A quiet Saturday afternoon. I don't know about you, but they are rare for us. These days I'm trying to learn to savor moments more, like a quiet afternoon.
Tom took the recliner and I claimed the overstuffed couch. Sunshine crept up the front steps and seeped into the living room. It danced around the edges of the room to the music of near silence.
Whispers of soft light gently draped the room and played hide and seek on the mantle. The afternoon promised respite from the busyness of life.
I gently opened a worn copy of a book in my favorite series. The books usually soothed my soul, and are sweet companions to naps.
I settled in to read and relax, Maisie assumed her spot with me. Everything about the afternoon lulled me to rest.
Almost everything. Unfortunately, my brain refused to slow down. Lesson plans and new classroom schedules. Concerns about the safe delivery of our new granddaughter. Big things, little things. Things that intruded into the quiet.
And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
For some time now, when I am restless, the "Gloria Patri" or the "Doxology" soothe me. Whether I sing one robustly walking into school, or quietly in my head, it's like a balm. There's just something about offering up a "sacrifice of praise"; it brings comfort.
Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.
Dear Reader, I wish I could tell you that I slipped into a few moments of slumber. But I didn't. The tonic of praise did its work: I found peace in the quiet.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
Dear Reader, how do you find peace in the quiet? Does environment play a part? What helps you reach beyond yourself for peace? How do you find respite from the world? How blessed we are that Jesus left us with this promise:
I have said this to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.
Did your mom ever counter a question with, "Because I said so, that's why"? I don't know about in your household, but in ours that meant the discussion was over, no ifs, ands, or buts about it.
In the workplace, or church, or neighborhood, or sports team, is it easy for a casual observer to determine the pecking order? Can they figure out who's in charge either formally, or informally?
In Paul's letter to the church at Ephesus, he didn't want any doubt about who the real voice of authority is:
21 Be willing to obey each other. Do this because you respect Christ.
4 Fathers, do not make your children angry, but raise them with the training and teaching of the Lord.
In other words, no matter where you are in the food chain of life, we all answer to the same Voice of Authority: Christ the Lord. And just to make sure we get the point, Paul pulls up the word of the Lord from the prophet Isaiah, in his letters to the Romans and the Phillipians.
or it is written,
Dear Reader, if you are the youngest, or the smallest, don't worry. EVERYBODY answers to the same Lord of Lords. If you're the smartest person on the team, or make the most money among the in-laws, relax. EVERYBODY answers to the same King of Kings.
Just remember, Dear Reader, we're all in the same boat. The more we love the Lord, the easier it is to respect and respond to the voices of authority in our lives.
While shopping for my favorite valentines, a woman next to me groaned, "This is just too hard."
I thought she meant all the choices. Nope, not even close.
"After 53 years, what else is there to say?"
Oh my gosh! I nearly wept, right there in Hallmark.
The last few weeks have been more frantic than usual: new granddaughter, new office location, old back injury flare up. You know the drill. Life, ramped up a little.
I am embarrassed to say that as demanding as I am, I am typically not a good nursemaid. So, when busyness and stress at my work collided with Tom's back issues ... sigh...I wasn't very kind or patient. Then the guilt set in, soon followed by avoidance.
There I stood in Hallmark, greeting card in hand, staring after the bride of 53 years as she walked away. Grieving for her, grieving for me.
And then I remembered.
After forty plus years, I still have lots to say to Tom. I think he still has lots to say to me. (BTW, I was in preschool and Tom was in kindergarten when we got married.)
In some ways, the newness of love has never worn off. Just like that spring Sunday morning, as I watched him walk across the church yard to our Sunday School class door, my heart still beats a little harder when I see him walk to the car at Quiktrip, or to the kitchen, or anywhere else.
Yep, that's the guy! (The bundle of joy was a very tiny, very early Annalyn.) And he still causes my heart to thrill within me.
But guess what, Dear Reader? That's how God feels about us, times like a million. And just to make sure we never wonder what else there is to say about His love for us, He wrote it in blood for all to see.
Here's a sampling of what else God has to say about His love for you:
Because you are precious in My sight, You are honored and I love you, I will give other men in return for you and other peoples in exchange for your life.
Dear Reader, whatever your circumstances, whatever your relationships, my prayer for you is to know within your deepest spirit that God had the first word over your life. He has the last word over your life. And He never wonders what else to say to His darling child.
The Lord says, “You know that Ephraim is my dear son.
The apostle Paul doesn't mince words in his letter to the Ephesians. He begins chapter four talking about how we are all to work together, recognizing and celebrating each others gifts.
Now Paul really cuts to the chase.
... you must no longer live as the Gentiles do,... 22 Put off your old nature which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and put on the new nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
Wait a minute, wasn't Paul writing to Gentiles? Yup! And yes, he's telling them to basically abandon their culture, their friends, neighbors, family members, business associates. Our guy, Paul, doesn't make this Christianity thing easy, does he?
But Paul launches into a list of specific do's and don'ts to clarify and help the Ephesians. Most of the items deal with "anger issues".
My cynical brain wonders if some listening to Paul's letter may have been wondering, "That's just great, Paul. First you tell me to give up my way of life, and nearly everyone I care about. Now you're telling me to get over it. How am I supposed to do that?"
Good thing Paul knew his "audience", even if he doesn't know us, because he breaks it down even further. He gives the Ephesians a 3-step prescription for anger management:
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, with all malice, ...
Who doesn't get angry? I know I do (although not nearly as often as I did as a young Christian). A coworker, a child who smarted off once too often, an overworked, underpaid snippy clerk at the store, a spouse who forgot, again, to bring home milk.
Dear Reader, this is one of those passages where I think God is saying, "Look, kids, I know it's hard. But holding on to anger just isn't good for you,or for each other. So here's what I want you to do:
What do you think, Dear Reader? If we, as Christians, began to practice these prescriptions for anger management a little more consistently, would we begin to see less...
God knows His children aren't perfect, that's why He gave us some tools to help us out. Maybe we could stretch the love card and candy companies are making big bucks off of, by promoting Valentine's Day, if we simply take our medicine. The Great Physician is on call 24/7, and His pharmacy never runs out of what we need most.
What makes you angry, Dear Reader? What are your strategies to manage anger? How are you teaching kids in your world to manage anger?
What if we all pitched in to give God a huge box of the kindness, tenderheartedness, and forgiveness? Let's start with receiving God's love, followed by showing His love, and end with giving Him more love than we knew we had.
She can slip into my classroom on silent feet. She can also make an entrance with the aplomb of an open mike night stand up comedian.
My friend, Tink, does a lot of things REALLY well, except for one. She doesn't do a very good job of hiding her emotions.
If you want to make Tink SUPER mad, all an adult has to do is provoke or misjudge kids. If she thinks a kid is hurting, she's there with her version of "pixie dust", a shoulder to cry on and a listening spirit that knows when to zip a lip.
There's only one way kids can cause Tink to lose her temper: just don't do your best, no matter what your task.
I'm convinced Tink can be everywhere at once. She's in the cafeteria looking for the kid who seems a little down. She's in a classroom helping a teacher. She's in the staff room at her computer and showering teachers with pixie dust as they come in to eat lunch and leave with a smile.
May I tell you about the gift Tink gave me? If I do, you have to promise not to tell.
Tink gave me the gift of her trust. If you don't think that's a big deal, ask yourself how many people you've given your trust to, or how many have given you theirs.
Tink tiptoes in wearing turquoise tennis shoes, mismatched socks, her newest Darth Vader tee shirt, and chopsticks in her pink and purple hair. She makes me feel a little less stupid as she easily, and cheerfully, fixes something that had me baffled and frustrated.
Then, with a shy smile shining through misty eyes, she opens her heart and shares her secrets. Is there a Tink in your life? Someone who considers it her job to bless everyone, including you?
Dear Reader, I pray you are blessed with someone who brings you the blessings of angels dressed in humanity. Or perhaps you are the Tink in someone else's life sharing your own brand of pixie dust. I pray your blessings return to you ten-fold.
5 My friend, you demonstrate your faithfulness in all the things you do for the brothers and sisters; even when they are strangers to you, you treat them as family. 6 These friends tell the entire church how you have extended your hand to them in love. You will do well to send them on in a way that is in keeping with God.
Writing the church at Ephesus, Paul assures them that the barriers,the brokenness no longer matter. The Son of God cast it all aside. Jesus cleared the field so the cross would stand firm, drawing all people to Him.
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near in the blood of Christ.
Divisiveness is not new. It must have set many Jews' teeth on edge for Paul to preach a messianic message to Gentiles. They (the Jewish people) were God's chosen people. What right did they (the Gentiles) have to heaven?
But here Paul is, writing to a Greek city about an equal opportunity Savior. And he's not just writing about the availability of Christ.
11 This was according to the eternal purpose which he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and confidence of access through our faith in him.
Can we imagine, dare we embrace, the notion that our Savior is not only seated on the right hand of God, He also longs to be actively engaged in our lives. We can come to Him boldly, with no hesitation. Our past, our present, our failures don't matter to Him.
And because they don't matter, we can have confidence in our access to the "the immeasurable riches of his grace" (Ephesians 2:7 RSV). We are no longer aliens or slaves with no redemption in sight. I love the way the writer of Hebrews puts it:
So let us come boldly to the very throne of God and stay there to receive his mercy and to find grace to help us in our times of need.
We've kicked off the new year, Dear Reader. I'm not big on new year's resolutions, however, perhaps it is a good time to claim, or claim again, all Christ died for me to have. More than that, to resolve anew to share in the claim with all of God's children.
Dear Reader, I'd love to hear how you are claiming and sharing the riches of God's grace. How are you most comfortable sharing grace? What about uncomfortable ways? How do you remain confident that God is in all of them?
Hi, my name is Alice. David's Daughter is about sowing seeds of faith, fun, & encouragement. It's also about helping kids and adults build bridges using faith-based stories. Thanks for stopping by! I hope you find a little something to take with you.
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