“Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!”— 1 Chronicles 16:11 (ESV).
As I get older, my brain seems to be on overload. I’m going to blame it on the wisdom I’ve gained over the years, as well as the constant chatter in our lives.
I’m betting some of you can relate to the following: trying to find your sunglasses when they’re on top of your head; scrambling to locate your cell phone and panicking when you can’t find it; losing an important piece of paper or your grocery list and trying to recall what was on the list. I confess I’ve even had the list in my hand and still walked out of the grocery store without purchasing everything on it. Now, I carry an ink pen and mark off each item as it goes in my cart. Am I the only one who’s ever done these things or the only one who is willing to admit it?
As a Christian, it’s sometimes hard to admit we’ve lost touch with God. We can become so busy—even serving Him—we don’t take time to just be with Him. In John 15:4, Jesus says, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.”
What does it mean to abide in Jesus? The dictionary defines “abiding” as continuing without change; enduring; steadfast. What does that look like in our relationship with Him? First, the definitions all describe Him. He never changes. His love endures forever. He is steadfast, always faithful, even when we are not.
God bless this Oklahoma police officer
“Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them”–Matthew 7:12 (MSG).
With all of the negative attention that law enforcement officers across our country receive, I was touched by this article from an Oklahoma newspaper. Officer Burden truly is a hero.
This is a snippet from the Tulsa World about a Broken Arrow police officer who went above and beyond the call of duty.
God bless Broken Arrow Police Officer Chad Burden. Burden was called to a Wal-Mart recently to investigate a shoplifting complaint, but when he investigated he found that the woman being detained had been caught trying to take a $17 coat for her 3-year-old daughter (because she was short the amount needed to purchase the coat). The high that day was 32 degrees.
Wal-Mart declined to prosecute, and Burden bought the coat for the little girl. He also saw to it that the mother got a pair of shoelaces that she needed so she wouldn’t have to wear sandals in January.
Says the Tulsa World, “It’s a touching story, and one that reminds us the police officers are public servants first and law enforcement second.
Thank you Officer Burden for your example.
“There really is hope for you tomorrow. So your hope will not be cut off”—Proverbs 23:18 (NIRV).
How often do you hear the term “the good ole’ days?” What does that expression mean to you? For me, born in 1953, it refers to the following: the front doors of our homes—and many times the back door—left unlocked. There was no need for expensive alarm systems. We didn’t worry about burglaries. Instead, our greatest concern was a neighborhood child who might walk in without knocking and discover someone in a state of undress.
I long for “the good ole’ days” when children could leave the house after breakfast, play all day with neighborhood kids and return home just in time for supper. Parents didn’t worry that we’d be kidnapped. In those days, schoolyard arguments ended with “double dog dares,” instead of automatic weapons. A sense of peace and security prevailed. For me, those indeed were “the good ole’ days.”
While those “good ole’ days” weren’t perfect, I don’t think our world was in the current state of brokenness it’s in now. How can we find hope in this broken world?
While some constantly complain about the brokenness in our world, I’ve learned it does no good. We can’t change it but we can change our outlook on life when we place our hope in the Lord. Jeremiah 29:11 is one of my favorite verses. “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
“Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy”—Ephesians 4:24 (NLT).
In her 1908 classic, “Anne of Green Gables,” author Lucy Maude Montgomery said, “Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?” Although each day is full of promise and expectation, New Year’s is the only day we celebrate with fanfare and excitement. Then, as the days pass, we often find ourselves forgetting January 1 isn’t the only day we can start anew.
When the calendar changes from one year to the next, we’re filled with hope and the possibilities that await us. We’ve made mistakes in the past and vow not to revisit them. But then, we stumble. We vow to make changes on the first day of each year, but our motivation wanes as we get caught up in the mundane.
Former UCLA Basketball Coach John Wooden once said, “If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything. I’m positive that a doer makes mistakes.”
Ask yourself, “What kind of person do I want to become this year.”
Recently, a relative lamented the many mistakes he’d made in his failed marriage. He was heartbroken and taking all of the blame upon himself. Although he had been raised attending church, he had drifted away. As his marriage crumbled around him, he said, “I’ve never felt so lost in my life.”
“I the Lord do not change. So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed.” Malachi 3:6 NIV
As I was shopping recently, I overheard someone say, “Some things never change.” I didn’t hear the rest of the conversation but I had to agree.
Fights between siblings never do change. My grandson, trying to elicit sympathy from me during a phone conversation, said, “Nana, Cheyenne won’t share her toys.”
“What did you do?” I asked him. He replied, “I hit her.”
I just had to chuckle because some things never do change.
As a friend and I discussed this topic, we concluded that the following things do not change: there will always be wars because people will disagree; all people will eventually die, the sun will always rise in the east and set in the west; people will complain about the weather, whether it is hot or cold, wet or dry; no one can change the past; no one can accurately predict the future; no one can change another person; there will always be poor people who need help and there will always be people who take advantage of others; there are always people who genuinely want to make a difference in this world and there will always be people who think only of themselves.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”—John 1:1 (NIV).
If you’ve never made a New Year’s resolution, you’re in the minority. However, we all have one thing in common—time. In an article for “Pulpit Helps,” author Steven B. Cloud wrote, “As we look into a New Year, we look at a block of time. We see 12 months, 52 weeks, 365 days, 8,760 hours, 525,600 minutes, 31,536,000 seconds. And all is a gift from God.”
Our lives have become so busy, yet we add to the burden each New Year by making a list of resolutions that most of us will fail to accomplish—quit smoking, lose weight and get healthy or save more money. This is just a partial list but some of the more popular ones. That’s why we see so many advertisements promoting products and gyms to help us accomplish our goals. Stroll through the aisles of a bookstore and you’ll find so many self-help books, it’ll make you go cross-eyed with confusion.
One book, however, has the power to change your life. The Bible is filled with words of wisdom and encouragement. In Luke 11:28, Jesus says, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”
In January 2007, Pastor Mike Ashcraft challenged his congregation to ditch their New Year’s resolutions and each pick one word to focus on that year. Embracing this new idea to approaching personal change and spiritual growth, church members realized the simple plan is more effective than making an overwhelming list of resolutions each year. Why? Called God’s instruction book for life, the Bible addresses every aspect of our lives—spiritually, physically, emotionally and financially.
“…the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace”—Numbers 6:25-26 (NIV).
Songs, both traditional and contemporary, are one of my treasured things about the Christmas season. I have so many favorites it’s hard to choose just one. However, one that is resonating with me right now is “Let there be Peace on Earth.”
Penned in 1955 by Jill Jackson Miller and Sy Miller, the song was composed to reflect the feelings of Jill, who had been suicidal after the failure of a marriage. Jill said the song was written after she discovered what she called the “life-saving joy of God’s peace and unconditional love.”
According to my research, in the summer of 1955, 180 teenagers of all races and religions, who were at a workshop in the California mountains, locked arms, formed a circle and sang this song of peace. Hoping to help create a climate for world peace and understanding, the group embraced the simple but powerful lyrics. When they left the mountain, the inspired young people started sharing the song which made its way around the world as young campers took it back to their schools, churches and clubs. It has been sung all over the world since it was first sung almost 60 years ago.
Here are the first lines of this beautiful song:
Let there be peace on earth
And let it begin with me.
Let there be peace on earth
The peace that was meant to be.
With God as our father
Brothers all are we.
Let me walk with my brother
In perfect harmony.