Monday, July 25, 2016

Nailing It Down

   
      My husband was born into the roofing profession. He has spent the better part of his life repairing and/or replacing roofs. The shingles would be positioned in short stacks over the surface of the roof, then nailed into place. One shingle at a time. One nail at a time. Deliberate strokes from hammer to nail until the roof was secured into place. One misplaced nail, regardless of his good intentions, would have meant failure for the purpose of that roof and more so for the residence or business depending on protection from the elements.

          Weddings or celebrations that become mile markers in our lives require selecting and “nailing down” a date before proceeding with invitations, accommodations, food and festivities. Once that date has been reserved on the calendar and arrangements have begun, that day and time becomes very significant for those directly involved. And it will be remembered for generations to come by those whose lives are changed or enhanced by special memories.

          A scientist who has labored through equations and endless formulas and who finally makes a major discovery that could potentially save lives may exclaim “Nailed it!” when he is rewarded with success. That time and place will become a part of his identity and forever etched into his mind. But good intentions with inconclusive results would be devastating to those depending on his claims.

          Our physical birth date is another permanent marker that will never fade. And once our earthly journey has begun, our “spiritual birthday” is the most important event in our lives that absolutely requires that we “nail it down.” The date, time and place where we meet Jesus. That special calling of the Holy Spirit for us to receive the Son of God through repentance, faith and belief that acknowledges and surrenders our sinful selves to His forgiveness and grace.

          A small booklet “Do You Know?” published by Evangelism Explosion (www.evangelismexplosion.org) guides us through two questions: 1) If you were to die today, do you know for certain that you would go to Heaven and 2) If God were to ask you, “Why should I let you into My Heaven?” what would you say?

          These are not trick questions. The answers are found in scripture:

“These things I have written to you who
believe in the name of the Son of God,
so that you may know that you have eternal life.”
(1 John 5:13,NASB )

          Have you “nailed it down?” Can you go back to that moment in time when you deliberately made the decision to acknowledge that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who came to earth in human form… one hundred percent God and one hundred percent man…to save a fallen world? A time when you acknowledged your need for his saving grace, repented of your sin, and asked Jesus into your heart? Like the examples shared above, good intentions and trying to be good enough without following God’s redemptive plan will have disastrous results – and for eternity.


          God loves you and gave His only son Jesus as sacrifice for all sin, no matter how small or how great. Eternal life is His free gift to all of us. And, like any other gift, we can only possess it if we are willing to accept it.

          The nail is more than a symbol. It was used as a tool of redemption in Jesus’ death on the cross. Jesus loves you, and He will meet you wherever you are. He will forgive all of your sin, cleanse you and heal you. It is trusting in Jesus alone for your salvation, not good intentions or best efforts, to achieve His standard of perfection.

 
“For God so loved the world that He
gave His only begotten Son, that
whoever believes in Him shall
not perish, but have eternal life.”
(John 3:16,NASB)





Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Lessons from My Neighbor

My 84 year-old neighbor lives alone. Drives herself wherever she wants to go. Mows her own lawn. Shovels her own sidewalk. Rakes her own leaves.

All incredibly inspiring. But that’s not what impresses me the most about her.

It’s her vegetable garden.

You see, our neighborhood is thick with trees. I’m talking 50-60 foot oaks and pines. Trees that litter acorns EVERYWHERE. Trees that block out the sun.  Trees that have made all the other neighbors give up on dreams of back-yard gardens and instead trudge 2 miles down the road to the community garden to stake out plots next to the air strip.

But not Donna. She still successfully harvests tomatoes from her yard. Not many, but enough to satisfy her needs. How does she do it?

She looks for the light.

Her yard and garden doesn’t look like much now. But trust me, she’s strategically planted a few tomato plants here, a few there. She knows which square feet of her yard get the most sun throughout the course of the day, and she uses that to get the most out of her garden.  In a few weeks, those mangy patches of green will be exploding with bright, juicy red tomatoes. Big Boys. Betty Girls.

Yep, she seeks out the light.





Her gardening strategy exemplifies how I as a believer should live. Amidst all the kinds of darkness in this world—the hate, the bigotry, the violence, the lack of justice—I need to seek out the Light so that my life can blossom and bear fruit. I need to tend to it faithfully, every day, just like Donna waters and weeds her tomato plants. I need roots that run deep and leaves that turn upward reaching for the Light. I need to shine in the light, for my Jesus.

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.                                                                                                                                        Ephesians 5:8

Shine with me, won't you?

LuAnn Kern

Friday, July 15, 2016

The Mighty in the Mundane


Isn’t it funny how the smallest jobs can turn into the biggest chore sometimes? Folding socks is a mindless and mundane task but it’s also one that I despise. It’s a chore that I grudgingly commit to because if I didn’t my family would have drawers full of mismatched socks. My neat, orderly world would cease to exist and then I’d have a meltdown. My meltdown would create chaos in the lives of those around me, causing ripples of turmoil that could go on for miles. So you see I’m actually doing you a favor by keeping all the socks folded. You’re welcome.

Aside from sock folding there are other projects that might seem trivial but have far greater impact than we can imagine. How many times have we said, “It’s just a blog post. It’s not like I’m out there fighting crime or saving lives.” Or “It’s just a casserole. Next week that family will return my empty dish and won’t even remember I made it.” Or “I only scrubbed the bathroom. I’m allergic to teaching children and I can’t sing so I clean but who cares? Nobody notices anyway.”

Oh but they do. Everyone notices and here’s the thing about those small, seemingly insignificant tasks. They might seem miniscule to us but to God they’re downright fantastical. 

For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him…2 Chronicles 16:9a

The fact is that God’s ways are not our ways. We can’t begin to guess how our minor and mundane tasks are shaping the world around us. There’s a much larger picture that we simply cannot see. All we know is that we are driven to act by the power alive inside of us propelling us forward. We’ll never know how far reaching that ripple spreads. This above all else should compel us to maintain speed and keep the socks folded.


Knee-deep in the dark load,
Sherry


Sunday, July 10, 2016

Dogs on an Elevator


My dogs didn't want to go home any more than I did. They wanted to go back to the beach. And no, I'm not supposing what I think they might have been thinking. They made it pretty clear.

To borrow a phrase from Monk, here's what happened:

The last day of vacation is always hard for all of us. I had to keep reminding myself of that as I came this close biting back a snarky comment, again. But the pups, Ralph and Lucy, appeared to hiding their displeasure well. The dogs chilled out on the deck or on the couch in the den as our friends packed up and loaded out and we began carting off small loads to our own car.

I should have known better. I should have known they were surveying the goings on, taking stock of the activity, watching with wary, puppy-dog eyes.

We took one last photo together, hugged our goodbyes, and our friends boarded the elevator for their last trip down. Brad accompanied them to take a few more things to our car and see them off. He returned to the elevator and pushed the button, expecting it to be there at the bottom where he left it. After all, he had only just taken it down, and we had not encountered another person using it all week. But no, to his surprise, he had to wait for it to come down from the 4th floor.

When it landed and the doors binged open, he was even more surprised to see our two dogs get off the elevator and trot out to greet him.

Brad admits to maybe not shutting the condo door all the way. Those two beach-loving dogs spied the door ajar and made a break for it. How they called the elevator is still a mystery. I have a vision of Ralph telling Lucy, after a few failed attempts at leaping high enough to push the button, that he'll stand under the panel and she can make a running jump at the button, using him as a springboard.

It's just a theory.

At any rate, they had their harnesses on, and we were packing bags and taking stuff downstairs. For the past week, that had meant we were going to the beach. They had been left behind in the condo the day before (not knowing that mommy did it for their own good--much too sunny and hot for doggies), and they were determined not to miss another day at the beach.

Unlike me, they were just as content to hop in the car and go for a ride as they would have been going to the beach. Lucy circled, curled up in her bed, and closed her eyes, thankful for her comfy nest. Ralph wanted the window open so he could smell the ocean goodbye before stretching out beside his sister for the trip home.

I could learn a lesson from those two dogs. Am I as grateful to be here sitting in my recliner as they are to be in their usual spot--Lucy on the back of the couch and Ralph snuggled next to me in the chair? Do they pine for the surf and sand they left behind, or do they relish the blessings of hearth and home that they enjoy now?

Dear Heavenly Father Who created ocean and mountain to awe us with Your majesty, thank You for opportunity and the means to get away and take a break from work and worries. But I appreciate just as much the home You have provided for me to return to. May I never take it for granted, longing for what I don't have. Your lovingkindness,Your grace, is enough.

Even so....

I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings. Selah
Psalm 61:4



In Jesus Name
Amen.

The fruit of righteousness will be peace;
the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever.
My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes,
in undisturbed places of rest.
~Isaiah 32:17-18



Originally posted on Jewels of Encouragement on 10/4/12

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Blurred Vision

When I was twelve years old, my vision world abruptly changed. I was given prescription glasses.  Walking home, I marveled at the leaves on the trees. My eyesight had always shown me a green round blob like in a child’s drawing. At church I stared in amazement at the preacher. He had features on his face I had never detected before.

My blurry vision was gone and I could see clearly.

Once again my blurry vision has affected my entire life. Two weeks ago I agreed to undergo cataract surgery. In the 1990’s, cataract surgery on my right eye had transformed my eyesight from legally blind to 20/20 vision…with no problems. I had expected the same this time

Not so.

My eyes are in a fight. With my glasses on, I can see with my right eye. The left eye no longer needs the strong prescription lens. Yet I must wait 4-6 weeks for that eye to adjust before I can receive a new lens. As someone who has reached for her glasses first thing every morning and laid them to rest last thing at night, I now find myself not even knowing where my glasses are. Certain things I can see better without them. I’ve been given an eye patch to help squelch the double vision. My problem is astigmatism. The solution is prism in my lenses.

When I get my new glasses, my vision will be restored.

I’ve had lots of time for introspection. As I sat on the patio by the hour, I’ve contemplated many things. One recurring thought has been
regarding spiritual blurry vision. As I look back over my life, I marvel at the times my eyesight was touched and I could clearly see what God was trying to show me.

There are many causes for blurry spiritual eyesight.

Due to the doctrine of my childhood church, I was legally blind to God’s love. It’s hard to break out of years of wrong programming. But I remember the overwhelming joy I felt when my vision became clear.


How’s your spiritual eyesight? Do you have blurry vision?

And he looked up and said, “I see people, but they look like trees, walking.” Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.” Mark 8:24-25 (ESV)



Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Slaying the Giant


We have a Goliath in our midst and isn’t ISIS. It’s not terrorism and it isn’t homophobia. It’s not the NRA or the FBI or Hillary Clinton. It isn’t even Donald Trump. Our Goliath is much bigger and much more powerful than all of these people or organizations combined.

                                                             It’s called Sin.

While it wails on our psyche like a petulant child we wring our hands in frustration. What are we going to do? This thing, this Sin is massive and we don't know how to beat it. We feel powerless because it grows stronger and more deadly by the day. It eats away at our society like a cancerous tumor while we cower in the corner, afraid to look this thing in the eye. Lest we forget, here is a reminder of who we are and how we can take this sucker out…

We are sons and daughters of the living God, a people after God’s own heart. We’ve been called to minister to our brothers and sisters, offering encouragement and nourishment in an environment fraught with danger and pain and suffering. We are faith-filled believers, armed with the power of the Holy Spirit living and breathing inside us, working with us to will and to act according to God’s purposes. We are mighty warriors infused with God’s power and authority to slay every enemy in our path. What exactly are we so afraid of?

We're incapacitated because we've spent more time behind a camera than on our knees. We trade sound doctrine for a watered down version and we wonder why we're actually drowning. We arm our homes before we arm our spirits and we turn to ourselves for answers rather than returning to our Savior. If we want to slay our giant the answer is simple. We need to cry out to Jesus and repent.

“If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven , and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14

Weeping on my knees,
Sherry


Friday, June 10, 2016

Nail Clippings and Hair Clippings: Are You Growing?

I posted this devotion on my blog in 2009, and I'm glad I happened upon it again.
I should do the self-analysis at the end on a yearly basis.




My poor little doggy's toenails are too long. We've been meaning to take her to the groomer for weeks, but time had gotten away from us.  She could  use a good trimming, too; she’s getting a bit shaggy.


Like me, her nails need constant clipping and her hair grows out of its styled cut because…well, because we are living organisms, and living things are constantly in a state of change and growth.



My doggy’s toenails made me think again about Sunday’s thought-provoking sermon. Our guest preacher spoke to us about the importance of a Christian growing to maturity. In closing he asked, “Are you growing in grace and in knowledge? Are you growing spiritually?”







He gave us these 10 questions to think about, to help us see if we growing.

Are You Growing Spiritually?

 1. Are you becoming more confident in your salvation, not always questioning whether your salvation took or if you are really saved?

2. Do you feel more satisfied, content, and fulfilled in Christ?

3. Are you becoming increasingly aware of your sinfulness and weaknesses?

4. Are you finding new guidance in familiar scriptures?

5. When at church, you don’t feel the need to keep God on the clock?

6. Are you learning to see trials and temptations more as opportunities for your growth and for God’s glory?

7. Is your perspective on life becoming less temporal and more eternal?

8. Are you eager to share with others what Christ is doing in your life?

9. Are you praying for opportunities to minister to those around you that don’t know Christ?

10. Does the way you spend your money and the way you spend your time indicate Christ’s importance and priority in your life?

My automatic and immediate answer to all of the above was “YES”, but I’m convicted I need to take an honest assessment of my situation. I need spend a little time thinking about each question, meditating on my “yes” answers, and praying to uncover the “not quite” places I’ve secreted away and haven’t fully surrendered.

I have faith that He lives in me, but if I'm not growing in Christ, just how alive am I in Him?

How about you? Are you growing?

Much love,
Cat 



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