Correct Tire Pressure

I’m starting this post by asking a favor of you. Will you please tell a friend, someone who needs a bit of weekly encouragement, about my writing? If they are inclined to subscribe to this blog, send them to the link below and ask them to follow the instructions on the left side of the page. I will not share their email address. Like you, they will begin to get my weekly essays via email every week.

 Smoother Sailing | How to’s from the Big Book (wordpress.com)

Photo by Gerd Altmann on Pexels.com

And now on to my somewhat silly story…                

Our car monitors various items of safety, displaying messages as needed. Last week, “Correct Tire Pressure” showed up on the screen.

“Well,” thought my misinformed husband, “how nice of them to give us that bit of encouragement!” Upon further reflection, of course, he realized the word “correct” was being used as a verb, not an adjective, as a warning, not as a compliment.

Continue reading

Credit Where Credit Is Due

Sometimes I have trouble gleaning life lessons from Old Testament history. Such was not the case last week. Here’s what I read in Isaiah 10:12-15 (emphasis mine.)

I will punish the king of Assyria for the willful pride of his heart and the haughty look in his eyes.  For he says, ‘By the strength of my hand I have done this, and by my wisdom, because I have understanding. I removed the boundaries of nations, I plundered their treasures; like a mighty one I subdued their kings…’”

To which God responds:

  • “Does the ax raise itself above the person who swings it,
  • or the saw boast against the one who uses it?
  • As if a rod were to wield the person who lifts it up,
  • or a club brandish the one who is not wood!”

In the verses that come next, the wrath of God is described in most disturbing detail, providing a strong warning.

We talk—and write—a whole lot more about what pleases God than about what displeases him, but I was struck by this passage. When we are blessed with goods or accomplishment, success or victory or achievement of any kind, it is always a gift of God, meant to be credited as such. We are only the ax, the saw, the rod, the club. He is the wielder in every case.

Soli Deo gloria! To God alone be the glory!

photo credit: josch12 via pixabay.com

Under His Wings (A Month of My Mom)

 

mom 1

May is the month of Mother’s Day, and I’ve decided to have Mom as my guest blogger for the entire month. ‘Hope you’ll comment on her wise words. I’ll be sure to pass them along to her!

When the religious leaders of the day asked Jesus to state the greatest commandment, he replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. And love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39).

The Pharisees had added to the commandments God gave Moses, tacking on so many rules and regulations that the list was almost impossible to remember, let alone obey. Of course, this made the religious leaders seem pious and powerful. Then along came Jesus, who condensed the commandments into two simple statements. Love God. Love your neighbor. In essence, Jesus robbed the leaders of their power and, as you can imagine, they hated him for that.

Jesus didn’t return their hate. He even said, when they sought to kill him, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing” (Luke 13:34). Jesus longed to take care of his people. He still does. He longs to take care of you and me, even with all our imperfections. Picture God as a mother hen and us as his chicks.

  • Some of us stay fairly close to him but often think about wandering off. There’s a bit of something we want to explore over near the barn.
  • Some of us are just pecking away in the dirt, drifting further and further away and feeling pretty proud of our independence.
  • Some of us are almost out of earshot altogether.

When a dangerous storm comes up, a mother hen will call her chicks home and gather them under her wings to protect them. The ones nearby, the strutting independents, and the far off ones all get the same shelter, the same care.

Sometimes we’re like those chicks. We’ve fallen short so many times that we doubt God could care about us. We may be going through such sad, confusing, or painful times that we can barely hear God’s call. We just don’t know where to go for help. Here’s where to go—under his wings. The book of Psalms reminds us of that fact over and over:

“Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings” (Psalm 17:8).

“How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings” (Psalm 36:7).

“I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed” (Psalm 57:1).

I think perhaps this one is my favorite:

“He will cover you with His feathers and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart” (Psalm 91:4).

God longs to cover each of us and shield us. We haven’t wandered too far away to hear his voice. We just need to stop and listen.

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

Judgement Free Zone

pixabay handcuffs judgement free

I joined a group of women for coffee this morning. We were there to share our lives, our needs, our gifts and our prayers. The woman who brought us together had posted a sign on the wall that read “Judgement Free Zone.” (And one that said, “’Fix-It’ Free Zone” too, but that will have to wait for another day.)

Do you ever feel like the Lord is poking on you? Well, that sign was one more way he used to tell me I need to work on my awful tendency toward judgement. All of life should be a judgement free zone! Still, I struggle to ignore those nitpicky little notions that pop into my head when I see someone doing life wrong (aka not MY way). I’d like to share a few quotes that help me steer clear of judgmental muck and mire. Actually, the first should be enough for us all.

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Jesus in Matthew 7:1-2).

“Give people room to be human.” (Joel Osteen)

“Carry a shield. And treat others as if they don’t.” (Rachelle Gardner)

Carry a shield? Yes, indeed! Since, sadly, we don’t live in a judgement free world, we’ve all got to be wary of allowing the judgment of others to wound us or, worse yet, to dissuade us from following the path we believe the Lord has laid out for us. While we are surely called to serve one another, we aren’t necessarily called to please one another.

Truth be told, though, the person on whom I often exact the toughest judgement is myself. I read these wise words a few nights ago:

“Speak to yourself the way you would speak to someone you love.”

And how do we handle our fiery self-judgement when we’ve absolutely made a wrong choice? Here’s what my pastor says:

“Religion says, ‘I messed up. My dad is gonna kill me.’ The Gospel says, ‘I messed up. I need to call my dad.’”  (Ky Faciane)

Anytime we make the mistake of judging ourselves harshly, the best and only answer is to go back to our Lord, confident that he still loves us and can cover all our misdeeds. ‘Same goes for the misdeeds we see going on in other people’s lives. We can and ought to pray. Sometimes we may be called to counsel. But I’m ready to start building more judgement free zones. Join me, won’t you?!?