1 Listen to this, Israel. God is calling you to account—and I mean all of you, everyone connected with the family that he delivered out of Egypt. Listen!
2 “Out of all the families on earth, I picked you.
Therefore, because of your special calling, I’m holding you responsible for all your sins.”
Amos 3:1-2 MSG
Lord, I didn't ask for this job, you know. I was out there watching sheep, minding my own business. Are you sure I'm the right guy for the job? Public speaking definitely isn't on my resume.
Last week, Dear Reader, I told you that transparency is a challenge for me. Okay, not exactly a challenge, more like downright hard. Committing to weekly updates on Jubilee's progress has forced me out of my hermit's cave.
Well, here goes.
What are your plans for this summer, Dear Reader? An exciting foreign city? Home improvements? Perhaps taking a class or two. Maybe it's a "staycation". Whatever it is, I think Jesus wants us to take Him along.
He said to them, “Go everywhere in the world. Tell the Good News to everyone.
Two weeks ago I had my knee replaced. Way back in December, when I scheduled the surgery, my surgeon said to plan on taking the summer for rehab. So, here I am, reflecting from my rehab room.
Dear Readers, I need your help, and trust me, it's not easy to ask. It means being transparent enough to admit fear and weakness. It means trusting and obeying in a whole new way.
Such a large crowd of witnesses is all around us! So we must get rid of everything that slows us down, especially the sin that just won’t let go. And we must be determined to run the race that is ahead of us.
Way back in the last century, Daddy, Buddy (my older brother), and I went fishing a few times. I don't remember us catching many fish. What I do remember is that Buddy never could put a worm on his hook, or take the rare fish off of his hook.
Dear Reader, lately I've been reading more and more about the effect of our words. I know, not a new topic. But one thing has added to my thinking, and it's the effects of our words, good and not so good, on ourselves. Will you join me in digging a little deeper?
My first real job, back in the last century, was at K-Mart. Clerks were taught the acronym, "TYSAK", during orientation. "Thank You for Shopping at KMart!" It was so important to managers that every register had it on two stickers.
Pardon me while I rant for a minute.
Also back in the last century, Tom and I met in Sunday School. (Just call us Mr. and Mrs. BORING!) Our teacher was a retired school teacher, Mrs. Bengston. As a public school teacher, Mrs. Bengston taught "Deportment".
What do you think? Maybe we should add Deportment back into schools' curriculum. Don't worry, Dear Reader, I'm not advocating for a bunch of little Miss Prissy Britches, just a little more courtesy.
Growing up, we were taught to say "Yes, Mam" and "No, Mam", "Please", and "Thank you". No excuses for no manners. I thought I understood what a treasure courtesy is. These guys taught me that courtesy should be more than lip service.
Peter and Paul knew that courtesy and kindness are essential for spreading the gospel.
Through thick and thin, keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ, your Master. Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you’re living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy.
The group of middle school guys had made and been affected by a lot of mistakes and misunderstandings. Courtesy and kindness had been in short supply for them. Who was I to try and teach them deportment of all things? How could I possibly reach kids like Mario?
A very wise colleague at our alternative school told me that the most important commodity for our students was relationships. She also cautioned me that their radars could detect a "poser" at fifty feet.
These guys were my students for spring semester. Some days it was hard showing up, listening to stories that broke my heart, buying school lunches for hungry kids. My colleague's words echoed in my brain, mingled with TYSAK, and Mama's lessons in good manners.
Our relationship seemed to start when I really began paying attention. Once in a while, we learned about American History, including the Boston Tea Party.
My friend, Mario, was 15 and in 6th grade. Reading and writing? Not so much. But what an artist! Another colleague suggested that Mario's assessments be illustrations. Bingo!
And just look where that first step took us!
Dear Reader, please know this is not a criticism. I don't doubt your manners in the least. I'm preaching to myself. Not for my lack of courtesy TO others, but for not expecting courtesy FROM others for fear that they may not like me.
More and more I think perhaps the second best thing I can teach my granddaughters and students is the expectation of courtesy, given and received, in their daily lives. (The first is the saving grace of Jesus Christ.)
Last weekend, Mary and I were on a day trip to a mother/daughter luncheon. With Gracie napping, and Annalyn absorbed in her latest book in the backseat, we had about a hundred miles to chat. Precious time, indeed!
Among 1001 topics, we talked about (spring) cleaning projects. Tom and I learned years ago that cleaning out a closet can lead to any number of DIY home improvements. Has that ever happened to you?
You naively think you're going to take a few minutes to straighten the towels in the linen closet. Several weekends and hundred dollars later, you're knee deep in remodeling the bathroom.
But sometimes things need to be shaken up a bit.
Earlier this spring, Mary and I shared a "business" lunch. During salads and conversation, Mary talked about a speaker she'd heard last fall challenging the audience to focus their writing. A bell started ringing quietly in my head.
So, Dear Reader, after four months of recentering, I've come to some conclusions:
Bottom line? A new blog title and background. Same goals: share faith, a little fun, and encouragement, a.k.a. my words for His glory.
10 All living things shall thank you, Lord, and your people will bless you. 11 They will talk together about the glory of your kingdom and mention examples of your power. 12 They will tell about your miracles and about the majesty and glory of your reign.
I hope you continue top stop by for "My Big Mouth" on Mondays, and a new series starting on Thursdays beginning in June. On Sundays, we'll continue to take a moment to reflect on blessings of waiting.
What does spring cleaning look like to you, Dear Reader? Any "out with the old, and in with the new" going on in your world?
Dear Reader, thank you for joining me on the road to the cross. My heart leaps to share the old, old story that remains new. Please accept my humble accounting of the treacherous path Jesus and His followers took to the cross, and gloriously beyond.
I saw Him. I touched the nail holes in His hands, touched the wound in His side.
26 Eight days later, his disciples were again in the room. This time Thomas was with them. Jesus came through the locked doors, stood among them, and said, “Peace to you.”
He traded my arrogance, my skepticism for peace and acceptance. He gave me hope.
And yet, we seemed to be drawn back to the water? Were we reckless? Perhaps searching for the familiar when everything around us seemed to have turned upside down, and inside out?
2 Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathan′a-el of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zeb′edee, and two others of his disciples were together. 3 Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat; but that night they caught nothing.
How fruitless our labors! A full night of exhausting work, and for what? Is the Master still trying to teach us? Is our work for nothing unless He is the center of it?
4 Early the next morning Jesus stood on the shore. But the followers did not know that it was Jesus. 5 Then he said to them, “Friends, have you caught any fish?”
Peter and Andrew still talk about another day when they went fishing. The day the Master called them.
My spirit mourns for not believing, and leaps at the Savior's forgiveness and provision. Just as our Heavenly assured Joshua when our fathers stood on the edge of the Promised Land, our Savior beckons us to more. Are we standing on the verge of a new Promised Land?
"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; be not frightened, neither be dismayed; for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
He has not left us afraid, or hungry. Our Master has provided all we may ever need.
12 Jesus said to them, “Come and eat.” None of the followers dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them. He also gave them the fish.
Join the psalmist and me, starting May 1, as we pursue praise amidst persecution, peril, and perseverance.
I've become very spoiled in the kitchen. Cooking and dishes are definitely not high on my list of priorities these days. Once in a while there are pots and pans that need the kind of attention a dishwasher can't provide. Yikes! Thankfully, Tom usually does the scrubbing.
I've regaled you with how much I enjoy my morning oatmeal,nuts and all. Unfortunately, healthy habits can come with a price, like scraping the bottom of the pan. I love my oatmeal, but honestly, I think the slime it leaves could be used as wallpaper paste. This is one pan Tom chooses to leave to me.
Thanks to John Maxwell, I've come to appreciate my silly systems. Systems like letting the oatmeal pan soak before scraping or scrubbing.
I think God, perhaps, is a systems guy, probably the creator of systems. He certainly has a plan for seeking and saving His children.
Look at it this way. If someone has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders off, doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine and go after the one? And if he finds it, doesn’t he make far more over it than over the ninety-nine who stay put? Your Father in heaven feels the same way. He doesn’t want to lose even one of these simple believers.
There seems to be nothing more important to the Lord than bringing each of His sheep into the fold. That's you and me, Dear Reader!
From time everlasting, God had made a choice and created a system to make that happen.
God chose to give His creatures free will. He knew it came with dangers to us and potential rejection of Him. Which of us doesn't have regrets over a choice we wish we had made differently? How often have our choices broken God's heart?
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
But God loves all of His children, no matter what our choices are, no matter how deep, how stuck, how stubbornly we cling to the bottom of the pan.
Sometimes God's system includes soaking us in His warm, soothing love. Other times, He nudges us to remove stains of sin from our lives.
And if He absolutely has to, if the stains are so deep that the pan is no longer serviceable, He pulls out the steel wool. Our Heavenly Father would rather inflict the temporary pain of a stiff scraping and scrubbing than throw us in the trash.
God knows scraping the sin from our lives can be a painful process. He also knows we can't do it ourselves. Giving us free will can mean rejecting His help, so He developed a system to get us into the dishwater.
God sent His only Son to take our sins on Himself, to be scraped clean so our original value is reclaimed. Our value to ourselves and others.
Our value to God doesn't change, He loves us from the beginning, through the middle, no matter how messy or stained, until the very end. In His wisdom, He understands that if we don't recognize and accept our personal value to Him, it will remain a challenge to choose Him. We must be made clean.
I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant, for I do not forget thy commandments.
Dear Reader, have you experienced the suds, or maybe the scraping, of the Lord lately? I don't know about you, but sometimes the cleanliness of His grace makes me cling even tighter to that which needs to be scrubbed away.
How do you get out of the sink? How do you regain your personal sense of value, and reclaim your position as a child of the King?
Tom and I are discovering a whole new world of viewing, beyond cable, since getting our new tv. One of our new favorites is "Raiders of the Lost Art". I know, major nerd alert.
I like discovering this program because it combines mystery, art, history, and insights. What's not to love?
Apparently, there's a bit. I've never been a big fan of El Greco's style of painting. That's not to say I don't appreciate his talent, just not his paintings so much.
On a recent episode about El Greco, I decided to stick it out, and I'm glad I did. El Greco's quote about purpose gave me a jump start.
"I was created by the all powerful God to fill the universe with my masterpieces.”
Dear Reader, have you wondered what your masterpiece is? I wonder if God intends that to be a hard question for us to answer.
Jesus said, “My food is to do what the One who sent me wants me to do. My food is to finish the work that he gave me to do.
I'm so thankful for the encouragement of God's Word. I'm also thankful for my dad's role model of pursuing his masterpiece.
Daddy dropped out of school after 8th grade to help on the family farm during the Depression. He enlisted in the Army exactly three months before Pearl Harbor. After World War II, he got his G.E.D, and took a Dale Carnegie course. Daddy was one of the few officers accepted into the Command and General Staff College who hadn't graduated from a public college.
In addition to attending at least ten other Army Training Schools, Daddy probably had at least ten different jobs when we were kids. Daddy was looking for his masterpiece. I used to be amazed that he didn't discover it until he was forty-five. On this side of forty-five, I am amazed by his perseverance to find it.
Dear, Dear Reader, have you discovered your masterpiece? Are you blessed with days of glory and thanksgiving? Have you found your face on the floor, fists pounding, and screams of frustration bursting from your lungs?
Wherever you are in creating your masterpiece, our Creator is right beside you, because you know what, Dear Reader? We are His masterpiece.
What's your hang-up? What gets under your skin and drives you to distraction? Or worse, what's that thorn in the flesh that sometimes drives you to the brink of despair?
Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.
It's okay, Dear Reader, everybody has SOMETHING going on. Truly.
Being as tall as my third grade teacher, and most teachers after that, (not to mention the boys) plagued me all through school. To this day, I refuse to purchase "Jolly Green Giant" vegetables. 'Nough said. (There's not enough space here to delve into my REAL hangups.)
Good old Paul, he cuts right to the chase, doesn't he?
Each of us must bear some faults and burdens of his own.
Here's the cool thing, Dear Reader. Paul is in the middle of the mess, too!
19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.
We're talking Paul here, people. You know, the Big Kahuna! This is the guy who is said to have spread the gospel the most in the 1st century. And this guy referred to himself as an "ambassador in chains".
The big news is this; are you ready? Listen closely: God knows we're not perfect. God knows it and He still chooses to love us. He chooses to love us so much He would allow His Son to be sacrificed so we could live victoriously now, and with Him later in eternity.
I think it comes down to this,we're all ambassadors in chains. We all have something that encumbers us. All we have to do is call upon our Savior, and He will break whatever the chains are that bind us.
Hi, my name is Alice. A Way with Words is about sharing faith,
fun, & encouragement. Thanks for stopping by! I hope you find a little something to take
Please consider helping
EVERY KID COUNT by donating to:
FREE reading and writing tips shared each month.