How Good Is Your Memory?

Every time I re-read portions of the Old Testament, I’m astounded by the way the Israelites got caught in this loop:

  1. Cry out for help. (For example, “Let us out of Egypt!)
  2. Experience God’s miraculous provision. (Like parted seas.)
  3. Find a reason to complain. (“We’re thirsty!”)

REPEAT:

  1. Cry out for help. (“Give us food!”)
  2. Experience God’s miraculous provision. (Like manna from heaven.)
  3. Find a reason to complain. (“We’re so sick of eating the same old thing!”)

REPEAT…REPEAT…REPEAT…

But I have grumpy days, don’t you? I feel sorry for myself or evaluate my lot in life and decide it doesn’t measure up to someone else’s. I long for something I don’t have and forget for a while all God has done and all I’ve been given. I’ve seen miraculous provision in my own life, so how am I any different from those Israelites? I am ashamed to admit that I can get tired of manna too.

I was knocked upside the head by this quote not long ago: “If God never did one more thing for you, you ought to be the happiest person in the world.” (I heard it in a TV sermon, but don’t remember who was preaching.) Oh my, yes! When I step back from my doldrums and recount the miracles in my own life and in those of my loved ones, I realize any one of those gifts from God should be enough to keep me rejoicing until eternity. How quickly I can forget!

So, today, I want to leave you with this verse, Psalm 42:6, from The Message.

“When my soul is in the dumps, I rehearse everything I know of you.”

Has God ever done anything for you? Then, next time you find yourself grumpy or dissatisfied, refresh your memory! I plan to do the same.

Photo: Nam Anh on Unsplash.com because “an elephant never forgets,” or so they say.

Be Happy, and Smile!

“May the righteous be glad and rejoice before God. May they be happy and joyful” (Psalm 68:3). Yes, I know. I’ve quoted that verse here before. And, most likely I will again. But today I want to pair it with this line, found on one of those cute wooden signs we all see in gift shops.

Be Happy, and Smile.

Are you happy? I hope so. If you put the word “happy” in the search bar of my blog, or click the link at the bottom of this entry, you’ll find plenty of content about happiness. Today, though, I want to remind you to SMILE.

“If you’re happy and you know it then your face will surely show it.”

Well, that’s a great line, but I’m wondering if it’s true. Are you ever happy on the inside, but a bit dour, or at least neutral, on the outside? I know I am sometimes. I’ll catch myself in a photo or in the mirror and think, “Who’s that grump? That’s not how I’m feeling!” Smiley faces aren’t always our natural bent. It’s time to try to change that.  Why?

“You’re never fully dressed without a smile.” Okay, not a bad sentiment. And smiles do make most of us look better.

“Smiles are contagious.” If you have any doubt of that, run an experiment next time you are out and about. Smile at the baby in the stroller, the lonely senior citizen on the park bench, or the worn out checker at the grocery store. Better still, try the same test out in your own home. My bet is that your smile brings a smile, and probably a bit of unspoken encouragement flows out with it.

“Smile. It makes people wonder what you’ve been up to.” Isn’t that something we want to induce? Don’t we want people to ask us why we’re happy? That’s one of the very best openings to a conversation about what a joy it is to live a life of total trust in our Lord.

I hope you will make your own little sign and post it somewhere. Supposedly, it takes 30 days to adopt a new habit. Let’s adopt this one together:

Be Happy, and Smile!

Read more here: (happy | Search Results | Smoother Sailing (wordpress.com))  

Attraction to Distraction

Photo by Ola Dapo on Pexels.com

My pastor has been challenging us to rethink the way we use our cell phones (and tablets, and televisions and…) I’ve been an avid member of the “watch what you watch” club for years, but his thoughts have made me go even deeper into my evaluation of screenage. The questions I’m about to ask you are the same questions I’m asking myself. I need to make some changes, not all of which will be particularly easy, but I think the payoff will be worth it.

How much have we given up eye-to-eye, or even voice-to voice relationships to our detriment?

  • Texts and emails may be efficient—or not. Too often, I’ve texted back and forth with a friend or colleague only to determine that, by the time I’ve typed and read a dozen missives, a phone call would have been faster and maybe even more effective.
  • Sometimes I stop what I’m doing to answer a text, but then decide to “take a minute” to check Facebook, confirm the weather forecast, look at a few favorite photos…I don’t ever finish everything I’d like to get done in a day! So, it’s time for me to be more careful about how I spend my minutes.
  • When I actually hear someone’s voice, let alone meet them in person, I reconnect on a much higher level than most tech can provide.

So, this week I’m beginning a new habit. Whenever possible, I’m stepping away from my desk to stretch my eyes and make a call instead of typing out a text or email.

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Looking Loopy

Evan Almighty may not have been perfect in its theology, but it sure got one thing right. Noah looked like a hair-brained fool for building that boat. (‘Good thing he did it anyway.) Plenty of Bible heroes had to take on courageous challenges that didn’t make any sense at the time. Abraham (take a hike with your son and a knife) and Joshua (take a lot of hikes with torches and clay jars) come to mind first off. But were there any “little guys” who found themselves facing a crisis of obedience? I think so. Look at this passage from Mark 14. Jesus’ disciples have just asked where they should prepare what we’ve come to call The Last Supper.

“Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him. Say to the owner of the house he enters, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.” The disciples left, went into the city and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.”

That homeowner had already prepared his room. Then he went for water at just the right time, and it mattered very much that he did.

Then there’s this passage from Luke 5. While Simon Peter became a hero of our faith, at the time of this story, he’s just a regular guy, a tired fisherman facing a failure. “When he (Jesus) had finished speaking, he said to Simon, ‘Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.’

Simon answered, ‘Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.’

When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break.”

Simon had already started cleaning and repairing his empty nets. How did it look to the guys in the other boats when he headed back out?

These people looked loopy because God had a plan, and they trusted him even when they didn’t know what that plan was.

In today’s conflicted world, perhaps the nuttiest think you can do is look peaceful and happy. But, really, why not? As Charles Stanley said, “Christians ought to be the happiest people in the world, because we’ve got more to be grateful for.” We’ve also got More to trust.

So this week I’m asking you to not only embrace the peace and joy God offers you, but also to let it show! When you’re stuck in a conversation of doom and gloom, be the voice of hope. Let people hear of your trust in God’s plan. So what if it make you look a little loopy?

And for more of Dr. Charles Stanley, check out this link: “How to Stay Young and Useful All Your Life.”

Photo by Greg Reese via pixabay.com.

Why Do We Give Chocolate to Children?

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com Please note that this is not a photo of my grandson!

As you’ve gathered from earlier posts, I have grandchildren now. I also have a generous supply of chocolate chips—white, dark, milk, and caramel. While Steve and I certainly get into my stash from time to time, I keep those chip jars full primarily for the sake of the little ones in my life. Today they sprinkled them on top of pans of pumpkin muffins. They’ve insisted on adding them to our quarts of homemade frozen yogurt. Sometimes, though, I just dole out small piles of chips into each of their eager hands.

But why? Why do any of us give chocolate (or sprinkles, or ice cream or…) to children? We all know it’s not particularly healthy. I think we do it because we take pleasure in delighting those we love. I enjoy the broad smiles and pure excitement a few chocolate chips can evoke in my grandchildren. I like giving them what they like. It makes me happy.

I think God takes pleasure in delighting those he loves—that’s us. Of course, every blessing he gives us is 100% good. The questions I want to ask you today, though, are these:

  • How good are you at delight?
  • Do you keep your eyes open for God’s blessings and please him by enjoying what he gives you?
  • Do you take good things for granted or, worse yet, deny yourself the pleasure of His gifts because you know you don’t deserve them?

My grandchildren often say, “I’m so excited…” When I hear that, I’m challenged to rekindle my own excitement, to renew my recognition of the pleasant things in life, all of which are gifts from God. I want to urge you today to up your level of delight in the Lord, not just in who he is, but also in all he provides.

And won’t you please take a moment to tell me about it here?

And one more thing: Last week’s blog was written by my mom, Beth Smith. Some of you received it by email before it was properly credited. ‘Just want to set the record straight!

Refreshed by Beth Smith

The York Candy company once ran a series of commercials, each beginning with the words, “When I bite into a York Peppermint Pattie, I feel…” followed by images of extreme refreshment—like falling into a pristine pool on a hot summer day. While I love Peppermint Patties, the refreshment I get from God is even better.

Refreshment can mean relief, and God gives us relief from sin. “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord” (Acts 3:19).

Sometimes when we say we need refreshment, we mean we’re desperate for renewed strength. The Bible promises us that as well. “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:31).

Maybe the refreshment you’re looking for stems from some other need. Still covered! Philippians 4:19 promises that, “my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”

The help, the refreshment we need, often comes from God’s Word. Once I was very nervous about flying to Europe. I prayed about it, but I was still really scared. Here’s the Bible verse that freed me from fear. “Even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast” (Psalm 139:10). God helped me with his Word, and I was refreshed! He’ll do the same for you. Tell him what you need, and the expect him to come through.

Part of the refreshment God gives us comes from a renewing of our minds and bodies as we submit to him. Paul wrote, “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” (Romans 12:1-2 NLT). Note, please, that our part is to submit to God. His part is to change us, to refresh us, to supply our needs.

Next time you are refreshed, whether by a mint, or a cool drink of water, or even a nice long nap, think about the ways God refreshes you. Praise him. And keep on going to him—reading his Word, spending time in prayer, submitting to his ways, choosing to trust—for refreshment every day.