Hope you’re having an awesome, praise-filled, joyous, heart-full-of-thanks day! And if you’re not, maybe I can help! Just by reminding you that you are a child of the living God, the King of kings! And that He is working out a beautiful plan for you because He loves you so much! You’re His because He wanted you before the world was ever made! And what Jesus came to do was to buy you (that’s what “redeem” means) so you could be His! He really and specifically wanted you!
Seriously, don’t you just need from time to time for someone who loves you to remind you of how Jesus sees you?
You had a hard day at work and maybe got someone upset without meaning to…you remember something you shouldn’ta done but you done did…something you should’ve said but didn’t…maybe there’s an old memory rattlin’ around in yer noggin of something that somebody said about you that you can’t seem to shake…and we have an invisible enemy who doesn’t help at all, always trying to remind us of famous failures and flops of the past…
It helps when someone simply tells you how the One Who matters most sees you!
Y’all know Joni Earickson Tada, right? She became a quadriplegic at seventeen and has had a world-wide ministry to the disabled (and the rest of us!) for forty years. She is th’ bomb! Insightful…encouraging…She’s what the last book of the Bible calls, an “overcomer”!
One of the million ways God has used her is to distribute wheelchairs around the world in countries that are so poor, paraplegics and others who need them don’t normally have them. Once Joni and her amazing team were doing a wheelchair distribution in a tiny village in Uganda called Nyarushanje. A Ugandan woman explained that her husband, Sema, had fallen from a tree and broken his right leg and hip. He had also suffered a severe brain injury in the fall. While she told his story, he just sat there with his face pointed down, his chin sunken into his chest…silent. He was almost in a catatonic state, Joni observed…non communicative, ”shrunken and frozen”.
He hadn’t spoken…or been spoken to…in years. His wife didn’t even try anymore. She cared for him but didn’t converse with him.
“What’s the use? He isn’t talking back.”
One the team, a guy named Dana, shared with them that those with brain injuries really need what they seem to care least about. They need someone to talk to. Or at least, someone who will talk to them.
Dana, the Joni and Friends volunteer, lifted Sema’s face and began to speak to him. He told him things everyone who loves Jesus needs to hear…
…that he was a man like anyone else…
…that he was an equal and a brother…
…that God loved him and that Jesus died for him…
…that he wasn’t disabled because God was angry or punishing him, but that God valued him deeply…
People thought Dana was nuts. Until…
Sema woke up! He began to move his hands, look around and smile at everyone! He even laughed! And he spoke! He broke his silence and spoke for the first time in years! The two guys were hugging and the tears were flowing!
As Sema began to try out wheelchairs, he reached over once more for a hug. He pulled Dana close and whispered in his ear in perfect English…
“You are my brother and my friend, and God loves me!”
You know, Joni figured that initially, Dana spoke encouragement to silent Sema for two minutes before the miracle happened. I was having a crummy day yesterday for a little while. Then on the phone somebody spoke encouragement to me and told me God loved me and that I was precious to Him.
Probably lasted two minutes. Best two minutes of the day! Which got decidedly better after that!
It made me want to tell him, “You’re my friend and my brother…”
“And God loves me!”
Hope you're having an awesome day and I hope it's sunny in your heart, because I just checked the forecast and it’s gonna be…
“…cloudy with rain showers increasing by afternoon and heavy rainfall possible into Friday night. Highs in the lower to middle 70s for the valley…”
Yikes! Then what?
“…Spotty showers will linger into Saturday…”
Wow! I’m really sorry! It’s gonna be a rainy weekend and this is the weekend for the retreat for our high schoolers and…
Wait a sec. I think I need to rephrase that.
I was reading back over what I just wrote and somehow I said, "I'm really sorry”, together with, "it's gonna be a rainy weekend".
Wow! That was a slip-up!
I mean, it's too bad in some ways that the weather won't be great, but I'm NOT sorry about it!
When you tell someone you're sorry for something, you're taking the blame and assuming responsibility for a situation and for things that went wrong with it. You're saying "It's my fault. I'm sorry."
So, I'm NOT sorry that the weather may be yucky in the days ahead!
It was not my decision!
I'm not responsible for it!
It's not my fault! And so…
I'm NOT sorry!
Y'know, it's a super important life-skill to know how to apologize, ask forgiveness, and say, "I'm sorry. Please forgive me." You need to learn "early and often" how to do it quickly, clearly, and directly! But…
It's also super important to know when you're NOT wrong, guilty, or at fault! It's super important to know when you're NOT sorry!
You may not be aware of this but, as far as guilt and blame go, the instant you opened your heart to Jesus, you were declared absolutely, positively, eternally, totally, juridically, thoroughly, constantly, consistently, hygenically, spiritually, legally, retroactively and forever-ly…NOT GUILTY!!
More than not guilty and forgiven, you were justified ("pronounced once and for all, righteous!!!") because of what Jesus did for you! I bet if we all believed this as much as it is actually true, we'd all be joyfully "jumping for joy", always bright n' sunny, maybe even a little nutty! People across the globe would be asking, "What do those people have that gives them so much joy!? I want it!!"
To keep this from happening…and to keep Christians under control…there is an Enemy who wants you to feel guilty, dirty, blamed for things that aren't even your fault! He can't really do it by putting your picture in those little papers they sell in the 7/11's of all the folks locked up in the slammer that week (What's the deal with those, anyway?) He has to be more subtle than that. Sometimes he uses "church folk". It's an old trick. He tries to make you feel guilty for things you didn't do …or for things that aren't even wrong!
Back when I went to the Anderson Co. jail (before I started going to the “big house”), there used to be some "church folk" from up in Scott Co. or somewhere, who would “visit” in OUR unit, telling OUR guys that there's only one real, "authorized" translation of the Bible (canst thou guesseth which one they meanteth?) and if you read any other, they’d say “it's sinful”! Guys would ask us in their confusion, "I'm reading this Living Translation and I finally understand the Bible! What's wrong with that?!"
Really! What could possibly be wrong with that?
Those guys had tons of problems, but reading a Bible they understood was NOT one of them! They needed to say, "Hey! I like this modern-day, normal language Bible. And I am NOT sorry!"
One day somewhere, I saw one of those church marque signs that said, "Is your time with God well-spent?"
I thought, "Wow. Many who drive by that sign don't spend time with God ever because they don't know Jesus at all. Many who believe in Him don't spend time with Him because they don't feel the need or don’t want to. But I bet someone who is having a hard time got up before the sun to be with the One he or she loves and needs. And even if they fell asleep in the middle because it was such a sacrifice to get up so early to be with Him…and even if their Bible has drool stains on it from where their face landed and stuck as they nodded off while telling their troubles to Him…even then, the Father loved that time so much because a heart was looking for His! And He rejoiced over His child ‘with singing and delight’, the prophets say! Being with Him…even trying to be with Him…is the most beautiful and beautifying thing about them!”
But someone wants to know, "Sure. But was it good enough?"
Why would anyone want to make someone feel guilty about the best part of themselves?
I wondered if someone who had just spent time alone with Jesus…
someone who is trying to take care of her kids on her own because she's alone…
or maybe someone who just heard news he didn't expect about his job or his health…
wished they could say to the sign guy, "Hey! My time with God is not an Olympic event I'm competing in! It's not a test I'm taking! It's sure not a grade you're giving me! It's a relationship of love that I am…and that He is…enjoying! I spent time with God this morning. And I am NOT sorry!"
There are plenty of times when I have to say… quickly…clearly…directly…without hesitation or trepidation…”I’m sorry. Will you please forgive me?" It’s a super important skill to have! “Don’t leave home without it!”
(Or come home without it, for that matter!)
On the other hand, and at other times…
I know I'm clean!
I know I'm loved!
I know I'm His!
And if I laugh a lot, and maybe more than someone feels is appropriate, at things that are really funny because God has filled my heart with joy…
I'm NOT sorry!
And if I eat stuff that "God has giving me richly to enjoy" (1 Timothy 6.17) tho' some might think is not sugar-free enough, or not meat-less enough, or not whole-wheat enough…
I'm NOT sorry!
And if I fall asleep during my prayers at night in my bed (because that’s how I go to sleep when I’m troubled)…
I’m NOT sorry!
And this weekend, if it rains all weekend, I may be wet, but…
I'm NOT sorry!
Hope you’re having an awesome day! And if you’re not…
if it’s just a tough one…
if you’re struggling to get through it…
if you feel weighed down with more than you can deal with…
why not stop right now, right where you are, and take these simple steps…
Step 1) Take a deep breath…
Step 2) Read these words: “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you!!” (1 Pet 5.6-7)
Step 3) Read them again…
Step 4) And again…
Step 5) One more time…with feeling!
Step 6) Try to figure out specifically what it is that is weighing on you, bothering you, worrying you…
Step 7) Do what Peter says! Cast that trouble, anxiety, bother, problem, whatever… on Him! (verse 7 of 1 Pet 5) “Cast” is the same word translated “throw upon” in Luke 19.35…When Jesus was almost to Jerusalem, and got ready to ride a donkey into town, ”they threw their cloaks on the colt”…
Whatever is bothering you…throw it on Him! Say to Him, “Here it is. I don’t know what to do about it. I can’t solve it, resolve it, fix it, or make it go away. I’m giving this problem to You. You take it!”
Seven easy steps to a more awesomer (“awesomer”?) day! Aren’t you glad you get your weekly Triple C email?
While we’re on the subject…
This dude was reading a book on praying and the author said that you shouldn’t pray about trivial things like parking places, as in, “God, give me a parking space.”
He shared this author's thoughts about "trivial prayers" for things like needing a parking place with his mom. She had raised five kids, and then went to be a missionary in the slums of Uganda and Dublin, and at 82, was living in London, reaching out to South Asian women, still a full-time missionary.
“How you supposed to find a parking place?”
I just saw peonies in a yard off ol’ Johnson Rd, O.S., TN, USA...blooming! Totally in bloom! I couldn’t believe it, but it’s true! I thought we were a ways away (like June-ish!) but…NOT!
I guess Tina and I weren’t jumpin’ the gun a few weeks ago when we were planning where our veggies are goin’ to go in the garden this year. We were trying to figure the best way to keep our ‘maters off the ground. Y’know, trellises...stakes...those wire cages (what works fer you?) and some the articles we were reading said consistently that it depended.
“Are your tomatoes determinate or indeterminate?”
“Huh? Who knows? How do you tell? Where do you check?”
“I wonder what determinate tomatoes are?” Tina asked.
“Let’s find out! I’ll Google it!”
“Dear Google, what are determinate and indeterminate tomatoes?” (I didn’t actually put the “Dear Google” part)
BAM! There it is!
Determinate tomatoes are bush tomatoes and only grow to be two or three feet high. Good for pots. Indeterminate (Big Boys, Beef Steaks) grow continually to six to ten feet high. Need staking.
It’s amazing what you can find out nowadays!
Ask your computer a question and...there’s the answer!
I remember a girl trying to explain to her seventy-something aunt who had never even held a computer, how to Google something. “Go ahead, Aunt! Just type in a question!”
She wrote, “How’s my sister Mary Sue in Boise feeling this morning?”
Here’s some more info Google doesn’t know.
“What does God want me to do in this situation?”
“How can I know what I should say?”
“Should I talk to them about this or not?”
“Would it be good to react or not?”
“What is His will in this problem?”
How do you know what God wants you to do in a sticky...or touchy...or hurtful...or complicated situation?
Maybe you’ve looked up all the Scriptures you could find and you’re still stuck. You don’t want to do nothing, but nothing’s better than the wrong thing. Here’s a suggestion…
And a promise.
It’s simple, I know. Just ask God to tell you what to do or not do…What to say or not say…
And I have a promise for this!
James 1.5 “ If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”
“Wisdom” is a word that means, “Just knowing what to do in a tough moment”.
“...and it will be given to you”.
If you want to know what He wants and you’re determined and decided to do what He says...nothing else...nothing less...nothing more...He’ll let you know in your heart what is best! That is an awesome promise!
So, if you want to know what’s the best for you to do or say in a difficult or delicate moment, ask God.
If you want to know the population of Slovenia, ask Google.
Wow! What a day, “for goodness’ sake!” “In my heart of hearts” I believe that when you start your day with worshiping our Lord, and you continue to praise Him “the live long day”, even if you’re “at your wit’s end”, in a “twinkling of an eye”, all your problems just seem like a “drop in the bucket” when you just focus on “His lovingkindness and tender mercies”! Just knowing that you’re the “apple of His eye”!
Y’know, there was a time when I really couldn’t talk like this.
Neither could you!
Not much more than 400 hundred years ago, I couldn’t have said any of the things that I just wrote!
Because most of those words and phrases in that paragraph weren’t in our language yet! They had just been been invented!
The first three phrases in that first paragraph were made up by William Shakespeare! He died unfortunately 400 years ago last Sunday (I guess you don’t have to really say “unfortunately” if it’s been four centuries since the tragic event…) Did you know he invented the phrase “Knock knock! Who’s there?” Along with “break the ice”, “in a pickle”, “heart of gold”, “the milk of human kindness” and loads more! Plus, he invented 1700 of the English words we use!
The rest of those phases came from the version of the Bible that was ordered by King James 1 of England (or King James VI of Scotland. Same dude). Everyone used the Geneva Bible back then, and the king didn’t think it emphasized enough the verses that talked about kings and how important they are! He wanted a royal Bible! (The Scottish king of England had some insecurity issues…)
This year, the KJV is 405 years old! And it’s amazing how much we still talk in the King’s English (and in King James English!) without even knowing it!
TONS of words really came into the English language through the King James Version! Words that weren’t really used before until they showed up there. Loads of words and phrases were invented by the brave brother who translated most of the Bible into English for the first time. William Tyndale wound up losing his life for having the courage to get the Scriptures into a language normal folks could understand. But almost all of his work was adopted fifty years later directly into the King James Version. In fact, the King James Version is mostly not a “version” (translation) but a revision of the work of Tyndale.
Speaking of “adopted”…that’s a word that was invented by William Tyndale and the KJV scholars! So was “mortgage”, “glory”, “worship”, “beautiful”, “mystery”, “horror”, “fishermen”, “feel”, “advertise”, and “suburb”…
All those phrases I put in that first paragraph…
at your wit’s end (Ps 107.27)…
like a drop in the bucket (Is 40.15) …
the apple of His eye (Deut 32.10)……
in the twinkling of an eye (1 Cor 15..52)…
You guessed it! They all come from the original 1611 KJV and it’s “uncle”, William Tyndale!
Most English speakers who read the Scriptures everyday usually read a more modern translation that is easier to understand, like the NIV or the English Standard Version. But lots of folks still really love the antique sound of the words of the old King James Bible., even if it is a little old-ish to modern ears. (“The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth…” John 3).
Some are really glad we don’t have use the “Thee” and “Thou” anymore when we talk to God! It seems so formal, distant, and cold!
But wait! Actually…
Our English language used to have two kinds of the word, “you”.
“You” was originally the plural form. It’s like our “y’all”. Or as some say, “y’uns”. The singular form of “you” was “thee”. But to show respect and honor to important or powerful people, you were only supposed to use the plural (“you”) when talking to those with a greater social status than yours. You could use the singular, more familiar form (“thee” or “thou”) with your family, friends, or your dog. But you could never use “thee” or “thou” with people more important than you! The Quakers were always in trouble for insisting on using the “thee” form of “you” with everyone. They believed that no one was better or more important than anyone else, so “thee” was good for me and thee!
So when the guys who translated the version the king wanted done…
a version that was ordered to bring more respect and honor to kings and those destined for the throne…
it’s amazing that when verses talked directly to God Almighty, King of kings, they used…not “You”…but ”Thee”! And “Thou”!
It was their way of saying, “Lord, You are mighty and holy…but Thou art our friend! Thou lovest us! We’re in Thy family! We are Thy kids! Thou art our Dad! Praise Thee!”
Psalm 23 says He isn’t ruling far away in a distant place we could never enter. He’s our shepherd and friend who will never leave you alone! You can even say to Him, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me…!”
You didn’t have to call Him the more formal “You”!
You could call Him…”Thou!”
Hey, everyone! (Phil 4.21)
Hey, Brothers and sisters in Jesus (Eph 3.15)
Hey, Brothers and sisters OF Jesus (Heb. 2.11)
Hey, Priests of the royal family (1 Pet. 2.9)
Hey, Heirs and heiresses of God, the King of all (Rom. 8. 17)
Hey, Alive from the dead! (Eph 2.1-5)
Hey, Stars shining in the firmament (Dan 12.3; Phil. 2.15)
Hey, Judges of angels and the whole world in the coming Kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6.2-3)
Hey, Bearers of the new name that no one knows but he who receives it (Rev. 2.17)
Hey, Pillars in the temple of the Living God (Rev 3.12)
Hey, Participants of the divine nature (2 Pet 1.4)
That’s right! I’m talkin’ to YOU!!
Those are just SOME of the ways the New Testament describes you!
Those are just SOME of the amazing ways God sees you!
That’s HIS assessment
You might feel like a dufuss today for some bonehead thing you said…
You might feel like you’ll always be that thing someone called you when you were ten…
Maybe someone in traffic, out of his car window, called you something other than one of the above titles today…
But the Almighty One sees you differently! He has different names for you!
I was reading a little while ago, about the beginning of Paul’s new life with Jesus (they called him “Saul” at the time…along with other things!) He had been sooooo much against the followers of Jesus, hating on them at every opportunity while looking for new chances to hate them…
Until he didn’t!
Jesus blazed out of Heaven and Paul was on his knees (or maybe his face!) in the middle of the road, giving his heart to our Lord!
He gained some things and lost some things that day. He gained a new life, new names, new titles, a new purpose, and a new home. He lost his guilt…and, temporarily, his sight!
So…Jesus appeared (somewhat more quietly and gently!) to one of His followers in the town named Ananias. He told him to go and put his hands on Paul’s eyes to heal them. Previous Ananias had wanted to punch those same eyes to blacken them. Ananias protested that Paul had been so hostile to them.
But Jesus said, “True! But now he’s a chosen instrument to Me!”
“Wow! I would have called him plenty of things but not THAT! ‘A choice idiot!’…’a major chump!’…but not a choice instrument!”
But that’s how God saw Saul…er, Paul…now!
New titles! New names!
When Ananias knocked on the door and walked in, he might have wanted to call Paul all kinds of things…
But he didn’t!
He said, “B…b…b…b…brother Saul!” (Acts 9.17)
“God says that you’re His child, so you’re my family! No matter what others call you, from now on, you’re my brother!”
Y’know, every Sunday morning at 9:30 we get together to talk, share, and encourage each other before we worship our Lord together.
We call it…
“Community groups”. It’s just about being together with important people.
What if you could spend an hour on Sunday hanging out with somebody famous like…
…Tony Dungy or Tom Hanks?
…or Michael Jordan or Michaelangelo?
…or Brad Paisley or Carrie Underwood?
…or FDR, JFK, LBJ, or AL…
(Btw, Abe Lincoln didn’t even have a middle name! And when did we stop calling the Prez by their initials?)?
…or Elvis or Einstein?
…or Roy Rodgers or Mr. Rodgers?
(Reminds me of the guy who asked his class, “If you could spend an hour with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?” and a girl said, “The living one!”)
Well, what if you could spend an hour with an heir of the world to come?
Or with someone Jesus calls His sister or brother?
Or with a royal priest of the Living God?
Or with someone who has come alive from the dead?
Community groups…every Sunday at 9:30!
Hope you've had an awesome week! I know I did!! Last week, I was in San Diego for a retreat for lots folks who reach out to high school and college kids through Young Life in California, Arizona, and New Mexico…
And as you probably guessed just from the sound of those states, it was on the other side of America…
So, last weekend I crossed our nation…twice! In three days! (Try to beat that, Lewis & Clark!)
The weather in the Golden State was less than golden…It was cold and drizzly (which I didn’t expect)…
And I had to spend about nine hours total above America, coming and going (which I did expect, but never really get used to!)
I didn’t have any real travel problems except that during the flight…we were going 300 mph!
And we were 30000 feet above the earth!
That's 5.6818 miles!!
Folks all around me were sleeping, playing games on their phones, chatting…Did it the whole way!
I was praying to our Lord and thinking about the meaning of life instead! Did it the whole way!
I know it's dumb! "Why am I afraid?" I ask myself.
Here's what's dumb about being afraid of flying on planes…
During your whole lifetime, you could get struck by lightning. In fact, our chances of actually being be-crisped by a lightning bolt in our life is one in 80,000. There have been lots of reports lately about this or that random asteroid hitting our Earth. Chances of that happening and squashing us is one in 200,000 in our lifetime. Sad to say, but one in 8,000,000 of our fellow humans will be a shark's snack in our lifetime.
But your chance of being killed in a plane crash is one in 90,000,000! That's ten times less likely that being swallowed by a shark!
"Your chance of being killed in a plane crash is so low, you could fly every day for the next 250,000 years before you would perish in a crash," according to Arnold Barnett, a professor at MIT and expert on the risk of flying.
And if you are in a plane crash, your chances of survival are actually 95.7%!
Bet you didn't think that!
So the question remains, pal…"Why were you afraid?"
It's an excellent question!
It's been asked before…
Once Jesus was in a boat…late at night…in the dark…(this is getting scarier by the minute!)…in a sudden and terrifying storm! Wind was howling! Waves were crashing! His friends were screaming! And He was like one of my seat mates on the American Airlines flight from McGee Tyson to San Diego International!
"Lord! Don't You care that we're drowning!?"
It's a real concern! The chances of dying in a water transport accident in your lifetime is one in 5,683!!
Except for one factor that needed to be calculated.
Jesus was in the boat with them.
He had a job to do. He had been sent to our Earth to do it. Nothing would stop Him from accomplishing it! And nothing would happen until it was done! So, in a rickety ol' boat, in a raging storm, in the middle of the deepest sea and the darkest night, with Him in the boat, there wasn't a safer place on earth!
"Why were you afraid?" He asked.
You and I have stuff to do! Ephesians 2:10 says we have things to do that have been assigned to us from before the beginning of time! Nothing's gonna happen 'til they're done!
So even if your chances of dying in a plane crash are 1 in almost 100,000,000, if your work for Jesus isn't done, your chances just slid to zero in one kabillion!
Besides, if it had crashed between here and San Diego, I'd just go home!
Or if our plane had been hit by lightning or an asteroid while above the clouds, I woulda been closer to His house than mine!
Hope your day is just going awesomely! Ours sure is! We found this old key in our yard about a month ago and took it to UT…They just confirmed what they suspected! Once, President Andrew Jackson rode through Oliver Springs and stayed in one of the resort hotels that used to be here when the springs were working…The key we found,dropped by Ol’ Hickory hisself…was an actual key to the …WHITE HOUSE! It’s going into the Smithsonian! We get a check from the National Park Service for…$730,000!!
That’s your Triple C April Fool’s joke! Here’s an real April First “Tip of the day”…
Ever have that awful moment when you’re struggling to peel that banana for your raisin bran…you know, when the end gets all mushed up instead of willingly and happily offering you what you bought it for?
Here’s a helpful tip…
Bananas are easier to peel if you do it the way monkeys do! Start on the other end! Just give it a pinch down there at the black part and that banana just almost bursts out!
I myself love helpful little tips like that!
When someone can just give a little secret you didn’t know and instantly, you’re life just became easier! Maybe in a teenie tiny microscopic way, but, hey! a little bit easier’s better than a little bit tougher any day!
Here’s another one someone shared with me last week…
We bought a little cherry tree for our front yard and when I was taking it home, it toppled over in my truck and some of the bark got a little boogered up. I knew that this wasn’t good at all for the li’l guy and I needed to patch it up someway. So I went to one of our friendly garden centers and asked if they had stuff to put on a tree bark boo-boo. The friendly employee said, “Right this way…” and showed me a little jar of something that cost $7.99… Then she said in a whisper…so no one could hear… “Do you have any indoor latex paint at home?”
“Yup” I said.
“That’ll do it!”
“Thanks for the tip!!” I said.
“Shhhhh!” she said.
And here’s another little bit of something that you may not know that’ll make your life just a weeeeeee bit better!
Y’know how bandaids never really stick much anymore? I’m always looking for one that just has that stickiness that convinces you, “I ain’t coming off this scratch EVER ’til you absolutely MAKE ME!!!” (Is it just me, or do y’all struggle with today’s bandaid floppiness?) Anyhow, I found one that sticks like a MAN!
The “Frozen” Bandaid-brand bandaid! I’m tellin’ ya! It sticks soooo much to your skin!! It is awesome!! Complete with Anna ’n Elsa! It really takes a LOT for it to “let it go”!
I’m totally serious. They’re awesome.
And here’s a HUUUUUGE secret for making your day, not just a teenie weenie bit better, but waaaaaayyyyyyy better!! I read it just this morning! Gospel of Luke…chapter 17…verse 16…
A call to Jesus from across the road…
He speaks a word and all are healed!!
They jump for joy and run for home!
Except for one…
He looked at his hands…
felt his new face…
met the eyes of the One Who changed him..
on his face…
at His beautiful feet…
And Jesus said, “Your faith has healed you! Go in peace!”
“But I thought they were all healed?”
On the outside.
But he got an extra healing of the inside!
Healing from the bitterness and the disappointment of years of isolation and rejection…
Healing from the anxiety and fear that something bad might happen again…
“What did it?!”
Thanks! Thanking Jesus!
A heart filled up with thankfulness is freed of many awful things as quickly as it fills!
A heart daily full of thankfulness to Jesus is the healthiest heart of all!
“So how does that work?” someone might wonder…
I imagine I was that leper…
Because…in a way…I was.
(Except I didn’t catch it from anyone. I gave it to myself!)
Can you imagine that? Give it a try…
I was ugly, unclean, unwanted and unable…
And there He was!
Powerful, perfect, pure…
With a word and with all His blood, He changed everything for me!!
So everyday I thank Him!
I thank Him that…
I had no right to expect anything good! But now I’m new! “Good bye, bitterness!!”
I deserved for things to go so much worse for me…But they didn’t! “See you, disappointment!!”
Before, I was alone and banished! Now I follow One Who totally cares for me! “So long, anxieties!”
“Thankfulness does all that?”
If I forget to thank Him, I forget many other things besides. Things I need to remember.
Check this out from one of my favorite books…
“Years ago, realizing I needed to develop gratitude, I began the practice of saying thanks to God for five things every night before bed. I still do this whenever I feel the least bit low. Looking for reasons to be thankful, instead of focusing on worries or fears, is like putting on a new pair of glasses. Life looks different through the lens of thanks.
If you’re feeling so low that you have only one prayer to offer, let it be a prayer of thanks. It’s the easiest way to pray and often the most powerful…”
Thanks…a big secret to a better day!
If you have a hurt, try thanks!
If you have a scratch, try the Bandaids with Elsa and Anna!
I saw 'em!
You've seen 'em!
It's happening, folks!!
So quietly…so slowly…and suddenly…IT'S DOGWOOD TIME IN TENNESSEE!!
They're just starting to peep out, but I get the feeling that they're gonna be spectacular this spring!
And amazingly we’re not the only ones with beeeaaauuutiful Cornus floridas! In Missouri, the dogwood’s the state tree. In North Carolina, it’s the state flower! In Virginia it’s the state flower AND state tree! They almost voted it the state bird!
At Christmas, you put lights and stuff all over your house and yard to make it Christmasy. But in the spring you just sit back and…ahhh! AWESOME! And SPRINGY! Sometimes people shine lights and tie plastic Easter eggs on their dogwoods. But aren’t they beautiful…aren’t they the best… just the way God made them?
I don’t know if you’ve ever heard the legend of the dogwood…
The story is that once dogwoods were thick and tall, like oaks. The story says that the cross that they made Jesus carry through the streets of Jerusalem was made of this tree…
”When Christ was on earth, the dogwood grew
To a towering size with a lovely hue.
Its branches were strong and interwoven,
And for Christ's cross its timbers were chosen…”
So, God decided that since the dogwood was used for the cross of our Lord, it would never be large and stately again, but gnarly and twisted…
“'The petals shall have bloodstains marked brown,
And in the blossom's center a thorny crown.
All who see it will think of me,
Nailed to a cross from a dogwood tree.'”
Only thing is…that legend isn’t true.
The truth is that God made them short and gnarly and decidedly unstately. And as the sun shines longer in the day and the days are warmer than winter days have been, and spring wakes them and sap rises in them, they have a beauty that makes my heart want to sing…
And really, there was no need to make up stuff about the dogwood to make them any more graceful and lovely than they are already. Aren’t they beautiful…aren’t they the best…just the way God made them?
And the story of our Lord Jesus…
Creator of heaven and earth…
of rain and sunshine…
of tulips, daffodils, redbuds, grass and dogwoods…
born into a poor, poor family…
growing to be, as the Gospel of Luke tells us, “the favorite of God and men”…
dying for love of those who despised Him…
rising to win their hearts and wills…
living to help us walk through this world and to one day bring us home…
There’s really no need to invent and add legends to this…
to this life, this love, this walk, this gift of blood, and this heart for us.
The story of Jesus…isn’t it beautiful…isn’t it best…just the way God told it?
See you tonight…Let’s hear it again.
Hope you’re having an awesome day! Hope it’s one of those days where your heart is gently opening up to whatever God has for you, just like the daffodils outside our door are gently opening up to this awesome spring sun!!
Speaking of opening…
Is it really only sixteen days (count 'em down!) till Opening Day for Major League Baseball?!
First game is the Pirates and the Cardinals in Busch Stadium at 1:00, Sunday, April 3! (If somebody I know can get his sermon over with on time, y’all might have a chance to watch the first pitch!)
Tina and I have been watching this ten episode documentary on PBS about the history of baseball and we’re learning tons!!
Did you know that Connie Mack, who was a catcher with the Pittsburg Pirates before he was a manager (longest managing career in history), could make a noise with his thumb and finger that sounded just like a ball lightly tipping a bat? When a batter was going to bunt, but saw that the pitch was outside the batter’s box and let it go by, Mack would make that sound when the ball crossed the plate and the ump would call it a tipped foul for a strike!
There was a player in the African American league named Josh Gibson who, during the ‘30’s and 40’s, hit almost 800 homers in 17 years! His lifetime average was over .350! Many called him “the black Babe Ruth”, although in the African American league, they called Babe Ruth, “the white Josh Gibson”! Once he hit a homer in Yankee Stadium that reached the wall above the center field bleachers...580 feet! They said another time, that he hit a homer in Baltimore that flew out of sight and never came down. The next night, he was playing in Washington, and a ball flew out of the sky into center field in the middle of the game. The fielder happened to see it and caught it. Gibson was called out...from the night before!
This documentary talked a lot about the single most controversial moment in the history of baseball...Babe’s “called shot” for a home run in the fifth inning of the third game of the ‘32 World Series with the Cubs at Wrigley Field.
‘Course, Babe wasn’t a stranger to controversies. In 1930, as the Depression gripped the nation, he signed a contract that paid him more than any player ever. And more than President Hoover made! Someone asked him, “Aren’t you uneasy about making more than the President?” “Nope.” the Bambino replied. “I had a better year than him.”
Anyway, with the Yanks up two games in the Series, and the game tied 4-4 in the fifth, Ruth was up The count was two balls, two strikes That’s when he yelled something at the pitcher and made a pointing gesture. Some say he pointed at the Chicago dugout. Some say it was toward pitcher’s mound. Most say it was toward the center field wall...as in, “There’s where this next pitch is going!” And it did! 480 feet over the flagpole! Across the nation, folks heard Tom Manning yell, "The ball is going…going…gooooiiiiiing….hiiiiiiiigh into the center field stands!…and it is a home run!!”
An unknown film of the 1932 “at bat” surfaced in the ‘80’s, but still it’s hard to tell if Babe was just pointing or predicting the impending home run. One reporter said that if all the people who said they were there and saw Babe call the shot, were put in one stadium, it’d have to hold 500,000 fans! Charlie Root, the one who threw the pitch, denied for the rest of his life that Babe pointed to center field. “If he’d pointed to center field like that, I woulda beaned him with that pitch in the ear!”
It would have been (or maybe it WAS) pretty outrageous for someone to be so confident in his abilities that he could predict what would happen to the next ball across the plate! But I read something yesterday that was a million times...even a kabillion times!...more certain! Check it...
“I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus...He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ!” (1 Corinthians 1.4, 8)
Wow! Paul’s saying, “I KNOW you’re gonna make it to the end! I know God will hit a homer with you!”
Y’ gotta remember that these believers were having problems! Couldn’t get along...some drinking too much...yucky sex messes going on...It wasn’t looking too promising!
But the apostle knew his Lord and King! He is able to change us! He is able to bring us back! He is able to make us grow! He is able to keep us strong and His! He is able…and He is going to…bring all those who love Jesus...home!
“To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy...” (Jude 24)
“...being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus...” (Phil 1.6)
“...You who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time...” (1 Peter 1. 5)
Before you ever were ever pitched His way, He knew He had a homer with you! He called that shot!
“ ...going…going…going…higher…hiiiiiigher...and it is a home run!"
That’s it for sports!
Hope y’all are pumped and ready for this amazing Sunday coming up! If you haven't heard, this Sunday is...
This Sunday at precisely 2:00 am, we actually jump ahead into the future by one hour!
Many people just set the clock ahead before going to bed on Saturday night. You already lose an hour of sleep, so it would make it worse to have to wake up and do it at the exact time of the change-over. But wouldn’t it be cool just once in your life to have the full experience and wake up at five minutes to two, get up, do a count-down together, and turn your clocks forward at precisely 2:00 am on the minute!, and then go back to bed!
It's like the only chance we have to time-travel and we all just sleep thru it!
There must be a very important reason for changing the clocks, even though in Algeria, Singapore, South Korea, Swaziland, Venezuela, Burundi, the states of Arizona (except for residents of the Navajo Nation) and Hawaii, along with Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Marianas Islands, and loads of other places, they just leave the clocks alone all year and snooze on. (Did you know China has only one time zone?)
I know springing forward and falling back time-wise, must be important...but I’m not really sure why. I've always heard farmers like it, but they are the ones who have always grumped the most about it. They are the only ones in history to have lobbied against it in Congress. They say it messes up the cows' milk…Sends ol' Bessie into utter confusion!
Y know, it isn’t really called “daylight savings time”. It’s “daylight saving time”. And it doesn’t really save any daylight. You get the same amount.
It's really all about what you do with the hours of daylight and dark that you get.
Remember what Gandalf said to Frodo, when he complained about having to deal with the ring thing?
Frodo-"I wish the ring had never come to me. It wish all this had never happened…"
Gandalf-"That is not for us to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us…"
Sometimes, I bet almost all of us wish we really could "fall back" in time and live a moment again…You know, have a "do-over". A word I could say or not say…A choice I would unchoose, if I could…
Others might rather "spring forward”…
If I could jump into the future, nestle down into a seat and watch from there the things that happened and know the reasons why…
to see why it had to be…
and all God has done for good in the moments that were so painful.
There are plenty of broken hearts today that long to know why and what good will come from the painful present.
But no matter how much we turn our clocks and watches, we don't...and can't... "fall-back" or ""spring forward" in time. All we can do…and the best we can do…is to trust and love and worship Him Who knows what He is doing, why He is doing it, and what good will come from all that makes up this day, both pleasant and painful.
That's why we remind you to set your clocks ahead Saturday night (or Sunday at 2:00am if you want the full experience!). Otherwise, you might miss the only thing that makes any sense of all that's happened and all that's coming….
Praising and worshipping Him!
This Sunday at 10:45 am!
Same time as every week.
Only an hour earlier.
Hope you’re having a day filled with joy, hope, peace in your heart…a day filled with Jesus!
This is my Friday blog (i guess) where I try to encourage someone out there with something about Him…
I wasn’t really sure where I got the idea of doing this…and then I remembered! I got it from my mom!
My sweet mom has been in Heaven for just a couple of days. But there it’s always one Eternal Day!
“I can only imagine…”
So, for the last couple of days I been reading through support/prayer letters my mom used to write every month or so when she was the director of the Crisis Pregnancy Center on “the Strip” at UT, helping thousands of girls of all ages find a loving alternative to abortion…and helping them, first of all, find Jesus!! The Loving Alternative to the painful relationships most of them were living!
My mom’s letters were unbelievable!
Most of y’all have known her as a sweet, little, increasingly weak saint…but back in the day when she ran that place, through her sixties and seventies…Wow!
If you could have seen her then!
My mom was crazy for Jesus! And she LIVED for the opportunity to have that moment when she could look a girl and/or her boyfriend in the face and tell them “about my best friend, Jesus”!
And she got those moments everyday!
She just told stories in those letters from the week or weeks just past…Girls who came in and the sometimes sweet, sometimes heart-breaking, sometimes hilarious encounters that would happen!
Stories of UT Olympics hopefuls losing their dreams in a puddle of tears and a positive test, but hearing of the One Who loved them no matter what…
The thirteen year old and her fifteen year old boyfriend…”What’s your father going to say when you tell him she’s pregnant?” “He’s going to ground me! Oh, no! You won’t be seeing me for a while, Pat. I’m sure I’m grounded!”
The high school cheerleader with a positive pregnancy test…”It CAN’T be! We never did anything!”
“Sweetheart”, my mom said (she always called the girls that) “That only happened once in history…”
My mom was so sweet that she could be as bold as she wanted for Him!
This is from her letter in September 1997…
“ ‘I didn’t know I was getting pregnant! This is the first summer I’ve been allowed to say at home alone…’
I knew we had to start in this crisis someplace and the best place is with the Lord.
‘Polly, you wrote that you are a Baptist. What does that mean to you?’
‘Oh, I don’t know. My father is very moral and I’m just glad he taught me good morals…’
‘’Scuse me, Polly, but you ARE pregnant.’ “
They spent the next 45 minutes talking about Jesus.
“After her bubblegum popped, I squeezed her, wiped her tears, and she turned to leave in her bare feet…”
This is from another…
”I’ve never been frightened at the center before, but last Monday at 10am a huge man arrived with his 16 year old girl friend wanting a pregnancy test. It was frightening to me as he was twice her age or more, and he was rough in his manner and vulgar in his speech. But when I was confronted with this man, I was ready. When he heard the lil’ gal crying because her test was positive, he rushed into the counseling room and grabbed her arm and jerked her out of the chair.
‘Ok,ok,’ he yelled. ‘Where’s the abortion clinic?’ As he said this, he pushed our young mom about four feet. ‘What give you the privilege of telling Sarah what she should do?’
‘This is her baby’, I said. ‘God has a plan for this baby.’
‘We’re getting rid of it’, he said and his look was frightening.
‘Sir, this isn’t an it. This is your son or daughter which gives you the privilege of being a father.’
‘I’m getting the car’, he said. Sarah stayed behind and I said as much as I possibly could in the time I had with her.
‘Call me, Sarah. I’ll help you! I love you! And so does your baby!’
‘Quick! Give me your phone number!’ Sarah said. I hugged her, stuffed one of our cards in her hand as she ran out the door. So, we are left to pray and trust God for her and this baby…”
Here’s one of my favorites, about a girl my mom had talked to on the phone a couple of days before…and three days before the girl was due…
“We’ve had moms-to-be accept Jesus as their Savior in the counseling rooms or over dinner, but we’ve never one accept Christ during her labor till this week. Hop aboard!…After her phone call, I met her at a busy intersection. She jumped into my car. When we hit I-40, I turned on my flashers and hit the gas! She had been in labor all day and contraction were coming every three minutes. I didn’t know how far along she was in labor. I just knew I didn’t want a baby born in the front seat of my new white car. It was 11:30 pm and she said, ‘Pat, God must be mad at me!’
‘No, He isn’t mad! God loves you so much Deanna! He died for your sins and mine…He loves you more than you imagine! He knows right now what you are going through! You know, Deanna if I was going through what you are, I’d be scared without Jesus in my life! It’d be a lot easier to go through this with Him!’ Remember, she’s having a contraction every three -now two- minutes. She had a hard contraction.
She screams. I pray.
‘Are you ready to accept Him as your Lord and Savior?’
‘Yes! Yes! Yes!’
‘Ok! Bow your head.’ (contraction) One minute later, ‘Repeat after me…’
Remember, we’re still going 70 mph down I-40. I stopped at the West Town exit, hugged her and welcomed her into the family of God. And called the Tennessee Highway Patrol. They escorted us the UT hospital. Wow! That was exciting!…The next morning, God gave me the opportunity to introduce that baby doll to her new Mom and Dad. When the nurse laid her in their arms, her hair all curled and pink bow in place, there wasn’t a dry eye in the place. Tears make mascara run down your face fast! As I slipped out of the nursery to spend time with Deanna, I heard the nurse say, ‘Yes, girls get pink bows. Boys get circumcisions.’ Deanna and I talked about how her life would soon reflect the presence and influence of Jesus Christ…’”
Every letter always ended with her “grandmother moment”. Amazing!
“Can I share my grandmother moment with you? Meggie is such a precious four year! This week she asked me, ‘Nannie, where was I before I was in my mommy’s tummy?’ I wasn’t quite sure what to say,so I said, ‘Sweetheart, you were just a twinkle in your daddy’s eye.’ Later that night, she told her dad at dinner, ‘I know where I was before I was in mommy’s tummy!’
‘Where?’ Kurt asked.
‘In your twinkle!’
‘Who told you that?!’
Most of y’all knew my mom was she was old and getting weaker.
But you should have seen her then!
You should see her now!
So, I have a black and white photo at home. It’s a chubby 1 1/2 year old baby with hair like Art Gurfunkle, laughing with his smiling mom on their backs.
I remember that day! My mom was holding me on the bed and we were rocking back and forth…rocking more and more each time! And then she would go aaaalllll the way back on her back on the bed and we’d laugh hysterically together!! And then I’d say, “Do it again, mom!”
Actually, I don’t think I could talk that well then. I think I just said, “ ‘gain, mom!”
I remember that day so clearly. In fact, if I think back on all my memories of being a child, that one is my first! It’s the first memory I have of myself! And it’s me, laughing with my mom!
And I have a photo of it! I have a photo of my first memory! I bet that’s unusual!
But how many more memories I have of my mom!!
My dad asked Jesus into his heart at the end of 1976. Just a few months later, he died suddenly. My mom had loved Jesus before him, but without my dad, she was just so lost and confused. She had been so devoted to him and without him, she struggled to find her way and a future alone. But somehow she knew that the only way to give herself hope was to give herself away.
To Jesus and to those He would give her to care for. And did she ever!!
Some folks were starting a crisis pregnancy center (one of the first of those kinds of ministries) in Knoxville. Someone told her to apply. She did. And she got the job!
And she began to give her bold (and getting bolder!) love and heart to suddenly pregnant girls who needed someone who could help them find a solution other than aborting, for the scary, confusing future ahead. She started in the basement of Calvary Baptist on Kingston Pike, near the UT campus until they rented a tiny brick building, hidden behind Clement Hall on the Strip, near 16th and Cumberland.
“Mom, how will they ever find this place?”
“No, this is perfect! They need a place they can sneak into!”, she said.
And did they ever!!
Thousands of girls, and boyfriends with them as well! From 95 lb high schoolers to 350 lb UT football players! First thing they’d see was this sweet-looking, tiny little white-haired granny. It wouldn’t be long before they realized they’d gotten more than they expected! More Jesus! And more love!
Nobody ever got out of that place without hearing about the love of Jesus and the new life He offers!
“I see on your info form that you grew up in church…but I don’t think you know my Jesus, honey! Sit down…I need to tell you about Him!”
I always thought, “I can’t wait to be close to seventy! At that age, you just call people “honey” and say whatever you want to!”
My mom always said that her philosophy at the center was, “Save the baby by saving the mother”.
My mom would preach Jesus to a UT offensive lineman as easily as other grandmas read bedtime stories! She always had some desperate girl or other living with her until they weren’t desperate any more! But love-filled and confident instead! She’d be taking girls home or helping girls out in the toughest neighborhoods of Knoxville until the early hours of the morning at times!
There used to be a commercial on TV that said, “It’s ten o’clock at night. Do you know where your children are?”
Tina and I used to think, “It’s eleven o’clock…” or “it’s midnight. Do you know where your mother is?”
Once, James Dobson asked her to move to Colorado Springs and head up the training of CPC directors across the country for Focus On the Family, seeing that she had been doing it longer than anyone else (as well as being the oldest).
She turned him down.
“Who will love these girls if I go?”
One May Friday, I walked into the center in the late afternoon. An older lady was just leaving.
“Who was that?”
“I never met her before. She came in and sat down. I asked if I could help her. She began to sob and sob. When she got her breath, she told me that she had had an abortion eighteen years before. She had never told anyone. But today would have been the day he or she would have graduated from high school. And she had to tell someone about her broken heart. She sobbed for forty five minutes.”
“What did you do?”
“I held her and sobbed with her.”
“For forty five minutes?”
“Sure! What else would I do?”
My mom eventually got too old to run around Mechanicsville all night. But she won’t be old much longer! My mom will be in Heaven soon! And maybe after 113,000 years of singing and dancing and going crazy for love of our Jesus, the Scriptures say we’ll have stuff to do for Him!
“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city…No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him!”
And my mom will be running around for Jesus, serving the Savior she loves! And angels will be asking me, “Do you know where your mother is?”
And all I can say is, “ ‘gain, mom!”
What an awesome, beautiful day! Here’s your weekend forecast…
“Finally .. sunshine and much warmer weather returns! Friday’s highs going into the lower 60s!
The Weekend Ahead: Staying mild with highs near 60 Saturday and lower 60son Sunday!”
That’s your Triple C weather report! And isn’t it nice to be able to sit back and read something encouraging without ads jumping “up in your grill” the whole time, when you have to “click” the “x” in the corner to get it “out of your face? It just seems like folks are advertising everywhere!
Altho’ I did tell someone that I would be a “walking advertisement” for them because of a bill they gave me!
I had to take my Honda (the one with all the stickers on the back…I can’t stop putting new ones on there! I may need to seek help!) to a repair shop because I was leaking some oil out the bottom.
Actually, it was probably quite a bit. (Remember the Exxon Valdez?) So, I took it in and they fixed it quick!
After the next rain shower, I saw the dreaded greasy rainbow creeping down the parking lot and toward the drain.and on to the pollute the oceans of the world.
So I took it back. They took it in. Hoisted it up. Called me back. “It’s fixed!”
So I went down and they handed me the printed invoice.
I owed, after taxes…
“Yessir! You had another leak but we just fixed it! Have great day!”
Well, I’m gonna advertise for y’all! Thanks so much!”
I guess you could make the case that they shoulda fixed it the first time and I could have expected
to pay “zip”, but for me it was exciting to be treated like someone special!
You know, it’s so amazing the way Jesus loves us soooooo constantly and continually and compassionately and consistently…
and everything He gives us…
a place in His family and home and heart…
forgiving me over and over and over forever…
in fact, already forgiving me of all I’ve done and WILL do!…
owning me and making me His own…
a coming day when a trump shall sound and He makes all things new…
And the price I pay?
All for you!
All for me!
All for free!
Makes me want to be a walking human advertisement for Him!
“Hey! Can I tell about the One Who has brought joy and beauty to a life that needed both?”
I’m not really sure how I’m gonna do any advertising for
(click to close)
“R. T. Clapp- One of the Ridge’s Best Auto Shops!”
that car repair place, but I’ll try to find some way to do it!
Hope you’re having an awesome day! Even tho’ some might be a little more…uh…sad...and/or a little more grumpyish… than normal because of the Lenten season! Lent is the time when so many give up things for the 40 days before Easter. I know it’s tougher to have to do without stuff that you like (love!) more than you realized. Like those commercials for the patch that helps you stop smoking…
“Side effects may include increased irritability…”
A while ago, someone took a Twitter survey of 300,000 tweets that were tweeted (or is it “that were twit”?) asking folks what they were planning to give up for Lent. Many of the choices were pretty traditional…meat (in tenth place)…chocolate (number two)…sex (eighth out of the top one hundred)…ice cream (thirty third)…
Some of the things that people quit for Lent were choices saints of old couldn’t have chosen, like…Facebook (#6)…social networking (#23)…twitter (#1!).
In fact, by far the most "Things I'm giving up for Lent" tweets had to do with renouncing social media, including Twitter. So, hopefully the tweet to renounce Twitter was the last tweet before going Twitterless! Maybe it'd be a good time to go on a spiritual retweat!
Then there was…”biting my nails”… “Nutella”… “sarcasm”… “”procastination” (better now than later!)
Some stuff seems like it would be super difficult to go without…
…"#16-bread" (How you supposed to live like that?)
…"#5-swearing" (That's gonna be pretty dang tough!)
…"#55-selfies" (Some folks might not know their phone can take pictures even if it's turned around the other way!)
One I liked was number twenty…“giving things up”! As in, “I’m giving up giving up things!”
I guess I liked that one because I’m not a huge Lenten person. I think it is an awesome exercise for those who really benefit from it! But it’s not really a season I understand well. Sometimes, when I read about it, the basic idea is that you are preparing your heart for Easter by trying to relive the days and weeks before our Lord’s death for us. By depriving yourself of something you love, you enhance the sadness and heaviness of heart that accompanied those who lived those days. Churches and crosses within and without are draped in black. Almost as if nature itself is mourning Him. As one article put it “Christians have ritually reenacted for millennia in the observance of Lent and, especially, of Holy Week. The fasting of Lent makes space for the feasting of Easter; wallowing in the horror of death makes space for glorying in the hope of the Resurrection.”
Then, when it’s finally Easter morning, we are filled with joy with the renewed realization that He is alive!!
Only thing is…
To me, it almost feels like I’m trying to pretend. Like “Let’s pretend” when we were kids. It feels to me sometimes that at Lent I’m trying to pretend that my Lord is about to die. I’m trying to pretend that we are in the days leading to His death. Then, we’ll celebrate that He’s risen and alive on Easter Sunday. But for now, during Lent I’m pretending He isn’t risen yet.
But that’s a game I already play too much.
Sometimes I forget to remember that my Savior is alive! He lives!! If I could only realize all the time that He is Risen Lord of all, and King of kings! He rules over everything that happens! Because Jesus rose from the tomb and reigns on His throne…
because “the Lion of the tribe of Judah has overcome (Revelation 5.5)…
and because from His throne, “He works all things after the counsel of His own will” (Eph 1.11)…
and because from there, my Risen Lord is “working all things together for good for us” (Romans 8.28)…
and because He lives for us, “alive from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep” (Hebrews 13.20)…
because of these things…
I never have to worry about anything again! Because He lives!! And reigns!!
I need to NEVER forget that again!
In fact, because our Lord Jesus is alive and risen for us, and because He lives inside of all of us who love and trust Him, giving us power to be different than we’ve ever been, there are lots of things we should give up for Lent! Things like…
…“negativity” (# 96)
… “complaining” (in 85th place)
…and “being mean” (coming in at 93)
There are plenty of things I should give up for Lent! Not because Jesus hasn’t yet risen from the dead.
But because He has!
Hope you're having a praise-filled, peace-filled, joy-filled week! In fact, if your week is filled with those, there isn't much room left for anything else!
It's been an eventful week around here! Well, actually, it's been uneventful.
What I mean is, something happened that I don't remember.
I mean, I remember that something didn't happen.
Yikes! I'm confusing myself! Lemme explain…
I was in this conversation on Tuesday, and I thought of something smart-alecky to say. Actually, it was dumb-alecky. It would have been probably hurtful and stupid in other ways. Normally, that doesn't stop me for a second. I'll just say whatever and than feel cruddy for a while and wish I hadn't. Y'know how you're deciding, "Should I eat this? It will be awesome for a few minutes, but will probably make me feel gross for most of the afternoon…What the heck! Let's go for it!"
And I do. And it does.
But our Lord said what's even worse for feeling polluted and cruddy, isn't what goes in that mouth but what comes out of it! Check this!
"Listen and understand. What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them…Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them…" (Matthew 15.11)
Wow. I know that feeling!
Anyhooo, for whatever reason, on this day I stopped just for a second and prayed in my heart, "Lord Jesus, should I say this? What do You say?" Immediately I knew.
And I didn't.
"Hmmm…How does that feel, buddy?”
I don't even remember what we were talking about or what I was fixin' to say. But if I'd have said it, I guarantee I'd remember what it was! And why I still feel cruddy about saying it!
This morning I was reading in Luke, chapter 22 when our Lord was arrested. And, with the soldiers gathered, Peter pulled a sword out and whacked a dude's ear off!
Yow! I hate when that happens!
Jesus said, "He who has an ear, let him hear!" That soldier (John tells us his name was Malchus) still had his ear…but in his hand! He would have struggled to hear about Jesus for more than one reason!
Billy Graham's wife, Ruth once wrote a poem about him.
"I knew a Malchus once.
Severely wounded by Peter's sword;
Crazed by anger, dazed by pain,
He thrust aside with awful pride
That Gentle Hand whose touch alone
Could make him whole again."
One thing, tho’…
This morning I was reading over there in Luke 22 and I noticed something. Just before the blade flashed and his ear splashed, the guys yelled, "Lord, should we strike with our swords?”
What?! They asked?!
"Wait for the answer, Pete!!"
"But one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear."
Way t' go.
If he'd waited and listened, he would have heard, "None of this!"
Instead he heard, "No more of this!" (Luke 22.51)
Instead of, "Don't do it!", he heard, "Don't do it anymore!"
The difference? A couple of seconds and an ear, bloody-side down in the dirt.
Y'know how many of the Gospels in the New Testament tell the tale of the bloody ear? All four of 'em! And if Peter had waited just a few seconds more, it would have been told in…none of them!
I guess, when it's all said and done (or, all NOT said, and NOT done!), my favorite quote of the week was the one I didn't say!
And some of my best memories of the week are the things that I don't remember because they didn't happen!
I'm gonna try to make that happen more!
Hope you're having an awesome day, filled with praise and thanks! And, by the way, thanks for stopping by and reading this CCC Friday email! We want to make it worth your while and our hope here at Triple C is that you'll be encouraged and maybe even learn a thing or two…So, with that in mind, here are some fun and useful facts to start your day! Did you know…
Today is January 15, which makes this the fifteenth day of 2016…
But there are 351 days left in the year…not 350, as you might suppose…because this is a leap year!
Also, there are only 64 more days 'til spring!
Here's something else you might not know…
On this date…January 15, 1967, the Packers beat the Chiefs in the very first Super Bowl!
(Wow! That was a looooong time ago! I bet the halftime show was somebody like Bing Crosby or Mozart!)
Also, on this date in 1559, “Queen Elizabeth was crowned Queen of England in Westminster Abbey…”
Good cow! She’s had that job a long time!
Wait a sec…’scuse me for a minute, everyone…
(What’d you say, babe? …there’s been more than one named that?)
Correction. Queen Elizabeth the FIRST started her new job on this date in 1559. There’s been more than one named Queen Elizabeth.
Here's a fun fact I learned yesterday! The system that measures in millimeters and centimeters is the metrics system. The one that measures in inches, feet, and yards is called (do you know?)...the imperial system!
How did I not know that 'til yesterday?
(Come to think of it, during the fourth grade, I was pretty distracted.)
Here's another thing I learned yesterday. Your keyboard on your computer has 400 times more bacteria than your toilet!
Isn't it cool to learn stuff? Aren't you glad you're reading this!?
More fun facts for January…
Since it's resolution season, wanna know what is “Resolution Numero Uno” in America? It's "lose weight"!! "Quit smoking", "save money", and "be an overall better person" all tied for third. 59% of Americans under 45 years old made New Years resolutions, while only 28% of those over 45 made any.
And now from the “Practical Advice For Daily Living” department of your FridayTriple C email…
Since we’re on the subject of resolutions…
I guess as people get older, they realize quitting stuff is hard. I was looking for articles on the best ways to break bad habits and found one by the American Association of Dental Health on how to quit chewing tobacco. Apparently, it's super tough to stop. (Probably also super tough to start!)
"1) Make up your mind to quit."
"2)Pick a date you're going to quit…” (and it has to be in this decade!)
"3) List your reasons"... Such as…
"…To avoid oral health problems"
"…I have sores or white spots in my mouth"
"…To set a good example for my kids"
"…To save money"
"…Dipping tobacco is discussing"…(duh!)
"…My girlfriend hates it"
"…My wife hates it"…
Wow. Those last two reasons were weird! If his girlfriend AND his wife hate it, seems to me there's something he needs to quit even more than dippin’!
And here’s some more useful info! (“News You Can Use”, we call it!)…
Mark your calendar for May 28! It will be a special day at Turner Field in Atlanta where the Braves play! You know what bobbleheads are, right? Little statues of baseball players where the oversized head “bobbles” all the time? Well, on May 28, they’re giving one out with future Hall of Famer Chipper Jones on a ATV four-wheeler with first baseman, Freddie Freeman on the back! Seems that a couple of years ago, Freddie was trapped in stopped traffic for eleven hours during an awful snow and ice storm on the Atlanta freeway and with the last of his phone battery, tweeted for help. Chipper Jones, a famous tweeter himself, read the tweet and jumped on his ATV and rescued Freddie! To commemorate this heroic deed…a bobblehead!
And finally, here’s today’s verse, just for you…
It’s Hebrews 6, verse 10…
“God is not unrighteous and He will now forget your work of faith and labor of love that you show to His name, in that you serve the saints and continue to do so…”
That means that anything you do for someone today because you love Jesus…
no matter how small it might seem to you…
no matter of you don’t even think about it again…
and don’t even remember that you ever did it…
will NEVER be forgotten!!
God will always remember it!! Because you did it out of love for Him!
Today…January 15, 2016 could be a day never to be forgotten for all eternity!
You may not get a bobblehead for it…
But they never look like the person anyway.
Now that your tree's down and your left-overs are just "overs", I really hope you had a “First-Week-of-the-New-Year” filled with praise and thanks! In fact, you should just really resolve as your New Year’s Resolution Numero Uno to have a 2016 daily filled with praise and thanks so,…
Maybe that's not such a good idea.
I mean, praise and thankfulness are like the most important components of your heart's health, but apparently resolutions aren't the steps to getting there!
Seems that when folks resolve that "first of all, from now on, I'm going to never..."
”Secondly, from now on, I'm always going to...", it actually ups the chances that you "will" the first (instead of "won't" it), and "won't" the second (instead of "will" it)!
When determined hearts resolve, and make resolutions that "from now on", they're going to stop doing something bad they've always done, or start doing something they should do but rarely have, success rates are less than impressive!
For a week or so, we do swell! 76% keep their resolutions that long. But six months down the Resolution Trail, 54 to 60 % have stumbled to the curb!
60% of all gym memberships are unused.
After six months, 85% of those who resolve to be “ex-smokers", ain't.
Even when you add accountability, the percentages stay constant. In fact, getting someone to help you can actually make things worse! Sometimes, we just don't know how to say the right thing at the right time...One determined weight watcher asked her husband if he could encourage her in her journey back down to her former weight."I'm just trying to get in shape!" she said.
Trying to be helpful he encouragingly noted, ”Round's a shape!"
Waaaaay back in the 1700's a kid started to make a list of his "resolutions" he wanted to follow all his life.
He started his list when he was 19 and reviewed them every week until he died like 28 years later. By the end he had seventy resolutions! And he pretty much kept them all!
Because they weren't really "resolutions". They were really "reminders".
The "70 Resolutions" of Jonathan Edwards weren't things he was trying to start (or stop) doing, but basics he didn't want to forget! F'r instance...
"Resolved, Never to do any thing, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life."
In other words, remember that you don't want to die with regrets! Here's another like that one...
"Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if I expected it would not be above an hour, before I should hear the last trump."
You don't want to forget that! Or this...
"I frequently hear persons in old age say how they would live, if they were to live their lives over again: Resolved, that I will live just so as I can think I shall wish I had done, supposing I live to old age."
How 'bout this? Number six may be my fav...
"Resolved, to live with all my might, while I do live."
In other words, ”Go for it! With all your heart!" That's amazingly easy to forget!
"Don't forget this stuff, Johnny!", he'd tell himself weekly
Most of the time, we have problems, not because we don't "resolve" well, but because we don't remember well. I have a few things I try to remember almost daily. If I get into trouble, I've usually forgotten one or two.
They're like the sayings painted over the exits on football locker rooms that all the players smack as they head on to the field. Notre Dame's says. "Play like a champion today!"
Here are mine...
1) ”My life is His"...Everything I have is His. He bought it with His blood. If I lose something, I'm not sad! It wasn't mine to start with!
2) ”My home is Heaven"...Not here! Good cow! If we expect to "have it all" here, we'll be disappointed all the time! I'm just passing thru this world!! On my way home!
3)”My time is today"...This is the only day I have to think about! Most of my depression, worry, and anxiety come from thinking about a day that's past or hasn't come!
4) ”My job is to serve people"...If someone doesn't treat you right, who cares? I'm just a servant (The New Testament really says "slave"!) What does a servant expect?!
5) ”My goal is to please God!" That's all I care about! I live for the smile of One! If I didn't please everybody in the whole world today, that's OK! I wasn't really trying to! If I pleased Him, it's been a great day!
6) ”My fight is for joy"...I want joy in Jesus more than anything! An invisible enemy doesn't want me to have it. So, I'm ready to fight for it!
7) ”My strength is weakness"...If I know I can't do stuff or face things on my own...Hello!!! I wasn't made to! I'm poor, weak, and needy! As he says in 2 Cor 12, "When I'm weak, I'm strong!" In Him!! My weaknesses...I love 'em!
I don't have seventy. Just seven.
I'm probably not going to resolve to start doing things I don't do this coming year. I'm just going to renew my resolve to remember things I already know!
Hope all this week, you’re having a holly jolly Christmas and in case you didn’t hear, Oh! By Golly, have a holy jolly Christmas… this year!
Wow! Where’d that come from? Is that a Christmas song?!
Oh, yeah…I think that’s from the Rudolph we used to watch every year. I tried to show it to Desi and Quincy a week ago. After about four minutes, Q walked out of the room saying, “Booooooring!”
But the song apparently has a home in my brain somewhere, ‘cause I just quoted it without thinking about it! There’s lots of Christmas musical residue way back in our mental storage that you might not be purposely thinking about but can just happen to tumble out at this time of year…
Did you know that you might hum or whistle about Bob, the Christmas horse without even knowing it? Think about it…
“Dashing thru the snow in a one-horse open sleigh…O’er the hills we go, laughing all the way! Bells on Bob’s tail ring, making spirits bright…
So…who’s Bob? There may possibly, serendipitously be a guy named Bob riding in the sleigh but this one has a tail. With bells on it. Does Bob? The sleigh is the one-horse variety. Unless there is a Christmas squirrel in it with y’all, my vote is that the jingly tail belongs to Bob, the horse.
Actually, “Jingle Bells” doesn’t mention Christmas anywhere.
“Chestnuts roasting on an open-fire…”
Mmmmm! One of our favorite Christmas thoughts! Ever had one? Ever smelled one? In Italy, almost every chimney has a chain hanging down with a hook for the steel chestnut basket, so they can roast ‘em over it. Folks forage around in the woods, gather the “castagne” and invite everyone over for a “castagnata” (chestnut roast). My humble opinion is that the smell is pretty stinky and eating one is worse. Tastes like mushy, burnt wood. Not a fan, personally.
I like the song, tho’!
“Altho’ it’s been said many times, many ways, Merry Christmas toooo yooooouuuu!”
I love Christmas songs! As I type this, I’m listening to an album of Christmas songs in Swedish! Don’t understand a word, but it’s all about Christmas and my heart overflows! I just love Christmas and its songs! Almost all of them…
So, why don’t I like the one about the drummer boy?
I’m ashamed to admit this. I feel terrible about it. The idea is so sweet! A poor boy offering his gift…the only one he can afford to give…to the Baby Jesus. So beautiful! But for me, the song is annoying…
What is wrong with me!?
Maybe it’s that there are too many “Pa-rum-pa-pum-pum”s. It just keeps saying it. After the first one, my heart just knows I’m going to hear this a million times before the song’s done, and a kabillion times before the season’s done.
Maybe it’s because the thought of a kid banging his drum after Mary’s finally gotten the Baby to “sleep in Heavenly peace” …Ask a mom! It’s the worst idea ever! I can just hear Joseph saying, “Dude! Shut it! Out! And take that drum with you!” I’da suggested, “Kid! Write a poem to the Baby! Pick some flowers! They’re cheap! And quiet!”
But giving a gift…a gift I can afford to Jesus at Christmas is a beautiful thought! We may not have gold. I might not know where to buy myrrh or even know what frankincense is! But there are gifts we can give Him!
And you have!
At Triple C, this Christmas, (beside all those Operation Christmas Child boxes!) you’ve given 170 inmates the most amazing Christmas dinner and evening many of them have ever had in their life! You’ve given almost $1400 so that women helping women in Chicago have a new start could do it well! And you’ve given so that dozens…even hundreds!… of widows and kids in Victor’s world in India could have the only new clothes they will have this year!
In Matthew’s Gospel (the one with the Wiseman in it) Jesus says that whatever you do to “the least of these My brothers, you do for Me!”
All of the giving you did to help those who need help is in Jesus’ heart, a gift given to Him at Christmas! What could be a better Christmas than that?!
And in all the rush of the season, it’s not too late! There are still a bunch of tags left on Victor’s tree! There is still time to take a tag…or a few…and give an orphan his school clothes or a widow’s dress for the New Year! And it will be a beautiful gift to Jesus!
“Then He smiles at you!…
(Just forget the drum.)
Hope you’re having an awesome, carol-singing, hall-decking, joy-to-the-world week of Christmasy-ness!! And with folks stressed and frazzled all around, it’s an awesome opportunity to show the love of Jesus and do something really Grinchy for someone, somewhere near you!
Well, is almost time for us to…
“Doing something Grinchy” means doing something kind and helpful, for peace on earth, goodwill toward men.
“But I thought the Grinch was the meanest, coldest, most hateful, most spiteful creature ever!”
Yeah. But only at the beginning. Not in the end!
In the end he wasn’t that way! He was different! He’d changed! His heart grew three sizes in one day! He brought Christmas back to Whoville, after risking his life on the top of Mt Crumpit! "And he, the Grinch, carved the roastbeast!"
I wish folks would remember him for what he became, not what he had been!
That song still says, “You’re a mean one, Mr Grinch!”
It should say, “You WERE a mean one”!
Even worse, it goes on to say stuff like,…
“You’re a nasty wasty skunk
Your heart is full of unwashed socks,
Your soul is full of gunk
"You’re a rotter Mr. Grinch
You’re the king of sinful sots
Your heart’s a dead tomato splotched with moldy purple spots
"The 3 words that best describe you, are as follows, and I quote
Stink, Stank, Stunk”
Maybe he WAS those things (“the king of sinful sots”…wow!), but not by the last page!
If you met him today, he’d be the sweetest creature you could ever know! To do something “Grinchy” is to do something loving with a heart full of Christmas! Because that’s who the Grinch is now!
(Except that he doesn’t actually exist.)
It’s not about what you WERE! It’s about what God is making you now! The past is gone! It’s past! (That’s why they call it that!) You’re not who you were! You’re new! Our God doesn’t see the mess of before! He looks at us and sees…
saints! (Eph 1.1) …
Sons and daughters! (Rom. 8.14) …
Holy ones! Whole ones! His choice! Beloved! (Col 3.12) …
Beauties! (Song of Songs 1.15)
The new you…a Christmas miracle! It really DOES happen!
And not just in stories!
And all because of a story!
The Christmas story! That story is different from the "How Grinch Stole Christmas" story. The Christmas story is a true story! It’s a “story” in the way they talk about a “news story” in the newspaper or on the “6:00 news”…the story of something that really happened!
In one of his letters, the apostle Paul talks about "speaking with the tongue of…angels" Apparently, angels have an amazing language all their own! Let's just call it "cherubimese"…or "seraphimian" But when one burst thru the clouds on the first Christmas, with a message he wanted the folks to hear, he spoke in one of the languages humans speak and know! In the Greek language, he said (or sang!)…
“Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy!"
The words “I bring good tidings” translate one word from that language. It's "euangelizomai"…
"Euangelion" means "good news"…and “I euangelizomai you!” means, “I tell you good news! NEWS!! News about something that has really happened!”
A savior has come! He really has!
We’re not who we were!
And a heart really CAN grow three sizes in one day!!
Makes you just wanna sing with all those Whos down in Whoville, the tall and the small…
“Fah who for-aze
Dah who dor-aze
Fah who rah-moose
Dah who dah-moose
Welcome Christmas, fah who rah-moose
Welcome Christmas, dah who dah-moose
Christmas Day will always be
Just so long as we have He!
Dah who dah-moose
While we stand
Heart to heart
And hand in hand
Fah who for-aze
Dan who dor-aze
Christmas, Christmas Day!