Jeff and The Lawnmower

Jeff and The Lawnmower

When Jeff was a kid he loved to tear things apart, just to see how they worked. Oh! It didn’t have to be broken for Jeff to want to dive into it and tear it apart. It just needed to have moving parts that got his inquisitive mind working. 

 

Honestly, that is why he is so good at repairing and building things today. Because he took everything he could get his hands on apart as a kid. Sometimes even destroying it. But more than likely his exploring of how things worked and attempting to put it back together again often let to great success. Jeff is an amazing man who just has the ability to see something and is able to either build it or repair it. But his ability didn’t come without some challenges. 

 

Jeff must of been about 11 years old when his dad pulled up in the driveway with a brand new Dynamark lawn mower from Lowes, in the back of his truck. As Jeff’s dad pulled it out of the truck bed and onto the carport,Jeff  was standing there all, starry eyed, looking on. His father told him “Jeff there is nothing wrong with this lawn mower, so I don’t want you to put a screwdriver, a pair of pliers or a socket set on it, do you understand?” Then as Jeff’s dad walked away. He told Jeff “Don’t you forget what I told you son” looking sternly in Jeffrey’s eyes and pointing his finger at him. 

 

As Jeff’s dad drove away, Jeff just couldn’t stop thinking about the shiny new lawnmower in the carport. It didn’t take long for Jeff to begin to think “Hmm…??  that lawnmower has lights on it, I wonder how those lights work?” So Jeff being the inquisitive young man he was, decided to go out and investigate just how those lights worked. 

 

Sometime later Jeff’s dad returned from the errand he had been on and drove back into the driveway only to see his brand new lawn mower’s lights laying on the floor of the carport with the hood up of the mower up and Jeff right in the middle of it all, Trammel, Jeff’s dad barely got the truck stopped before he jumped out and headed straight to Jeffrey and the lawn mower. Needless to say, his dad was not happy! 

 

Stomping over to Jeff, his dad said “Boy! What did I tell you? ” To which Jeff proudly replied with the most honest, innocent straight face, remembering every word his dad had said  “Daddy, you told me not to put a screwdriver, a pair of pliers or a socket set on it, but you didn’t say nothing about a crescent wrench”

 

 I will let you guess what happened next but I think it goes without saying there was some major punishment involved.

 

You know a lot of us are like Jeff was on that day as a little boy, in our walk with our Heavenly Father we want to live right on the edge, following the letter of the law instead of the spirit of the law.

 

In 2 Cor 3:6 Paul told the church He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”  What Paul is saying here is, there were some ministers who were living only by Moses law but the Holy Spirit had come and therefore there needed to be some grace added to their preaching as well. The truth is they were living by the letter of the law and not by the spirit in which it was intended when it was written. 

 

For instance the Ten Commandments says “Thou shall not Kill” and while it is wrong to kill someone out of malice. It is okay to protect ourselves, but at the same time we kill people with our words everyday.  Does that make it okay because we didn’t take their life? No!

 

Much like, Jeff who was following the letter of the law His father had told him but in that, He totally missed the point in what his daddy was trying to teach him.Trammel had said
“I don’t want you to put a screwdriver, a pair of pliers or a socket set on it” 

 

Did that mean it was okay for Jeff to take the lights apart with a crescent wrench? No! And there was a consequence for the choices Jeff made. That is a lot like life we live. When we try to live by the letter of the law instead of the spirit of which the laws were written for, there is usually a consequence to pay if we choose to push the limits of the laws that were written. 

 

For instance, it is legal to drink and even the bible says, Proverbs 23:20  Don’t drink too much wine and get drunk; don’t eat too much food and get fat. But it is so much more socially acceptable for people to be overweight than it is to be drunk. Yet both have consequences to deal with.

 

How about this week, we not try to skid by and just do the bare minimum or get over on someone because technically we can. Let’s live a life that is honorable before God and pleasing to Him. Because if we due,  the bible promises there will be a more rewards than consequences.  

 

Feel the Love

I love weddings. I have told you this? I just love, love! If you have hung out with me very much it doesn’t take long for you to realize that. I have loved weddings since way before I was married and almost decided to be a wedding consultant. I am creative as well as have the gift of organization. (remember my story last week on we all have a gift?) 

 

So putting any event together especially weddings is just fun for me and because I enjoy the decorating part and I have two single children yet. I have started collecting a few things for their “one day” wedding. I even try to stay on top of the latest trends and styles going on in weddings. 

 

One of the ways I do that was by following some wedding pages on Facebook. There they ask different questions about what to do at weddings. It was also there that my eyes were opened to a whole different world I didn’t realize was out there. Oh! I guess I knew it happened but I didn’t realize how much.  

 

It’s there I realized that we have an epidemic in the world and that is the institution of marriage is falling apart. It’s falling apart because we no longer value it anymore because many think it’s okay to just live together. In fact according to the U.S. 2010 census living together has never been more popular. There it was reported 7.5.million couples are living together before or instead of getting married. That is 15 million people.

 

Due to this great mass exodus of the realization of what God’s word says about being married there is a lack of having weddings. We have a generation of people who have never even been to a wedding. So you can imagine the questions that are being asked on this Facebook page. Some of the things that I think are the most basic knowledge are unknown to most. Why because they aren’t seeing it. They aren’t seeing it lived out in front of them so they don’t know what to do. 

 

Our church just finished giving its third free wedding away this year and as I walked around last night looking at the almost 100 candles we had lit on the tables,  towards the end of the evening most were almost completely gone. They were melted completely down into the candle holder.
As I looked at them a thought came to me, “Well at least we got our money’s worth out of them because they are done for, useless and over with” another thought came to me after that. “But they represent something that has just begun” 

 

As we walked around cleaning up after the wedding, table clothes were ripped. Drinks had been split on the table runners and the candles all melted. The place looked somewhat in disarray. But it wasn’t because the guest had been abusive to the property, but simply the natural wear and tear of the day. Kind of like life isn’t it? . 

 

All I could think about was doesn’t this just represent marriage. Everyday wear and tear on our lives, struggles come and life goes on. It was at that moment I was reminded “What looks like an ending here in this room, is just the beginning for that couple” and so I begin to pray for them. 

 

In that pray I believe God spoke something in my heart that every church going so called Christian needs to hear. “That is why it is so important for we as followers of Christ live out what He did in this world, what Christ did more in this world than anything else is, He loved. He loved people right where they were.”  

 

If we read John Chapter 4 we find the story of the woman at the well. Where God goes out of His way and against all customs and traditions of His culture to this city and believe because He went because he wanted to talk to this woman. He was on a mission from His Heavenly Father.

 

He wanted to meet her and live the love out before her. See if your read, she knew “about” God but she didn’t know the God. Because know one had lived it out before her. She had only heard stories of the God

 

But Jesus told her in vs 10 “ “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” and then she responds in vs 15 ““Sir, give me this water..” 

 

Jesus didn’t care that she had 5 husbands and was living with another. Verse 18 “The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband.”

 

He showed her love and because of that she came to know Christ and the bible says in vs 34 she said. “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” 

 

Then it goes on to say” 39 Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. 41 And because of his words many more became believers.” 

 

Jesus showed love to a woman who wasn’t of his culture, sex or stature and back in those days it was unheard of and looked down up on by everyone for a man to even talk to a woman and for a Jew to speak to a samaritain was considered a terrible thing to do. 

 

But Christ stepped outside the comfort zone of the culture and even his friends and loved with the love of His Heavenly Father.  In most churches today, we still don’t condone living together outside of marriage. Because the bible doesn’t but that doesn’t mean we don’t love the people that do. 

 

In this day and age when it is such a common occurrence, we as the church must step up and be a light into a world that does not know. A world that has only heard of what marriage can be. 

 

If we have the gifts and abilities to bless others with this gift of a free wedding we need to do it. We need to use whatever gift God has given us to bless others and do it in love because that is what people will see in us. 

 

I heard a phrase the other day that “People won’t always remember what you say to them, but they will remember how you make them feel” Let’s make sure when people what away from us, just as that Samaritan woman did with Jesus, she feels the love she has never felt before.

Mimi and Poppy Camp

Mimi and Poppy Camp

This past week was Mimi and Poppy camp at our house,  which means it is a week my husband and I get all of our grandchildren (which I affectionately call grands) to ourselves. Jeff and I picked our 3 grands up, on Sunday, at the halfway point between where they live and we live because they live 5 hours away from us. 

 

As our son and his wife dropped them off, I could tell he was nervous and as usual began giving us all the directions of what the kids needed and what not to do with them or let them do. Which the whole point of Mimi and Poppy camp is they don’t have to have any rules, because it’s for spoiling!  

 

For a minute I thought to myself “Doesn’t he know I raised 3 children already,  I got this!” but I let him continue to ramble and share his concerns after all they are his children. But the truth is they are our grands and I am pretty sure, if there was a gage to measure the love we both have for these kids, it would be a very close tie, and maybe even Poppy and Mimi’s gage would surpass mom and dad’s. 

 

The best part for me of the whole conversation was as my son hugged me goodbye, he told me. “But seriously mom they have been so excited about this, I think they about wet their pants” 

 

This is not the first time we have had Mimi and Poppy Camp. But probably the first one our youngest grandchild who is 3 years old can remember. My daughter in law texted me earlier this week and told me, they couldn’t find him around the house for a few minutes and when they went searching for him. They finally found him in his closet packing a suitcase because he said he wanted to get ready to go to Mimi and Poppy’s house for camp. 

 

All this got me thinking… are we as excited to spend time with our Heavenly Father? Do we look forward to reading His word. Do we make it a priority everyday to talk to Him in prayer and then listen to what He has to say? Do we get so excited we about pee our pants thinking of getting to go to church and worshiping Him with other believers? 

 

You may be asking yourself, what exactly is Mimi and Poppy Camp. Well, I am sure it is different for every grandparent but at our house. We spend 3 days of doing nothing but what the grands want to do. We eat nothing but what the grands want to eat. We have even been known to allow them to eat ice cream for breakfast and breakfast for supper just to switch it up. 

 

We do arts and crafts, go swimming, go fishing,the grands get to drive the golf cart around town. We do a lot of just hanging out and watching movies, while we pile up snuggling on the couch and eating popcorn. 

 

But probably the thing our house is most famous for, is our indoor water gun fights. That’s right I said indoor water gun fights! Now don’t get me wrong. We are not using super-soakers in the house. We have those little handheld water guns that our grands love to fill up and as we run all over the house the giggles and laughter erupt. Just who doesn’t have fun when a pair of water guns come out? (okay maybe 6 or 7 guns)  

 

But after talking to my grands this week, I have found the thing the like best about coming to Mimi and Poppy camp is they can just hang out and not have to go anywhere or do anything if they don’t want to. 

 

You see 6 years ago our lives were changed when our son married this wonderful young lady who had 2 little girls. We weren’t exactly ready to be grandparents, but since that day when our life changed, we have totally embraced those kids as ours. The thing is, their dad is still in the picture and every other day they get to hang out with him and his new family. Then their parents trade out every other weekend. So needless to say the girls are on the road a lot. They have a lot to deal with from school to changing houses every other day. 

 

So for them, just hanging out and not having somewhere they have to be is their favorite thing to do and it just so happens that Mimi likes that too. So there are some days we just sit around each reading or listening to something, all doing our own thing but still in the same room, just hanging out together being quite. 

 

That made me wonder, how much do we like just hanging out with our Heavenly Father. I am always with my grands during camp but we may not be interacting with each other. As I said, sometimes the one kids may be playing a game, another watching cartoon while the other is sitting at the table drawing a picture, and I may be typing on my computer writing a story for the newspaper. We are all in the same room all doing our own thing, but at the same time I may pause a moment and ask them a question or tell them a story about something, I might even give them advice. We are together but separate. 

 

You know the bible says to “Rejoice always,  pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thess 5:16-18 

 

That line there about praying without ceasing could be kind of confusing if you didn’t think about it, with the image of me and my grands in the same room. I am always aware they are there, as they are aware that I am with them as well. We are in constant communication when we are together because I can hear their sighs, I can see their body language, I pay attention to their facial expressions. They just know Mimi is here, and when they call you can bet I answer. Just like God who is always with us and is always watching over us taking care of us. 

 

There is something else we do at Mimi and Poppy Camp. We have nightly devotions with object lessons and games to reinforce the scripture that we are talking about. Last night was 1 Cor  10:13 that talks about there is no temptation that is given to man that God won’t provide a way out. To illustrate this verse we sat each child, one at a time in from of my curtains that has hundreds of blocks in the pattern on them. They then had to sit there and start counting the blocks. At the same time Poppy had a prize on the end of a fishing pole that he dropped in front of their face distracting them and tempting them. They would lose count of the blocks when they saw the prize and had to start all over again. 

 

We talked to them about,  that is how it is in life, satan will distract us with something that we want or think is good, just to get us to not follow God’s plan for our life. We warned the kids that even if that happens, as soon as they realized they messed up they can just start over again. Just like that started counting again. 

 

I don’t know what is distracting you, or what has taken your focus away from what God has for you, but I am here to tell you, you can start again. Because God is there, He has never left you. You can call on Him anytime and He is there, like I am with my grands, He is just waiting to help you. So just start over again with what you know to do. Read your bible, pray, attend church and I promise you, that is your way out of whatever has taken your focus away from the God that loves you even more than I love my grands. 

 

 

What to do when you don’t know what to do?

What to do when you don’t know what to do?

What do you do when you don’t know what to do? What do you do when your world seems to have fallen apart and all your hopes and dreams come crashing to the ground? Maybe it is the loss of a loved one. Maybe it is that special someone that you thought was going to make all your dreams come true. Maybe it’s an illness when the doctors says “We have done all we can do.” There is a whole range of circumstances that can bring us down. 

 

God never promised that everything would be perfect in this life. In fact He warned us that “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33) And you know what else God said earlier in this verse,  He tells us this so that we will have peace. In other words He warns us. He warns us that life is gonna be hard but He wants us to know that we can trust Him because, if He knows the bad stuff is coming, He also knows what good will come from it also, and there is good in the bad if we will only look.

 

But the truth is, in many cases that doesn’t take the pain of that lost loved one away, or the lost of hopes and dreams you had. There is a saying that tells us “Sometimes you have to let go of the picture you thought life would be like and learn to find joy in the story you are living”

 

If we never had any problems how would we know when our life was good. I remember a few years ago,  Amy took a missions trip to California working with the inter-city. When she returned one of her first comments was “The weather was 70 and sunny the whole time I was there and I hated it!” Weather that most people would love, Amy didn’t enjoy because she is a born and bred Kansas girl where if you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes and it will change. It was different than what she expected and often times we expect things that are not always realistic and because of that our expectations can bring devastation.  

 

God wants us to have hopes and dreams but there is a certain level of flexibility and trust we have to give to Him. When things don’t go as we had hoped and prayed. We can’t give up. But we have to trust that He knows best and if we will look at each situation, asking  “God what do you want me to learn from this or how can I glorify you in this?” Then what seems like a horrible experience can be turned into something great! No! It might not be what we had planned but it can be God’s plan. 

 

Sometimes our tragedy takes us to levels in Him and places on this earth, that we would have never been otherwise. God sometimes allows us to meet people that would never of happened it is wasn’t for the disappointments in our lives. God often wants us to use these hard times to bless others. If we will only allow Him to use us in our times of distress. 

 

It is all about our attitude. When we choose to move ahead after disappointments and tragedies we can allow God to bless us in the way He had planned and turn our tragedy into triumph. It is all about if we get bitter or better through the storm in our life. 

 

The day my mother died I was at the hospital by myself,  she died just as the shift change was happening so there was an unusual amount of nurses and staff there. I being in healthcare for many years know what a downer it can be for nurses and caregivers when they lose a patient. Apparently, it was this particular hospitals policy that when a patient dies, the staff are to come in the room and give the family condolences as the final arrangements are made for the body. 

 

 As nurses and staff filed into moms room.  It all seemed like a waste, what were they standing there for looking at my mother, talking to me a stranger they had never met? Most of them had never even cared for my mom since she was there less than 8 hrs before passing. They were kind, and you could see visibly moved, but I didn’t want her life to be a waste. Not even the moments after she took her last breath.  See mom had hopes and dreams. You see, God had already lengthen a tendon in her leg many years earlier, that healed her of a limp she had as a result of her polo as a child. Fifty years later, she was still believing that God was going to heal the severe “S” curve of her spine also, from polio. It was the one thing that caused her more pain in her life than anything else. She believed God had promised her that one day He would complete her healing. 

 

Suddenly there was something that rose up in me as the room was filled with people.  I imagine it might have been a little like Peter on the day of pentecost. Because there before all these people I had never seen before. Something in my spirit rose up and I stood up and said, “Today I don’t want you to go around sad and depressed that you lost a patient, No! Today you walk around and as you do your job, you tell yourself and everyone you know that you saw a miracle today because this body you see here laying on this bed is healed. She has entered the gates of heaven whole and completely healed with no more sickness or pain. Her miracle has come!” I went on to encourage them, that if they wanted to know that God, they need to accept Jesus as their Savior. 

 

It was a few days later, I got a call from the Director of Nursing at the hospital saying how much she and the staff appreciated what I said and thanked me for sharing. Now I didn’t do it for applause, honestly I don’t know why I did it. Like I said something just rose up in me. But I could of been bitter and told them all to leave as I draped myself across my mother’s body crying uncontrollably,  but I didn’t! I choose to use what God had put at my hand and use it for His glory. 

 

Am I some super hero because of that? No! I am just a human that is totally reliant on Christ for everything she does and desires to please Him in every area of her life. To tell you the truth it has been a long journey to get to this place in life with many stumbles along the way. But each one as led me here. 

 

So, what has devastated you recently? What does God what you to use for His glory in your life? When we don’t know what to do, maybe we need to ask God “Help me see what you are doing here?” 

 

James 1:2-4 Amplified Bible (AMP)  Says “2 Consider it nothing but joy, my [a]brothers and sisters, whenever you fall into various trials. 3 Be assured that the testing of your faith [through experience] produces endurance [leading to spiritual maturity, and inner peace]. 4 And let endurance have its perfect result and do a thorough work, so that you may be perfect and completely developed [in your faith], lacking in nothing.”

As long as we don’t get stuck in the suffering part the testing part. if we get stuck there God can never use us to the potential He desires us to achieve. 

God works all things together for our good! We can never give up hope, never give up our dreams, I am sure my mom never thought, her dream would turn out to be that her healing would come in Heaven I am sure she had different ideas. But that is why we trust Him to know the best outcome of our situation.. Trusting in Him even when we cannot see! 

 

It Just Hit The Spot!!

It Just Hit The Spot!!

My parents were pastor’s for over 40 yrs before my dad passed away and they use to tell a story that happened at one of the first churches they pastored, there was one particular member of the congregation who had such a generous heart of sharing and blessing them with food she would bring over something to them all the time, from baked goods to full meals. She was always blessing my parents with food that she had made. The only problem with this situation was that as sweet as this lady was she didn’t know how to cook. In fact my parents told stories of one time, she baked a cake without any sugar in it and as best they could tell, they think she used salt instead. 

 

Apparently, as the story goes,  I am told, at that point my parents had to decide to do something that would not only keep them and their intestines safe, but protect this ladies feelings as well. So they came up with a plan that would not offend the sweet lady.or kill them. They decided to name their trash can “Spot” and every time this sweet little lady would bring mom and dad something that they couldn’t eat, they just threw it in the trash can and told the sweet lady “It  Just Hit the Spot” the next time they saw her in to acknowledgement of their appreciation for her effort. 

 

So for years at our home you couldn’t say “That just hit the spot” around the dinner table, without everyone bursting into laughter. My parents did this to preserve the sweet little ladies feelings. Some might call this a little white lie, others would say it wasn’t because the trash can now had an affectionate name called the Spot! So whatever you deem it as, it really doesn’t matter because mom and dad have since gone on to meet God and I am pretty sure out of everything they did in life, that did not keep them from heaven. 

 

My parents served in many churches over their years of ministry many times we didn’t stay more than 3 or so years because it seemed every church my parents went to were one of those so called “difficult” churches,  especially in their later years of ministry. Mom and dad would go in to the church, take care of the problems that had been left behind and then move on to the next church. 

 

One particular church my parents pastored was a church where the previous pastor had an affair with one of the deacons wives and had spent so much of the churches money that the church could barely pay their bills. I am told that the treasurer of the church couldn’t even stay at home in the evening because local bill collectors would come knocking on his door for the churches bills.

 

This is the kind of dirt that often times the church doesn’t want to talk about. It is also the kind of dirt and problems that run people away from the church. For some reason the world looks at the church as a place that is for perfect people when Jesus told us in Mark chapter 2:17 

Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

 

For far too long the church has put on this front that we are better than the world. For years the church has had a list of don’ts that is far longer than their list of the do’s. We have looked down on people who aren’t like us instead of being like Jesus and sitting with sinners. 

 

The verse above in Mark 2 follows the story where Jesus is hanging out with well known sinners and the Pharisee or what we would call today,church people, are judging Him in their hearts and He calls them out on it and tells them, in a roundabout way, that I am and the church is for the sick not the healthy. Jesus himself said that He came for the lost. 

 

If the church today is going to be what God has called us to be, we need to realize that living a life for Christ isn’t about doing, doing this or doing that. It is about being! Being the only Jesus in many cases that people will see. Loving people like Jesus loved them. He loved them into His way of life, not criticizing or looking down on others because they weren’t just like Him. We as believers just need to accept the love that has so freely been given to us while we were still a mess and extend that grace to others while they are still in their mess. 

 

When we look down on people because they are different than us, we forget that God also told us in Matthew chapter 7 that the same way we judge others we will be judged. Now that doesn’t mean because we don’t sin like someone else that when judge them that makes it okay. No! It means that with the same severity that we judge others we will be judged. 

 

Rick Warren author of The Purpose Driven Life says “ “Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.”

 

Christ didn’t compromise His convictions when He sat around and ate with sinners or hung out with prostitutes! So what makes us think we have too.

 

You know what my mom and dad did as they named the trash can “Spot”,  they were being a friend, they were being, instead of doing. They could have scorned this woman and told her they appreciated the effort but wasn’t really interested in her kind of cooking, they could have said they didn’t like her food and shunned her. But they just loved her and she didn’t walk away with her feelings being hurt, but she was made to feel loved and valued.

 

If my parents had done anything less, it could have wounded this person and she may never of darkened the door of a church again, Is one cake really worth that? Nothing! Absolutely Nothing! Is worth the loss of a soul. Because that one soul can affect generations of others who will not darken the door of the church, if we wound a tender soul. We as Christians can put such a sour taste in someones mouth, we can turn people away from God because we aren’t loving people like Jesus did and still does. 

 

It is God’s call to all of us to love. The bible says Jesus is Love and we are responsible to love everyone and show them Christ’s love. Will your life be that today? When we remember what we have been saved from, then it is a lot easier to love others who aren’t just like us, because one thing is certain. There but for the grace of God goes any of us! Let’s show the grace to others that we have been given by the almighty Creator of the Universe. Because He loves every single one of us and let’s never forget at the foot of the cross it is all level ground!  

 

It Just Hit the Spot!

My parents were pastor’s for over 40 yrs before my dad passed away and they use to tell a story that happened at one of the first churches they pastored, there was one particular member of the congregation who had such a generous heart of sharing and blessing them with food she would bring over something to them all the time, from baked goods to full meals. She was always blessing my parents with food that she had made. The only problem with this situation was that as sweet as this lady was she didn’t know how to cook. In fact my parents told stories of one time, she baked a cake without any sugar in it and as best they could tell, they think she used salt instead. 

 

Apparently, as the story goes,  I am told, at that point my parents had to decide to do something that would not only keep them and their intestines safe, but protect this ladies feelings as well. So they came up with a plan that would not offend the sweet lady.or kill them. They decided to name their trash can “Spot” and every time this sweet little lady would bring mom and dad something that they couldn’t eat, they just threw it in the trash can and told the sweet lady “It  Just Hit the Spot” the next time they saw her in to acknowledgement of their appreciation for her effort. 

 

So for years at our home you couldn’t say “That just hit the spot” around the dinner table, without everyone bursting into laughter. My parents did this to preserve the sweet little ladies feelings. Some might call this a little white lie, others would say it wasn’t because the trash can now had an affectionate name called the Spot! So whatever you deem it as, it really doesn’t matter because mom and dad have since gone on to meet God and I am pretty sure out of everything they did in life, that did not keep them from heaven. 

 

My parents served in many churches over their years of ministry many times we didn’t stay more than 3 or so years because it seemed every church my parents went to were one of those so called “difficult” churches,  especially in their later years of ministry. Mom and dad would go in to the church, take care of the problems that had been left behind and then move on to the next church. 

 

One particular church my parents pastored was a church where the previous pastor had an affair with one of the deacons wives and had spent so much of the churches money that the church could barely pay their bills. I am told that the treasurer of the church couldn’t even stay at home in the evening because local bill collectors would come knocking on his door for the churches bills.

 

This is the kind of dirt that often times the church doesn’t want to talk about. It is also the kind of dirt and problems that run people away from the church. For some reason the world looks at the church as a place that is for perfect people when Jesus told us in Mark chapter 2:17 

Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

 

For far too long the church has put on this front that we are better than the world. For years the church has had a list of don’ts that is far longer than their list of the do’s. We have looked down on people who aren’t like us instead of being like Jesus and sitting with sinners. 

 

The verse above in Mark 2 follows the story where Jesus is hanging out with well known sinners and the Pharisee or what we would call today,church people, are judging Him in their hearts and He calls them out on it and tells them, in a roundabout way, that I am and the church is for the sick not the healthy. Jesus himself said that He came for the lost. 

 

If the church today is going to be what God has called us to be, we need to realize that living a life for Christ isn’t about doing, doing this or doing that. It is about being! Being the only Jesus in many cases that people will see. Loving people like Jesus loved them. He loved them into His way of life, not criticizing or looking down on others because they weren’t just like Him. We as believers just need to accept the love that has so freely been given to us while we were still a mess and extend that grace to others while they are still in their mess. 

 

When we look down on people because they are different than us, we forget that God also told us in Matthew chapter 7 that the same way we judge others we will be judged. Now that doesn’t mean because we don’t sin like someone else that when judge them that makes it okay. No! It means that with the same severity that we judge others we will be judged. 

 

Rick Warren author of The Purpose Driven Life says “ “Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.”

 

Christ didn’t compromise His convictions when He sat around and ate with sinners or hung out with prostitutes! So what makes us think we have too.

 

You know what my mom and dad did as they named the trash can “Spot”,  they were being a friend, they were being, instead of doing. They could have scorned this woman and told her they appreciated the effort but wasn’t really interested in her kind of cooking, they could have said they didn’t like her food and shunned her. But they just loved her and she didn’t walk away with her feelings being hurt, but she was made to feel loved and valued.

 

If my parents had done anything less, it could have wounded this person and she may never of darkened the door of a church again, Is one cake really worth that? Nothing! Absolutely Nothing! Is worth the loss of a soul. Because that one soul can affect generations of others who will not darken the door of the church, if we wound a tender soul. We as Christians can put such a sour taste in someones mouth, we can turn people away from God because we aren’t loving people like Jesus did and still does. 

 

It is God’s call to all of us to love. The bible says Jesus is Love and we are responsible to love everyone and show them Christ’s love. Will your life be that today? When we remember what we have been saved from, then it is a lot easier to love others who aren’t just like us, because one thing is certain. There but for the grace of God goes any of us! Let’s show the grace to others that we have been given by the almighty Creator of the Universe. Because He loves every single one of us and let’s never forget at the foot of the cross it is all level ground!  

 

Dishes and Jesus

Dishes and Jesus

If you have ever been to my home, you will immediately see my love for blue and white dishes. Some were gifts, many I inherited and a few I bought. If you follow me on Facebook you probably have also seen a table or two that I have set up for the purpose of entertaining people at my house for dinner. 

You see, I love entertaining. It is my love language to others. I love sitting out the dishes, days ahead of time, I will begin to prepare the table, ironing the table clothes (because I hate wrinkles on my tables) I plan for days ahead of time on what kind of theme my table centerpiece will be. I think about what dishes I want to use (and yes, I have more than one set). I carefully take out my goblet glasses and rewash them, I look over the silverware and assure there are no spots on it and when needed I will wipe it down to assure it is sparkling. As I do this I pray for my guests that are coming. 

Once the table is set, I will take pictures of it and post it on facebook, as I use facebook for my personal digital scrapbook. I also have several friends who live out of town, who also love to set tables so we enjoy sharing our photos to inspire each other. Capturing the moment also helps me remember what I have done in the past so I either don’t repeat it or can add onto it. 

It was in the middle of setting up one of my tables recently my daughter Amy said “ and this is why no one invites us over to eat mom” insinuating because they are intimidated by my table settings.  She thought she was being cute, by teasing me, but I know she enjoys setting a table up beautifully too. This wouldn’t bother me except for the fact that someone who my husband did not recognize stopped him in the grocery store shortly after my last dinner and told him “You can tell your wife I am never posting any pictures of my tables again” Jeff said she was joking and actually trying to compliment me because it looked so pretty as they both laughed about it. 

Many people don’t realize the reason I use my good dishes so often, when some will only take theirs out of their cabinets once or twice a year, I use mine at least that often a month. One of the reasons I use them so often is because I lived in the home where my mother was a hoarder and although she had everything she needed to entertain, I mean after all, I have all her dishes now. She never used them. I cannot remember once my mother every having guests over and getting out the good dishes. 

They sat uselessly in a cabinet year after year, or worse yet in some of our homes we lived in, she just left them in boxes we moved them into the house in and piled the boxes on the corner of the room. I determined in my heart as a kid growing up, I would never keep anything that I didn’t use so if I am going to have these dishes, I want to use them and what better way to do that, than to serve others. In this day and age where fast food or frozen meals are the norm in most homes,and the family table has almost become extinct. It is important to make our families and friends feel special and loved. No one should be intimidated by another person or by what they have,  because we are all valuable in God’s eyes and things don’t matter to Him because He looks on the heart. The real question is, where is our heart? Is our heart selfish and unwilling to take the time that it takes to do something for someone else?

I find eating off a china plate and drinking out of a goblet glass just makes things taste better, even if you did buy the food pre-made at the store. Taking the time to serve someone with pretty dishes just makes them feel special and that you care. It’s almost like when you were a little girl and had a tea party with your friends (or stuffed animals depending on the day) It was just fun! 

So what has happened to us? The bible tells us unless we become like little children we can never see the kingdom of heaven, now I don’t think God was talking about having tea parties, but I think He is talking about having that same joy and innocence, the same size faith as a child who sat around her little table and had a tea party with her plastic plates and stuffed animals. 

You know, there was someone else who sat around a table with His friends, it was Jesus. Many times He sat around a table just spending time with His friends and disciples, teaching them and sharing His heart. At the last supper He sat there as he was getting ready to leave this earth and with His twelve closest friends. 

No one knows for sure but it is believed that Nicodemus was the owner of the house where the Last Supper was held.  Here, Nicodemus served the creator of the universe and all they had was bread and wine, (okay maybe they had more we don’t really know)  if it was Nicodemus home they must of had some of the nicer things available at the time because Nicodemus was a fairly wealthy man and a leader in the community. But even if he hadn’t been wealthy, Nicodemus gave his best to the Lord. Nicodemus was a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin which met he and Jesus were really on opposite sides, of the culture at that time.  

So one man had another man, who he would not of normally hung out with into his home and he blessed him by doing his best for him and it turned out that this one guy who Nicodemus blessed, was the Son of God the Savior of the universe.  

I mean in that day and age, that is better than having Superman over to your house or any of the Marvel characters.  

Hebrews 13:2 tells us “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing so some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” 

We never know what the person is going through that we sit across from sharing a meal. But everyone deserves to be shown kindness and friendship. Taking the time to sit down and just connect with them is priceless in the day and age where we are going 90 miles an hour.  

Jesus still desires to connect with us today. We can do that by sitting down and reading His words everyday in the bible and praying. We can also do that by sitting across the table from someone and sharing His love with others, because you never know, we just might be the only Jesus that person sees.  

Jesus never cared about what they had done in the past, in fact Jesus was known for hanging out and eating with the sinners. He never turned them away. His reputation got to be to the point those Pharisee called Him a drunkard because of who He hung out with.  

No where in the Bible do we see Jesus show people who are different than Him anything but love and hospitality. So how about we do that today. We make a pledge to ourselves and God that we will take this next step in being more like Him and love people they way He does.  

Lets bless someone today. It has been said that the greatest gift we can give someone it the gift of our time. So who are you going to bless today. Who will you invite to your home, or out for dinner, or maybe you will just sit around the grill this weekend. But whatever you do. Show Christ’s love just has He has shown it to us. Because after all “ While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” Romans 5:8.