“Whatever you do, do it from the heart for the Lord and not for people”—Colossians 3:23 (CEB).
Have you ever closely examined your hands or the hands of another? While that might seem like a strange question, a recent devotional made me contemplate my own hands. In a little more than three months, I will celebrate my 62nd birthday. When I compare my hands to the smooth unblemished hands of my grandchildren, I try to recall what mine looked like before they became permanently marked with the telltale signs of aging.
More important than the appearance of our hands is what they have accomplished for God. We can choose to use our hands in worthless pursuits designed for personal gain or we can follow Jesus’ example to serve others.
We can waste our time and money or we can invest it in God’s kingdom.
In June, I was blessed to have my two oldest grandchildren participate in a week-long mission through our church’s VBS. Each day, the fifth and sixth-graders took part in a different project to teach them about the importance of serving others. One of our day’s activities involved helping at the local Meals on Wheels, a nonprofit dedicated to delivering hot food to shut-ins in Claremore. Most of those receiving assistance are the elderly.
My grandson enjoyed that day’s service project so much he volunteered to return in July and serve again. Last week, he spent the night with me. After breakfast, we drove to the Meals on Wheels headquarters where Brennan, who had just celebrated his 10th birthday the week before, assisted Jack Weyler, president of the nonprofit, to pack the eight meals we would be delivering. Mr. Weyler, who is in his mid-80s, is not the oldest volunteer who shows up faithfully to either cook, pack or delivers meals. One volunteer is 92-years-old.
“But Christ has shown me that what I once thought was valuable is worthless. Nothing is as wonderful as knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have given up everything else and count it all as garbage. All I want is Christ”— Philippians 3:7-8 (CEV).
“While world changes, who will change me?” This headline on a recent opinion piece by an area pastor grabbed my attention. Opening his article, the pastor said, “I am a public follower of Jesus. I am only being honest when I admit my growing unease and sense of helplessness as cultural norms drift away from Christian standards.”
With hot-button issues like same-sex marriage and transgender celebrities, many Christians fear where our country is headed. As the author of the article says, “I find myself struggling for some meaningful way to respond to these changes in a manner that best honors the person I profess to serve. How can I, as a Christ-follower, respond like Christ when I disagree with the direction of our culture?”
Has a relationship with Jesus transformed you?
As followers of Jesus Christ, we should be concerned about our country’s direction. However, if we are to respond as Jesus would, we must know Him intimately.
Citing a passage from Brother Lawrence’s book, “The Practice of the Presence of God,” the pastor said, “Lawrence lived in an obscure 17th century European monastery, but his reflections on God have captured the attention of many since, including me. Lawrence’s biographer Joseph de Beaufort used 10 words to describe his friend Lawrence: ‘His love for Jesus Christ changed him into another man.’”
“Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me’”—Matthew 16:24 (NIV).
Area residents from diverse backgrounds were recently interviewed by a large metropolitan newspaper. They were asked how they felt about the American Dream, how had it changed over the past decades and how hard is it to achieve?
A 68-year-old pastor who was interviewed said, “One of the things that has changed dramatically since the time I was a kid is the place of God and religion in the typical family life. I would suspect that there’s not as much practice of religion…And when you take God out of the picture and religious practice—which supports belief in God—I think the family also suffers.”
“The American Dream can very quickly become twisted into a self-serving vision and dominate our lives.”
The term, “American Dream,” was coined by author James Truslow Adams in 1931. Adams’ American Dream is “that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement.”
Writing in “Relevant” magazine, Seth Silvers asked this question: Can you pursue the American Dream and follow Jesus at the same time?
“Always be joyful. Always keep on praying. No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus”—1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (TLB).
In a recent discussion of 1 Thessalonians in our Sunday school class, one of our members, referencing chapter 5, verses 16-18 made the following statement: “Until our family was faced with cancer, we did life as usual. I’m actually grateful, not for the cancer, but that it changed our lives.”
Pain, disappointment, heartache and other challenges in our lives are sometimes the motivating factor in seeking salvation or in our spiritual growth. Jesus reminds us in John 16:33 that “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
God’s purpose in times of crisis and trouble is to teach His children precious lessons.
Unexpected crises are a part of life. They are like storms blowing through, destroying property and lives and leaving in its aftermath a mess. I’ve read or heard more than one pastor say, “At this moment you are in one of three storm categories; either you just came out of one, or you are in one right now, or you are headed into one.”
“Jesus said to them, ‘You are truly my disciples if you live as I tell you to, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free’”—John 8:31-32 (TLB).
Five vehicles rolled away from Restore Hope Ministries in Tulsa on Friday, June 19. Filling three church buses and two large SUVs, almost 60 children and nine adults spent the morning learning about the ministry as well as helping to unload canned goods and stock shelves for the following week. The children were part of my church’s VBS program with fifth and sixth graders dedicated to mission work during the five-day program.
Pastor Jeff Jaynes with Restore Hope shared the mission’s goal to help restore families in financial crisis to economic and spiritual vitality. As he shared about their ministry, he gave statistics and facts about hunger in Oklahoma, our country and the world. Worldwide, one billion people don’t know IF they are going to get another meal while one in seven Americans don’t know WHEN they are going to eat again. The same is true in Oklahoma with one in seven people not knowing when they will get their next meal. Almost half of those in Oklahoma who are hungry include households with children under age 18.
Maybe what we did today can help them in the future.
As Pastor Jaynes shared with the children about the plight of those who go hungry, he said, “People who have enough food don’t realize how many are going hungry.”
Referencing tithing in the Bible, Pastor Jaynes added, “If just the Christians in America put 10 percent in the offering plate each month, we could solve hunger today. If every one of us did what we are supposed to do, we could eradicate hunger.”
11 Ways to Stay Young
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit”–Romans 15:13 (NIV).
I found the following list, “How to Stay Young,” in a weekly Oklahoma newspaper. No one was given credit for the list but I wanted to share it with my readers because I thought they were a good reminder for all of us.
- Try everything twice. On one woman’s tombstone she said she wanted this epitaph: “Tried everything twice. Loved it both times.!”
- Keep only cheerful friends. The grouches pull you down.
- Surround yourself with what you love: whether it’s family, pets, keepsakes, music, plants, hobbies, whatever. Your home is your refuge.
- Enjoy the simple things!
- Laugh often, long and loud. Laugh until you gasp for breath. And if you have a friend who makes you laugh, spend lots and lots of time with him/her.
- The tears happen: Endure, grieve, and move on. The only person who is with us our entire life, is ourselves. Live while you are alive.
- Cherish your health: If it is good, preserve it. If it is unstable, improve it. If it is beyond what you can improve, get help.
- Keep learning: Learn more about the computer, crafts, gardening or whatever suits your fancy.
- Don’t take guilt trips. Take a trip to the mall, even to the next city, state, to a foreign country, but not to where the guilt is.
- Tell the people you love that you love them, at every opportunity.
- Forgive now those who made you cry. You might not get a second chance.
What would you add to this list?
Please feel free to let me know in the comment section below.
“…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God”—Hebrews 12:2(NASB).
At a recent women’s event where I was the guest speaker, I sat in the audience listening to a husband and wife on stage as they provided the music for the luncheon. Playing the piano and singing hymns, the wife shared her musical gifts from God with us. However, I was stunned as I watched her husband play the guitar with equal skill. What made his gift even more amazing was he played one-handed. While he had two arms, he had suffered a stroke, leaving his right side paralyzed. Many might have given up, but this man had not. Through the encouragement of his wife, he had been able to regain part of his ability to share with others his amazing gift of music. What a testimony!
The topic of my presentation that day was “God is the Author.” As I shared my testimony, recapping the journey of my walk with God and how He had led me to my current writing and speaking ministry, I was reminded once again how easy it can be to just give up when we hit speed bumps in life.
Dare ya! Double Dog Dare you to give one more degree!
There have been times I wanted to tell God, “I quit. I can’t do this anymore.” Then, I’m reminded of Philippians 3:14. “… for I can do everything God asks me to with the help of Christ who gives me the strength and power” (TLB). Through His strength, through His power, we can accomplish what He has called us to do.