Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Ultimate Sacrifice

The story is told about a pig and chicken standing in the field talking. During the discussion they began to reflect upon the wonderful characteristics of their master.  He was kind and had always treated them with the utmost respect. It was then that they came up with a brilliant idea. “Let’s throw him a party.” In agreement, the chicken looked at the pig and said, “Ok we’ll do it.  I will provide the eggs and you provide the bacon.” The pig quickly retorted, “For me that means total sacrifice.”  As we encounter this weekend we do so honoring those who gave the supreme sacrifice.  I think about the hundreds of soldiers that have given their lives in the line of duty that we might remain a free nation.  I am reminded of God the Father who gave His only Son. In addition Mary who did not shun her responsibility but answered the Divine call to birth the Messiah only to see Him die at the young age of thirty-three. No words are adequate to explain the pain she felt while suffering this great loss. Even more so we turn our attention to Jesus who gave his life on the cross. It has been said that “salvation is free but not cheap.” Never were there truer words spoken. It costs beyond our comprehension.  Therefore it behooves us to take the time to reflect upon and to honor those who prematurely surrendered all that we might have life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Celebrate this Memorial Day weekend by paying tribute and giving thanks for those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.       

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Turning Lemons into Lemonade

It has been said that if “Life gives you a lemon make lemonade out of it.” That’s good counsel but few of us practice it. When trouble comes our way it’s much easier to complain, struggle or just give up. However, I believe the Holy Spirit has been provided to assist us in doing just that—turning negative obstacles into positive outcomes. Bruce Larson in his Commentary on the gospel of Luke tells the story about one of President Franklin Roosevelt’s election campaigns. His campaign manager was about to print three million copies of his acceptance speech with an accompanying photograph. At that point, it was discovered that the photographer had never given his permission for the use of this photograph. According to the copyright laws, you can be fined a dollar per copy for publishing unauthorized photographs, and that’s roughly three million dollars. The campaign manager was in a panic. But instead of wasting time finding out who slipped up, he shouldered the blame and began to think creatively. He immediately cabled the photographer and said, “I have a plan that could mean great publicity for you. What’s it worth to you if I use your photo on this campaign material?” The photographer cabled back, “I can’t afford more than two hundred and fifty dollars.” It was a deal. You might be tempted to attribute this resolution to quick thinking—and maybe it was. In the natural we are able to manage our way through a certain amount of difficulty. Yet, I would like to believe that in the spiritual realm occasions like this are fertile ground for the Holy Spirit to plant wisdom into our lives. Instead on going into the panic mode we have the opportunity pray and then plan according to answers He gives.  Don’t ever feel as if life has to be lived with the grimace of sour circumstances. Take the lemons given, add the sweetness of the Spirit and enjoy the outcome—refreshing energizing lemonade.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Makings of a Mother

Erma Bombeck in her own gifted way tells of God in the act of creation. She says that on the day God created mothers He had already worked long overtime. An angel said to Him, "Lord, you sure are spending a lot of time on this one." The Lord turned and said, "Have you read the specs on this model? She is supposed to be completely washable, but not plastic. She is to have 180 moving parts, all of them replaceable. She is to have a kiss that will heal everything from a broken leg to a broken heart. She is to have a lap that will disappear whenever she stands up. She is to be able to function on black coffee and leftovers. And she is supposed to have six pairs of hands." "Six pairs of hands," said the angel, "that’s impossible." "It’s not the six pairs of hands that bother me," said the Lord, "It’s the three pairs of eyes. She is supposed to have one pair that sees through closed doors so that whenever she says, `What are you kids doing in there?’ she already knows what they’re doing in there. She has another pair in the back of her head to see all the things she is not supposed to see but must see. And then she has one pair right in front that can look at a child that just goofed and communicate love and understanding without saying a word." "That’s too much," said the angel. "You can’t put that much into one model. Why don’t you rest for a while and resume your creating tomorrow?" "No, I can’t" said the Lord, "I’m close to creating someone very much like myself. I’ve already come up with a model that can heal herself when she is sick, who can feed a family of six with one pound of hamburger and who can persuade a nine year old to take a shower." Then the angel looked at the model of motherhood a little more closely and said, "She’s too soft." "Oh, but she is tough," said the Lord. "You’d be surprised at how much this mother can do." "Can she think?" asked the angel. "Not only can she think," said the Lord, "but she can reason and compromise and persuade." Then the angel reached over and touched her cheek. "This one has a leak," he said. "I told you that you couldn’t put that much into one model." "That’s not a leak," said the Lord. "That’s a tear." "What’s a tear for?" asked the angel. "Well it’s for joy, for sadness, for sorrow, for disappointment, for pride." "You’re a genius," said the angel. And the Lord said, "Oh, but I didn’t put it there." Erma has adequately and truthfully spoken. Mothers are one of God’s incredible creations that cannot be done without.  Some things are optional but mothers are a necessity. Be sure to thank God for making yours!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Art of Hearing

I read the story recently of two men who were walking along a crowded city sidewalk. Suddenly, one of the men remarked, "Listen to the lovely sound of that cricket," but the other man could not hear the sound. He asked his friend how he could hear the chirping of a cricket amid the roar of the traffic and the sound of the people. The man, who was a zoologist, had trained himself to hear the sounds of nature. He didn’t explain to his friend in words how he could hear the cricket, but instead reached into his pocket, pulled out a half-dollar coin dropping it onto the sidewalk. He then watched intently as a dozen people began to look for the coin as they heard it clanking around amid the sounds of  traffic and crowded city living. He turned to his friend and said, "We hear what we listen for."  This is the point Jesus makes in John 10:27 “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” Every believer is to hear the voice of God but hearing is not a given, it is a learned art.  Several ingredients are involved in developing this gift. First we must take time to listen. Second, we must listen for the things God likes to talk about. Most often His conversations center on our development, obedience, and loving people.  Last of all we must entertain the various methods God uses to communicate with us.  Sometimes His voice is heard in thunderous tones at other times He speaks with a whisper. On occasion He speaks for Himself while occasionally He uses the voice of a donkey, a rooster, a prophet, or an ordinary person. During those seasons of your life when you feel the heavens are brass and the voice of God totally silent, remember the Shepherd is speaking. The problem lies not in His refusing to talk, but in our ability to listen.  We only hear as we develop the art of hearing.