Monday, August 3, 2020

I'm Tired

The last couple of weeks have been particularly busy, and I'm tired. And I stayed up too late last night, which didn't help. My fatigue has little to do with a busy schedule or lack of sleep. My weariness goes far beyond being physically tired.

I'm tired of political ads and insults and tweets.

I'm tired of rioting and mayhem.

I'm tired of media who want to control what I think instead of merely reporting facts and letting me decide for myself.

I'm tired of the animosity.

I'm tired of Covid-19.

I'm tired of this election season.

Election seasons have become particularly contentious in recent years. This one is no exception, and I suspect it will only get worse in the next few months. Certainly it is to be expected that people will disagree about candidates and about issues, but our disagreements seem to be more disagreeable than ever before. Social media plays a part in that, to be sure. People will tweet or post things that they would never say to or about another person face to face. The anonymity and lack of accountability that social media brings to our world has brought out the worst in us.

Even beyond that, there's an ugliness in our world these days that is heartbreaking. We're arguing and slinging insults about masks and education and statues and vaccines and everything in between. It's an ugly world out there. And I am weary of it all.

Certainly as Americans we are free to have our own opinions about issue. We are free to express our opinions. Free speech is a right guaranteed to us by the First Amendment.

But does our right to free speech give us the right to insult and demean and belittle? The level of vitriol and rhetoric in our country today far exceeds anything I have seen in my lifetime. What saddens me most about it all is the way even Christians are at each other's throats. Flinging insults at one another.  That sort of behavior wouldn't be particularly surprising coming from the unbelieving world, but it is heartbreaking to see how even Christians are turning on each other.

Is this the way we are modeling Christ to the world? Is this how we are to be salt and light?

I do not mean to say that all who are Christian should line up behind one particular candidate or one particularly political opinion. Each of us must make an individual decision about the issues facing our nation and our world.

We won't all agree. But we don't need to be so disagreeable!
It all makes me tired. And so very sad.

"...nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are on You." (2 Chronicles 20:12 NASB)

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Turning the Page

Welcome to August! It's a new month. A clean page on the calendar. Time for a fresh start.

This morning I turned the page on the "official" family calendar on the side of the refrigerator. And I smiled. It's my birthday month. And it's one month closer to fall and cooler temperatures!

We often think of a new month as a clean slate. A time to start over. But if your calendar looks anything like mine, it isn't exactly a blank page. There are doctor appointments and hair appointments and meetings at church already written in. August is shaping up to be another busy month.

Even so, there's something refreshing about turning the calendar page. A new month means new opportunities. New adventures. New challenges to be faced. 

Turning that calendar page also means moving on. Leaving the previous month behind. Letting go of all the less-than-we-might-have-liked-them-to-be moments. The new month is time to let all that go, and time to move forward.

Facing this new month means asking some questions. As in, what things in my life need some correction. What additions need to be made? What things in my life need some fine-tuning. What things in my life need to be deleted. You may find that to be true in your life as well.

Here are a few questions to help you get started.

What foods need to be deleted from my life? What foods need to be added?

What habits need to be deleted from my life? What habits need to be added?

What corrections need to be made in my speech?

What needs to be deleted? In my activities. In my recreation. In my reading. In my TV watching. In the way I spend my money.

What needs to be added? In my activities. In my recreation. In my reading. In my TV watching. In the way I spend my money.

Life is a process. And all those processes need some editing from time to time.

What better time than today, as we are turning the page to a new month, to take some time to consider what changes might need to be made!

"But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.  More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord."  (Philippians 3:7 NASB)

Monday, July 20, 2020

No Matter What

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble."                   (Psalm 46:1 NASB)

I've written about this verse before. When there was a bombing. Or a school shooting. Or some other act of violence. Or in times of loneliness. Or during a pandemic. And this verse is on my mind again this morning.

When these events happen in our lives, it's easy to be overcome by them. To feel overwhelmed. It's easy to let grief or fear or anger or sadness or frustration consume us. I began this post with the first verse of one of my favorite Psalms, Psalm 46. It is a profound truth that "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble."

The next word of that Psalm is a very important word. Therefore. Because it is true that "God is our refuge and strength", how are we to respond?

"Therefore, we will not fear." That's our response. We will not fear. No matter what happens. No matter how many bombs go off, or how many shootings there are, or how many acts of terrorism. No matter what we hear on the evening news. No matter what's going on in the world. No matter what's going on around me. No matter what happens. Because God is our strength, our very present help, we will not fear. That's our "therefore".  That's our response. Because God is MY refuge and strength, I will not fear.

We know the truth. That no matter what man does, God is still God. God is in control. Even when we don't understand and no matter what comes our way, that truth remains.

No matter what.

"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea."  (Psalm 46:1-2 NASB)

Monday, July 6, 2020

Let Freedom Ring

"Proclaim liberty throughout all the Land unto all the inhabitants thereof."        

Those words from Leviticus 25 are inscribed on a bell we have come to know as the Liberty Bell, originally cast in the Whitechapel Foundry in East London, England, and now housed at Independence Hall in Philadelphia.

Over the weekend we celebrated our nation's independence. July 4, 1776 was the date of the signing of our Declaration of Independence, and we celebrate that day every year.

But our independence, our freedom, is about more than a one-day-a-year celebration. It's about more than picnics and parades. It's about more than fireworks and flag-waving and funnel cakes.

Our freedom as Americans is something to celebrate every day of the year, not just on one day in the middle of summer. It's something to be cherished and protected. It's something we must never take for granted, but continually be thankful for. 

Our freedom as Americans is a precious thing that must be guarded and defended. And just as the verse from Leviticus that is inscribed on the Liberty Bell reminds us, we must "proclaim liberty throughout the land"!

If that is true of our freedom as Americans, how much more is all that true of our freedom in Christ! Our freedom in Christ isn't something just to be celebrated once a week on Sundays, but to be celebrated and cherished and treasured and proclaimed every day! Because "If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed!"  (John 8:36 ESV)

"For freedom Christ has set us free." (Galatians 5:1 ESV)

"For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death."  (Romans 8:2 ESV)

[Jesus said] "If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (John 8:32 ESV)

"For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."  (Romans 6:23 ESV)

Free in Christ Jesus! Free indeed! Our freedom in Christ is not dependent on political parties or political correctness or political whim. That freedom is all and only in and through Christ Jesus! Free indeed!

Proclaim that freedom "throughout the land and to all the inhabitants thereof"!

What will you do today to proclaim liberty? To let freedom ring?

"Let Freedom Ring" - The Gaither Vocal Band:

Thursday, July 2, 2020

What Time Is It?


Every clock in this house showed a different time this morning! What's going on? And what time is it anyway? We've had a few episodes of power flickering on and off this week, so I suppose that could account for all these differences in time  Except perhaps for 4:59 and 9:14. One probably just needs a new battery, and the other never made it to Daylight Savings Time.

I checked my phone, and 10:14 was the actual time.

Recent world events have many questioning what time it is on the world calendar. We can't know that for certain. But we can know this:

"You know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed." (Romans 13:11 ESV)

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

What If?

We have all asked that question from time to time. Truth be told, there are some of us who can't seem to let go of that question!

What if I get sick?

What if we don't have enough money?

What if my child gets hurt?

What if I lose my job?

What if I get cancer?

What if we have a storm?

What if.......

You can complete the question with your own "what if". 

A number of years ago, when my husband was working as building and grounds manager for a large insurance company headquartered in our city, he often had to answer that question. Several times a week he would be called into the office of the person to whom he reported, and he would have to answer the question "what are the three worst things that will happen if we do this?"

That became a standing joke around our house! We asked that question about everything. And I do mean everything!

What are the three worst things that will happen if we buy this car? What are the three worst things that will happen if we go to Disney World? What are the three worst things that will happen if we go to the mall? What are the three worst things that will happen if we eat chicken for dinner? 

You get the idea. It bordered on ridiculous.

But if you think about it, don't we do the same - border on ridiculous - when we obsess over the "what ifs"? We worry far too much about things that probably won't even happen. Especially in these days, with Covid-19 never far from our minds, we have a lot of "what ifs". But even if some of our "what ifs" actually do become reality, what good does it do us to worry and fret?

A far better approach to the "what ifs" of our lives is to remember that God has it all under control. To remember that whatever happens to us, even if all our "what ifs" become reality, God knows and understands. And He is working it all together for our good and for His glory. 

"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son." (Romans 8:28-29a ESV)

There is one "what if" we should keep in mind. The hymn writer Lelia N. Morris put it this way:

"Jesus is coming to earth again; What if it were today?"
Jesus is coming again. Are you ready?
"Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect."  (Matthew 24:44 ESV)

Monday, June 29, 2020

Not Available

Even in these days when texting is the norm, we still sometimes use the telephone to make a call. And when we do, how frustrated we become when we hear "the person you have called is not available."

We are even more frustrated when we hear a list of prompts, followed by another list of prompts, and another, and another, all ending with "please leave a message after the beep."

In this world of instant everything, we don't want to wait. We want to talk to a real person, not an automated answering service. And we want to talk to that person now. When we call. Not at some future point that might or might not ever happen, because they might or might not decide to return the call. And if they do return the call, we might or might not decide to answer. And so it goes.

We want answers now. We expect people to answer when we call. Just like in the "olden days" when the phone rang, and you answered the person without even knowing who was on the other end of the line. The phone rang, and so you answered it. Perhaps I'm dating myself!

In these days of texting and telemarketing and robocalls, a person who actually answers the phone without knowing who on the other end of the call is a rarity indeed.

I must confess that I am not a fan of the telephone, particularly in this post-stroke season of my life. But when I do actually make a phone call, it's because I want to talk to the person I called. Actually talk to them. Not to their voice mail. I actually want to hear a real human voice. The voice of the person I called.

How thankful I am that when I want to talk to God, I don't have to worry that He's too busy to pick up the phone. When I want to talk to God, He listens. And He responds. Not audibly, of course, but with that still, small voice that let's me know He's listening.

When I want to speak with God, I don't get put on hold. There's no endless list of prompts to get through. I don't have to press 1 for requests and 2 for praises. I don't have to leave a call-back number.

When I call, He answers. When I call, He hears. When I call, He responds. When I call, He answers.

"He bends down to listen....." (Psalm 116:2 NLT)

I am overwhelmed.