“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men”— Philippians 2:3-7 (ESV).
Two recent conversations led me to think about the vast cultural and behavioral differences in the United States. One of the women resides in a northeastern state and was visiting her mother in Oklahoma. The other woman is a recent transplant from a western state.
During the first conversation, the woman who was visiting commented on the attitude differences between people in her community and this one. Her observations led to the conclusion that people in this state are friendlier, more helpful and more caring.
The second conversation mirrored the other woman’s observations, adding specific incidents she had noticed. She noted the small courtesies, like holding the door open for a stranger in a public place and being made to feel welcome in her new community, including her new church family.
Later that week, I had the opportunity to visit with two older women who have always lived in this area. Their lives exemplify Philippians 2:3-4. Both are well-known for their giving, loving and humble spirits.
Are you a doubting Thomas? Maybe you’re a believer, but you doubt God could ever love someone like you. Maybe you’ve been ridiculed or bullied, struggling with your self-worth.
As a child, were you told you weren’t good enough? Did you become a performance addict with a need to prove you were likable, lovable and valuable? Do you know you’re not alone, today?
Pastor Chip Ingram says, “Many of us struggle with conceptualizing the enduring, sacrificial, infinite, and unconditional love of our heavenly Father. I think this is because we always try to put God’s love into our own human terms—and our terms always fall far short.
“Our human relationships have conditioned us to measure love by ‘ifs,’ ‘maybes,’ and ‘becauses,’” he adds. “‘I’ll love you if you do this.’ Or, ‘I love you because you did that.’”
A recent Facebook post by a former student of mine led to responses from people of all ages. The post asked the following: “Without saying your age, what is something you remember from your childhood that a younger person would not understand?”
Many of the posts focused on memories before inventions made our life easier and technology ran amuck. There were mentions of telephone party lines, rotary dial phones and phones with cords that stretched across a room. Some mentioned specific stories associated with the history of these obsolete items.
One woman responded to the post with a story of being in labor with her first child. She was trying to call for help via a party line but a young neighbor wouldn’t hang up the phone, in spite of the nervous soon-to-be mother’s pleas.
The Disappearance of Small Town Places
Others in this small community mentioned places no longer in existence. Small restaurants, full-service gas stations, mom and pop grocery stores and other businesses that had closed their doors for various reasons—health, deaths, progress, the economy.
Mentions were made of events native to the local culture. One woman said, “I wasn’t raised here but it sure sounds wonderful! Mayberry USA.”
Another said, “Amazing how many generations of memories that are being shared here.”
Sharing the Good News and encouraging others in their faith walk is my passion. My other passion is my grandchildren. In May, we will welcome grandchild number seven, a girl.
For Christmas, I received a journal from my future granddaughter, courtesy of her mother. Inscribed in ink on the inside cover is the following: “Nana, Please use this journal to write your favorite scriptures, recipes and stories just for me!”
Her parents have chosen the name Ruby for granddaughter number three. When my daughter-in-law mentioned the name to my son, she wasn’t aware that Ruby was my mother’s name.
As Ruby’s grandmother, I want to impart how “fearfully and wonderfully made” she is by a loving Heavenly Father. Her older siblings and her cousins will be a wonderful example. I continually remind them of the importance of “living for Jesus” because He is what matters most in life.
In a Noisy World
In today’s noisy world, it’s often difficult to stay focused on Jesus. For today’s generation, the opportunities to become distracted are more prevalent than ever before.
When I grew up in the 50s and 60s, we didn’t have the myriad options available today. Nature was our playground, where God’s creation spoke to us of His marvelous works.
Ask anyone who knew Ray Wallis and they would tell you he was like King David, a man after God’s own heart. I’d only known Ray a little over eight years. Our lives intersected when my youngest grandson was born in 2009. My grandson, Cash, is one of Ray’s great grandsons.
Why would I compare Ray to King David? Paul tells us in Acts 13:22 why God chose David to become King. “I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.”
Yes, David was a terrible sinner. However, we can learn much about his character by reading the book of Psalms where his life was revealed for all to examine. David wasn’t perfect. Neither was Ray. However, what he had in common with King David is what God desires for all of His children. His heart belonged to the Lord. Ray, like King David, had a burning desire to follow God’s will and do what He had called him to do.
After battling cancer for almost three years, Ray went home to be with Jesus at the age of 86 on October 17. Even if you didn’t know Ray personally, you could pick up his Bible and read the scriptures he had underlined to learn more about this man of great faith.
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”
Do you remember this childhood taunt? I do. And, I remember chanting it to neighborhood kids when we were fighting. Later, we’d make up.
If you examine this childish saying, you’ll realize how untrue it is. Bones heal with the help of medical care and time. Hurtful words can leave unseen scars forever.
Words wield more power than we realize. They reveal what’s in our hearts. But, our tongues can be the most difficult thing to control. Hurtful words can leave us with regrets.
Pastor Tony Evans says, “A formidable power dwells within each of us. This power has changed the course of nations. It is capable of starting and ending wars. And it has made men rich and women famous. It has the means to commend or corrupt—to bless or to blame. It is the power of the tongue.”
Do you think it pleases our Heavenly Father when we spend more time on our cell phones than we do in scripture? Think about it this way. Does it please you when others ignore you because they’re too busy answering text messages, posting on Facebook or Instagram or answering emails on their electronic devices?
Well-known author and Bible teacher Beth Moore puts it this way: “Our devices have become our vices. We’ve lost the art of reading and meditating on the Word.
“Our cell phones have become an addiction,” she adds. “While they are supposed to connect us, we’ve become disconnected. We are the body of Christ, but we are living disembodied lives.”
Recently, I attended Beth’s yearly simulcast. Focusing on Colossians 1:1-2:9, she talked about what pleases God.
In Chapter 1, verses 10-12, the Apostle Paul writes, “Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better. We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light.”