Glasses

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One day last week I was thinking about how we should see through the eyes of Jesus and not our own when God gave me a perfect example. I’d like to share that with you.
 
Many of us either wear glasses or contact lenses or at the very least sunglasses. For me, I am blind if I don’t have my glasses on. When I am without my glasses things are a bit blurry and I am not able to see clearly. Once I put on my glasses, I can see things clearly. I need my glasses to be able to read, follow directions and all the other normal things we do in this life. Sometimes, even when I have glasses on, things are a bit blurry and I wonder why. A very simple reason, there are fingerprints or spots on my glasses. I have to wipe away those spots so I can see clearly once again.
 
That is the same way it is with our faith. Before we became Christians, it was like we were living without glasses. We could see things, but not as clear as we should be able to see. Things were a bit blurry for us. We could see, but it was not a clear picture. We were stumbling around. We weren’t getting the clear picture.
 
When we came before God and confessed our sin, he gave us a pair of glasses to put on in which to see clearly. When we began our walk with God, we were able to see clearly the path that we needed to take. We could see others through the glasses as God sees them. Things became clearer to us; not perfect for we will never see perfectly well until we are face to face with God, but things began to come into focus. “It is the same with us. Now we see a dim reflection as if we were looking into a mirror, but then we shall see clearly. Now I know only a part, but then I will know fully, as God has known me.” (1 Corinthians 13:12) Even with glasses on, I still can’t see perfectly. I can see only as well as the glasses are able. But, when we come into God’s presence we will see perfectly. I see so much better when I have my glasses on. When we walk with Christ we may not be able to see perfectly, but we are able to see so much better. Instead of seeing people through our own eyes we see them through the glasses God has given us.
 
Even as Christians sometimes we lose clarity and our eyesight gets a little blurry. Why is that if we are looking through God’s glasses? It’s because we have allowed sin spots to block our vision. We allow the thoughts of the world, the thoughts of others or sin to come in and mess up our glasses. We can’t see clearly until we once again ask for forgiveness and allow God to wipe away those spots that temporary blind us. I love my glasses after I have been to the eye doctor and allowed them to clean my glasses. I can see so much better, but then through everyday wear and tear, spots get on my glasses and I have to wipe them off again. We are to confess our sins daily so we may see clearly the path God has called us on.
 
My husband has had surgery for cataracts. He no longer needs glasses except to read. Basically, he picks and chooses when he wants to wear them. There are some Christians who pick and choose when they wear the glasses God gives them. If it benefits them, if it makes them look good they choose to wear the glasses God has given them. If they choose to follow the ways of the world, or if the glasses open their eyes to a certain sin in their lives sometimes they choose to take off the glasses. Sometimes Christians are content to walk in a blurry world.
 
Some folks have wonderful vision and wear nothing more than sunglasses. Sunglasses we know blocks out the light and the sun if it is too bright. Unfortunately, we have people who wear sunglasses all the time. They do not want to be blinded by God’s light or his Son’s light so they wear glasses to block the light. This is an unfortunate circumstance. Not only does God’s light shine down on us, but so does his love. If the glasses they are wearing blocks the light it is also blocking his love. They will never experience the Son’s light or the warmth of God’s love. They prefer to live in darkness. We also know that is where Satan lives; in darkness. These folks live in darkness and cannot see anything as bright or as brilliant as God’s light. All they see is the darkness that surrounds them.
 
Psalm 119:18 says this, “Open my eyes to see the wonderful truths in your instructions.” One of God’s instructions is to love your neighbor as yourself. We should all be putting God’s glasses on and asking him to open our eyes to see all he has for us not only in the Bible but in those around us. We all need to wear these glasses daily and not just at our own choosing. We need to take off those glasses that is keeping the light from getting into us.
 
I always hated wearing glasses, but I think after this lesson it will be a good reminder that it’s through these glasses I can see better and it’s through God’s glasses that I can see to love those around me. It will also be a good reminder that every now and then I need to take my glasses and get rid of the smudges left on because I mishandled my glasses. It will remind me I need to ask God to help me remove the smudges that sin has left behind.
 
Glasses…something we have all had to deal with at one time or another; even if it was only sunglasses. I hope like me you will put on God’s glasses and let’s begin to see each person as a created image made after God’s likeness.
 
My glasses need a bit of a cleaning, how about yours?
 
Dear God thank you for the glasses I was given to help me see clearly. Thank you for salvation that helps me see clearly. When things get blurry again remind me it’s time to come to you and ask for a cleansing of not only my eyes but my soul too. Open my eyes that I may see your Son’s light and experience his love so that I may share it with others. Amen.  
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The Piece of the Puzzle

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I have just finished my last major project for the year. I am headed into some downtime. My husband has a trip planned and is leaving for Colorado on an elk hunt. All that being said, I decided I would enjoy doing a picture puzzle while he was gone. My husband graciously bought me one.
 
I started my picture last night. As always I got out the sides and put them together. I began to find pieces that looked alike and started on one particular area. I wasn’t sure how they went together or where in the picture they were going to fit in; I just knew these pieces belonged together. I knew in the end when all the puzzle came together it would need this particular area to finish it and make it look complete.
 
As I lay in bed after pulling myself away from the puzzle, God began to nudge me as he always does with thoughts about the puzzle I was putting together.
 
I was reminded my life is like that puzzle. Over the many years I have lived, I have had numerous events, circumstances, and experiences. These all came together as each little piece and connected to each other.
 
God showed me all the events, circumstances and experiences are pieces to a picture he has been creating since I was born. People have added to my puzzle and became pieces in my puzzle.
 
There are pieces in my puzzle I am not sure how it fits in or where it fits. I am not sure how some of these pieces are connected to the whole big picture. As I work on this puzzle a little more each day, I might have a better understanding of how and where some pieces fit.
 
That’s the way it is with our lives. We look at a circumstance, event or an experience and wonder how this fits into our lives. We wonder how it will enhance or change your life. As we get older, some things make perfect sense to us while other events, circumstances or experiences just doesn’t make sense to us. We can’t understand why we had to live through some of the things we lived through. People will come into our lives. Some people leave our lives. People are woven into our lives like fabric. Some will have a profound effect on our lives while others we may not even remember. How do these people play a role in our picture? How do these pieces fit into the overall picture of our lives?
 
Our lives are a puzzle that God has created and the last piece of the puzzle will never be added until God has called us home. Every new day, week and year pieces are being added to our puzzle. Some fit nicely; others are waiting for a connection that God has not given us yet.
For instance, we may experience death or an illness early on in our life. We don’t see how the piece fits into the bigger picture. We live our lives, keep adding pieces, but this one piece doesn’t fit anywhere. Then one day, someone we know or love may experience a death or an illness much like we did years earlier. We are given the chance to connect with them and help them through what we have been through. The piece then becomes connected and it becomes a part of the bigger picture. Sometimes I think things happen and we may never know why they happened. In that case, God will connect all the pieces in the end and you can be well assured your life will be a complete and beautiful picture.
 
The picture puzzle I am doing is a Thomas Kincaid. I love his works. I never wanted to spend the kind of money it takes to own one. Now I have one of his works in a puzzle. It is beautiful. It is a water scene with a church and some cabins in it. If you know me you know how important water is to me. It is beautiful.
 
Our lives may look like a bunch of scrambled pieces right now. We can’t see how things fit together. When the last piece has been added we wonder if it will all make sense. We wonder if our lives will be as beautiful as we’d like them to be.
 
I am here to tell you God formed you in his being. Genesis 1:27 tells us, “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” You are created and made into God’s image how can you be anything but beautiful?
 
Some of the puzzles I looked at to buy was not something I would enjoy doing. They were jumbled pieces and not pleasant to the eye. If we are living out of sync with God our picture, in the end, could look jumbled and not be pleasant. It could be confusing and disorienting.
 
When we live lives that are in accordance with God’s will and we are doing those things he has called us to do, the bigger picture when our life is over will be filled with beauty and love. For we know God is love. 1 John 4:8 reminds us, “Whoever does not love does not know God because God is love.”
 
Finally, we know that whatever or whomever God creates it is a very good thing. “Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good!…” Genesis 1:31
 
If you have accepted God, you have become part of a bigger picture. You are a piece of the puzzle that God has created. Each piece is a picture of God’s adopted children. Each piece is connected to one another. When God adds the last piece and you are added it will be a picture that will tell of God’s love for each of us.
 
I may be doing a Thomas Kinkade picture and I will think it is beautiful, but it won’t compare to the picture God is putting together that displays his family. Don’t be a missing piece.
 
Dear God, thank you for the time when we can do those things that relax us and brings enjoyment. Help me to understand my life is like a puzzle piece and it may not all make sense until you add the final piece. Let me be content knowing I have been made in your image, I have been accepted into God’s family and the big picture will be as beautiful as God meant it to be. Help me to add pieces to God’s family by inviting others to become a part of it all. Amen
 

Shiphrah, Puah and Irena

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I have the opportunity and the privilege to teach young people on Wednesday afternoons at our church. This year we are learning about bible stories. Now I thought I was up on all my bible stories, but here’s the thing, the curriculum we are using is telling stories of people you might not even know or circumstances you have just passed over.
 
For instance, who can tell me who Shiphrah and Puah is? I couldn’t even pronounce the names let alone remember who they were. As I was studying, I now realize, I have read this story several times, but I have missed one of the most important lessons in the Bible. I will remember these names forever. Their story has left an impact on my own life.
 
We find their story in Exodus. Follow along with me. “The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah, “When you are helping the Hebrew women during childbirth on the delivery stool, if you see that the baby is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live.” The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live. Then the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and asked them, “Why have you done this? Why have you let the boys live?” The midwives answered Pharaoh, “Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women; they are vigorous and give birth before the midwives arrive.” So God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous. And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own.” Exodus 1:15-21
 
These two women were called in to speak to the king of Egypt. They were summoned to be exact. This is not something they requested to do. After being summoned, the King then asks these women to do the unthinkable; to kill baby boys. I am not sure, but I think all women have a mother instinct in them. I can’t imagine being asked to kill babies after losing on myself. They were pretty clever. If they said no, I am thinking the King would take their lives. He would not take kindly to women who refused to obey him. So, I am thinking the women said yes and at the same time began to devise a plan not to take the lives of babies. I am not sure they knew who God was, but I am sure they knew right from wrong and this was wrong in every sense of the word.
 
These women saved the baby boys that were being born at this time. They refused to obey the King and they did what they knew was right. Now comes the King again. Finding out these babies were being kept alive, he called Shiphrah and Puah back. He asks them why they weren’t killing the babies. They probably have discussed this before the King summons them back in and they have a very reasonable answer to give to the King. Apparently, he was okay with their answer. He didn’t have them killed and he didn’t punish them.
 
After that something amazing happens. God blesses them with their own families. God sees what good they have done and he rewards and blesses them. Pretty neat story huh?
 
The lesson for the children that day was that compassion and courage go hand in hand. Showing compassion takes some courage on our part. The other part of this lesson was to make the children understand that sometimes doing the right thing can actually mean breaking the laws.
 
As I was working on this, I found another unfamiliar name. Read about this lady: Irena Sendler. An unfamiliar name to most people, but this remarkable woman defied the Nazis and saved 2,500 Jewish children by smuggling them out of the Warsaw Ghetto. As a health worker, she sneaked the children out between 1942 and 1943 to safe hiding places and found non-Jewish families to adopt them. She did the right thing but was breaking the law.
 
I emphasized to the kids that sometimes we are called on as Christians to do the right thing even though it is against a law or rule. To get it down to the kids level, I used this example. A friend comes to you who is being mistreated or abused at home. They confide in you but tell you not to say anything to anyone. They may even go as far as make you promise or command you not to tell anyone. I told the children in this case they needed to do the right thing for their friend, even if it meant breaking the promise or the command. Showing compassion for their friend and being courageous by telling someone who could help the friend.
 
I wanted to share this with you because of the many things that are going on right now. We never know when we will be called upon to do the right thing. There may be a law that we might not agree with. This law might be destroying the lives of those who are powerless to do anything about it. It’s up to us as Christians to follow the commands Christ has given us and to step in and help when we can. God will be with us just like he was with Shiphrah and Purah.
 
The other emphasis I want to add is this: sometimes it is better to do the right thing than to do what the world tells us we ought to be doing. There is so much chatter in the world today about what we should be doing, what we should be protesting or how to live our lives. I think for each of us it’s time we turn to God for those answers. It’s time to be a Shiphrah and Puah and have the courage and the compassion to do what God has called us to do instead of following the world. If this world is ever going to turn around, it’s because we had compassion on those who are powerless. If we turn the world around it will be because we were courageous enough to tell the world I will only do what is right in God’s eyes not because you think I should do this or that.
 
We do not know what the future holds for each of us. We do not know if someday we will be called in to do the right thing even if it’s against the rules or the laws. As a volunteer, I have a set of guidelines I am to follow when helping people. There are times I have to set aside those guidelines and do what’s best for those clients I am helping with. When we find ourselves in those places I hope you remember the courage and compassion of Shiphrah and Puah and even Irena Sendler.
 
Dear God: I hope I am given the courage to help people when I am called upon. I hope compassion wins over the world’s view and beliefs. Show me where and how I can make a difference in someone’s life. Teach me to be courageous and compassionate like Shiphrah and Puah and Irena. Thank you for giving me these particular ladies as an example to follow. Thank you for blessing them and watching out for them. Amen
 
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Confessions Are Never Easy!

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Confessions are never easy for me and this is one of those times. This is a time when I tell you I don’t always do what I encourage you to do. I try to encourage you in your walk with Christ just to find out I don’t always listen to my own advice.
 
First, you must know I am a people pleaser. I do whatever I can to make people happy. I don’t like confrontation and I don’t know how to say no. My family will be the first to tell you I can’t say the word and I probably don’t know what it means.
 
So with all that being said, a few months back I was approached by one of the Staff where I volunteer. She started out by saying she knew my abilities and my love for the organization and asked if I would be willing to take on some additional responsibilities. The responsibilities at the time didn’t seem like it amounted to much. I agreed to take on some additional responsibilities.
 
As the summer progressed I added more and more to these responsibilities. I was helping the Director and the Office Manager get things done they weren’t able to find time to do. A couple of times the Director asked me if I was ok with all I was doing. I just smiled and gave her the assurance I was doing fine. She said to me, “if you ever feel overwhelmed let me know.” I assured her I would.
 
To make a long story short we are jumping ahead several months. I have been very task oriented. I have been busy getting everything done everybody needed me to get done. I was focused and I was accomplishing much. There was only one problem.
 
I began to take a class at church about my spiritual gifts, abilities, and talents. As I went through the sessions I began to feel God speak to me about how I had less and less time to serve in the church. I was beginning to wonder how I could begin to squeeze anything more into my schedule.
 
A few days later I spoke with my Pastor about my spiritual gifts and how I could use them in the church. I admitted to him I was feeling like I had lost my place in the church and was being consumed by my much-loved organization. This organization is ministry based and serves our community well. We saw a place I could easily slip into. That would mean giving up time and some responsibilities at this organization.
 
I went home and fretted. How could I possibly squeeze one more thing into my already jammed packed days and weeks? Finally, realizing there was nothing more I could do, but to hand the situation over to Christ I fell asleep. I prayed about the situation in the morning before I headed off to volunteer one more time.
 
Before I even got into the building God began to answer my prayers. One of my most beloved dear friends came over to me as I got out of the car and apologized for something he thought he had done. He hadn’t done anything. I came to find out that because I had been so task-oriented I had not been speaking to him and our relationship was a bit strained. He thought he had done something. His comment was you’ve lost your joy. Wow! I hadn’t noticed because I was so focused on accomplishing things that I thought I was to be doing.
 
I get into the building and before long the Staff that had asked me to take on more responsibilities called me over to tell me we had to talk. She too informed me I had lost my joy and she could tell I had become overwhelmed with all I was doing. She apologized for putting so much on my plate and she was wrong to do that. She informed me that I was no longer to come in three days a week, but I was to cut back to one or two days. She took back some of my responsibilities. The day she gave me off was the same day I was thinking about volunteering at church. I was humbled that God had answered my prayer and the situation was worked out by God himself.
 
I will still be doing some work for this organization. I believe it is a worthwhile organization and worth the time I spend there. I really don’t think God wants me to leave there; at least not totally. What I do believe is I had focused on what I thought I was to do and not what God had intended me to do.
 
When I went to volunteer there it was to connect with the clients that come in every day. I was to pray, encourage and be there for them. I was to share scripture when I could. I was to share my joy of Christ and my love for Christ with them. I did that for a while, but then I got caught up in all of the other opportunities that came my way. I didn’t take the time to speak with God to see what I was to do.
 
Now for the meat of this. Sometimes God can give us a ministry or give us an opportunity to serve. It is a good thing that he gives us, but sometimes we can take that good thing and turn it around and make it an obsession instead of a ministry. For me, it wasn’t about pride. I wasn’t getting rewarded or necessarily praised for what I was doing. If anything it made me feel useful and helpful. I took that usefulness and helpfulness and I turned it into being task oriented while losing my joy for the ministry God gave me in the first place.
 
God had to rattle my cage, he brought good friends to me to tell me what I’d lost. I had lost the joy of ministry. I was serving with the intent on getting things done; not serving out of love or joy. As the day progressed I felt like the world had lifted off my shoulders. I felt a joy that I hadn’t felt for a long time and now I am able to serve my church in a ministry where I can do the work God has called me to do. I am to show mercy and kindness to others.
 
God will allow us to go along this path for just so long and if he doses n’t see the changes we need to make he will make them for us. He lets us go down a path that isn’t his choosing and then if we go too far down that path he will block our way or make the path weave back to him.
 
Serving God is never to be a job. It’s to be a ministry and a joy. When we lose our joy we need to stop what we are doing and seek answers from God and from others. “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love. . . . These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:10–11) Our joy will only be full if that joy comes from the Lord. That joy can’t come from ourselves by filling the emptiness or the desires of our own heart.
 
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,…” Galatians 5:22. If what we do does not produce any of the fruits of the Spirit then we need to stop and ask ourselves why we are doing those things.
 
One final thought: I disappointed our Director because I did not go to her and let her know I felt overwhelmed. We can not only disappoint God, but we can disappoint others. Those very people who we think we are serving will be disappointed in us because we are not doing it with joy from Christ but from obligation.
 
When God gives us a ministry it is not up to us to make it an obsession or turn it into something God did not mean for it to be. When we lose the joy of serving Christ or serving with joy when we become so task-oriented that it destroys our relationships with others it’s time to stop and evaluate what is being done.
 
I am so excited. God made the way clear for me to get back into the church and serve him where I am needed. He has not taken my beloved organization from me, but he’s allowed me to go back to serving with love and joy. My joy in Christ has come back and will be more vibrant over the next few months. God is an awesome God!
 
Dear God: Thank you for making the path wind back to you. You saw I was on the wrong path and when was getting out of your reach you came down and directed my ways back to you. Thank you for friends who can see us headed in the wrong direction and comes to us and helps us back to you. Thank you for Bible studies that remind us of our ministry, our mission and our goals. Most of all thank you for the opportunity to serve you with joy. May my joy be found complete in you. Guide my paths direct my ways always. Amen!
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My Agenda Interrupted Again!

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It’s Monday morning and I have deadlines I have to meet. It’s the day I stay at home and get my work done or caught up. I usually have a busy day trying to get everything done that I need to. This is my only stay-home day until Friday; so it’s jammed packed full.
 
I start out my day doing devotions and reading portions out of the Bible. Today, I am in Titus. As usual, I have a jammed packed day wanting to accomplish much. I am just about ready to start my devotions when my daughter calls. We talk every day. I look at the phone and see it’s her. I know this isn’t going to be a short conversation. I am okay with that, but then Satan throws in subtle reminders of all I want to accomplish today. I am thinking about how I can cut this short for now and call her later and talk longer. As we begin to talk she tells me my granddaughter and her friends need prayers. I ask what’s going on and she tells me a tragic story involving one of my granddaughter’s friends. There has been an unexpected death. My daughter begins to cry and my world stops. I am suddenly thrust into something that is more meaningful than my work that is waiting to be done. I am having to help my daughter sort this event out. I am trying to help her with how she will explain this to my granddaughter. We are sharing moments that are more precious than anything else I have to do today. So, I stop and listen. I share what I can. I am no longer concerned about today’s agenda. This is what’s important now.
 
The lesson to be learned is one I learn over and over. I have an agenda I plan on keeping, but God reminds me it is not always about me or my agenda. It’s more about what I can do to be his hands and feet when necessary. It’s about taking bible study and putting it into practice. It’s about being a disciple and not always a student. Students at some point have to put what they are learning to work. That’s what I had to do that particular morning. It wasn’t about more study (although I did get some in afterward) it was about being a vessel for God to work through me by sharing God’s words with her. It was about taking time to pray for this family who so suddenly and tragically lost a mother, wife, daughter, etc.
 
One Friday, I was asked to take on the visitation of one of the elderly homebound women of our church. I have known this lady for several years, but we have not had the opportunity to come together and talk much. On one of my Fridays, I decided to do what I promised to do and visit this lady. I was to take with me a bulletin from the previous Sundays worship along with a CD for her to hear the worship. My thoughts were maybe I can just hand it to her and not visit too long. I called and she invited me to come over. I was invited to come and sit for a spell and visit. I dropped all my plans and did just that. What a pleasant visit we had! I am looking forward to my weekly visits with this lady.
 
Once again, it can’t be all about me or what I want to accomplish. It’s about being a disciple and following God. It’s about God’s agenda; not mine. There are times God calls us to put the blinders on and stay focused. Other times God calls us to take off the blinders and to see the hurts and needs of others.
 
Philippians 2:4, “do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”

Galatians 6:2, “Bear one another burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.”
 
Both of these scriptures command us to not look out for our own interests, but we are to look out for others interests as well. Simply put, we are to take care of one another all the time; not just when it is convenient for us.
 
We are to bear one another’s burdens. We are to be there when we are needed even if it’s not a good time for us. When something tragic happens it’s never a good time. It’s up to us as Christians to drop what we are doing and take the time to lift others up in whatever way we can.
 
Finally, I was reminded we are not promised the next breath we take. This young mother was as young as my daughter if not a bit younger. She had a whole life to live, but it was cut short. We are to take each day and live as if it was our last. We never know when our time on earth is finished. We must make the best of each day and love as if there is no tomorrow. One day for each of us, there will be no tomorrow; we only have today. James 4:13-14 “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.”
 
Life is fragile. Life is what we make it. Life is what God calls us to live every day. We can’t hide from life. We can’t run from life. What we can do is live it to the fullest and take care of one another the way God has called us to do. When life is interrupted, don’t fret, those things will be there tomorrow. We are needed today to make a difference in someone’s life.
 
Your agenda or God’s? Once again I am reminded there are times I need to take the blinders off and see those around me who need me; those whom God has put in my path for a reason. I will accomplish what I can today, but for now, there is a bigger agenda for me to follow.
 
Dear God: I pray for this family who has so tragically lost a mother and a wife. The ripple effects of this life are far-reaching. Be with all of those this young life has touched. Remind us when our agenda is interrupted not to fret, but to remember life is fragile. Help us in those times to remember it’s not about us, but about being a disciple. It’s about moving from learning to putting what you have taught us into practice. Thank you for all the lessons you so freely give us outside the Bible. Amen

If One Person Smiles Then I Won’t…

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Just recently I’ve heard of a couple of stories that have bothered me. I hope they bother you too.
 
The first story was told to me by a friend. I may not have all the details exactly right, but it’s close enough to make you think. He told me of a gentleman who walked to the Golden Gate Bridge to commit suicide. When the police found his body, they went to his apartment to see if he had left a letter. I believe the story went that they found a letter. The letter written by the man stated he was going to commit suicide. If on the way one person talked to him or smiled at him, he would not do it. Apparently, no one smiled or talked to him. I found this on the internet:
 
“The story of a man who took his own life, attributed to Dr. Jerome Motto, a psychiatrist from UCSF, and dated only as being in the 1970s, is particularly haunting. “‘The guy was in his 30s,’ Motto related, ‘lived alone. Pretty bare apartment. He’d written a note and left it on his bureau. It said, ‘I’m going to walk to the bridge. If one person smiles at me on the way, I won’t jump.'”
 
My heart sank as I heard this story. If only one person had smiled at this man. If only one person had taken the time to say, “Hello” as they passed. If only….
 
We often wonder if, in this life, we will ever make an impact on someone’s life. Here is an example of one way that we could have, but no one did. He wasn’t asking for a handout, he wasn’t asking for food or alcohol; all he wanted was a smile. I think what he really wanted was to know someone cared for him. People won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. A life could have been saved or changed if only one person he passed smiled.
 
I was told another story by a lady in a church where I shared God’s message recently. She said she was in Walmart. I believe she was getting medicine. The lady in front of her needed medicine. She only had enough money to cover half of the prescription. She asked the pharmacist if she could only get half of it because of lack of funds. The pharmacist gave her just what she could afford. After leaving the store the lady that was telling me the story told me she instantly felt God tell her she should have stepped up and paid for the other half but she ignored the thoughts and went on her way. That was a while back and it has bothered her ever since. She has not been given another opportunity to step up and help anyone else. God puts people in our midst that we are to help. He puts those people in front of us so that we can be his hands, his feet, his ears, and his mouth. It’s up to us to move forward and be the body of Christ.
 
I am reminded of the Good Samaritan story found in the Bible. Turn to Luke 10:25-37. We all know the story really well. A priest and a Levite come upon a traveler that has been stripped of his clothing, beaten and left for dead alongside the road. They both turn and walk away, even crossing the road so as to not even be on the same side of the road as the Levite. It takes a third man, a Samaritan, to come to his rescue. This traveler was lucky the Samaritan came to his aid; the other two people I mentioned before – no one came to their aid.
 
So, what’s going on in the world today that prevents us from coming to the aid of someone who is in need of our help? What is keeping others from knowing God loves them and cares for them?
 
I think we are so preoccupied and so busy when we are out and about that the only things we seem to focus on are getting the jobs done that needs to be done. It could be a grocery trip. We are so busy focusing on getting those items we need so we can get back home and continue whatever it is that we think is so important. It amazes me how many people are shopping and talking on their phones at the same time…multi-tasking they call it. What if the man who was going to commit suicide walked through Walmart? That’s kind of sad to think that could happen, but it can. I have been in the store when very few people have smiled at me or even looked my way unless it was to inform me I was in their way.
 
I have told the story before, but it’s worth repeating. I had a clerk that was not very pleasant to me. I was in the back picking up photos. I mentioned to her that she looked tired. She went on to tell me she had to take her husband to the hospital the day before. She had been with him in the emergency room. They were there for twenty-four hours. After getting him settled, she then had to come straight to work with little or no sleep. I offered to pray for her and her husband. Her whole attitude changed. She knew someone cared. I cared. God cares. But the only way people are only going to know God cares is if we share that with them.
 
I think also we are so afraid of who the people are we are helping. This world has us paranoid that everyone we meet is out to get us and do us harm. We see the way they are dressed or the color of their hair or their hairstyle. We see tats on their bodies or rings where rings should not be and the fear factor sets in. We see people who are outside our box and we don’t want to communicate or have anything to do with them.
 
I have to make an admission here. I was that way before I worked at an organization that helps with those who are struggling. Some of them come in with different hairstyles, tats, rings or whatever and my first response was to be uncomfortable with them. Some have different lifestyles that I am not used to or come from a country that I have been made to fear. As I sat and talked with them in their situation I found out in their heart they are really no different than we are. I found out they have the same fears we do. I found out that God loves them just as they are as much as he loves me.
 
Hebrews 13:2 tells us, “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” What if either one of these two people mentioned earlier were God’s angels checking up on this world? I think he’d see we failed. He may not have sent these folks as angels, but I think we still failed. We fail every time we walk past someone and don’t share God’s smile. We are God’s smile. We are God’s hands that are to reach out and touch others.
 
Both of these stories have been a reminder that I am to make myself more aware of those people I come in contact with every day. They need to know God is still in the caring business. I need to make sure people know God’s still in the loving business. It’s them he loves.
 
I hope these stories have shaken you up a bit. I hope you will become more aware of those around you that need to know God still cares and still loves. Let’s pass the love of God on through a smile.
 
Dear God: Thank you for reminding me to not put blinders on when I am out and about, but to see your people that you have put in my path. Help me to know when that one special person needs a smile or a helping hand. Allow me to be your hands, feet, mouth, and ears; allow me to serve others as a disciple of Christ. Amen

Diversity…God Ordained

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I am so amazed at how God works things out for our own good. I belong to an organization I am not or was not crazy about. I belong because a friend asked me to join her. I thought I would be a good friend and help her out. So, for two years I have belonged to this organization. It seemed I just didn’t fit in. The ladies were much older than I was and they seemed to be a bit standoffish. I was thinking about resigning as a member.

Recently, this same organization was having their statewide meeting in the area I live in. Some of the ladies in my group were involved in the organizing and planning of this meeting. Also, our past President is now the Statewide President. It was important to her to have her group represented. When it came to signing up I insisted I did not have the extra money to attend this weekend event. That was going to be my excuse for not going. Well, that did not work. This group had set aside scholarship money for many of us to attend. That included me. I no longer had an excuse. So, begrudgingly I went with them. I can honestly say my heart was not in it.

As I was picked up Friday all I could think of was “well, let’s get this weekend over with.” I was excited about being with the two friends I was going to spend the weekend with.

We were not staying in the hotel, but we were staying in a home close by. As we arrived to drop our belongings off in the home we would be staying at I was surprised to find the owners would be gone most of the weekend. They just turned the home over to us with a full refrigerator, snacks, and drinks.

When we got to the hotel I immediately helped with setting up Silent Auction items and doing other last minute details. The women coming in were excited. I wasn’t able to share in their excitement. That evening we were to dress in our ethnic attire or that one that we were aware of. I had bought a dress while in Jamaica that I wore this evening. As I walked into the room I began to see all the different outfits that were being worn by the women. The excitement began to rise.

As the evening went on I became more interested in what this group was actually about. I finally figured out their goals and purposes. One of the topics that evening was inequality in education and poverty in education. There was a panel of women who were prominent in their fields discussing the needs of education and poverty. I became interested and really started listening. The evening was enjoyable.

I had been asked to participate in a skit about one of the many ways they collect their money. It is called the Least Coin Fund. These women collect pennies and change to send off to help with many causes that are needed around the world. I have never really understood this fund. With me participating in this skit my eyes were opened to the understanding and realization of how important these pennies are to the areas they fund.

The one thing I have not mentioned is these women are from all walks of life, they are from all denominations and it is a very diverse group of ladies. The race of these women varied in several degrees. I began to meet women I had never come in contact with before. I soon realized I was meeting women who were totally different from me. I was really enjoying the weekend. I began to realize I enjoy meeting women of different color, creed, and religion. I love diversity!

God was opening my eyes to a whole new world. God soon reminded me of the scripture found in Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew or Gentile, neither slave or free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ.” It didn’t matter how they worshipped, where they came from, or their skin color we were all sisters in Christ. We love the same God, we are concerned about the same issues and we all are willing to pitch in and help where we can. We all want to leave a legacy and make a difference in the world.

By Sunday I was beginning to feel more and more like a part of this group and this organization. I have figured out it wasn’t the women; it was me. My not understanding or taking the time to understand this organization left me out in the dark, but once I understood what this organization was about, once I saw the women excited about these causes and once I began to participate with a willing heart everything changed for me.

That’s what God calls each of us to do. We are called to participate with a willing heart. We are called to be open to his leading us and we are to understand those things he gives us to understand. We will never fully understand everything. I have found out I understand more things now since I have been on this journey for several years than when I first started out. I am sure there is more about this organization that I have to learn about and come to understand, but it will be a more enjoyable journey now.

I also challenge you to look at the groups and organizations you belong in. Are they diverse? Are you with those who think like you or look like you or worship like you? I am excited to be part of such a diverse group where I can begin to see God has plans for all of us. That he loves all of us no matter how different we really are. I am excited to be a part of a group of ladies that worship differently than I do so I can be open to what they may have to teach me and what I can share with them.

God knows what I needed in order for me to be more accepting of others and he provided. I love meeting people. I always have. I am now excited to be on a new journey where I will get the opportunity to get to know so much more. God is good all the time.

I challenge you to look at what you belong to and if there is no diversity, if you do not have the chance to get to know others who are totally different from you, if you are not afraid to open your mind and step outside the box then join a group where diversity is the key component. I can hook you up if you’d like.

As we look at others who are different from us we should not see skin color, different denominations or anything that makes us different. Instead, as we look at them we should see them as brothers and sisters in Christ; we should see them as the family we haven’t met yet.

Dear God: I realize now this organization was ordained and approved by you. You have joined these women together so we may become family; sisters in Christ sharing the work load you have given us to do. May we join hand in hand and become one in You. Bless the work we do and let us do it in love and gratitude for all you have given us. Amen