Words Matter

The preacher of a little country church had just finished hammering a sign into the ground by the side of the road next to the church that read, “Da end is near!  Turn around now afore it’s too late!”  About that time a city fellow came speeding through town and upon seeing the sign yelled out, “Mind your own business you religious nut!”  Just a few seconds later the preacher heard the screeching of tires and a big splash.  The preacher scratched his head and said to himself, “Maybe I should have just made a sign that said ‘Bride Out’ instead.”

Like the preacher in that story I have often found myself scratching my head wishing I had used different words to communicate with others.  The words we use are so very important and can have such a great impact on others.  The Bible says in Ephesians 4:29  “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.”  I find the godly principles in that verse to be very challenging at times.  There are times when I don’t consider how my words will impact others.  There are times when I don’t consider how my words will impact my witness.  There are times when I don’t even consider how my words will impact me.  Oh yes, your words can even impact you.  Proverbs  23:7 reminds us that “as a man thinketh, so is he.”  Your words need to remind you that you are special, you have been created in God’s image and He gave His Only Son so that you might have everlasting life.  Your words need to remind you that the Lord will never leave you nor forsake you and that you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.  Those are beautiful words to know and reflect upon.

If you know Christ, your words need to remind others that the same grace and forgiveness that you have received is also available to them.  I am afraid that too often my words don’t properly communicate this wonderful, glorious truth.  Too often my conversations never get around to speaking of the goodness and mercy of the Lord.  Please pray for me so that I can do as Paul said in Colossians 4:5-6 and make the most of every opportunity and know how to respond to each person.  Until next time, stay strong in the faith.

Posted in Christianity, Colossians 4:5-6, faith, God, inspirational, Proverbs 23:7, religion | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Putting Your Prayers to Work

I visited with someone the other day that I had not seen in a while. We talked about how things were going and they were excited about the fact that this year was better than last year. The prior year had been tough where they work. They started a new job with a new boss and it was difficult but they felt like they were turning the corner. They mentioned a couple of issues they had been working on and how they looked forward to continuing to do well and finish the year strong. I encouraged them and let them know that I would pray for them. I did pray for them later that day. As I prayed, I was impressed to send them some resources that had been helpful to me on some issues they had mentioned; things that I thought might help them finish the year strong. I also offered to meet with them regularly and see how things were progressing.

I said all that to say this, it is great to pray for people. We are strongest and stand tallest when we are on our knees. It is there in submission and in faith that we can lift people and their needs up to the Lord. But we need to know that we are often falling short of God’s best and God’s will if we JUST pray. In Mark 6:36-37, it was the end of a long day and Jesus had been teaching the multitudes. The disciples recognizing the day was late and that the people were hungry came to Jesus and asked Him to send the people away to the surrounding towns to get something to eat. They were going to simply send the needy away by letting Jesus handle it. The Lord surprised His disciples that day by telling them, “You feed them.”

I submit to you that if we are not careful we can fall into the same trap with our prayers that the disciples did at the end of that long, tiring day. We can learn of a need and it can be easy to say I will pray for you and it can become just a means of sending someone away and letting Jesus handle it. The truth is sometimes when we tell someone we will pray for them that we never even get on our knees and pray. And sometimes when we do get on our knees and pray, we never get back up on our feet and help. I am afraid that there have been many times when I have prayed and thought my part was over and done but my Lord has said to me as He did to the disciples, “You feed them. You meet their need.”

In regard to my friend I prayed, “Lord help them to finish strong. Help them to know how to write better file notes. Help them to know how to start and end phone conversations with customers in a way that meets their company’s expectations.” I prayed that the Lord would help them; that He would feed them in all those things and the Lord said, “You feed them.” Who are you praying for? Keep praying and don’t stop, for the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous individual availeth much. No, don’t ever stop praying. And don’t ever think that the meager resources that you have cannot make a difference. The same Lord who took five loaves and two fish and fed a multitude can work through you…if you pray and when you are done, get up off your knees, get to your feet and put your prayers to work.

Posted in Christianity, faith, Mark 6:36-37, prayer, Praying for Others, religion | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Lord will not Unfriend You

I saw a friend the other day I had not seen or heard from in a while. After a few minutes of catching up my friend mentioned that they had not heard from me on Facebook in a while. Come to think of it I had not seen posts or pics from them in a long time either. When I got home that night I looked and they were no longer on my friends list. What happened? I know I didn’t delete my friend. Was my 5 year old phone on the frits? Did I as a 40 something…okay, okay, 50 something technologically challenged Baby Boomer accidentally delete my friend? Did one of my granddaughters do it as they randomly pushed buttons in search of a Curious George video? (I find I tend to blame the grandkids for unexplained things or mysterious disappearances kind of like we blame the cleaning people for everything at the office.) Or worse yet, did my friend delete me? Whatever the cause I sought to rectify the matter and I sent them a friend request as soon as I got home.

My situation with my friend made me reflect on my relationship with the Lord. I know that in my spiritual walk, in the newsfeed of my “Faithbook” there have been plenty of times that the Lord hasn’t heard from me. There have been seasons where I have not updated Him on my status, checked in, or simply thanked Him for His friendship. And just like the situation with my friend there have been times that it seems like I haven’t heard from Him in a while either.

I know that I am not the only one to ever feel some sort of disconnect. David spoke of something similar in Psalm 42. He cried out in verse 9, “Why have you forgotten me?” David felt disconnected and discouraged; he was in a season of despair. Yes, David felt despair but did not give in to despair. He continued to trust in the Lord and he reached out to the Lord. Despite his feelings, his faith told David that God never unfriends His people. David understood the truth of Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.”  If you haven’t heard from the Lord in a while or if He hasn’t heard from you – reach out, reach up and reconnect! The Lord never forsakes or unfriends His people.

Posted in Christianity, Deut 31:6, faith, God, never cast out, Not forsaken, Psalm 42:9, Relationships | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fourth of July – I’m Free!

A man recently freed from prison danced down the street shouting, “I’m free, I’m free!” A small boy observed him and said, “So what, I’m four.”

Sometimes we fail to fully grasp and appreciate all that is included in the concept of living in freedom. We live in a great country. Oh it has its problems on that I cannot disagree. But we have the freedom to disagree. And we have the freedom to address the problems that concern us. Yes, we are free. It is a gift that should be appreciated and not taken for granted.

And let us not forget that we all have the freedom to worship as we please. If you know Christ as your Lord and Savior you have been set free from the penalty of sin; you have been reconciled unto God the Father. Not only that but you have also been set free from the power of sin in your life. What a precious gift we have been given! It is one that should definitely not be taken for granted. The Bible says in 1 Peter 2:16 (NASB) “Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God.” Have a great Fourth of July and may God bless you and may God bless America.

Posted in 1 Peter 2:16, faith, Fourth of July, freedom, God, grandchildren | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Accountability Partners

Accountability Partner  A couple of weeks ago when I was walking the granddaughters home after a visit,  the oldest one, Avery who is 4 years old stopped and surveyed all the leftover grass and dirt from my recent afternoon of mowing, edging and trimming.  I had simply run over it with the mower hoping to blow most of it away and was unsuccessful.  As she took in the scene she shook her head and said, “You need a leaf blower Pawpaw.  My daddy has one and he cleans up all that stuff real good.”  I sheepishly replied that Pawpaw would take care of it later that weekend.  Luckily for me a pretty good rain came that night and did the job for me.  Rain is always a blessing, isn’t it?

After all of the comments I have had from Avery recently on the yard, bird feeders and bird baths it seems that I have gained an accountability partner.  Accountability partners are good to have in all aspects of life, especially spiritually.  As brothers and sisters in Christ we are to help one another in our spiritual walk. We are to encourage and edify one another as we live out our faith.  When we notice that one of our brothers or sisters is struggling or falling short, we are expected to intervene.  God’s word tells us how to handle the situation.  Paul said in Galatians 6:1 “Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.”

Paul said it well.  It is not enough to just pray for the wayward brother, we are to go to them in love and gently try to restore them.  Additional instructions can also be found in Matthew 18 on how to handle these situations.  The bottom line is we all need to have accountability partners and we are all expected to be accountability partners.  I mowed and edged today and when I was done I used the shop vac like a leaf blower so that I could clean up the sidewalks.   I blew the debris into a couple of little piles and swept it up….well, most of it.  If you drive by the house you will see that I just blew some of it into the street.   Please don’t tell Avery…and please pray for me and I will pray for you.  Until next time, stay strong in the faith.

Posted in accountability partners, Christianity, Galatians 6:1, God, good advice, grandchildren | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

An Encouraging Word – Don’t Give Up

I took off last Friday to repair the fence in the back yard.  A couple of panels had been blown over by a recent storm and one of the fence posts broke off just below ground level.  I did a quick, temporary fix to hold the fence up and keep the dogs in (one of them got out, you have to read last Sunday’s sermon to get that story) but I needed to put in a new fence post to fix the fence right.  Rather than pull up the old post and the concrete around it I decided to put in another post about a foot away and save some time and energy.  Friday would be the day.  I bought a new 8 foot tall post, several pickets, and a bag of ready mix concrete and I was ready to go when Friday rolled around.  I started digging about 8:30.  The digging came to a sudden teeth jarring stop about 10 seconds later when I hit something very solid.  I knew from previous experience it was a huge rock.  I scooted over another foot hoping that the rock was not that large.  I popped in the sharp shooter shovel and once again heard and felt the sound of caliche.  So much for saving time and energy.

I dug out the perimeter of the hole and then I started chipping away at the rock with a San Angelo bar.  A San Angelo bar is a 6 foot long metal bar with a point on one end and a straight edge on the other end.  It weighs about 35 pounds and it is the only way to chip through rock by hand.  You hold the bar straight up and down and you lift it up and bring it straight down on the rock chipping a small flake off of the rock and a little bit of cartilage off of every joint in your body…sometimes you lose a filling in your teeth.  It is a great tool.  After about 45 minutes of this fun I saw a crack in the rock!  I continued to work that area and the rock split in two!  I was able to widen the hole a little bit and I pulled out a section of rock just bigger than a football.  From there I was able to dig down further with the posthole digger so that I could set the post 24” deep.  From that point on, it was pretty easy.  Mix the concrete, set the pole level in the concrete – and in line with the fence and then come back later and nail the panels to the new post.   But I have to admit that getting past that rock was hard!  I felt like quitting a few times but I knew if I stayed after it and kept chipping away eventually I would get past that rock.

Maybe there are some things in your life that are difficult for you right now.  Maybe there are some obstacles that you have encountered that have made you want to give up on some things that you really know that you ought to complete.  Stay the course, complete the task.  While I was working to chip away at that rock I kept thinking of God’s word in Zechariah 4:6 “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts.”  Whatever task you are undertaking, let God give you encouragement.  Let God give you strength!  Let Him help you do the things that He has called you to do.  He will give you encouragement; He will give you instruction if you let Him.

Posted in Christianity, Don't give up, faith, inspirational, religion, Zechariah 4:6 | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Small Cherry Tomatoes

The other day at work in the break room I saw some small cherry tomatoes that someone had grown and brought for lunch.  Seeing those home grown cherry tomatoes reminded me of my grandfather.  He had a garden that he worked in and he grew all kinds of vegetables.  He loved to memorize poems and stories which he was quick to share with the grandkids and he could play the harmonica.  He was a very good baseball player and he loved to tell a good story.  He didn’t even mind telling a bad story.  He liked to laugh and enjoy life.  He was a good grandfather and I love him and I miss visiting with him and my grandmother.  I thought of all of those things because someone brought cherry tomatoes for lunch.  I’m glad they did!

Amazing that such a small visual cue can make one remember such noteworthy stuff.  Objects can do that for us; they can help us to memorialize important events and to remember and honor people we love.  One object that does that for me is the cross.  As Peter said in 1 Peter 2:24 “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness…”  The cross serves to remind me of the sacrifice given for me; it reminds me that while I was yet a sinner Christ died for me.  It reminds me that my Lord has plans and a purpose for me and I should not take His sacrifice lightly.  The crosses we wear should not be just mere jewelry, a piece of bling while we sing…No!  They should serve to remind us of one who came and lived a perfect, sinless life and gave that life on the cross for us!  They should serve to remind us of His great love for us…for He always stands ready to forgive the repentant heart even when we have fallen short in our love for Him.  Until next time, stay strong in the faith.

Posted in 1 Peter 2:24, Christianity, faith, God, religion, remembering Grandparents | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment