Just Two Minutes

It takes about two minutes to read one of my blog posts. Today, I’m asking you to spend those two minutes listening to this instead: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/knowing-god-with-greg-laurie/id213272283?i=1000461672907

My Take

Steve gave me Somebody Safe with Somebody Good by Jan Karon for Christmas. Here’s my take on some of the wise words I came across while enjoying her terrific novel.

“Sleep in peace, God is awake.” (Victor Hugo) I’ll remember that the next time life is particularly uncertain. If we lived in perfect faith, troubles would never bring insomnia!

“We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God.” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer) In my younger days, this meant simply leaving the door to my dorm room ajar, welcoming those who wanted my friendship even if I had a paper to write. It could mean bearing illness, whether our own or that of a loved-one-in-need, with patience and grace, or taking a friend’s call even when we feel “too busy” to talk.

And then by Jan Karon:

“He (the main character) moved directly then to the abridged version. ‘Help me, Jesus.’” “Oh, Jesus!” isn’t always a curse. Often it’s a cry for help, issued allowed or within our spirits—an appropriate cry and one many of us don’t make often enough. If He can supply all we need, and since we are always in need, why not make a habit of calling out to Him?

“I do know this—the business of killing yourself for other people is a lot of hogwash.” Spending ourselves for others may be our calling, yet I believe God rarely asks us to fully exhaust ourselves. Most of the time, he wants us to stay within boundaries that let us to live to serve another day.

“To do it all and deprive others of doing is a misguided notion.” See above, as this is yet another reason to question a life of constant fatigue.

When her main character is seeking the answer to an as-yet-unsolved dilemma: “We, however, need to keep praying and trusting God, and moving ahead to things like lunch and dry-cleaning.” I love this! How often do we let waiting on God put us into a state of frozen stress? We spin our wheels and worry about how things are going to turn out. “Keep calm, and carry on” means “Take it to the Lord, and keep on living.”

“At 89, Albert Schweitzer was running a hospital in Africa.’’ If you sense God asking you to do something, never say, “I’m too old!” (or for that matter, “I’m too young.”) If he calls, he equips.

“’Lord,’ he prayed, ‘make me a blessing to someone today.’” What would happen if you and I prayed that prayer every single morning? Let’s start today, shall we? Go for it, and let me know what happens!

*On pages 169, 172, 176, 189, and 191

Photo by Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash

January Again!

Not a shadow can rise, not a cloud in the skies,

But His smile quickly drives it away;    

Not a doubt or a fear, not a sigh or a tear,

Can remain when we trust and obey.

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way

To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

      -James H. Sammis

With that in mind, I wish you the very happiest of New Years!!!

Merry Christmas

Christ the Savior is born!

May God grant you a delightful celebration of our Savior’s birth!

With Love and Great Joy,

Brenda

Mounds of Treasure by Beth Smith (My Mom!)

cookiesMy son-in-law Steve is Greek. His mom, Helen, was a great cook and made wonderful cookies with names I can’t pronounce. Once, when Helen was making cookies with our granddaughter, Elizabeth, they got to the part of the process where the hot buttery cookies needed to be coated with powdered sugar. Helen gave specific instructions, explaining, “You don’t need just a sprinkling of the white stuff on these. You have to put on mounds of sugar.” Her cookies were supposed to be heaped up with powdered sugar, ready to delight those eager to eat them.

The Bible talks about mounding or heaping up—not powdered sugar, of course, but other things that are much more important.

Do not gather and heap up and store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust and worm consume and destroy, and where thieves break through and steal. But gather and heap up and store for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust nor worm consume and destroy, and where thieves do not break through and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also (Matthew 6:19-21 AMP).

Most of us think of treasure as money or expensive gifts. I don‘t believe that’s what God considers treasure. Take a look at these verses:

My child, listen to what I say and treasure my commands. Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding. Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding. Search for them as you would for silver; seek them like hidden treasures” (Proverbs 2:1-4 NLT).

In him (Christ) lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3 NLT).

Isaiah 33:6 (AMP) reminds us that, “the reverent fear and worship of the Lord is our treasure and His.” That’s a wonderful verse. As we stand in awe of God and worship him, we are enriched and so is he. Imagine that! Sometimes we ask, “What can I do for God?” Often we’re only thinking in terms of good works, but this verse suggests that we serve him by worshiping him.

Our greatest treasure, of course, is our salvation through Jesus Christ. You’re going to love this passage from the New Living Translation: “God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay” (1 Peter 1:3b-4 NLT).

When you see a mound—an ant mound, a Mounds candy bar or even a cookie covered in mounds of sugar, think about the mounds of treasure our Lord offers us.

  • wisdom
  • understanding
  • uncompromising righteousness
  • trials (Yes, even those, because He uses them.)
  • the privilege of worship
  • and eternal life

What a treasure—a treasure far more important than any we may acquire on earth!

*Photo from markusspiske on pixabay.com

 

Earrings and Elephants

 

elephant will shirley @willshirley via unslplas

Tuesday: They were late! Jobs to finish, children to settle, traffic to navigate—all good reasons to fall a bit behind, but that didn’t change the fact that they were late to the most important Christmas party of the season. Welcomed with a bit of friendly banter (Hey, glad you decided to join us!), they shed their coats and settled in for an evening of warmth, laughter—and a white elephant exchange.

Wait. What?

Her loving husband either wasn’t privy to that tiny but oh-so-important detail or else simply forgot to tell her. The exchange game would be the entertainment for the evening, and they were unprepared. Unless…

“Use your earrings!” came the whisper of a good friend. And so she did. That loving wife, channeling a hint of “The Gift of the Magi” dropped her much loved jewelry into a bag, and she and her husband were back in the game. Maybe she could win them back?

Nope. They won a book, and her earrings were gone. She kept her wits about her and, realizing relationship trumps “stuff” every time, she joked about it but let it go.

Thursday: A wise woman, let’s call her Mary, showed up at the door. In her hand? The sacrificed earrings. Mary had made the “use your earrings” suggestion in the first place. Then she’d made sure to win them back on behalf of her friend. Caring nothing about winning a prize of her own, she’d saved the day—twice.

I love that story. And yes, it’s true, recounted to you as closely as possible based on how it was told to me. If Christmas is a time for giving, it’s also a time for forgiving, for letting each little faux pas of the season pass with barely a thought. (And, let’s face it, we all make plenty of blunders, especially during the busy holiday season.) Better still, it’s a time for helping each other get the job done, whatever that job may be, without need for recognition or recompense.

Loving wife, thoughtful friend: if you are reading this, I salute you. And to the rest of my readers, I share their example and challenge you to follow it as this year closes and the next one begins.

Photo by Will Shirley @willshirley via Unslplash.com