It is not uncommon to find in old books small pieces of paper filled with nonsense scribbling. What fun it is to find such treasures. Many of us have them tucked away in our books. What precious reminders they are– reminders of a four-year-old thrusting into your hands a tiny blue piece of paper with wondrous markings! Oh, how we value those “love notes.”
Have you ever considered that our attempts to communicate with God must be on the level of scribbling? The thought of forming any sentence either elegant or plain to present before the Creator of the universe fills one with an overwhelming sense of inadequacy. Praying almost seems an act of arrogance. Yet God invites us to do so and is pleased when we take Him up on his invitation. Psalms 91:15,16 says, “He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation.”
Perhaps the books of heaven are filled with small pieces of paper loaded with some very precious scribblings.
Written April 29, 2002
She was walking down the grocery story aisle talking to no one in particular. “I just hate spending my hard-earned money on food,” she muttered. Now what do you suppose she wanted to spend her hard-earned money on? Eating is rather important. However, it is disconcerting to open the refrigerator door only to find the vegetables looking like hairy alien life forms about to attack if one opens the crisper drawer. That once magnificent head of lettuce you spent your hard-earned money on now looks like something from a horror movie.
Jesus once said, “Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.” John 6:27.
While Jesus did not have a refrigerator in which to keep vegetables, He was most likely familiar with much of our fare. The coastline along eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea is credited with a large number of vegetables now grown in America—vegetables like asparagus, beets, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, kale, lettuce, parsley, and rhubarb.
When Jesus tells us to seek food that does not spoil He could easily have had some of these veggies in mind. But Jesus really wanted to emphasize the great importance of feeding our souls with nourishing invigorating food that stimulates intellectual and moral development. These things never spoil. We can lose our house, our car, or our bank accounts, but no one can ever take from us our education. Jesus told us He came to give us an abundant life and the abundant life begins in one’s personhood.
Written February 14, 2003
Don’t you just love a good mystery? Most people do. How about one titled “The Secret of the Missing Suet?” It sounds like a good Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew book.
Well, in our story it all started when the wire basket suet feeder was empty every morning. True, it had been very cold so it was very logical to assume that lots of birds were filling up their fuel tanks. But empty every morning?? Morning after morning? What could possibly be eating all this suet? Surely it wasn’t the little bunch of chickadees and a downy woodpecker or two. Surely, something else was feasting on the suet. A couple of mornings later—mystery solved. At the suet was a beautiful, gigantic pileated woodpecker.
Another important mystery—what keeps you going?
Surely, you don’t run only on food and beverage. You are a multidimensional being. In addition to your physical dimension you have an emotional dimension, an intellectual dimension, a social dimension, and a spiritual dimension. Each component needs fuel. Breakfast and supper keep the physical side going. Perhaps someone you love keeps your emotional needs satisfied. Maybe your job or school keeps you intellectually challenged and your church provides for your social needs. But, what about your spiritual nature? Just like your other dimensions it also needs daily bread. What do you do to satisfy that need?
Written April 18, 2003
Have you every considered cosmetology as a career? The root of the word cosmetology is the Greek word cosmos meaning “an orderly harmonious whole.” You may remember when the astronomer and physicist Carl Sagan hosted a wonderful television series entitled, “The Cosmos.” The series was about our world and its relation to our universe.
When someone goes to a beauty shop they are hoping to bring harmony out of their natural disorder. They want to be well groomed and have their blemishes covered. The cosmetologist is paid to make them look their best.
Bringing order out of chaos is remarkable feat. Jesus is coming back to earth to bring an end to war, suffering, death and sin. He will bring harmony. He is “The Great Cosmetologist.” Paul wrote, “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’” I Corinthians 15:52-55.
Written March 30, 2003
Have you ever looked at an 8 ½ x 11 inch piece of plain white paper? A piece of paper like that should be good for lots of things. But what if it had had a tiny red dot near one of the corners? When you looked at the paper, was that tiny red dot all you could see? Did you have to force yourself to be conscious of the 99.9999% of the paper that was still plain white?
We often do the same thing with people. Someone can be a good person who has done much to help others. The person can be generous, kind, unselfish and giving. But let us detect one small flaw and suddenly that is all we can see.
Why do we do this? Is it because we are aware of the multitude of flaws in ourselves and subconsciously we don’t want others to be perfect? Do we feel better about ourselves by pointing out the flaws of others? Have you ever said, “Well, I’m not so bad. So and so does such and such.”
They did this to Jesus. They wanted so badly to pull Him down to their scummy level that they finally found a flaw. He associated with bad people. Therefore, they reasoned, He must be bad, too. After all, don’t “birds of a feather flock together?”
Shame on them. Shame on us. Let us rejoice when we have a good person in our midst. Lord, give us generous hearts for others. Aid us in treating them as we want to be treated.
Written August 28, 2002
At least one player on the Canadian Olympic ice hockey team of 2002 received a gold medal for sitting on the bench the entire game. He never played. He sat and watched the entire game. Furthermore, not one of his teammates was heard objecting to the benchwarmer getting a medal.
In Matthew 20 Jesus tells a parable about a man who paid the same wages to all those who worked in his fields. Some worked all day and some worked only an hour, but they all received identical amounts of money. Unlike the Canadian hockey players, some of those who worked all day did object claiming the employer was unfair. The employer silenced them by pointing out they got what they contracted for and since the money was his he could do with it as he pleased.
This is a wonderful story. Knowing this story keeps us from feeling bad in heaven when we meet one of the martyrs. Knowing that salvation was a gift even to those who gave their bodies to be burned or mutilated will be comforting. How else could we, as benchwarmers, think of receiving the same reward as the martyrs if we thought we had to earn heaven? Paul tells us in Romans 3:23 that we all have sinned and have come short of the glory of God. However, he continues in Romans 6:23 by telling us that eternal life is a gift—a gift for everyone. That even includes the martyrs.
Written April 23, 2003
The afternoon sun was low behind the grandpa and his grandson. They were enjoying their long shadows on the sidewalk. Both of them were very tall. Jumping in front of grandpa, the little boy noted with great joy that he and grandpa had become one. Thus they stayed as one as long as they were aligned. Soon the six-year-old saw the fun of sticking out his arms and laughing as their shadow sprouted four arms.
Psalms 91:1 reads, “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”
Just before His death Jesus prayed for us, “I pray for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.” John 17: 20-21.
The goal of every Christian is to truly be one with our Maker and Savior. We long to rest in His forgiveness and experience the fullness of His mercy, an experience that can only occur if via the power of His Spirit we align ourselves with His will. Our shadow merges with His and when others see us they see Him. “In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16.
Written September 15, 2002
We used to joke about getting an “A” in recess on our report card. Now we know how very important recess is. Recess isn’t a child just running about between reading and math. Recess is a child stimulating physical health, mental coordination and the development of social skills. All three are extremely important for life after school.
Often times during the job interview process a highly educated person is passed over in favor of a lesser-trained person because the latter had better social skills. A sour apple can spoil an otherwise wonderful work place. Recess is a rough and tumble place where the “sour apple” learns how to get along.
In Romans 14:19 Paul counsels, “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.”
This is called getting along. Sometimes it is a challenge. Sometimes it means surrendering a privilege. Being a mature person means weighing the outcomes of certain actions and behaviors. It means selecting that which will bring harmony to a potentially explosive situation. Often it is a skill learned during recess.
Recess is important. Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.” Matthew 5
Written October 9, 2002
Do you know anyone who makes quilts? Quilters are people who create masterpieces. They pour enormous amounts of time into their art. All those tiny stitches require great patience and the designs require an artistic eye and a very creative mind.
Like any art form, quilts express the personality of the creator. Would you guess perhaps that calm, subdued people create quilts with lots of earth tones while extroverts fashion quilts with lots of bright reds and yellows?
Just as a master quilter utilizes a vast array from shabby to elegant pieces of cloth so God takes the varied experiences of our lives and quilts each of us into an amazingly beautiful and unique person. Some of us are extroverts and some introverts. God is amazing. While He quilts us into His image, He still allows each of us to choose what kind of person we want to be. Unlike human art, which is solely the fruit of the artist’s labors, God’s art has tremendous input into itself.
It would be boring if all quilts looked alike so God would surely be bored if we were all the same. Since creation there have been approximately 80 billion people on this old planet. That means there have been 80 billion different quilts. God supplies the basics. He gives us a body and a mind and then sets us free to create the final product. What we do with those basics is up to us.
Written September 8, 2002
The gas station attendant walked up to the car and said, “Sorry we are out of regular. But I can fill you up with premium for the price of regular.” It was like going into a store for plain vanilla and coming out with Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia.
So often our spiritual life is like that. We pick up our Bibles to study and as we start reading the Lord often gives us “premium for the price of regular.” Passages like “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.”
Wow! He blessed us with every spiritual blessing. He chose us to be blameless. He adopted us according to His good pleasure. He lavishes us with wisdom and understanding. And best of all it is free. That is premium. That is Cherry Garcia for the soul.
Written February 11, 2003