encourage you to seek out the One who makes you a true hero – Jesus Christ. He is the one who can make you mighty man of valour as well. And remember, you don’t have to be in the military to be this mighty man of valour. You can be a mighty princess of valour too! All it takes is a firm determination to seek out Christ in all that you do and follow Him no matter what. 

Gifted and Talented

Romans 12:3-8 – “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.”

Do you consider yourself gifted? We don’t really talk about this a lot. We don’t want to draw attention to ourself. Yesterday at church, we had a young lady bring a special. She played her guitar and sang “Amazing Grace”. It was to a different tune and it was beautiful. She did an amazing job. She is very shy though. All the attention was way out of her comfort zone. 

God has given each of us different abilities. Some have the gift of teaching – they should teach. Some have the gift of singing – they should sing. Some have the gift of encouragement – they should encourage. Some have the gift of preaching – they should preach. And then there are those jobs that we don’t often think about – decorating, organizing, serving, managing money, protecting, cleaning, childcare – all of these things are important, and this is just a short list. 

My point is this – God has blessed each and every one of us with different gifts and talents. Some are seemingly important and huge and some are seemingly meaningless and small. But they are ALL important. God does not give us something that is not important. He doesn’t give us something that He doesn’t intend to use. 

So, use whatever God has blessed you with to serve Him. It may be challenging and hard but you can do it. Sometimes using our gifts and talents puts us out of our comfort zone, but that’s okay. Just step out onto the ledge and go for it. I guarantee that the risk will be worth it. God will smile. 

$10 or $10 million

2 Timothy 4:7,8 – “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”

Yesterday in Sunday school, I proposed this question to my class – Hypothetically speaking, would you rather have $10 now or work for me for 20 years, giving up all you plans and dreams for me and doing all that I asked you to do without complaint, and I would give you $10 million at the end? Guess what most of them said. They said $10 now. I was a little shocked that someone didn’t want the $10 million. The point of the little exercise was to teach them that God offers us so many blessing for following Him. But sometimes those blessings come a ways down the road.

We live in an instant society. I find myself getting frustrated when the internet won’t load a page I want to look at quickly enough. Or I get frustrated when my online banking is down for an upgrade. Silly stuff like that bothers me. And it shouldn’t. It’s crazy. But we are all about instant gratification. We want our stuff and we want it now.

Yet God encourages us to wait. He wants us to live our life for Him but sometimes He makes us wait for our blessings. And that can be tough.

I know that with every load of laundry you fold and every load of trash you take out and every meal that you cook and every ride that you give to school can be difficult. I know that it is time consuming. I know there are a million other things that need to be done instead. But you are serving. You are running the race. I know that every Sunday school class you teach and every minute that you spend in the nursery and every second you spend cooking for the potluck is a moment in time that you have given of yourself. I know that every paper you write and every class you attend and every homework assignment you complete can be taxing. And I know that every dollar you earn and every complaint you listen to and every mistake that you fix makes you want to pull your hair out. BUT…

“Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”

Just remember, you are “loving His appearing” when you do all that you do for Him. All that I just mentioned, that is what you can do for Him. That is serving Him. That is loving Him. That is showing Him your dedication to Him by living your life for Him. That’s what He wants when you are His.