Just One Letter

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A few weeks ago, a Councilman in a Midwestern city did something small but extraordinary. He changed just one letter. Doesn’t sound like much, does it? Outside of City Hall, someone had painted “Defund the Police” on the street. He didn’t like that message and so he painted over the U in Defund and painted an E instead. The message then read “Defend the Police.” The police in his city had been completely demoralized by those that were denigrating the work they did. I’m sure that having one person stand up and change the messaging was an encouragement to them.

So many times, we think that we have to do something really big in order to make a difference. That man showed us that one small thing can change the atmosphere in a city. Let’s think about another word…Live. Each day we get out of bed and we have a chance to Live. What if we intentionally changed the I to an O? What if we decided that just living wasn’t enough but we were going to make an effort to Love the people we came into contact with? Do we think that would make a difference? Could our actions eventually change the atmosphere in our homes, neighborhoods or cities?

When we look around, we see problems everywhere. We think that something small will not make an impact or have much value. In truth, that is not the case. Jesus himself taught us that “And whoever gives one of these little ones a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall not lose his reward.” Matthew 10:42  Jesus was teaching us that we will be rewarded when we do even the smallest gesture if it is done with the right motivation. 

Small things CAN make a BIG difference. What can we do today in order to change the atmosphere in the world we live in? Is there a cup of cold water we can give someone? A bar of soap, a can of soup, a smile, or a helping hand? Let us not refuse to do something because we cannot do everything to fix the problems around us. Let us remember that sometimes it takes changing just one letter in one word! 

Image by Foundry. Courtesy of Pixabay

Which Tree are You Eating From?

From the very beginning, God gave man a choice of eating from two trees. Our very existence would be determined by the tree we ate from. Before we decide which tree to eat from, we should probably look at the fruit that each one offers and the consequences from eating from each tree.

THE TREE OF LIFE

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Type of Tree: SPIRITUAL 

Fruit: LOVE, JOY, PEACE, PATIENCE, KINDNESS, GOODNESS, FAITHFULNESS, GENTLENESS AND SELF-CONTROL. Galatians 5:22

Emotional Result from Eating from the Tree:  CONTENTMENT  “But godliness with contentment is great gain.” 1 Timothy 6:1

Motivational Driver: HUMILITY

Path to the Tree:  DELIBERATE CHOICE. “Jesus said, I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

Ultimate Result from Eating from the Tree: ETERNAL LIFE

 

THE TREE OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOOD AND EVIL

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Type of tree: FLESHLY 

Fruit: SEXUAL IMMORALITY, IMPURITY, DEBAUCHERY, IDOLATRY, WITCHCRAFT, HATRED, DISCORD, JEALOUSY, FITS OF RAGE, SELFISH AMBITION, DISSENSIONS, FACTIONS, ENVY, DRUNKENNESS, ORGIES. Galatians 5: 19-21

Path to the Tree: DEFAULT SETTING AT BIRTH. “Behold, I was shaped in iniquity and in sin did my mother conceive me.” Psalm 51:5

Emotional Result from Eating from the Tree:  LUST  “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world.” 1John 2:16

Motivational Driver: PRIDE

Ultimate Result from Eating from the Tree: Eternal Death

 

THERE HAVE ALWAYS BEEN TWO TREES SET BEFORE US:  CHOOSE LIFE

A Time Out

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When you were a child, did you ever get sent to your room for a “time-out?” If you did, you know that you didn’t go there with the friend you got in trouble with. You also didn’t go there with the brother or sister you were fighting with. You were basically “in solitary” for a while.

We are at a time in our world when we have all been given a time out. The difference is that we are not in our rooms alone. The whole world is basically in a forced lockdown. When we see photos from friends and relatives around the world, we realize that we are all in this together. This should give us a feeling of solidarity and unity. This epidemic is a world-wide event  and it is something that we will all remember together.

What can we do while we are experiencing our “time-out?” We can keep our perspective and realize that it will not last forever. We can think about and pray for those essential workers who are working in the public arena, doing more than an ordinary public service. They are literally keeping things running, i.e. our medical workers are keeping the hospitals and clinics open for us. The retail workers are keeping the grocery stores open and those in the transportation industry are keeping the flow of  goods moving where they are most needed. We can also pray for our government officials who are trying to figure out the best way to keep the public safe. They are under a tremendous strain as they attempt to navigate this public health crisis. When it is over, may we never take any of them for granted again.

Yes, we are in a time-out, but it doesn’t have to be an unproductive time. May we use this unexpected gift of time to lift up and encourage our neighbors and friends. May it draw us closer to those near and far as we experience this unique time together.

Image by Lauren Lafond. Courtesy of Pixabay.

Sonlight Sensitivity

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

As a child, I suffered from a condition called “Sunlight Sensitivity.” When I spent too much time in the sun, I would break out in hives. From the time I was about five, I had to take Benedryl every night before bed, even in the winter time. In the summer, I would have to wear a hat and put a special cream on the area where I would break out. When I was a teenager, my allergy doctor read that possibly certain shots would help my condition. He wanted to know if I was willing to try them. I was and so I took the series of shots, and voila! I was able to spend time in the sun without adverse effects.  

As a young adult, I suffered from a different kind of  “Sunlight Sensitivity.” I was raised in a town that got about three hundred days of sunlight a year. Dark cloudy days were at a minimum and there were only about two weeks in the winter that were really dark. I was used to living in an environment where it was really bright outside. When I moved to cities that had a different climate, i.e. were rainy and grey most of the time, I did not do well. I felt “off” and not really myself. When I would return home I felt normal again when I was in the sunlight. Even today, when it is a really dark day outside, I turn on lots of lights in the house to get a certain level of light in my environment.

Now, I suffer from “Sonlight Sensitivity,” a spiritual form of the condition. If I do not spend enough time with the Son in the Light of his Word, I can suffer from symptoms of impatience, intolerance, a lack of vision, and a real absence of joy. In other words, I am not the person I want to be and I am sure I am not that pleasant to be around. I need the Light of the Son to brighten my days and the Wisdom of His Word to guide me so that I don’t make bad decisions and end up on the wrong path. 

What about you? Do you suffer from Sunlight or Sonlight Sensitivity?

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105

What’s Right or What’s Left?

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In life, we make many moral decisions. Moral decisions come in lots of sizes, from small to life-altering. No matter the size of the decision, each one is important because every decision we make creates a building block in our character. Usually with a moral decision, there is a right decision that can be made. If we don’t make the right decision, we settle for one of the decisions that are left. 

For example, you are at work and someone keeps hitting on you. You’re married and you know you should not hook-up with another person. Do you make the right decision and tell the person “No,” or do you make one of the other decisions that are left? The first decision that is left is to hook-up and be unfaithful to your partner. That decision leads to other decisions…tell your spouse the truth or lie to him or her.  Most of the decisions that are left will have negative consequences when we don’t choose the right decision in the first place. 

Most of us do not have to make life-altering moral decisions every day but we will be making moral decisions as we walk through our day. Do we steal something small from our employer? Do we cheat on our taxes? Do we use someone else’s work and claim it as our own? Each of these questions will have a right decision that can be made. If we don’t make the right decision we again are stuck with the decisions that are left. One of the by products of the decisions that are left is among other things, living with a guilty conscience. Is living with a guilty conscience worth stealing a stapler from work? Is it worth saving a few dollars in taxes? Is it worth pretending to have created something that was not entirely ours? 

The answer is obviously “No” to those questions. So as we go through our day, let’s consider our decisions. Do we want to choose what’s right or settle for what’s left?

Expiration Dates

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For the last few weeks, I have been thinking about Expiration Dates and the fact that each one of us has one. I see each of us as having an Expiration Date stamped on the back of our necks at the time of our birth. It’s not a visible mark, mind you. You know, one that we can see if we hold a mirror up to the back of our necks. It is invisible and has been stamped there by our Creator.  No one else can see it. He alone knows which day will be our final day. 

The problem is that none of us knows our Expiration Date. If we did, we would live quite differently than we do. Most of the time, we live as if we have all the time in the world, but we don’t, our time is limited here on Earth.  Intrinsically we know this fact but it is hard to incorporate it into our daily lives. How can we live in such a way that we keep our eyes on the Eternal and not on the transient?

If you are like me, it will take intentionality in order to do it. I must remind myself daily that this could be my last  day and I need to do whatever I am supposed to do today. If I live that way, I will be ready when my Expiration Date arrives.

What about you? How do you keep your mortality in mind so that you can keep your priorities straight? Let me know.

“So teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:12

Lost

Several years ago, my husband wanted to go out in the woods and use his compass to find a lake. We didn’t take a lot of provisions with us or a flashlight because we were just going to hike in and out during the daytime. We also did not tell anyone where we were going; so off we went. Instead of taking the road to the lake, we parked the car a few miles from the lake and my husband looked on his map and took a compass heading. We followed that heading through the woods until we reached the lake. It took a few hours to get in but all in all, it was a successful venture. 

We decided to follow the road back to the car and began to walk. What we didn’t know was that the road forked a little bit north of us, and that the road we were on was not the one we thought it was. After a while, we realized that the road was not taking us back to the car. We talked about what we should do since it was going to be dark in about an hour. We decided to backtrack to the place we left from at the lake. We would then follow the compass heading through the woods back to the car.

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By the time we got to the lake, it was getting dark. Remember, my husband did not have a flashlight with him. In order to get out, he had me walk fifteen or twenty feet ahead of him, he would take a compass heading and have me move until I was in line with it. He would then come and stand where I was and then I would walk another fifteen or twenty feet. We did that for the next few hours. I would walk ahead, he would take the heading. I would move until I was on that heading, he would walk up to where I was standing and we would do it all over again. Over and over we did those same repetitious steps. 

The moon rose higher and illuminated the woods. I felt better about it, but knew we were “lost” and so I kept repeating Bible verses to myself, holding onto whatever I could until we got out of the woods. My husband wasn’t worried at all because he trusted the compass and knew that if we followed it, eventually we would come out of the woods by the car.

Finally, the woods cleared and we saw the road. We came out of the woods within about fifteen yards of the car. To say I was greatly relieved is an understatement. But I did learn something that day; I can trust the compass, and even if I don’t know where I am. The compass will always point me in the right direction. 

That experience was a great life lesson for me, both practically and spiritually. We, as finite humans, will sometimes find ourselves in situations where we feel we are lost in the woods. We cannot see our way out of it and it feels dark. We need to remember that our sense of direction will lie to us, our emotions will lie to us, but our compass will never lie to us. If we will keep our eyes on the Lord (the compass) and check with the map (the Word) we will be able to walk in the right direction and eventually we will get out of the situation we are in. We must learn not to rely on what we think is happening around us and try to find our own way out of whatever situation we are in. The book of Proverbs has a few great verses that explains this principle:  “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.” Proverbs 3: 5-6.

For me…lesson learned…trust the Compass!

It’s Summer and I am going to reblog a few of my outdoor posts!

First World Problems

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A few weeks ago my son came over to visit. We were talking and he began the next part of the conversation with, “Mom, I know this is a First World problem, but…” He then proceeded to talk about something he was thinking about purchasing. After he left, I thought about what he had said as far as First World problems went.

We know that in the Third World, many people suffer from a lack of basic necessities, i.e., sanitation, potable water, food, shelter, safety,  and access to basic medical care. Most people are just trying to survive in desperate circumstances. When we go to one of these countries, we are shocked by the conditions that people are living in; that’s what characterizes the Third World.

In the First World, the average citizen has most of his basic necessities. There are people without adequate health care and some live in areas where they are concerned about safety, but in general, most of us have our basic needs met. We then deal with First World problems such as: “Which house or car should I buy?” “Which doctor should I go to?” Which job should I take, the one I like or the one that pays more?” We can indeed be stressed when we are in the middle of these decisions, but if we ask ourselves the right question, we can lower our stress level. 

When we are stressing over consumer decisions, it would do us well to change our perspective and ask ourselves what kind of a problem are we dealing with…First World or Third World? If it is a First World problem, let’s take a few moments, breathe and take stock. Usually, we are not facing issues of survivability, we are facing issues of desirability. If that is the case, let’s lower the temperature in the room and get a grip.  Yes, we will have to make a decision but it will be one born of choice not of necessity. That knowledge alone should give us a sense of peace.

What kind of problems are you dealing with today…First World or Third World?

Exit Wounds

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When we think of exit wounds, we usually think of wounds created by projectiles, such as bullets. They go straight through the body creating an entrance wound, an internal wound and an exit wound. That’s how we view them in a physiological sense.

Have you ever suffered an exit wound in an emotional  sense? What is an emotional exit wound? It is the wound you suffer when you leave a person or group of people. Just as a projectile creates a wound to our bodies, an emotional projectile creates a wound to our souls. What might that look like?

You are hanging out with a group of people who are gossips in the break room and you decide you don’t want to anymore. You leave the group and hang out with others at break. Those you left will probably gossip and spread stories about you. Their words and actions create exit wounds. 

Have you ever had to leave a relationship with someone who was toxic for you? If you have, you have probably suffered many exit wounds. That person may have said and done many things to hurt you because of your choices.

Have you ever been in job or a class in school and for one reason or another you were promoted to a higher level? If you have, you know you have suffered exit wounds. You were probably made fun of and people said you thought you were better than they were. 

The verbal projectiles thrown at us hurt and cause emotional pain. Many times the stories told about us are not true but it is difficult to defend ourselves from them. These projectiles can come at us from many different directions but they are usually caused by one thing: Jealousy.

The people, groups or relationships we exited from are jealous of us. Our choices or the choices made for us have caused them to feel rejected and they choose to spew their projectiles of jealousy at us. Now, do you know what I am talking about? Can you think of a time when you have experienced exit wounds?

If so, you know that you didn’t choose to leave those relationships lightly. It takes courage to leave something that is negative, harmful or toxic for us because we know there will be an emotional cost or toll that we will have to pay. We know that we will experience exit wounds when we finally make those decisions and take action. In most cases, when the wounds heal, we will be glad we made the choice to exit that group of people or that relationship.

Exit wounds: they hurt, there is no doubt about it. Let us take courage and continue to make right choices for ourselves even if we will experience emotional pain and suffering caused by others. Just like our bodies, our souls will heal in time and we will be the better for it!

Do-Overs

Don’t ya just love do-overs? Do-overs come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. Sometimes they involve people, other times they don’t.

chance-3385168_640Image by geralt. Courtesy of Pixabay.

Let’s say we broke one of our favorite items; we don’t know if we will be able to replace it and then…voila! We find it in a second hand store or online somewhere for a great price. We feel like we have been given a second chance at owning that particular item. This kind of a do-over is a gift but doesn’t usually involve another person (unless another person purchases the item for us).

Do-overs that involve others usually have one thing in common. Someone decides to show us mercy. Perhaps it is a spouse or family member we have spoken sharply to. When we apologize, they forgive us, and we are given a second chance at being kind to them that day. This type of do-over is a normal part of life. It happens often and is essential for keeping the relationships we are in healthy. 

What about a do-over that involves a police officer? Many of us have gotten a warning from a police officer when we should have gotten a ticket for speeding. The police officer shows us mercy and we in turn make an honest attempt to drive the speed limit. We are always grateful for this kind of a do-over. We feel we have been spared the punishment we deserve and know we have been spared a fine of several hundred dollars.

How about those do-overs that happened at school? We flunked a test and after we spoke to the teacher, the test was thrown out. We were able to either retake the test or study for another test and prove we could do better.  We know we have been spared a bad grade, one we rightfully deserved, and we have been given a second chance to make a better grade.

Sometimes in life though, there are no chances for a do-over. We made a mistake and we cannot go back and fix it. It is just there in front of us…we got fired from a job…we broke a relationship…we stole something and now we are doing time behind bars. What do we do then and who do we go to? Is there anyone who cares enough to help us in our situation? Will anyone show us mercy?

There is. He is the God of Second Chances and His name is Jesus. He came to earth to help us and give us a second chance at living a full life, wherever we find ourselves. He wants to show us mercy if we will just ask Him. In His wisdom, He knows how to work out even the most difficult of situations. Perhaps we will not get that job back, that partner back, or our freedom back at the moment but He has a way of helping us get our lives back. And isn’t that what we want in our most desperate of moments? We want our lives back and we want a second chance to make things right again.

Are you in one of those desperate situations right now? Then ask. He will be there to show you mercy and meet you right where you are. He can and will give you a do-over..one that will last a lifetime and beyond. 

Let us, therefore, come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16 KJV