Category Archives: Bible Principles

Lessons Learned from Adele

Standard

spilled milkThis is Adele. She is the daughter of my friends Adam and Emily and she is also Graham’s little sister. Adele is a beautiful child. She has big brown eyes and a happy smile on her face most of the time. Her mom posted this picture on Facebook this morning, the post was titled “Don’t Cry Over Spilled Milk.” I laughed out loud and immediately asked Emily for permission to use it on the Pensees blog.

Look closely at the photo. I learned several lessons as I giggled at Adele’s predicament.

Lesson One: Let your child learn lessons on her own, even if you have to clean up their messes while they are young. Mess ups are more expensive when they are teenagers.

Lesson Two:  Look over by the door, there is a neat mat with children’s shoes that are removed. Excellent habits are encouraged by parents but seldom is perfection achieved.

Lesson Three: See the puddle of milk behind her, it didn’t take her long to realize that she blew it. She went looking for help. When children mess up they know it, they are looking for understanding not ridicule.

Lesson Four: Notice she is still holding the cup. Don’t let your child hold on to  evidence of the failure and don’t bring it up their entire life. Encourage them to let go of the mistake. Allow them to forget. Lavish them with your love and mercy. There is not a person in the world who makes only one mistake in their life. Everyone needs a do over from time to time.

Lesson Five: Don’t cry over spilled milk. Unless Adele gets on her knees and licks up the milk there is no way to change the circumstance. Emily can’t get the milk back in the cup, even if she wrings out the shirt. Why not simply say, “Oooopppsss, it’s okay.”

Lesson Six: Knowing my friends Adam and Emily, I am sure they quickly cleaned her up and gave her more milk. Restoring her quickly and gently will change her view of mistakes. Restoration rebuilds healthy self-esteem and frees the child from a fear of failure.

As adults we mess up, too. But we have a heavenly Father who meets us in the middle of the messy parts of life. This is January 1, 2014. Let’s learn from Adele and from God’s Word. Nehemiah 9:31, speaks of God’s character and care of His people, “But in your great mercy you did not put an end to them, for you are a gracious and merciful God.” Don’t cry over spilled milk this year. Move on and do like Adele pour yourself another cup and simply start over.

Facebook and the Green-Eyed Monster

Standard

green-eye jpgWhat kind of emotion does Facebook evoke as you look at the news feed each day? I asked myself the same question the other day. I have been a part of Facebook for several years. It is a great way to network, promote, and market. I like it because I can stay in touch with friends and family, too. When I started using it, I was thrilled to see faces I haven’t seen in years. With a few words and a little time, I could reconnect with others. I enjoyed celebrating the posts of an ever-growing friends list.

But the other day, I realized I have a bad attitude when I look at Facebook. The old green-eyed monster, also known as, envy has an ever-growing corner of my heart. I log in to Facebook and I see people (Facebook friends) living in beautiful, decorated homes. I notice others on exotic vacations to sunny destinations. Still others have seemingly perfect kids and grand kids. Their lives look like a celebratory observance of the ordinary.

My life repeats itself daily. I get up, go to work. I come home and fix dinner. I go to bed and get up and do it all over again. On the weekend, I get up and do laundry, I run errands and run myself ragged fb-depressed1getting it all done. That doesn’t make for a an interesting feed on Facebook. If I made up information I couldn’t live with myself. That is my reality no matter how I dress it up or embellish it.

So, what is one to do when you notice a bad attitude in the heart? First, you recognize the problem, then you confess it. Finally, you nip it in the bud (Barney Fifeism)! Simply and quickly I plan on uprooting the sin from the corner of my heart.

Envy slowly spreads and infiltrates our entire being. In scripture the book of wisdom is Proverbs. In Proverbs 14:30, it says, “A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.”

Today, I honestly write this blog with authenticity and transparency. Lord, remove the envy and replace it with a heart at peace.”

What feelings surface in your heart when you look at Facebook? Comment below, we can all learn from one another.

Stiff Neck

Standard

stiff-neck-womanHave you ever hurt your neck and you aren’t sure how it happened? I experienced that firsthand a couple of weeks ago. I was minding my business, backing out of an ordinary parking space, and a searing pain shot through my neck.  It penetrated deep into the tissue and bone. Immediately, my neck was so stiff, I couldn’t turn to the right or left. As I drove home, I had to reposition my entire body in order to make safe right and left turns. For several days, I could only look straight ahead. Driving, sleeping, and working was difficult. Thank goodness it only lasted a few days.

While my stiff neck was healing, I thought about God’s description of His own people. In Exodus 32, Israel  had sinned big time when they built a golden calf to worship. Their idolatry caused God’s anger to burn against them and He said to Moses, (v. 9) “I have seen this people and behold they are a stiff-necked people.”

God describing His people as stiff-necked was not a compliment.  This word is defined: obstinate, stubborn, willful, rebellious, unruly, and ornery. It means a person has a major attitude problem and an unwillingness to be led. Over and over in scripturestubborn goat God describes His disobedient nation in this unbecoming, uncomplimentary way. In my imagination, I think of a stubborn old goat that refuses his masters leading when I hear this term.

I never want another stiff neck physically but more than that, I don’t want the Lord to describe me in this way. A stiff neck happens when we become hardened to the master’s leading and so certain of self, that we are not easily guided back on the path of spiritual wholeness and wellness.

A spiritual stiff neck is a result of pride.  So what’s the remedy for this? It’s simple,  give your situation over to the Lord. Ask Him to work the kinks out of your life.  It might be painful for a time but, He is a gentle healer.

I’ll Take My Coffee With Cream

Standard

coffee barI enjoy a good cup of coffee first thing in the morning.  I like mine with a splash of real half and half. I am definitely not a coffee snob who requires specialty blends, weird milk, or a certain expensive machine to brew it. My sweet husband spoils me by bringing my coffee to me each morning.  He quietly places it on the bedside table. Then he runs, because he knows I am grumpy until I have that first cup!

Occasionally, I meet a friend for coffee at one of the local coffee places in town. Each time I go, I am amazed by all the different orders. There is usually a long line to the counter and I have fun listening as each person orders their own concoction. They step up to the barista and spout their order quickly and with expertise. For example, one might say, “I’ll have a caramel mocha with almond milk and raw sugar, make it a tall.” When they receive their order the customer seems delighted.

 I am amazed at how they know exactly what to order. I am the lady in line who says, “What do you have?” The frustration is evident and the person behind the counter says something impatiently like, “Read the board lady.” I become fearful of making an order mistake so I simply say, “I’ll have a small cup of your regular coffee, please, if it’s not too much trouble.” Then the coffee experts standing nearby are shocked. They suck all the oxygen out the room because of the words I just uttered. I am amazed as they hand me an empty cup as they shoo me away and point out the lonely carafe of house blend in the corner. latte

The last time I left one of these places, I thought to myself. Wow, those people really know how to order their drinks. But later in the day, I thought about it more. Wouldn’t it be great if we knew how to order our lives like we know how to order our coffee? As Christ-followers we never need to fear making a mistake in the way we order our lives. Scripture tells us in Psalm 37:23, “The steps of a righteous man are ordered by the Lord and he delights in his way.” The word “ordered” in this verse is complex but clearly defined in the Hebrew language. It means “established, to be steadfast, firm, to be ready and prepared.” Because the Lord orders our lives, we can be confident that He directs each step we take. Don’t be troubled as you try to order your life. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.” 

Almond Joy and the Joy of my Heart

Standard

When we lived in North Carolina, I met my friend Sandra. Our sons were playmates in preschool and not only did the boys hit it off, Sandra and I did, too. We’ve been friends for over 30 years. Sandra was a great wife to her husband and a wonderful mother to her children. The first time we met, I knew there was something different about her and in time, I found out what made her unique.

One time I was babysitting her children. As she walked out the door, she told me there was a little gift for me in the kitchen. I was so excited. We both lived on tight budgets and we didn’t get too many surprises or treats. I knew that if she bought me anything, it came with great sacrifice on her part.

After she left, I went into the kitchen and found a brown paper bag.  I opened the bag to find an Almond Joy candy bar and a neatly wrapped gift. I carefully opened the package and inside was a beautiful green and gold Living Bible. I was so excited to have the candy bar but I couldn’t wait to check out my new Bible. The only Bible I owned was one from my childhood and the dog had chewed up all  the book of Jonah and most of the book of John.

Sandra didn’t know at the time but her gifts changed my life and my destiny. Several months later while I was reading the Living Bible, I came to know the Lord from the Truth found in the book of Romans.  That Almond Joy candy bar was a sweet treat but pure joy came from the sweet words of God! Psalm 119:111, “I have inherited Your testimonies forever, For they are the joy of my heart.”

Over time, I learned  what made my friend different, it was her relationship with Jesus Christ. She had a countenance of peace, great wisdom, and a heart full of love and joy. She shared with me the greatest gift we can give to another, the sweet life-giving, life-changing Word of God. To this day, God’s Word is my passion! I crave it like a sugar addict craves an Almond Joy!

Who in your life will you influence for Christ?  What eternal opportunities are right under your nose?

Heavenly Father, Thank you for putting people in our lives who make an eternal difference. Open our eyes to new opportunities at home, at school, with our friends, at work and even in our churches. In Jesus Name, Amen

archived devotionals at circleofsavings.com

Can Christmas Be Found in a Box of Chocolate Covered Cherries?

Standard

I pray this story from my life will touch and change your life. Hallmark could say it better but please accept my words as your Christmas card this year. Merry Christmas!

                                                                                                                                                                                

While I have received wonderful Christmas presents in the past, there have been several gifts I will never forget. This week I walked through the local drugstore and I saw a box of chocolate covered cherries. That box took me back to a time when I first learned the meaning of Christmas.

When I was in 7th grade, there was a tall, African-American girl who sat behind me in home room class. She was the star basketball player on the Jr. High team. Her name was Sybil and she lived with her grandmother in one of the smallest houses in the poorest section of town. Other girls whispered about her and I overheard that she had already had a baby.  Sybil smelled of grease and wood smoke. Her clothes were threadbare and her shoes had holes. Each day when she arrived we said hello and smiled at one another. I was a small, quiet, studious girl and definitely not one in the popular crowd. She was shy like me so we didn’t really talk.

The last day of school before Christmas break,  I noticed other kids were exchanging gifts with their friends but I wasn’t one of them. Sybil came to home room class with a small gift in her hand. It was simply wrapped and topped with a stick on bow. I thought to myself, “I am so glad poor Sybil has a friend to exchange a gift with.” But she walked past everyone else and stopped at my desk. She put the box on my desktop and said, “I got you a Christmas present.”

Of course I was caught so off-guard I asked, “why?” She said, “Because you’re my friend.” She made me open the gift and it was a box of chocolate covered cherries! Sybil and I sat right there in home room, right in front of everyone and shared that delicious box of candy. We ate every piece. She smiled and smiled as she bit off the tops, sucked out the juice, picked out the cream and then chewed up the cherry. We had our own private Christmas celebration!

I can’t imagine how much she and her family sacrificed to buy the candy. I can’t figure out how or why the Lord put Sybil and me on a collision course that led us to an unexpected friendship.  But this much I did figure out, Christmas can be found in a box of chocolate covered cherries.

In what unexpected places will you find Christmas this year? 

Heavenly Father,  give us unexpected joy in unexpected places this Christmas. Slow us down and enlighten us so we might find and experience the true meaning of Christmas. In Jesus Name, Amen   John 1:9, John 1:14 and Matthew 1:21

Okay, Let’s “Talk Story”

Standard

I have friends who spend three consecutive weeks each summer in Hawaii. Believe me, they need it and deserve it since both of them are in full-time ministry in a thriving church. While in Hawaii, they meet many of their neighbors in nearby condos. In developing these relationships, they have discovered a Hawaiian term and custom. It’s called “Talk Story.”

The locals in Hawaii live  a much slower pace than we do on the mainland.  They get to know their neighbors, they eat together and actually spend time to “Talk Story.” I looked it up and talk story means “to chat informally.” Another way to say it might be, “Let’s get together and shoot the breeze.”

It’s refreshing to think that people actually make time to simply talk. I was deeply convicted by the “Talk Story” concept. What if we, as Christ-followers, actually slowed down long enough to chat informally in this fast paced, technologically isolated place where we live? What if the Lord afforded us the opportunity to “Talk Story” with others who don’t know Him? Would we be ready to do that?

1 Peter 3:15 tell us to always be ready to “talk story,”  “sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.”

Look at this verse and let’s ask some basic questions. Who is to be ready to talk story? Those who sanctify Christ as Lord. With whom are we to talk story? Everyone who asks us. How are we to talk story? We are to always be ready to give an account with gentleness and reverence.

How ready are we? Would we shy away from some people and embrace others? What if that opportunity came in the midst of a busy day, would we talk story with gentleness and reverence?

Heavenly Father, Give us numerous opportunities to talk story with others. Use your Word to help us be ready and temper our words with gentleness and reverence. In Jesus Name, Amen

She Looks Like One, Talks Like One, Acts Like One but…

Standard

If you walked into my kitchen and looked around, you would see a five burner stainless steel name brand gas cooktop, a stainless steel range hood and a nice French style (freezer on the bottom, two doors at the top) stainless refrigerator. If you glanced in my cabinets, you would see shiny Williams and Sonoma All-Clad cookware with a matching stock pot, pasta pot and colander. On my countertop there are Hinckel knives from Germany.  I have cool small appliances like grinders, choppers, graters, rice steamer, two crock pots, electric skillet, wok, three kinds of mixers, and a roasting oven, (that will roast two chickens at a time) just to name a few.

If you talked to me about food preparation, ingredients and terminology, I can talk a good talk. My favorite spices are herb de Provence (a yummy combination of rich spices and a little hint  of lavender) and fresh ground nutmeg. I know the difference between braise, broil, and bake. I know how to marinate, mascerate, and infuse.

But…even though I have the equipment of a chef, the vocabulary of a chef, and I can cook, I AM NOT A CHEF. I am only an average cook and I can honestly say I don’t enjoy cooking very much.

If you saw my kitchen equipment and talked to me about food,  you would probably mistake me for a chef (at the very least a great cook) based on how I look, how I talk, and how I act.

I am GUILTY of this kind of mistake so often. Because I am in full-time ministry at a church, I come in contact with numerous people in our church, other churches, and in  para-church organizations. If I am not careful, it’s so easy to fall into the trap of jumping to quick conclusions about other people. 

If someone is well-groomed, well dressed, and smells good, then I decide she must be a Christian. If she uses nice words and even drops the occasional Christianease (Christian speak), I decide she must be a Christian because she has the vocabulary down pat. If she goes to church, Bible Study in middle of the week, and serves often, then she must be a Christian. 

But, what if I met someone  who didn’t exactly have the nice wardrobe and the right hair style and make up? What if I met someone who had a  potty mouth and  used profanity and questionable slang terms? What if her life was in so much turmoil  that she barely made it to church every Sunday? Would I assume, based on what I saw and heard, that she might not be a Christian?

If we are honest with ourselves and each other, we will admit that we are quick to jump to conclusions about others based on what we see and what we hear. As humans, we assume a lot about people everyday.  As believers, we assume a lot about who is a Christ-follower and who is not.

It gives me great comfort and freedom to know that it is not my responsibility to decide what’s inside another man or woman. In 1 Samuel 16:7 the Lord gave Samuel a command and then gave him a reason for the command, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his (Saul, my emphasis)stature, because I have rejected him(Saul); for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 

What do you notice first about another person? How quick are you to come to a conclusion based on what you see and hear from someone? How will you temper judgement with grace this week?

Heavenly Father, Forgive us for jumping to our own conclusions and assumptions about others. Give us eyes of love so we might view others rightly. In Jesus Name, Amen

Archived devotionals at circleofsavings.com

The Spittin’ Image of Her Daddy

Standard

In the South, when we see a child who looks like her father, we say, “She’s the spittin’ image of her daddy” which really means,  “She looks just like her daddy.” I think as parents, if we are honest, we all secretly hope our children will come into this world and look like us. Before our own babies are born, the thought of “little spittin’ images” of ourselves makes us smile. Neither of my children look very much like me and I’m sorry to say my twin grandsons don’t look like me either.

But according to Genesis 1:27, we are all “little spittin’ images” of someone. As Image Bearers, we are the spittin’ image of our Heavenly Father. The verse says, God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” How would the world be different, if we fully grasped this foundational biblical concept? Let’s think about two ways.

First, we would see ourselves based on God’s creative best. Genesis 1:31, says, “God saw all that He had made and behold, it was very good….” Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see ourselves that way?  

Second, we would see other believers as God’s creative best but not only His creative best, His redemptive best. If we see Christ-followers as righteous based on the righteousness of Christ, we would no longer judge one another. We would no longer be shocked by a friend’s past when they, with great trust, reveal it to us. We would no longer be surprised by the daily struggles of others. We could look across that chasm that separates people and realize we aren’t who we appear to be…God sees us differently. 

I think it would be great to see others the way God does; as image bearers of the Father, redeemed and righteous because of Jesus (Romans 5:19) and fully indwelt by the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9-10).

When God looks at us He sees us through His perfect lens of grace. He sees His children, who are His spittin’ image. He sees us righteous because of His Son Jesus. He sees us from the inside out by the presence of the Holy Spirit.  For all of this, I am deeply grateful but I find an exhortation to change the way I view others and myself.

I want to put on grace lenses and see others through God’s eyes. Loving them in spite of themselves. Seeing them as redeemed saints in this messy middle part of life. If necessary, I will put on biblical bi-focals and see them from the far away eternal perspective, as well as, up close and personal right here, right now.

How do you view others?  When will you go for a spiritual eye exam? How will God’s Word correct and bring into focus a proper view of yourself and others?

Heavenly Father, forgive us for losing sight of who we really are? Forgive us for our judgmental view of others. Give us eyes that remain wide open to Your Truth. Where our vision is skewed, clarify and sharpen what we see with your lenses of grace.

In Jesus Name, Amen

archived writings at circleofsavings.com

Sometimes Choose Amnesia

Standard

Last week on several of the daytime television shows, the guests were Scott Bolzan and his wife, Joan. Scott has amnesia due to a brain injury. His amnesia is not the temporary kind but the permanent (so far) retrograde type.

Amnesia is medically defined as a defect in memory, especially one resulting from pathological cause, such as brain damage or hysteria [via New Latin from Greek: forgetfulness, probably from amnēstia oblivion] simply defined it is forgetfulness.

After his injury, Scott didn’t remember his wife or children. He also didn’t remember how to do many ordinary things. He and his wife wrote a book that chronicles his recovery and efforts to rebuild his life. It is titled My Life Deleted. While the couple told hysterical stories about their new reality, they also openly communicated their daily trials.

http://www.amazon.com/My-Life-Deleted-Scott-Bolzan/dp/0062025473/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1318281241&sr=1-1

I listened to the interview and thought to myself, boy there are somethings in my life I wish I could forget. Things like harsh words I can’t take back, stupid mistakes I can’t change, forgiven sins that pop back into my mind, bad memories, hard times, etc…

In Scripture we are told not to forget the Lord, His Word, His work in our lives.  But did you know that forgetting is actually a Biblical concept, a sort of spiritual amnesia? Isaiah 43:18-19 (NIV) says, “Forget the former things do not dwell on the past. See I am doing a new thing!” While in this context, God is speaking to Israel. He is reminding them to forget their years in exile due to their sins. The lesson for us is forget your old sins, you live under God’s mercy and grace. This is a new day.

Paul in Philippians 3:13-14 chooses spiritual amnesia for himself and encourages us to do the same. “Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But, one thing I do; Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

As I age, I find it both encouraging and freeing to learn that sometimes we can have selective memories. God’s Word tells us to remember and forget. The Bible is full of that kind of paradox.

I want to cheer you on today! Forget the former, what’s behind you and press on toward the new thing. Practice spiritual amnesia and win!

What from your past do you need to forget? What sin do you remember that the Lord has already forgotten? What is holding you back as you move toward winning the promised prize?

Heavenly Father,  Show us what we need to forget and reveal at the same time what we need to remember. In Jesus Name, Amen

Archived devotionals available at: http://circleofsavings.com/Devotional.aspx