Revival of a Different Sort

Today, before the sun was even up, I flushed a toilet, started a load of laundry, boiled a pot of eggs, and made myself a cup of tea.

Somewhere else in the world, before the sun was even up, a woman not really all that different from me headed out along a mile-long path. She filled a 5-gallon pail with 40 pounds of water and carried it back to her family.

I’m passionate about providing clean water to those in need. But that’s a topic for another time. Today I want to share my passion for gratitude.

Sometimes, even in our western world of comfort and ease, we become exhausted or uncomfortable. And that can lead to a self-absorbed discontent. Or, maybe we begin to notice neighbors whose lives seems more delightful than our own. Our gratitude begins to fade, even in light of all our blessings. And we let it.

No more! Today I call on you (and on myself as well) to notice the simple blessing of water. I challenge you to breathe a prayer of thanksgiving every time you flush a toilet, turn on a tap, or take a shower. These are gifts! And then, move on to noticing the many other “simple” blessings God has given you. Make a list and stick it on your mirror if need be.

  • Revive your contentment.
  • Shout your praises.
  • Be happy and smile over the good things in your life.

And, if you are so inclined, share a list of your newly noticed blessings with me.

Strife, the Ugly Opposite

Last week I wrote about peace. This week, the topic is one of its ugly opposites, strife. (Once again I’m drawing in part from a talk by Joyce Meyer.) While peace is powerful, strife is terrible. We all want to (or should want to!) keep it out of our lives.  Remember this line from last week’s blog?

Avoid “acceptable sins” like jealousy and unforgiveness. How are you doing with that?

Are you jealous? Watch out! Read this:

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight” (James 4:1-2).

Are you ungrateful? I believe that’s often a close cousin to jealousy. I’ll be writing about gratitude soon!

Are you good at forgiveness? Satan wants us to believe we have every right to harbor unforgiveness, at least in certain circumstances. That’s a big fat lie. Are you mad at somebody? Have you broken off a relationship because you refuse to forgive? We tell ourselves we’re justified and in good company, that most Christians are mad at somebody. But we are never justified in our unforgiveness.

“Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).

 “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6:14-15).

“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you (Colossians 3:13).

Can any of us truly say we have suffered a wrong greater than crucifixion? Dare we risk being refused forgiveness by our Father in heaven? Is there any excuse for blatantly ignoring God’s command to forgive? Maybe you want to forgive, but feel that you can’t. Love and forgiveness are not feelings, but decisions.

Decide to forgive. Pray for the person you need to forgive. Bless (and don’t curse) them. Be good to them. (Go on, make the devil mad.) Let God work, regardless of your feelings.

And when the bitter feelings come again, as they well might, start the process all over again.

Photo by Andre Tan on Unsplash

The Importance of Being Peaceful

Joyce Meyer Got a Tattoo! Surprised? Hold on, we’ll get to that later. First, let me share some of what Joyce taught me about peace.

Peace is wonderful, but it isn’t automatic. Hebrews 12:14 says, Make every effort to live in peace with everyone.” A life of peace doesn’t just land in our laps. We have to “make every effort.” How? We could always start by taking these steps:

Value peace. Then you’ll be willing to make the effort.

Stop being angry. Let the offensive moments of life roll off your back. Proverbs 17:9 tells us, “Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.”

Avoid peace killers. God is good. Good is going on in the world. But that’s not what you’re likely to hear about when you’re plugged in to mainstream media for hours on end.

Humble yourself. It’s a whole lot easier to experience peace once you no longer need to impress people.

Avoid “acceptable sins” like jealousy and unforgiveness.

Be nice. Be helpful. Be positive. Give people mercy.

Mind your own business. That can be a tough one, but give it a try!

Now, about that tattoo. Proverbs 16:28 warns that, “A perverse person stirs up conflict,and a gossip separates close friends.”  One way to express that in today’s language might be “mind your own business!” Joyce Meyer recently got two tattoos. One is generally unseen, but I saw the one on her ankle (from a distance). It reminds her to walk in love.

Unscriptural? Probably not. Some people believe the Bible says we shouldn’t get tattoos. Others, including Joyce, believe the verse used to forbid tattoos is talking about a pagan act done to honor the dead.

Controversial? Probably so. But only for those who choose to mind Joyce’s business instead of their own. We aren’t free to judge people who do what we think they shouldn’t do, particularly when the Bible is fuzzy at best on the matter. Perhaps Joyce was led to get tattoos to make that very point.

Are you losing your peace over someone else’s choices today? Are you angry? Jealous? Bitter? Flooded with negative media? Bound up in a desire to please other people? Value peace! Hit your knees and ask our Lord to renew you from within. Then continue, by his grace, to make every effort to live in peace with everyone. We can change the world that way.

photo credit: @ isracguti19 via Unsplash.com

Questions from a Cruise

I went on a cruise! It was lovely, exhausting, indulgent, and full of unforgettable hours. As always, I looked for life lessons in the process. Let me share a few with you.

1. Ask (and heed) the wisdom of those who’ve gone before you.

When preparing for our trip, I read travel blogs and checked out opinions regarding excursions. I looked for tips on how to make the best of our vacation time.

Do you know someone whose wisdom and experience could keep you from learning things the hard way?

2. Stay focused so that you don’t miss out.

The most important moments of any day were rarely what I expected. The big shows were fun, but conversations over early morning tea were more precious,

What’s happening right now, in your everyday life, that deserves your full attention?

3. Turn off your phone.

I didn’t have cell coverage, so I was never on the internet, and life rocked on just fine without it. What a lovely reminder to me to keep the chatter of life down to a need to know basis! ‘Helped me focus on the experience at hand.

Really, how much do you need to know?

4. Be courageous.

I shy away from heights and speed, but, for the sake of my grandson, rode a really fast waterslide. It was delightful! (I rode it six more times.) If it’s safe, moral, and legal, go ahead—step up to try that new thing that gives you butterflies.

Is fear holding you back from something good?

5. Let people be your priority.

When all was said and done, it mattered far more who was with me than where I was.

Who could use a call or a hug or a visit from you this week?

6. Pray about everything, and submit even the lousy moments to God.

God has often surprised me in the way he works things out. Bugs in our bathroom at 1 am (ugh!) led to an amazing upgrade.

Have you joined the “pray without ceasing” club yet?

And have you learned a good lesson while traveling or on vacation? If so, I hope you’ll tell me all about it!

Photo by Georgy Trofimov on Unsplash.com

August

Coming soon: a new grandchild to the Koinis clan! Thus, I will be pausing my blog for the month of August. (Of course, you can always visit www.smoothersailing.com and read entries from the last ten years if you miss me too much!) I’ll be back in September. Until then, I want to leave you with this quote, encouraging you to be open to whatever God may ask of you.

“She’d spent so much of her life with a firm plan for what she would do and how she would live her life. Now she was surprised to find that she enjoyed simply waiting to see what assignment God would give her next.”

The Finder of Forgotten Things by Sarah Loudin Thomas https://a.co/2k0dCUY

Photo by Mediamodifier via Unsplash.com

Pure Gold by my mom, Beth Smith

Early prospectors during the gold rush were fooled into thinking they’d found real gold instead of something called iron pyrite, worthless rocks with flecks of shiny material in them. So many were fooled that iron pyrite became known as “fool’s gold.” I want you to know where our real gold is—where we have a neverending supply of genuine gold—in the Word of God.

Remember the crippled beggar to whom Peter said, “Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have give I you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk” (Acts 3:6 KJV). What did the cripple do? He went “walking and leaping and praising God.” He received far more than he asked for. Would he have traded his healing for a truckload of gold coins? Of course not! Here’s a bit more from the Bible regarding gold.

  • The law from your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold” (Psalm 119:72 NIV).
  • I love your commandments more than gold, more than pure gold” Psalm 119:127 NIV).
  • Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding, for she is more profitable that silver and yields better returns than gold” (Proverbs 3: 13-14 NIV).

Are you a bit timid about mining gold from the Bible? If you don’t have a modern or revised version, I recommend that you get one and try it out. That can make a big difference.

Another important thing to remember as we go into our gold mine, the Bible, is that we do not go alone. John 14 says that the Holy Spirit will lead us into all truth. Ask him to help you understand what you are reading! The Greek word for the Holy Spirit is Paraclete, which means “one who is called along side to help.” He will help us if we allow him to.

On more than one occasion, I’ve “just happened” to read a portion of the Bible that was exactly what I needed in that moment. God will do the same for you. The next time you read a verse that makes you think, “That was for me,” you can be sure it was God at work. Our gold mine is filled with power for living in God’s world, in God’s way. “Every Scripture was given to us by inspiration from God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives; it straightens us out and helps us do what is right. It is God’s way of making us well-prepared at every point, fully equipped to do good to everyone” 2 Timothy 3: 16-17 (TLB).

It’s time for us to think not “Thar’s gold in them thar hills,” but, “thar’s gold in this here Book.” (It hurts me as an English teacher to write that way.) It’s not fool’s gold, but the real McCoy. So pull out your Bible and read on!

photo credit: @zlataky via Unsplash.com