Month: November 2013

Christmas Decorating Day!

With Thanksgiving behind us, it’s time to decorate the house for Christmas! Yes, it is a ton of work! And, yes, it’s usually a solitary job, but I love it!

What I really enjoy is unpacking the ornaments!

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This is the ornament Brian and I got when we were first married in 1979, Danny’s first Christmas 1981, Bobby’s first Christmas 1984, and an ornament my mom gave me from her tree when I was a baby in 1956.

Every ornament has a sweet memory: The excitement and pride on the boys’ faces as they presented their hand-made masterpieces, the memory of a friend I haven’t seen in years, the heartache of a family member who is gone, the joy of a baby’s birth, or the thankfulness for a new daughter-in-law!

It’s not unusual, as each ornament is unwrapped and examined, to find some that didn’t survive their storage intact and need a bit of glue; while others seem prettier and shinier than when they were put away.

Just as we take the time to unpack the ornaments we use to decorate our homes, we should also set aside a time each year when we unpack and examine the ornaments God has given us to decorate our lives.

Galatians 5:22-23 “…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”

As we go through the box, each one provokes a memory…

Love – do you love unconditionally? Who needs to know that you love them?

Joy – when did you last experience joy? Have you brought joy to others’ lives? Have you lived joyfully in the midst of sorrow because you know the Savior?

Peace – are you living in peace? Peace with God and others?

Forbearance – have you practiced tolerance and restraint when you’ve been provoked? Have you shown patience with others?

Kindness – would others say you are kind to them? To yourself?

Goodness – only God is good – are you growing more and more like him each day?

Faithfulness – Would you say your faith in God is growing deeper? Stronger? Is it penetrating every part of your life?

Gentleness – Have your words and your actions grown in gentleness?

Self-control – where are you out of control? Where have you gained control?

As you cooperate with God, he will strengthen and grow this fruit. This is a promise.

Philippians 1:6 “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

We can’t produce this fruit on our own.  It isn’t a matter of working to be good enough.  These ornaments belong to God; they are the fruit of the Holy Spirit, the by-product of God working in our lives through the Holy Spirit.

As we cooperate with God in the circumstances he allows in our lives, he continues the work of transforming us: “polishing our ornaments”.

It’s time to decorate! May the light of the Lord shine brightly through you this Christmas season!

Time for a New Bible

MarciaBible2013 Giveaway! Time for a New Bible! My husband, Brian, gave me this Bible for Mother’s Day, 1994, almost 20 years ago. I used this Bible for every lecture I prepared and delivered as a Teaching Leader with Bible Study Fellowship from1999 until the fall of 2013.

I decided after my final lecture on September 23 to retire this Bible. It’s been through a few wars with me and is pretty much falling apart. I’ve glued the cover on with Elmer’s multiple times and had to glue whole sections into the binding with rubber cement. Some pages are taped where I accidentally tore them. They say that a person whose Bible is falling apart is a person who isn’t. Trust me; there have been plenty of times I thought I was falling apart! My Bible didn’t hold me together, but the words of God did!

Psalm 119:91-92 “If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction. I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have preserved my life.”

Each day as we open the Bible, read it, and ingest the words, God changes us. He strengthens, sharpens, smoothes rough edges, comforts, challenges, convicts, and matures us. God’s word sustains us.

Deuteronomy 8:3 “Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.”

It’s interesting, rarely do we think of going a day without food, but we’ll go for days, weeks, month, even years at a time without feeding our souls. We can’t make God happier, or earn his favor by reading the Bible more, but we can understand who God is and who we are supposed to be by reading it more. Is God calling you to his word?

God’s word also gives us direction and light in the darkness of an often frightening world. When the culture is continually pulling us and lying to us, how can we know which way to go?

Psalm 119:105 “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path” Do you feel lost when it comes to reading the Bible? Do you need direction? Maybe I can help you find a starting line.

A few years ago I discovered the “One Year Chronological Bible”. It is a wonderful way to read through the Bible. All of the Scriptures are there; nothing added, nothing taken away, all of God’s Word arranged chronologically. It is like reading the greatest novel of all time… God’s Story!

Since some friends gave me a beautiful, new black leather, (large print!!) Bible this spring to replace my retired one; I thought I’d ‘pay it forward’ by giving away a “One Year Chronological Bible” this week!

If you’d like an opportunity to own the Chronological Bible – just comment on the blog and you’ll be entered. You can simply say ‘I’m in’ – or better yet, share an encouraging word! I’ll pick and post the winner on December 2. Good luck! And God bless!

Thanksgiving Overloaded!!!

Turkey 13Nine more days!!! Does this sound familiar…

“Don’t forget to buy the turkey. When should it start thawing? I’ve got to finalize the menu. Who should bring which side dish? How many pies do we need? Will anyone notice if I go to Baker’s Square? What time is half time? Are the beds changed? Where’s the tablecloth? Are there enough folding chairs? What time is everyone arriving? What time will they leave? Who’s gonna clean the bathroom? When I have time, I’m going to make a to-do list.”

Thanksgiving?!?! Not quite!

Why is it that no matter how much we want to do, and need to do, it just seems like we’re often flying by the seat of our pants, and running out of time? There are too few hours to get everything accomplished. There isn’t even time to organize.

This is not new, consider the Israelites… Haggai 1:5-6 “Consider how things are going for you! You have planted much but harvested little. You have food to eat, but not enough to fill you up. You have wine to drink, but not enough to satisfy your thirst. You have clothing to wear, but not enough to keep you warm. Your wages disappear as though you were putting them in pockets filled with holes.”

The harder they worked, the less they had. The more they tried to get ahead, the further behind they got. Two steps forward and three steps back. There was never enough. Their lives were a lot like ours today.

The Bible tells us that the reason the Israelites couldn’t get ahead was because they put their personal desires ahead of the Lord’s. They were supposed to be rebuilding the Temple in Jerusalem, but there wasn’t time because they were too busy building their own houses. First things first, right?

Isn’t that part of our problem today? We are supposed to be building the Kingdom, but we’re too busy building our own lives. First things first, right?

I wonder if we gave to God the first portion of our day, or any portion of our day, if we’d have more of the day to do the other things we need to do. Could it be that we run out of time and are always scrounging because we’ve failed to define what the first things should be?
When you think of spending time with the Lord does your mind automatically start rattling off all of the things you need to do first? Do you start worrying about how you’re going to fit it all in?

We don’t have time for prayer, or Bible study, or quiet time, because we’re too busy with our careers, our families, or even our ministries. We can’t add time, but maybe we can prioritize better.

Psalm 5:3 “In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.”

Perhaps the first thing we should do this Thanksgiving is overload the Lord with thanks-giving.

Gift-giving Season

As I was out this morning, I passed a “Salvation Army” truck, and I was reminded that when I was little, about this time every year, we’d go through our toys and donate those we no longer played with to the Salvation Army.

I don’t ever remember asking why we had to give our toys away; we just knew we did. We understood the reality that there were other little boys and girls who didn’t have toys and we had enough to share. That was reason enough. I don’t ever recall fussing about it, though my mom might recall things differently.

We didn’t have tons of toys, but we were never, ever without something to play with. I played with my brother’s guns… and well, I won’t say he played with my dolls, because I don’t ever recall him playing with them, but I played with his GI-Joe tank! And, I never had a baseball glove of my own, but when all the kids in the neighborhood played baseball, there were always plenty of bats, gloves and balls. And, we all had bikes (with baseball cards clipped to the spokes).

It wasn’t a big deal to give away toys we didn’t play with anymore.  Plus, we all knew the verse: … Acts 20:35 “…remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

The Bible says that giving is a gift from God, and if we have this gift, we should give generously. Romans 12:6-8 “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is giving, then give generously.”

What does ‘generously’ really mean? I looked it up: abundant, magnanimous, bountiful, not selfish.

It’s easier to not be selfish with ‘things’ than it is with my life. Am I willing to give away time? Am I willing to give up half an hour to chat with a friend who’s hurting? Am I willing to babysit in the church nursery and give up time with my family? Am I willing to lead a Bible study and give up my TV time in the evening? Am I willing to give up a child, or grandchild to the mission field? Am I willing to give up vacation to serve on the mission field?

I also looked up magnanimous: generous in forgiving! I never really thought about giving forgiveness as a gift. I have plenty of forgiveness, I won’t ever run out.

God always forgives me when I confess my sin, but am I willing to be generous with my forgiveness? Or do I hold onto it tightly?

What has the Lord put on your heart to give this time of year? Is it time to clean out the toy box? Garage? Storage room? Your closet? Your heart?

I’m going to go through this toy cabinet; the grandsons probably won’t notice! And, I’m also going to search my heart and get rid of any unforgiveness that’s hiding there.

toycabinet

Eating Peas

This is a picture of our grandson Jake when he first started eating solid food. He’s about to get a bite of peas.

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He quickly learned that he doesn’t like peas!

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However, he opened his mouth again! He trusted the person feeding him. He knew we loved him, and we would never ever hurt him.

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Today, Jake is four. If I were to put peas on his plate for dinner, the conversation would probably go something like this:

Jake: Yaya, I don’t want peas.
Yaya (me): Jake, you have to eat them, they are good for you.
Jake: No, I don’t like them.
Yaya: Don’t you want to grow up to be big and strong like your daddy?
Jake: Yes, but I can do that if I eat cookies!
Yaya: No you can’t Jake, you need your peas.
Jake: Yaya, I’m not hungry!

We give our children healthy food, even if they only want candy, because we know that candy won’t produce a strong, healthy body.

We are a lot like Jake when it comes to eating our ‘spiritual peas’. What are spiritual peas? That would be the hard things in life that the Lord puts on our plate. I don’t have to imagine what that conversation would sound like, I’ve had it…

God: Marcia, you have to go through this difficult thing.
Marcia: God, I don’t want to.
God: You have to, it is good for you.
Marcia: No. I don’t like this.
God: Don’t you want to grow up to be like Jesus?
Marcia: Yes, but I can do that without having to endure this.|
God: No, you can’t, Marcia, you need to walk this path.
Marcia: God, I’m ok where I am.

God knows the future. He knows what I need to experience now in order to be prepared for what the future holds. He knows where I will need to be strong. He knows where the Evil One is going to come against me. He knows where I need to grow. Therefore, God very carefully prepares my plate with just the right amount of peas.

Romans 5:3-5 because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame…”

God will not overload me with suffering. I know that there will also be sweet desserts – times of celebration and rejoicing. And, there will be some really nice steaks because he knows how much I love to study the meat of doctrine.

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Just as Jake’s peas produce a healthy body, so our suffering produces a healthy spirit: a spirit that hopes, even when things appear hopeless.

What difficult thing has God put on your plate? Do you believe that He has your best interest at heart, because he knows what you will need in the future?