Happy New Year!
by Debra Griffin
we study more words of God & apply them in our life, lean upon God more, do His will not our will, be more productive,
have more patience, learn to love, forgive others, mend relationships, walk hand in hand with those taking their last steps,
make wonderful memories, encourage, edify, support, cry with and laugh with those you love. Treasure old friends, make
new friends, be a faithful friend! Appreciate modern forms of communications that keep us in touch with those we love!
When one is faced with adversity, there are two choices: One can become bitter and push those away that
we love or one can embrace adversity whatever it be and allow God to use the adversity to mold you into a better spouse,
parent, grandparent, family member & friend. Sometimes laughing when you feel like crying is wonderful and sometimes
laughing till you cry is just as wonderful.
Please think about telling those you love how you feel.
Pick up the phone, get out your keyboard, write in the sand, just communicate with those you love and encourage them,
love them, be there for them!!!! Touch their hearts while you are able to. Don't be like so many that we have
sat with at the loss of a loved one and hear them say, "I wish I had done... If I had only said.....Why didn't I
visit more....I didn't call enough." Live life to the fullest and express yourself; go out of your way
to be there for those you love. I promise you, you will never regret it, if you don't, you will regret it. May
you welcome a new life into the world and may you have the strength and peace you need should you have to say good
bye to those you love.
May your new year be an exciting one, may you venture where you have never gone before,
may you find strength during trials, may you see the little things in life and know their importance, may you touch
someones heart and may someone touch your heart! May your life be everything you need, not every thing you dreamed,
may your love be rich and pure and may you be loved deeply. God bless & keep you in His care!
"WE HAVE MET THE ENEMY
AND HE IS US"
The above quote (a twist on the original: "We have met the enemy and he is ours . . . " by Commander Oliver Perry)
was paraphrased and made even more famous by Walt Kelly's much loved comic strip character, Pogo. Kelly used this quote
on a poster for Earth Day because of how we sometimes misuse our planet. I like Pogo's paraphrase better than the original,
and I think it applies to more than just Earth Day.
Sometimes, even though we've become Christians,
we are still our own worst enemies. We get down on ourselves. Call ourselves names like "stupid" or
"ugly." We undervalue our own talents. Worse still, we refuse to use the talents we do recognize that
we have for fear of failure or ridicule from others.
Whether it's caused from over-critical
parents or over-critical friends of our youth, or unfortunate past incidents, I think each of us has that enemy inside of
us. It comes in the form of that little voice of doubt. Of "You can't do that!" It's a good voice,
in some ways, to help keep us a bit humble, to keep us from trying to out-shine others or make ourselves the center of attention.
But we must keep that voice, that enemy, within a check and balance. We must not let it keep us down or keep us from
achieving what we can do and what God wants us to do. We must not allow that enemy to take us prisoner or kill us.
Let's set one thing straight right now. If you (or I) are Christians, then we are not stupid.
We've chosen to follow God. That's the smartest decision anyone can ever make. And we are not ugly. God's
children shine His light through them in this world. No way they can be ugly as long as that light shines through.
Now, about those talents.
Probably the best way to defeat this enemy is to listen to
the voice and then ask questions of ourselves. Is that voice true or right? Or is it really just self-doubt on
our part? Maybe we want to teach a Bible class but don't think we know how. How about team-teaching with someone
who has experience? See how she handles it, what methods she uses. How she keeps the students' attention.
After a time, we could ask her to let us lead a class, with her there to help. Maybe we want to teach someone who has
never studied the Bible about how to become a Christian but aren't sure we know enough. Again, why not team up with
someone more knowledgeable until we feel strong enough to strike out on our own? Want to counsel or encourage others?
There are tons of how-to books on that subject (the Bible being the best, of course) and again, we can team up until we're
ready to go out on our own.
Maybe visit the sick or the elderly? Write Bible class
lessons? Send cards? Take food to those who need it? Learn to sew/knit/crochet something for others.
There are tons of things we can all do for others, IF we use the talents we have and/or build on them with the help and encouragement
Baby steps. We all need to take them before we learn to run. And most
likely we need the help of others to get going. We shouldn't be afraid to ask. It's dumb NOT to ask.
If you aren't familiar with Pogo and haven't read the comic, you might want to click the link
below, (then click Pogo comics link) which includes pictures with the info. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pogo_(comics) Now, go take some pot shots at that enemy inside. Never let the enemy win!
I adore daffodils for various reasons, not the least of which is that they are usually the first flowers to poke their heads
out of the ground, announcing that spring has at last sprung. Maybe. If we're lucky.
Yes, I wrote a newsletter about
daffodils last spring, but I'm going in a different direction this year, so hang with me here, please.
Our area (southern-most tip
of Illinois) is mostly rural farming. Almost anywhere you drive in Massac County you will see fields being prepped for
this year's crop. You also will often see old farm houses that are slowly collapsing into the ground long after the occupants
have either moved on or died. And sometimes you will be able to tell where a house once stood (and where a woman
who loved daffodils once lived) because there will be a huge stand of daffodils in an empty yard, no house anywhere around,
just the ancient foundation. Daffodils cover otherwise empty fields and dot the roadsides, the latter ripe
for picking and brightening our homes since they now belong to no one. It's these apparently abandoned daffodils
I want to chat about.
As I said above, daffodils often gaily wave in the breeze on an abandoned property where a home once stood and a family
once lived and were likely planted (in nice straight rows, mind you) by a woman who loved them. She probably had no
idea her gift of beauty to passers-by would far outlive her.
Daffodils in fields were most likely scattered there by farmers tilling the field
with no idea that they were spreading daffodil bulbs hither, thither, and yon beneath the tractor. Ditto for long stretches
of daffodils on the edges of yards, spread by lawn mowers, or the shoulders of the roads, probably spread by highway
maintainence crews. Yet those flowers survive for years, making their surrounding beautiful every spring, likely without
conscious knowledge and/or memory of the original sower.
When we sow the seed of the gospel sometimes we get discouraged because we don't get
a quick result. Actually in this "drive-through" world we now live in, we pretty much expect quick results
in everything. Patience is becoming a lost fruit of the spirit. Where was I? Sowing seeds/bulbs.
Just like those homeowners-farmers-lawn
mowers-maintainence crews, we can sow the seed of the gospel and never see the results. Perhaps the listener (the ground
we sowed in, if you will) moved away before obeying the Lord and didn't let us know. Perhaps we have moved to a
new home or even moved on to our final reward. Perhaps a lot of things.
Point is, just like those amazing daffodils, popping up everywhere,
seeming to come from nowhere, we need to be sowing the seed of God's word everywhere we can, without worrying whether or not
those seeds will bloom, because they will, at least many of them will. And like the anonymous daffodil sowers,
no one need know specifically that we were the ones who sowed. And we don't always need to know the results of
our sowing. Just spread the seed, pray about it, water them if we can, let someone else water if we can't, and expect
amazing results. Because God's word doesn't return to Him void!
55:11 So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.
Have you thanked God this spring for the lowly Daffodil? And have you taken time to
sow the beautiful seed of the gospel?
via Encouraged Together http://www.lonniecruse.com/
When We Share
When we share laughter, there's twice the fun;
When we share
success, we surpass what we've done.
When we share problems, there's half the pain;
When we share tears, a
rainbow follows rain.
When we share dreams, they become more real;
When we share secrets, it's our hearts
If we share a smile, then our love shows;
If we share a hug, then our love grows.
we share with someone on whom we depend,
That person becomes family or friend.
And what draws us closer and
makes us all care,
Is not what we have, but the things that we share.
1 Peter 2:1 instructs us to "...lay aside all malice, all guile, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking."
A teacher in a Bible class said her commentary
compared this to the removal of a garment. What a wonderful illustration! When removing a garment, it's taken off completely,
not partially! Then the dirty garment is washed, hung out to dry and pressed before being placed again in a closet with clean
clothes. Some diligent souls will even check a garment and sew on buttons or patches before pressing.
Back in a closet with others, a particular garment might hang for a while before
being chosen again. When it IS picked, it's by a conscious decision.
What a world it would be if everyone decided to remove MALICE (the desire to do harm or mischief), GUILE (treacherous
cunning; skillful deceit), HYPOCRISY (the practice of professing standards, beliefs, etc, contrary to one's real character
or actual behaviour), ENVY (a longing to possess something awarded to or achieved by another) and EVIL SPEAKING (those who
forget the Golden Rule) from our bodies, and consciously and thoughtfully decided never to put those garments on again.
"Let your garments always be white..." Ezekiel 9:8a
"And Jacob said to his household and all who were with him, 'Put away the
foreign gods that are among you, purify yourselves, and change your garments.'" Genesis 35:2
Do we have garments in our closets that need to be thrown away?
The Shape of Things
by Robyn Corum
These days everyone I know seems to be involved in some form of exercise, including
myself. Although being physically fit is definitely 'in', I have to remind myself that I can't neglect my spiritual exercise.
Paul mentions this
in his first letter to Timothy. He writes: "...exercise yourself...to godliness. For bodily exercise profits a little,
but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come." I Timothy
goal may be a slimmer waistline, but of more importance is what awaits me when this body is no more. I focus on the words
of Christ: "For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Matthew 16:26
I exercise my body to stay healthy
and fit. However, I exercise my mind and spirit to gain God's favor and a home in heaven.
The little birds trust God, for they go singing
From northern woods where autumn winds
joyous faith their trackless pathway winging
To summer-lands of song, afar, unknown.
Let us go singing, then, and not go sighing:
Since we are sure our times are in His
we weep, and fear, and call it dying?
'Tis only flitting to a Summer-land.
"I know God will not give me anything I can't handle. I just wish that He didn't trust
me so much."
God made this
planet. There are high parts and low parts, dry parts and wet parts, round parts and flat parts. Without this variety, our
earth would certainly be a very dull place.
Imagine if the world had
only one type of surface: flat. Or if there were only one type of tree! Which variety would you pick? A lush, dependable evergreen
that keeps its leaves all year? Or a majestic Red Maple that puts on a spectacular show each fall?
Imagine if the world had only one type of surface: flat. Or if there were only one type of tree! Which variety would
you pick? A lush, dependable evergreen that keeps its leaves all year? Or a majestic Red Maple that puts on a spectacular
show each fall?
What if there were only one sort of fish? Or dog? One type of weather? What if there was no longer
any individuality among humans? Or if each day of our lives became a repetition of the one before and we were doomed to live
without variety there, as well? Do you think the sameness of days would ever wear on you?
What if there were only one sort of fish? Or dog? One type of weather? What if there was no longer any individuality
among humans? Or if each day of our lives became a repetition of the one before and we were doomed to live without variety
there, as well? Do you think the sameness of days would ever wear on you?
Thankfully, we only wonder
about these things. Just as God made high places and low places on the earth, we experience high places and low places in
our day-to-day lives.
Thankfully, we only wonder about these things. Just as God made high places and low places on the earth, we experience
high places and low places in our day-to-day lives.
God, in His great wisdom
and kindness, gave us variety. We complain, but in truth, we are blessed beyond mortal comprehension.
God, in His great wisdom and kindness, gave us variety. We complain, but in truth, we are blessed beyond mortal comprehension.
The next time you face something that at first appears daunting, perhaps you might consider
it as a backward blessing saving you from the tediousness of a boring existence. Yes, the valleys are tough, but you have
to admit, the view from the mountaintop is priceless.
The next time you face something that at first appears daunting, perhaps you might consider it as a backward blessing
saving you from the tediousness of a boring existence. Yes, the valleys are tough, but you have to admit, the view from the
mountaintop is priceless.
God desires to be near to us. He is a living, caring God who can work in our lives at any moment.
Psalm 145:18,19 says: "The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who
call upon Him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He also will hear their cry and save them."
Matthew, chapter fourteen, we find some of the disciples of Christ in a boat: "In the middle of the seas, tossed by the
waves, for the wind was contrary. Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea, and when the
disciples saw Him they were troubled saying, 'It is a ghost!' And they cried out for fear."
The Jews of Jesus' day divided the time between nightfall and daylight into four equal 'watches': 6-9, 9-midnight,
midnight-3, and 3-6. Jesus would have been walking on the water between the 3 am - 6 am period.
Mark's account tells us a bit more: "And about the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the
sea, and would have passed them by. But when they saw Him walking on the seas, they supposed it was a ghost, and cried out;
for they all saw Him and were immediately troubled."
was near the disciples; so close they could see Him. But He would have passed them by, had they not called out to Him.
Mark's gospel explains that though they had just witnessed the miracle of watching
Jesus feed the five thousand, several of the disciples still had 'hard hearts'. They did not realize they could call out to
Jesus for help!
Be aware. We can also see God in our lives each
day, if we choose to look. We can know that He is close to us. It's a promise given throughout the Bible. But if we want Him
in our 'boat', we must ask. Don't wait to call out to Him in times of trouble only. Walk with Him every day.
The Lord is great and full of compassion--The Lord is good to all.He is slow to anger and
great in mercy,And lifts up those who fall..All your works shall
praise You, oh Lord;Your saints shall bless you too.They shall speak of the glory of Your kingdom,And the wondrous works You do..The Lord is near to all who call on Him--He's righteous in all His ways.He'll fulfill the
desire of all who find Him--So ever give Him your love and
Psalm 40: 1-3
(converted into verse)
I waited patiently for the Lord
and He inclined to me
He heard my cry and delivered
me up from a well of iniquity
He raised me from the horrible pit
out of the miry clay
and set my feet
upon a rock
and my eyes upon the way
He has put a new song in my mouth -
praises will I sing
see it and fear and trust
in the Lord, our God and King
In times of trouble, turn to God. He hears every plea.
"Hope in God; for yet I shall praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God." Psalm 43:5
"God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.
So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea." Psalm 46:1-2
Our Heavenly Father gave up His most precious possession for us -- He will hear our prayers and stand by our side
as long as we call Him friend.
help me never to become callous of heart. Help me to be sensitive to the pains and hurts of others. Let me feel a genuine
thrill on truly thrilling occasions: when two young Christians are joined in marriage; when some young man preaches his first
gospel sermon, or when some new convert leads his first prayer; when a newborn baby cries, or when some elderly person successfully
passes one more milestone in his life; when a sinner responds to be baptized, or when a brother returns.
Lord, I do not want to shut out from my own life the sorrows of others. Make me to weep when tears are in
order: when a doctor has just given a frightening report; when parents grieve over their delinquent child; when tears flow
from the eyes of a motherless child, or of a childless mother; when a struggling brother or sister has slipped back into sin;
when a man has just been forsaken by the wife of his youth; when all hope seems gone among those who had hoped.
Help me to be excited over the successes of others: when
someone achieves something that I’ve never been able to achieve; when some worthy man is appointed an elder of the church;
when someone’s son is graduated with honors; when some couple moves into that long awaited new home; when some young
man’s preaching ability has obviously surpassed mine. Above all, Lord, don’t let me be jealous.
Lord, help me to be like Thee: compassionate, kind, merciful,
gracious, slow to anger, plenteous in mercy, touched with the feeling of others’ infirmities, able to weep, ready to
rejoice, emotional, loving. Let me deny self, and esteem others better than myself.
And, Lord, let me never become hardened to sin. Help me to
hate sin, to weep blinding tears over my own sins, to maintain a conscience void of offense. May I be repulsed and grieved
over the sins of others.
Lord, help me never to become callous of heart, for should I do so, I could no longer render effective service
to Thee or to my fellowman, and I would forfeit all hope of real happiness, both in this life and in that which is to come.
He Will Pilot Me
When I was growing up one of my favorite hymns was by Fanny Crosby:
"Altho' I cannot see the way
life's tempestuous sea,
I know that Jesus is my friend
and that He'll pilot me.
By His hand He'll pilot me
Over life's tempestuous sea,
When my blinded eyes can't see,
Cannot see the way, (the way)
Come what may,
(come what may)
On life's dark and stormy sea
My dear Lord (blessed Lord)
He will pilot (pilot) me."
As I sang, I often thought of Peter, in a boat with a few of Jesus' disciples on
a dark and scary night. When he saw Jesus walking on the water, Peter grew bold and asked to walk with his Lord. He did well
for a while...but his spirit grew weak; Peter was 'blinded' by fear and he began to sink. It was only by the powerful hand
and love of Jesus that he was saved. Jesus DID pilot Peter. There's a great lesson there for us.
Then I learned about Fanny Crosby, the song writer, and I found another lesson.
Fanny was born in New York in 1820. She became blind at 6 weeks of age.
When she wrote a song about letting Jesus be her pilot, she didn't speak about it casually. In her ninety-five years
of life, she wrote over 8,000 songs of worship. Check your songbook; chances are you'll find several songs in it by Fanny.
Songs you know well: Blessed Assurance, Redeemed, Only a Step, Safe in the Arms of Jesus and many more.
Fanny wrote the words, "I know that Jesus is my friend and that He'll pilot
me," because He HAD.
And He will pilot us each day of
our lives if we are willing to relinquish a bit of control.
this is our God, our God forever and ever; He will be our Guide, even to death." Psalm 48:14
A Summer Storm
From a distance comes the rumbling of the gently
Far away the lightning flickers as it flits from cloud to cloud.
breeze begins to blow, refreshing as it passes.
The beauty of this twilight hour delights the tranquil soul.
Ever closer rolls
the thunder, rumbling louder than before;
The angry clouds hurl jagged spears of lightning to the ground.
Once-gently breezes turn to gusts that whistle through the trees.
Such majesty stirs wonder
and excitement in the soul.
Now overhead reverberates the thunder’s violent boom,
And brilliant, flashing
sheets of light illume the raging storm.
The howling wind intensifies, the drenching rain pours down.
The terrifying fury overwhelms the trembling soul.
Now morning wakens slowly. The fragrant air is cool.
The song birds trill their welcome to this glorious summer day.
The cloudless sky, the rain-washed earth
are cleansed and bright as new.
From deep within the reverent soul wells joyous praise to God.
As storms of nature
threaten, so the troubles of this life
May sometimes overwhelm us, we feel helpless on our own.
But trials that our Lord permits will strengthen those who trust Him,
And the peace that comes with faith
will bring contentment to the soul.
via the Seeker, http://www.avenuenchurchofchrist.org