Archive | March 2009

ROBBIE APPLESEED

For the last year and a half Robbie has had a “thing” for apples. He can’t eat them, of course, but he loves to hold one in his hand all the time. It is his precious treasure, and don’t even think about trying to get it away from him! He’ll play keep away with you if you try to take it from him—and he actually plays it very well—or he’ll even fight you off if he has to! Robbie is never, ever aggressive unless you try to take his apple or one of his pillows. He does not share his treasures well!

After a week or two his apple starts looking all withered and bruised and we know we need to get it away from him. He’s usually clutching it in his sleep, but every once and a while it will slip from his grasp and we can do the switch then. Other times Daddy will get a fresh, crisp, cold apple from the fridge and bring it to Robbie hidden in the palm of his hand. He holds his hand out and says, “Daddy has a surprise for you, Robbie!” Robbie turns his hand over, and there is that lovely new apple! His eyes light up and he starts to take it with a huge grin—but Daddy wants to trade him for the old one. Oh, the dilemma! He wants the new one, but he’s not quite willing to give up the old one. Finally he gives in, unable to resist that shiny new apple!
What is it about an apple that attracts him? Is it the color, or the nice solid feel of it in his hand? Is it the smooth, cool texture or perhaps the scent when he puts it up to his nose? We’ll probably never know why Robbie loves apples so much until we get to heaven and he can tell us all about it. In the meantime, I guess we’d better keep the fridge well-stocked with apples!
I heard an old saying this week that made me think of Robbie and his apples. You can count the seeds in an apple, but you can’t count the apples in a seed. There is great truth in that statement on so many levels. The first thing I think of is in the literal sense. My grandparents had eight — like seeds in an apple, count ‘em — children. From those eight children have come nearly one hundred and twenty descendants—so far! The Generation-3’s are still just getting started in producing little G-4’s, and in less than ten years, probably, the G-4’s will start having little apples of their own. The earliest ancestor we have on record in our family is a John Robey who was born in 1455 in Castle Donington, England. That was 554 years ago. Can you imagine the thousands of apples who have fallen from his tree since then?
The second truth I see in this thought is similar, but in the spiritual sense. There is something called the principle of “divine multiplication.” I may not have a great audience in my life, like Billy Graham or D.L. Moody or Luis Palau, but who knows the impact of my witness when the Lord multiplies it in the lives of the few with whom I have contact? Will the little boy I teach in Sunday School become a preacher someday and lead many to the Lord? Will that teenager I lead in the youth group go on to share her testimony for the Lord because I was willing to share my faith with her? We are encouraged not to be weary in well-doing. God gives the increase when we are faithful in our witness. We may not know all the fruit of our labors until we get to heaven, but we can be sure that God will multiply. Proverbs 11:30 says, “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.”
This principle is even more precious when we see it happening in our own families. It is true that God has no grandchildren or great-grandchildren. Each person must become a child of God by accepting His salvation through Jesus Christ on his own. Coming from a “Christian” home does not make one a Christian; having Christian parents does not insure one a place in the family of God. It is our responsibility as Christian parents, however, to raise our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. When we see them come to trust Christ as their own personal Savior it is one of the most momentous and exciting events in our experience as parents. What a joy, then, to see our children grow up to lead their children to the Lord, and then those children grow up to teach their children, and thus our faith in the Lord is multiplied down through the generations! God has no spiritual grandchildren, but it is a wonderful thing when we leave a spiritual legacy of faith for our descendants to accept and follow for themselves.
I see another principle of divine multiplication in our little apple seeds. I have always said we influence every other life we touch—whether for good or for bad. Just as our faith may lead others to Christ, our godly example may encourage them to go on and live righteous, pleasing lives for Him. On the flip side, when we are not living for the Lord, we may become a stumbling block to others, causing them to fall. People are watching us. Our children are watching us. If we want our influence to bear fruit we must live closely to the Lord—abide in Him. John 15: 4, 5 says, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” I don’t know about you, but I would never want to be a bad influence on somebody and make them stumble. May we always abide in Him so that our influence will multiply and bear fruit for the Lord.
When we count the seeds in an apple, we cannot know how many apples will be multiplied from just one of those seeds. Only God knows that number. Only God knows the fruit our testimony and godly example will bear, but someday in heaven, He may share it with us! The next time you bite into a crisp, juicy apple I hope you’ll think of our sweet Robbie Appleseed and say a little prayer for him. Remember, too: You can count the seeds in an apple, but you can’t count the apples in a seed. Let’s bear fruit for Him—over and over again.
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WHOO-HOO!!! — The Secret of Christian Joy

I’ve had a couple of WHOO-HOO, jumping-for-joy moments this week! Nothing big, really, but they sure made me happy! The first was that my sister invited me to go to Bell Buckle, Tennessee with her and Mom for the Moon Pie and RC Festival in June. Now, I have to tell you—Moon Pies and RC would be about the last things that I would normally celebrate! I am totally excited, though, to get away for a weekend, to spend time with my mother and sister, and to see Aunt Bonnie and my cousins—WHOO-HOO! Of course, I know it may not actually happen. There are a lot of circumstances that could change my plans (Robbie’s health, Bob’s job, etc.), but just having something fun to look forward to for the next couple months is wonderful!

The second thing that literally brought out a big WHOO-HOO! from me was just getting back into writing the book I’d started a couple months ago. I’ve been so busy lately working on my blogs and my website, and doing writing projects for other people that I had set it aside for a while. When I determined this week to get back to work on it and wrote that first paragraph, it felt so great and I was just bubbling over with happiness. I actually shouted WHOO-HOO! Robbie opened one eye and looked at me like Mom’s finally lost her mind, and the least she could do is be quiet about it! I enjoy writing of any kind, but writing fiction is such fun and so creative that I felt like a kid let out for summer vacation!
One more thing that had me shouting for joy: We had a couple beautiful days this week when the temperature made it into the seventies and the sun was shining. I opened the doors and windows, and while Robbie was sleeping, I went out onto the sun porch with my laptop for the first time this year and settled into the recliner out there. It felt soooo good after being cooped up in the house all through a long, very hard winter. Spring is on the way! Actually, spring is officially here, and soon the spring weather will be here to stay, too! WHOO-HOO!
Just little things, really, as I said, but they brought a great big smile to my face. My husband is a very fortunate man—it doesn’t take much to make me happy! Thinking about those moments this week made me reflect on what the Bible has to say about joy, so I went to the book of Philippians and took a look.
Philippians is called the “Joy-Book.” Nineteen times the apostle Paul mentioned joy, rejoicing or gladness. This may not seem unusual except that Paul’s circumstances were anything but joyful. At the time Paul penned this epistle to the church in Philippi, he was being held prisoner by Nero the Emperor of Rome. He was chained to a guard and not allowed to preach in public. He had no idea what was going to happen to him. He might be acquitted, but then again he might be beheaded! Even some of the believers at that time were against him.
In spite of the danger and discomfort in which he found himself, Paul overflowed with joy. The secret to that joy is found in another key word in Philippians—mind. Paul uses the words mind, think and remember sixteen times. I actually used the words happiness and joy rather interchangeably when I spoke of my week earlier, but there is a difference between the two. Where happiness relies heavily upon outward circumstances, people, and events, etc, joy comes from within. The secret of Christian joy is found in the way the believer thinks; his attitudes. No, I’m not speaking of the “positive-thinking” approach, that is so popular these days. Before we get into the attitudes I am thinking of, though, let’s take a look at some of the things that can rob us of our joy.
I call them Joy-Snatchers. When things are going our way, we feel happy and we’re easier to live with. Few of the circumstances of our life, however, are under our control, and when those circumstances go wrong we’re unhappy. The weather spoils our plans. The traffic jam frustrates us. We’re disappointed when we don’t get the job we want. We’re frightened when the economy goes bust. The person who relies on circumstances will be miserable much of the time! Paul, who was in worse circumstances than you or I will ever know, wrote a letter, however, abounding in joy! “Rejoice in the Lord always; and again I say, Rejoice.” (Philippians 4:4)
Sometimes we lose our joy because of other people. We are hurt because of something our spouse has said. We are disappointed in what our children do. Our boss drives us crazy, and we let the neighbors’ thoughtlessness get to us. We must live with other people. We cannot be isolated and still bring glory to God. Jesus says we are to be light unto the world, but sometimes that light is dimmed because of how we react to other people. He calls us to be the salt of the earth, but that salt is bitter when our testimony is marred by ruined relationships with others. (Matthew 5:13-16)
Most people today think that joy comes from the things they own. They want to live the “American Dream.” They want the home, the new cars, the vacations, all the newest technology, designer clothes, and on and on and on… In reality, things can rob us of joy. That new car gets wrecked. Our home is robbed. We get sick on vacation. We spill tomato sauce down the front of our new dress. And we can’t take it with us. Jesus warned us in Luke 12:15, “Take heed, and beware of covetousness; for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.”
The fourth joy-snatcher is worry. Worry will rob us not only of joy but of peace and faith, as well. It affects us physically, too, affecting every system in our bodies—hearts, stomachs, brains, intestines, muscles, skin, and immune system. Paul had plenty to worry about, but he didn’t worry. Instead he wrote a letter of joy telling us not to be anxious. He wrote the cure for worry: “Be anxious for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” (Philippians 4:6-8)
I’ve mentioned four Joy-Snatchers; now I would like to suggest four Joy-Sustainers. These are four attitudes, or four mind-sets that we see in the book of Philippians that will help us defeat the circumstances, people problems, things and worry that steal our joy away.
The first of these is the Single Mind. This is the attitude we find in the first chapter of Philippians that helps us rise above our circumstances. It is an attitude of single-hearted devotion to Christ. Paul said, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (vs. 21) Paul faced difficult circumstances with joy because he was not living to enjoy his circumstances, but rather he was living to serve Christ. He did not look at his circumstances in themselves, but in relationship to Christ. He was not a “prisoner of Rome” but a “prisoner of Jesus Christ.” (Ephesians 3:1) His chains were “my bonds in Christ.” (Philippians 1:3) He was not facing a civil trial but “set for the defense of the gospel.” (vs. 17) Paul did not look at Christ through his circumstances—he looked at his circumstances through Christ, and that changed his whole perspective.
Paul rejoiced in his difficult circumstances because they helped strengthen his fellowship with other believers. He called it the fellowship of the Gospel. (vs. 1-11) The circumstances in which he found himself gave him the opportunity to lead others to Christ for the furtherance of the Gospel (vs. 12-26), and enabled him to defend the Gospel before the courts of Rome which he called the faith of the Gospel. (vs. 27-30) Paul proved that when we are single-minded in serving Christ our circumstances can work for us and not against us, and we will find great joy in that!
The second chapter of Philippians tells us of the Submissive Mind. The third verse is the key, “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than themselves.” Where the first chapter focused on Christ, the second chapter focuses on people. The Christian with a submissive mind does not expect others to serve him. He serves others. The good of others is more important to him than his own plans and desires. There are four examples in chapter two of the submissive mind. Paul himself is one example to us: “Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy and rejoice with you all.” (vs.17) He also gave Timothy (vs. 19-23) and Epaphroditus (vs. 25-30) as examples of men with true servant’s hearts.
The first and foremost example to us, though, is Jesus Christ. He thought of others and not Himself. “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus, who…took upon him the form of a servant…” (vs. 5-8) The mind of Christ, or the attitude of Christ was that he would set aside His glory—all His rights and privileges as the Son of God—and humble Himself.
He served others, as well. It is not enough to merely think of others, we must be willing to actually serve. Jesus humbled himself and became a servant. He served fishermen, harlots, tax collectors, the sick and sorrowing. He washed the disciples feet. Matthew 20:28 says, “Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
He sacrificed Himself (vs. 8.) He was willing to pay the price to serve. Sacrifice and service go together if service is to be a true Christian ministry. The more we give, the more we receive; the more we sacrifice, the more God blesses. This leads to joy as we become more Christ-like. We share in His joy as we share in His sufferings.
He glorified God the Father. “Wherefore God hath highly exalted Him…that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (vs. 9-11.) The whole purpose of Christ’s humiliation and exaltation is the glory of God. As he faced the cross, the glory of His Father was uppermost in His mind. “…Father, the hour is come; glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son also may glorify Thee.” (John 17:1b) The believer with a submissive mind must expect service and sacrifice, but in the end it will lead to joy and glory.
Paul emphasizes the Spiritual Mind in the third chapter of Philippians. The word thing(s) is found nine times in this chapter. Most people “mind earthly things,” but the spiritually-minded Christian is more concerned about heavenly things and looks at the things of this world from Heaven’s point of view. “For our citizenship is in heaven…” (vs. 20) The quest for things robs people of joy when they can’t have what they want when they want it. They want to possess things and then find that their things possess them. The spiritually-minded believer will be an accountant with the right values: “But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ…and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord…” (vs.7-8a.) Paul also says the spiritually-minded Christian will be as an athlete with the right vigor: “…forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (vs. 13b-14.) Spiritually-minded Christians are also aliens with the right vision: “For our citizenship is in Heaven, from which we also look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” (vs. 20.)
Our fourth Joy-Sustainer is the Secure Mind. A secure mind is the antidote to worry, which was our fourth joy-snatcher. Worry is wrong thinking (of the mind) and wrong feeling (of the heart) about people, circumstances and things. If we are single-minded, if we have a submissive mind and are spiritually-minded, we shouldn’t have much trouble with worry. We need to learn to guard our hearts and minds so that worry cannot enter. Philippians 4:7 says, “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” The word keep means to stand guard or make secure.
Chapter Four, one of my favorite chapters in the New Testament, describes the resources a Christian has in order to have a secure mind and guard against worry. Verses six through nine especially speak of God’s peace: “Be anxious for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.” The resource of God’s power is seen in verse thirteen: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” God’s provision is seen in verse nineteen: “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” When we have God’s peace, His power and His provision—why worry?
Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say, Rejoice! Whoo-Hoo!!!

REFRESHMENT—THE CURE FOR WEARINESS

I have been soooo tired all week. Tired to the point that I couldn’t even write, which is really unusual for me. I kept falling asleep with my computer on my lap, and my brain felt fuzzy when I was awake. I finally gave up and decided to take a break for a couple of days. I feel much better now and ready to get back to work.
I know one of the reasons for my exhaustion. Robbie has his days and nights mixed up again. He sleeps a lot, anyway, because of all the seizure medicines he takes, but all week he’s been sleeping all day and evening and then staying awake through the wee hours of the night. When Robbie doesn’t sleep at night, I don’t get much sleep, either. It’s hard to accomplish much when you’re only getting three or four hours of broken sleep a night.
I stagger out of bed in the morning, my eyes barely open, hair tousled and standing on end (trust me, it’s not a pretty picture!) and go out to the kitchen to get Robbie’s food and medicine and take care of his needs first.. Then, at last, I look forward to my coffee in the morning. No, not because I need that caffeine rush (I drink only decaf, even in the mornings) but because my husband has prepared my coffee for me the night before and all I have to do is push the button to start the cofeemaker when I get up. It is one of his little tokens of love for me that I appreciate the most. Doctor it up with a little Sweet’N’Low and some flavored creamer, and Ahhhhh…
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My cup of coffee, my Bible and notebook, and some time with the Lord—and I am ready to start the day. In the winter I feel all cozy in the warmth of my living room, but once the weather breaks I can’t wait to enjoy that time out on our sun porch with its sunshine and breezes, the birds entertaining me in the neighbors’ rain gutters and an occaisional squirrel peeking through the windows at me. This is my time of refreshment—and we all need some refreshment to get us going from time to time.
Refreshment is the cure for weariness. Just as there are many causes for our weariness, the Lord has provided many ways for us to be refreshed. I’ve taken the letters of the word refreshment and made an acrostic of it to look at some of those ways. We’re also going to take a little look at Elijah (read I Kings 17-19) and see what we can learn from a period in his life when he was just plain weary and needed the refreshment of God to lift him up.
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R – Rest This is the obvious one. I’ve never been real big on sleep, anyway—until now when I’m really lacking it, that is! I’ve been a night-owl all my life and still managed to be an early riser. In my younger years I always felt like I was missing out on something when I was sleeping. As I got older I appreciated those hours to myself when everyone else was sleeping. Now I know that the lack of sleep is one of the culprits in diabetes and heart disease (I have both) and a host of other physical ailments.

Not only is rest essential to our physical health, but we also need it for our mental and emotional health, as well. In the book of I Kings we see the prophet Elijah serving the one true and living God in a land of idolatry, even when he felt he was all alone. He faced the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal, he challenged the king, he fled the wrath of Jezebel until finally he sat down under a juniper tree in the wilderness and said, “Lord, why don’t You just kill me now?” Elijah was just plain weary. He had worn himself out and now he was drained. He needed a time of rest and refreshment.

Jesus Himself needed rest from His labors. He encouraged his disciples to rest, also. Mark 6:31 says, “And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.” Rest is necessary for our physical, mental and emotional health, but there are other things that will help to refresh us, as well.
E – Encouragement Elijah isolated himself when he was depressed. We often do the same thing when we are feeling discouraged and down. This is the time, though, when we need encouragement, whether it be from our brothers and sisters in the Lord, Christian radio, a good Christian book, or whatever. Sunday mornings, when we are tired and weary after a long, hard week, Satan is right there whispering that we need to stay in bed. What we truly need, though, is to get up and find encouragement in the fellowship of believers at church, in the preaching of the Word and singing praise unto the Lord. Hebrews 10:24, 25 says, “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”
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F – Faith Weariness affects us spiritually, as well. When our defenses are down, Satan is right there, looking for the crack in our armor that makes us vulnerable to his attacks. Elijah allowed his faith to be shaken and so he became fearful. He feared Jezebel’s threats more than he trusted God at this point and fled for his life. Hebrews 11, which is commonly called the “Hall of Faith” lists heroes of the faith, “who, through faith…out of weakness were made strong…” (vs 32-34.) Isaiah 40:31 says, “But they that wait upon [trust in] the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” Faith in God will make us strong. When we are truly trusting Him we can rest in His faithfulness and love.
R – Refocus Elijah indulged in a little pity-party. When he whined to God that he was the only one left in Israel that was faithful to Him, God told him there were seven thousand others who had never bowed their knee to Baal. When he fled to the desert he threw himself to the ground and said, “You may as well kill me now, God, because I am as good as dead anyway.” He took his eyes off the Lord, he forgot about the others in Israel who were still faithful, and focused on himself and his own problems. When we are weary and discouraged we need to take the focus off ourselves, quit indulging in our self-pity, and refocus on the Lord and others around us. “…let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:1,2) “Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another…” (I Thessalonians 5:11)
E – Ever-Thankful Nothing is more revitalizing to me than praising God for His many blessings. When we start to count all the ways He has blessed our lives it is impossible to stay down in the dumps. Apparently Elijah forgot to count his blessings. The Lord sent ravens to feed Elijah morning and night, He provided for him through the widow, and later even sent an angel to minister to him. Through the Lord, Elijah miraculously raised the widow’s son from the dead and defeated Baal’s prophets by calling down fire from heaven to consume his sacrifice for the true God of Israel. You would think these occurrences would bring a spring to his steps and a smile to his face as He rejoiced in what God had done. When we are thankful and praising God there is no room for depression or discouragement. Ephesians 5:20 says, “Giving thanks always for all things…” He promises peace and rest when we are thankful. “Be anxious for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
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S – Scriptures Elijah heard the voice of the Lord in the middle of his weariness. God did not speak from the mighty wind, or the earthquake or the fire, but in a still, small voice. It is in our times of discouragement, when we are laid low by weariness, that we can hear the Word of God bringing us encouragement and refreshment. “As thy days, so shall thy strength be…” (Deuteronomy 33:25) “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength” (Isaiah 40:31) “…always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” (I Corinthians 15:58) Having these words of comfort and encouragement in our hearts, and being in God’s Word daily means that His refreshment and renewal is right there for us when we need it.
H – Help We need encouragement from our fellow Christians, and sometimes we need their actual, physical help. Our self-pity or pride may cause us to refuse help when it is offered. Sometimes we think we can handle things ourselves and don’t want to bother others, but when we do that we are cheating our brothers and sisters in the Lord out of a blessing. The Bible tells us to “Bear ye one another’s burdens…” (Galatians 6:2) I Thessalonians 5:14 says “…encourage the fainthearted, support the weak…” In Galatians 6:10 we are told, “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” We need to share the burdens—not only others’, but on the other end, our own. Elijah had helpers along the way to minister to him—the widow, an angel and Elisha. God sends helpers to us, also, to refresh and encourage us and we need to be willing to accept that help.

M – Music I’ve got to confess, I’m not finding any music here in the story of Elijah. Perhaps the lack of music is significant, though. If Elijah had whistled a little tune or plucked on a harp and sung, maybe he wouldn’t have been so blue! Okay, I’m being a little facetious here, but seriously, I believe music is a special gift from God to bring comfort, peace, joy, encouragement and yes, refreshment to our weary souls. Even if I can’t carry a tune in a bucket, I can still enjoy all the benefits of music. David used music to minister to Saul when an evil spirit came upon him, and the Bible tells us Saul was refreshed and was well. (I Samuel 16:23) The New Testament instructs us, “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;” (Ephesians 5:19) and “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” (Colossians 3:16) Good news for those of you who think you can’t sing—it says in your hearts. Whether we’re listening to music, singing in our hearts or simply singing where no one can hear us, there’s no excuse not to use music to refresh ourselves!
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E – Enjoy Life See the humor…the beauty…the wonder in life around you. When your spouse has you frustrated and your children have worn you down, look for the positives, the good in them. They’re there somewhere, trust me! When you’ve flubbed up—again—learn to laugh at yourself. When the hair dresser bothches your cut, or you’re cleaning up a dozen eggs that hit the floor, or you’re trying to stretch the spaghetti sauce by adding ketchup and hoping no one notices, don’t let it get you down. Move on. Life is too short and too precious to let the little things wear on you. Elijah was not a very humorous fellow. He wasn’t paying attention to the beauty and wonder of the world around him. Good reason why—he was facing down four hundred and fifty false prophets, a mad king, a wicked queen and running for his life. Maybe, like him, we’ll be weary, too, when it is the major things that hit us—a serious illness, the death of a loved one, loss of a job, the straying of a spouse or child— but don’t let the little things drag you down, too. Proverbs tells us, “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine” (vs 17:22) and “…he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast.” (vs 15:15) Sounds good to me!
N – Nourishment The Lord specifically tells us in these chapters in I Kings how He provided nourishment for Elijah during these difficult days in his life. He sent ravens to feed Elijah bread and meat twice a day when he was beside the brook of Cherith. He miraculously provided food for not only Elijah, but also for the widow and her son. When Elijah was at his lowest God sent one of his angels to bake a cake for him and give him a cruse of water. Wow! God must feel nourishment is pretty important when we are weak and weary. The angel said to Elijah, “Arise and eat for the journey is too great for thee.” (Isaiah 19:7) When the journey is too great for us, we need to remember that we need physical nourishment, and we need spiritual nourishment, as well. Some people have trouble eating when they are under great stress. Then there are the rest of us who do nothing but eat under stress. We need to take in proper nourishment to refresh our bodies when we are weary, and we need to take in the milk and meat of God’s Word to refresh our spirits.
T – Time We become weary many times simply because we are not using our time wisely. We procrastinate, and when we procrastinate we feel the pressure of things hanging over our heads. It makes us weary. We fail to prioritize so we end up running in a million different directions. The important things don’t get done, but we’ve been working all day—and things are still hanging over our heads. Then there are the times we run ahead of the Lord, failing to wait on His timing and will. Things never go well then, and we are once again stressed, frustrated, discouraged and weary. Learning to use our time wisely, learning to allow God to work things out in His time and way will bring about rest and refreshment in our lives. We are told several times in the Bible to redeem the time, which means to use our time wisely. (Ephesians 5:16, Colossians 4:5) Ephesians 5:17 also says, “Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.” That includes the timing of His will. Psalm 27:14 says, “Wait on the LORD… and He shall strengthen thine heart…” Again, Isaiah 40:31 tells us, “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.” Elijah waited for God’s perfect timing when he went up against the prophets of Baal. All day long they had called upon their god to hear them, but when there was no fire from Baal, when the four hundred and fifty prophets were worn down and bloodied from their efforts and when the people of Israel had seen for themselves that Baal did not hear them, then at the time of the evening sacrifice, Elijah called upon the Lord God and He heard him and answered with fire from heaven.
Elijah was a great man of God. Let’s not forget that. But in a time of weariness, stress, loneliness, and fear, he succumbed to discouragement, depression and even wishing for death. If a man like Elijah can fall like that, certainly we, too, will curl up in our little fetal ball now and then and have our little pity-party or be too exhausted to even move. The Lord has given us many means of refreshment and when we let Him—and others—help us, He will lift our bodies, our hearts, our minds and our spirits in strength, faith and joy.

LOVE YOU—CRISS-CROSS MY HEART!

Something very special happened to me this week. Something so special that it brought tears to my eyes and had me cheering and jumping for joy. Something truly special because I had waited thirty-three years for it.

Robbie said “Love you” to me for the first time in his life.
Oh sure, he’s made it abundantly clear all his life that he loves me and how much he loves me. Nobody loves like Robbie! Nobody hugs harder, squeezes your hand harder, or gives bigger, sloppier kisses than our precious boy. Nobody loves more unconditionally than Robbie—other than the Lord, of course. Nobody greets you with a bigger grin from ear to ear than Robbie or stares into your eyes with his heart in his own eyes, trying desperately to convey the message that he loves you. For someone who has never been able to speak, his message of love has come through loud and clear.
Before he became so very sick in 2001, Robbie did a little sign language. The area of his brain that controls speech was damaged, so over the years he learned about a dozen signs and could actually do about half of them. When he finally woke up after two long years of almost total silence and twenty hours of sleep a day, he had lost the ability to do even that. Gradually he regained two of those signs. “More music, please, Mommy” became simply “More, please” and more often than not, just “Please.” I have tried and tried to get him to sign “Mommy” and “Daddy” again, and although I can see he definitely recognizes those signs and could do them if he wanted to, he just laughs and grins and absolutely refuses to do them. He is pulling our chains—big time. ☺
Robbie had never signed “Love you,” though, even in his best years. The sign requires you to simply cross your hands over your heart, but maybe because it required using both hands at once instead of just one, he refused to even try. It never really bothered me, though for, as I said, there was never any doubt that he truly and whole-heartedly loved us.
When he suddenly signed it this week it came as a big shock. At first I couldn’t believe my eyes and thought surely it was just a fluke. He was looking at me with such expectancy in his eyes, though, and with such a big grin on his face that I asked incredulously, “Robbie, are you trying to tell me that you love me?” His face lit up and he got all excited. Mama had understood him! His first few attempts were a little crude—he couldn’t get his hands crossed quite right—but as the week went on they became clearer and he confidently and deliberately signed “Love you!” to me all week long.
Why would this be such a big deal if all along he’s shown me without a shadow of a doubt that he loves me? Don’t actions speak louder than words? After all, lots of people say those three little words, “I love you” and say them falsely. Words are easily said. Proving those words may not be so easy.
Well, first of all, those words did not come easily for Robbie. It took thirty-three years and a lot of hard effort on his part to “say” them. That makes them precious to me. Aside from that, however, is the fact that those words in particular are precious—to all of us—when they are said from a loving heart.
Actions do speak louder than words, but let’s not forget that the words are important, too. Just imagine if your husband brought home a paycheck, took out the garbage, mowed the lawn and even took you out for dinner now and then, but never, ever told you he loved you. Wouldn’t you feel a little hurt? Wouldn’t you feel that there was something missing?
God, our Heavenly Father, has shown us how much He loves us in many ways but the ultimate proof of His love is found in Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrated his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son…” and in John 15:13 we are told, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” His love does not stop with our salvation, though. Daily He blesses us “with lovingkindness and tender mercies.” (Psalm 103:4) We have the proof of His love in creation, and in His provision and protection, in healing and strength, in His grace and mercy. He makes us His children and loves us as a Father.
We see His love for us all around; we feel His love in our lives. How wonderful that He tells us of His love for us, too! In His love letter to us, the Word of God, He tells us, “Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” (Jeremiah 31:3) In Romans 6:38, 39 we are told, “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” I’m so glad that we have that personal relationship with our Father in which He tells us of His love for us.
We need to tell Him, too, that we love Him. Our obedience to Him shows Him that we love Him. “He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me…” (John 14:21a) God loves for us to tell Him that we love Him, too. That’s why He created us. We love to hear our spouse or children tell us they love us. What if they said, “But I just told you last week that I loved you. If anything changes, I’ll let you know!” That wouldn’t make us feel very good. Of course we know they love us, but we still want to hear it! That’s how God feels. He knows what’s in our hearts, but He wants to hear it. We tell Him we love Him with our thanksgiving and praise, in song and especially in prayer. We tell him why we love Him—not only for what He does for us, but for Who He is.
Words count. That’s why I was so thrilled when Robbie finally told me, in his own unique way, that he loves me, even though I knew it all along. That is why, the older I get, the more I see the importance of telling my family and friends that I love them. I try never to say goodbye to one of my loved ones without saying, “Love you!” to them. I don’t want them to just assume that I love them—I want them to hear it from my own lips. And I don’t want a day to go by without telling the Lord I love Him.
Words count. Make it a point today to tell the Lord, and the special people in your life, “Love you—criss-cross my heart!”

WE AIN’T GOT A BARREL OF MONEY

You know how sometimes a song comes into your mind, and you just can’t shake it? That happened to me this week with the strangest song—“We Ain’t Got a Barrel of Money.” Do you remember it? I think it probably came out of the Depression era—and before you say it–no, I’m not that old. That was before my time. I probably first heard this song from my mother when I was a child. Anyway, the words go,

Oh, we ain’t got a barrel of money.
Maybe we’re ragged and funny,
But we’ll travel along, singin’ a song
Side by side.

The words conjure up in my mind the picture of a couple of happy hobos, strolling down a dusty road, sticks slung over their shoulders with bandanas tied to the ends holding all their worldly possessions. They remind me also of a “hobo party” we threw back in the 80’s for a family in our church that was going through a rough patch after the husband lost his job. We all came dressed as hobos, roasted hot dogs on sticks, ate beans out of tin cans, and drank out of mason jars. We also gave them a wonderful food shower. That was the last time I remember singing that song. Why it would suddenly pop into my head this week, I don’t know.

Unless… Could it be that all this unrest in the economy is weighing on my mind? I think we’d all agree, it’s getting scary out there. We all know people who have lost their jobs— maybe our own jobs are in jeopardy. Businesses large and small are folding. The stock market continues to plunge, the housing market is a mess and every time we walk into the grocery store prices are up—again. The economic stimulus, which is supposed to help, is scary in itself. Will it really work? And at what price? What if it’s a huge mistake?

The media is full of stories like “How to Survive the Economic Crisis” and “Catastrophe Looms!” Every day we are told we are sinking into an ever deeper recession. The word Depression hovers over us like a malevolent specter. Will our economy crash altogether and plunge us into another Great Depression? No one seems to know.

Oops! I take that back! There is One who knows, One who holds the whole situation in His hands, One who is in control. Colossians 1:16, 17 tells us, For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. When we think of the Creator, we think of His creation being the heavens and earth, plants, animals, man and so forth. We tend to forget that He is also Creator of governments and rulers for His purposes. By Him all things consist—that is, they are held together by Him. That includes our nation and its economy.

That is not to say that He will not allow our government to fail or our economy to crash. This country was founded on godly principles, yet as we slip away from those principles and the US turns her back on God we cannot expect that He will not send judgment. As Christians, though, we know we can trust Him regardless of His plan for our nation or our own personal lives. “…All things were created by him, and for him…” As Creator He has every right to do as He wills.

As loving Father, though, He has made promises to His children, those who have trusted in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior:

Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

I Peter 5:7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

Matthew 6:25-33 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

He loves us and will always care for us. It may not always be in the manner we would choose, but He, in His infinite wisdom, mercy and love, knows what is best for us, and we can rest when we trust in Him.

II Timothy 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

Philippians 4:6,7 Be anxious for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

I have to confess, in these uncertain days I am often tempted to worry. I have to constantly battle it. Bob’s job has been in the balance for several months. Twice he’s come home from work and said, “I barely escaped being laid off today. My name was on the list, but my bosses talked them out of it.” Then he says, “I absolutely refuse to worry about it, though! God has always taken care of us and He always will!” He means it, too. Bob does not worry. It’s a little harder for me. I’m the one who writes out the bills and faces the checkout counter at the store. I’m the one who tries to make our shrinking dollars stretch. I must often remind myself that, though these days may be uncertain, the economy may be uncertain, our lives may be uncertain, we can, in the words of Oswald Chambers, be certain of God!

When we are trusting in God, when we place our burdens in His hands, when we live by faith, we will not have the spirit of fear or worry. Although the economy may be in recession, or even facing a depression, there is no need for us to be depressed! God has promised peace which passes all understanding when we hand it all over to Him! He’s walking side by side with us – even when we’re ragged and funny!