I Interrupt These Blog Posts..

texting

My post this week is a departure from the usual sort of material you will find at this site. I want to share an article with you about cell phone usage  and driving. Before you say, “Oh, Brother!” consider this:

·       We are to be responsible stewards of the gifts God gives us.

·       We are to care for our bodies, as they are temples of the Holy Spirit.

·       And we are to love one another, which surely must include looking out for one another’s safety.

With all of that in mind, I’d like to share this information from the March/April 2019 issue of Texas Journey (page 9, to be exact.) These bulleted points are findings by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, and I’m sure are not a comprehensive list of the facts. Note, also, that this list doesn’t distinguish between hand-held use and hands-free use, as both pose risk. 

  • Looking at a phone for just two seconds doubles the risk of a crash.
  • At a speed of 55 miles per hour, a driver texting for only five seconds will travel the length of a football field, driving virtually blind before looking at the road again.
  • Mental distraction can linger for up to 27 seconds after using an electronic device. 
  • Drivers using cell phones [to either talk or text] are up to four times more likely to crash.
  • The safest way to drive is simply not to use the cell phone when driving.

My friends, I hope you will reconsider your need to multitask. Turn on some praise music and focus on the drive. If we all do that, somewhere down the road many lives will be saved.

photo by StockSnap via Pixabay

 

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While on a Treadmill…

white-male-1856182_1280On a recent rainy Saturday, I headed to the gym and slipped on my headphones. Sometimes, to distract myself from the boredom of the treadmill (just being honest here!), I watch Netflix. Sometimes, I watch a sermon. I chose a sermon that day and started streaming one by Francis Chan It was a great talk on obedience and sacrifice, delivered in his usual way—disarmingly casual, surprisingly funny and always in-your-face challenging. But on that Saturday, it wasn’t a sermon by Francis Chan that renewed my resolve to trust in our loving lord. It was, of all things, an ad for the movie “Hellboy.”

Since I’m not an aficionado of those movies, I can’t tell you which sequel Hollywood is offering this month. What I can tell you is that, as I began to jog along on a noisy sweat machine, the flat screen TV in the corner of the room caught my eye. There in poster-like fashion, bold against a brightly colored background, was this announcement:

ON APRIL 12, OUR FATE IS IN HIS HANDS.

I had to laugh. I was about to spend 30 minutes listening to what would unquestionably be a fantastic sermon by a well-known pastor, but nothing was going to stick in my mind that day like those few words. Because, of course, on April 12th, and every other day as well, our fate IS in his hands. (I hope you’ve figured out by now that I don’t mean the hands of Hellboy!)

Those words are one of the keys to our walk of faith, the reason we can be at peace no matter what is going on around us. Our fate is in the hands of the Lord who loves us. Not in our hands. Not in the hands of any enemy or even in the hands of a loved one. In HIS hands. Ultimately, at all times, whether we see it or not, our Lord is at the helm. And isn’t that the most wonderful news?

So, on April 12th, and on every day thereafter, I hope you will join me in remembering—perhaps with a bit of a chuckle over the source of these words—

OUR FATE IS IN HIS HANDS!! Care to comment? Just click here.

Photo by pixabay

Sandy

puppies sandy jametiene Reskp via unsplashI want to tell you a story. It’s an old one, but I was astonished to discover that I’ve never shared it here before. Last week a friend asked, “Have you ever had a dog?” and it all came back to me…

Our children were small, and our first dog, Springer, was very old. We’d heard that getting a new dog while the old one was still relatively healthy would be good for old and young alike. So, one sunny Saturday morning, we put a new leash, an old water bowl and two very excited kids into our minivan and headed out for a long drive to the pound. The experience was not what we expected.

  • Disappointment number one: most of the dogs available that day were chow mix, and the ASCPA would not allow any family with children to adopt them.
  • Disappointment number two: the adoption process had changed in the decade and a half since we’d gotten Springer. It required extra paperwork, an evaluation process, and a second trip weeks later to pick up the selected puppy. I understood their reasons, but I can still see Tony, standing there forlorn, with leash in hand, asking, “Do you mean we won’t get to take home a puppy today?”
  • Disappointment number three: the only puppies available were going to grow up to be big dogs, very big dogs. (Somehow, this didn’t seem to bother my husband, but this was not our agreed upon plan.)

As disappointments mounted, my enthusiasm waned. Tony, Elizabeth and I were shown to a small cubicle where we could play with the most likely canine candidate while Steve filled out forms. And then, I kid you not, I got dizzy—like “I think I might pass out” dizzy. Steve had to be called to the cubicle so I could step outside for some air.

I sat out on the curb with my head on my knees. As I waited for my head to stop spinning, I prayed that God would intervene. A few minutes later, confident that the risk of passing out was gone, I looked up and saw a most beautiful sight. There in the parking lot, a woman was walking away from her car, carrying a basket of tiny tawny puppies. I stepped into what felt like a God-orchestrated Disney screenplay.

“Excuse me, ma’am, are you about to take those puppies into the pound?”

“What kind are they? How big do you expect them to be?

“Would you mind waiting just a minute?”

“Steve, would you and the children come out here. I’d like to show you something.”

“Would you two kids like to take one of these home with you today, right now?”

“You can reach into the basket and choose the one you want.”

And so, we did. Sandy was perfect—the right size, the right demeanor, just what we needed. She was still with us long after our kids grew up and moved out. She became another living example of God’s grace, of how he cares so very much about even the small “worldly” details of our lives. I’m thankful for Sandy. And I hope her story encouraged you today!

Photo by jametiene Reskp via Unsplash.com

Where’s Our Focus? By Beth Smith

 

where's our focus magnify GraphicMama-team via pixabay

What occupies our thoughts? How much time do we spend looking back on the unpleasant things that have happened to us? We have a choice!

Jesus said, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62 NIV). If a person who’s plowing a field keeps looking back instead of looking ahead, he’s sure to plow some awfully crooked rows. If we’ve accepted Christ as our Lord and Savior, but are forever looking backward into the past, we’re plowing crooked rows too.

When we focus on our pasts, our trials, our troubles and our pain, we often make them bigger and more important than they really are. We magnify them. How do we stop exaggerating our troubles? They’re real, but they don’t need to define us. Here’s how we change. We focus on Christ and his Word. This isn’t easily done, because neither the Devil nor our sinful selves tend to want us to live that way. We have a fight on our hands. But that battle has already been won for us through the sacrifice made by Christ on the cross, and he will help us.

Focusing requires us to concentrate our thoughts and efforts. When we focus on God and his Word, we’re seeking a clear, distinct picture of what God has done for us. We want—we need—to magnify all of the great things God has provided for us. For starters:

  • He loves us.
  • He died that we might live.
  • He has taken our sin and given us his righteousness.

Take a look at Psalm 34:1-3 (AMP). The questions in parenthesis are mine. Keep in mind that when David wrote this passage, King Saul was trying to catch and kill him.

I will bless the Lord (When?) at all times;

His praise will (How often?) continually be in my mouth.

My life makes its boast (In whom?) in the Lord;

Let the humble and the afflicted (Do what?) hear and be glad.

Oh magnify (Who?) the Lord with me and let us exalt His name together.”

We can’t let our thanksgiving be based on our feelings (which can change more quickly than the weather) or on our circumstances (which are never dependable). Once we learn to focus on God, there’s always a reason to give thanks. We can begin to look away from the things that bother us or bring us pain and turn instead to eternal things, the truths that will matter forever. So, where should we focus? What shall we magnify? Let me leave you with this verse.

“May all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who long for your saving help always say, ‘The Lord is great!’” (Psalm 70:4 NIV).

Photo by GraphicMama-team via pixabay

A Simple Life

photo-1510333337682-fdd0eba357a4 Robert Nyman UnsplashI attended a women’s conference a few weeks back. I had my notebook ready, and captured all sorts of wise words and valuable lessons. One stood out from all the rest.

“Someone asked the question, ‘What are you doing with your life?’
The answer I heard was, ‘I’m following Jesus. How about you?’”

Is life really that simple?

Yes, I think it is. My college chaplain used to say, “Few things are necessary, really only one.” (More about that here.) Our one thing is following Christ. Simple doesn’t mean easy, though. In order to follow Jesus, we have to see where he’s leading us. That requires time and effort and a good deal of going against the flow of our culture. It takes:

Knowing him: spending time in prayer, taking time to read the Bible, immersing ourselves in teaching about who he is and what his will looks like.

Listening to him: limiting distractions that crowd out his still small voice with clamor and confusion, asking him to speak and looking for his leading.

Opening ourselves to others: letting true fellowship take the role of godly counsel at times when we aren’t sure what following Jesus looks like.

Stepping out in faith and courage: taking action in some situations, while waiting patiently in others. When we don’t yet know the path that’s right, and can’t keep waiting to make a decision, we have to seek our Lord’s will and trust that, as we step out in faith, he will keep us going in the right direction. When we do know what following Jesus looks like in a particular circumstance, we still need the strength or courage to follow through.

But at its core, the life we’re meant to lead is one of simply following Jesus. When I’m discouraged or confused, I take comfort in the fact that Jesus wants me to follow him. And he knows I want to do just that. My prayers for guidance are absolutely 100% within his will, and 1 John 5:14-15 says, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.”

Photo by Robert Nyman via Unsplash.com

Jungle Book

IMG_1389

I’m old-fashioned in many ways. I make muffins and soup from scratch, prefer paper books to e-readers, and am rarely willing to watch an “R” rated movie. If you interviewed any of my offspring, or their many friends who know me well, the list of ways in which my life is, shall we say, not quite up-to-date would grow exponentially. Here’s one that may surprise you:

I still own a VHS player (and a whole lot of tapes, because our home became the depository as friends and family moved on to DVD’s and streaming). Now, don’t misunderstand, I have a stack of DVD’s and Blu-ray’s in an upstairs closet. We subscribe to Netflix and Amazon Prime. But last week, to my great delight, 2-year-old Nick and I watched an old VHS of Jungle Book.

  • It was Walt Disney’s19th and final full length animated feature.
  • It was produced in 1967, before many of you were old enough to go see it (or were even born)!
  • And it was so very different from the animated films of today.

The graphics were simpler and somehow calmer. Far less action was crammed into every frame. The soundtrack, as well as the dialogue, was quieter, slower, and sometimes nearly non-existent.

Yes, just imagine, sometimes there was actual silence! And we loved it. It was beautiful and relaxing. And it made me wonder…

When did noise become the norm? I watch plenty of noisy movies. My most recent discovery was The Kid Who Would Be King. And just last night Steve and I were laughing and dancing to Disney Hits and One Hit Wonders via Pandora, our wireless jam box cranked up so high we probably disturbed the neighbors. But, today I’m being quiet. And I’m remembering that noise is relatively new. Think of the characters in Little House on the Prairie. Unless Pa was playing his fiddle, just how many sound waves bounced around that cabin at night?

I know the power of good music, calling me to worship or simply putting a spring in my step. I appreciate a tale well-told via modern media with plenty of sound effects. But what have we done to our brains? To our spirits? Have we become overloaded by a society saturated with sound?

Here is my challenge: Take a break from the noise sometime soon. Turn it all off. Listen. Pray. Or even let your mind lie fallow. Try it for more than an hour, maybe even half a day, or at least for your whole commute. Bring a little balance back into your noisy life. And let me know how it goes. I’d love to hear your comments! Just click the balloon at the top right or click here.

And for those of you who know me so well and are just dying to add to my old-fashioned list–go for it!