Out of the Mouths of Babes

And (Jesus) said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:3

As Vivian’s mom was tucking her in, something caught her eye.  Laying on the nightstand was the glass baby Jesus from the Nativity scene.

“There it is!” Her mother exclaimed as she picked up the figure.  “I have been looking for this.”

Vivie sat up and snatched the tiny effigy of a sleeping baby. “Mom I don’t want you to pack Jesus away.”  Furrowed brows and pouting lips conveyed her feelings.  She held the tiny figure close to her heart.

“Well, we have to put him with the Nativity scene.  He needs to be with his family.” Her mother cooed. “So, we can put the Nativity up again next year.”

“No.  I want him to stay with me!” Vivian flung herself back down on the bed and closed her hand tightly around baby Jesus.

“Ok”, her mother answered and cover her up again.

Vivie put the baby Jesus back on her nightstand and drifted off to sleep.

When my friend shared this story, I laughed and then I really thought about that little girl’s words and actions.  Like Vivian, we all should desire to have Jesus with us always.  Not packed up in Christmas decor or only mentioned on Sunday, but rather in our day to day lives.  Vivian has a desire to have and keep Jesus close to her. Do you have a desire for Jesus? Do you long to have him close?

I think we all can take a lesson from little Vivie.

Typist for Jesus

When You Are Weak, Jesus is Strong

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”2 Corinthians 12:9

I was tired, hungry, frustrated and I all I wanted was to get home.  The ride had been nerving with sheets of rain and bumper to bumper traffic.  I finally made it to my exit and there, my hopes of getting home were quickly dashed when I pulled up behind a long line of cars waiting at the railroad tracks.  Heaving a heavy sigh, I leaned back in the seat and cast my eyes upward. As I waited the rain began to slow and the dense cover of gray began to lighten.  When I sat upright, I saw one of the most distinct rainbows.  Each of the colors was bold, spaced perfectly and brilliantly glowed. It looked as if it were rising just before me. So close I wondered if it were possible to touch. My eyes followed the bow to its end, just across the railroad tracks.  Each row of color no less bright than at the starting point.  I smiled. God was giving me a reminder.

Many times, in our life’s we run up against obstacles.  It can be our health, finances, people and sometimes it is ourselves.  The good news is that no matter what you are dealing or faced with, God’s grace can reach you and remains with you before, during and continues with you after the obstacle has passed. 

Grace is all we need. It does not mean that things will turn out the way you want, or that every prayer will be answered but it does mean that no matter what you face his grace is sufficient to see you through the trail or tribulation that you face.

When you are weak, Jesus is strong.

Typist for Jesus

Taking Out the Trash

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider that I have made it my own.  But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead. Philippians 3:13

I had just pulled the covers up over my body when I remembered that the garbage needed to go to the road.  After two years living in an apartment, there are things that I have gotten out of the habit of doing.  Taking the garbage to the road is one. Maybe, I thought, I can take it up tomorrow before I leave for work.  Or maybe it can wait until next week.  No, I thought, I better get it to the road tonight. I reluctantly threw the covers off and stepped into my house shoes. 

Flashlight in one hand and the wheelie tote in the other, I started up the hill that is my driveway.  At first the drive is a gentle incline for the first two-thirds, then there is a sharp incline and finally a lip that brings the drive level with the road. As I pulled the wheelie up the drive, gravity tugged back. “Good gracious!” I grumbled. “What is in this can that is so heavy?” Every step seemed to add ten pounds to the tote.

Reluctantly, the garbage can popped over the lip. I stood on the side of the road in the inky black night, my flashlight penetrating only a couple of feet, to catch my breath.  Back down the drive I began shuffling my house shoes.  Back inside I locked back up and returned to the comfort of my bed.  As I lay waiting on slumber to claim me, I thought about that little escapade. 

Everyone has garbage.  As I was pulling that wheelie up the drive, I thought about all the garbage that all of us drag along behind us.  All that emotional trash weighing us down, impeding us from moving forward, and bogging us down. We all have refuse but we have to learn to unhook it and move on.  Oh much easier said than done.  I know it well.

Emotional garbage is unforgiveness, pride, fear, guilt and shame.  We just can’t allow ourselves to let go of things, so we drag our totes of trash up and down the hills picking up more along the way. 

Do you harbor unforgiveness of another or maybe yourself? We are commanded to forgive but it is not just others, it is for ourselves as well. Have you forgiven yourself? Isn’t time you stopped blaming yourself?  Punishing yourself? Tossed out the guilt and shame?

We all have done sinful things.  Said hurtful words to people. Made selfish choices.  We are all guilty of these sins, but dragging it around with you, allowing it to afflict you, robs you of the freedom gained from forgiveness. How can you show Jesus’ love and His desire to forgive and heal if you are unwilling to accept it yourself?  Jesus forgave you, so maybe it is time to forgive yourself.

Stop dragging that garbage around. 

Typist for Jesus

A Bitter Cup

See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. Hebrews 12:15

I poured hot black coffee into my favorite cup and then followed up with sugar and cream that turned my cup light. I went down the hall to my office and settled into my chair. I was eager to get the hot coffee in my body and get the caffeine pumping. Lifting the cup to my lips, I grimaced. It was bitter and disappointing. I set it on my desk and stared at it. So now I had to decide if I was going to drink from the bitter cup.

 I have the choice of whether or not to drink from my bitter cup, and I have the option of whether or not to allow bitterness to fill my heart. But how can I do that? How do I prevent bitterness from entering into my life?  

  The straightforward answer is forgiveness. Lack of forgiveness leads to resentment and bitterness. I have said and heard others say, “I just can’t forgive,” possibly it is more about an unwillingness to forgive. When we have an unforgiving spirit, our eyes are not on Jesus; they are fixed on ourselves. You may be thinking, but you don’t understand, you don’t know what they did. You don’t know what I suffered.  That is true, I do not know, but Jesus does. Jesus understands. He lived a perfect life, yet he was beaten, spit on, mocked, and finally nailed to a cross.  

Pray for those that have wronged you. It is challenging to remain unforgiving toward someone that you are praying. I am not saying that it is easy, I know personally, it is not. However, we are to forgive because Jesus forgave us.  

Typist for Jesus

All Fogged Up

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him.  For the Lord sees not as man sees; man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” 1 Samuel 16:7 ESV

I was driving to work this morning, it was raining and foggy.  Because my sight was diminished, I slowed down.  As the fog increased in thickness, I noticed that the other commuters we still flying past me.  It made me nervous and I was very put off that they were continuing to go fast. Could they not see the fog?  As I left the long stretch of dark highway to the lighted lanes going into the city, I noticed the fog wasn’t outside the car it was my windshield.  I turned on defrost and the window quickly cleared.

Boy, did I feel silly, however we all do it every day.  Not in our cars but rather by what lens we choose to look out. We are all different and have been subjected to many different experiences.  We have seen, participated or been victim to prejudice and stereotyping.  We all have opinions and preconceived ideas and thoughts about certain people, races and religions.  It is human nature.  But as Christians, true Christ followers, we need to reject those lenses and focus on the lens that Jesus uses when he looks at us.  Jesus does not look at the hairstyle, the color of the skin, the language or culture of a people, he looks at the individual heart.   Do not allow yourself to be distracted by skewed lenses, rather learn to look at one another with Jesus’ lens.

Typist for Jesus

Heart Clutter

For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.  1Corinthians 14:33

My house looks like I am auditioning for the TV show, Hoarders. Since my daughter and the baby have been staying with me, my house has become cluttered and chaotic. Throw in the mix that I am preparing to move. I have boxes and stacks of stuff everywhere. Boxes labeled give away, keep and the favorite, “thinking about”. You know those items; the ones that really should go but I keep hanging on to them.  

My house is in such disarray right now, that I have trouble just walking in some rooms. There is no counter space in the bath or kitchen because there is simply too much stuff. At some point, I need to evaluate and let go of things that are broken or serve no purpose. I do not want to move into my new home with the clutter of the past.

It is hard sometimes to let go of things. Guilt, anger, shame, and pain seem to linger in the corners of our hearts. They clutter up our thoughts, sometimes our relationships and our connection to God. If there is so much clutter in your heart, you are depriving yourself. Heart clutter breeds confusion, it holds you back from realizing the plan God has for you. It gets in the way of your relationships because you cannot let go of the guilt or maybe the pain you have suffered. We desperately hang on to the clutter of the past, reluctant to let it go. I think one reason may be because if we forgive if we release ourselves and others, we open ourselves up to more potential harm. In some way, we feel protected by the clutter.

Jesus does not want this burden for you. He wants you to lay it down at His feet and allow Him to heal you. Allow Jesus to come into your heart and give you freedom from the clutter.

Typist for Jesus

Are You Still on the Bottle?

For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn’t know how to do what is right. Hebrews 5:13

Recently, a tree fell on my daughter’s apartment building.  So she and my 11 month old granddaughter moved in my tiny abode.  Honestly, I am loving it.  I come home and she runs to me in her walker, hands lifted and smile on her little cherub face.  It’s a good feeling after a long day at work. Since they have settled in, I have noticed that my daughter is still giving my granddaughter several bottles a day. I asked her about it.  Why wasn’t she introducing more solid foods? She was quick to tell me that she was afraid of the baby choking and felt more at ease with baby food and the bottle.  I assured her I understood her fear but babies develop teeth so that they can eat.  I gave the baby a cracker.  My daughter freaked out.  I stopped her from taking it back.  “Watch.” I said.  The baby bit and then using her gums and teeth began to chew and mash her food. “You see,” I said softly. “She’s fine.  She has teeth and she has an instinct to chew.  God has given her the necessary tools to move past milk only.”  

The New Testament speaks about baby Christians. No one becomes born again and then suddenly they have all the answers and know all the mysteries.  Instead, Christians must begin on spiritual milk and graduate to spiritual meat to grow in Christ. How do we mature in Christ? By living out His Word.

If you are still subsisting on the milk alone you are stunting your growth in Christ. The New Year brings with it a new beginning and challenges.  Why not make this year the year you move from milk to meat.  It is the perfect time to begin a new Bible study or a Bible reading plan.  Maybe you can become a driver for challenging spiritual study in your family, church or group of friends. 

            Will you stay on the bottle? Or are you ready for the meat.

            Typist for Jesus

The Gift Isn’t Under the Tree, It Is in the Manger

For God so loved the World, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 ESV

I stopped off at the Walmart on the way home from work. I had three things that I needed. I went in with the purpose of getting just those three but by the time I made it to the checkout counter, the cart was full of clothes and toys for the grand baby. I find myself in the toys and infant clothing every time I go to the store. I want to make sure that my grandchild has all that she could possibly want or need. I want her to have comfortable warm clothing and toys that engage her mind and delight her. I was the same way with my children and to be honest I still am, the cart had a few things for them as well.

It is natural to want your children to be happy and have everything they need and we have an internal drive to do so. God is much the same in His desire for His children. He has provided a beautiful world, an array of beautiful animals, relationships, family, food to satisfy all tastes, and His son for the salvation of His beloved.

God loves you and me so much, He gave us so many wonderful things but the most important gift was His son Jesus. This season as you shop for your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, or neighbor kids, remember that the most important gift that you can impart to these children and those in your life is Jesus. We want so much for our children, we want to give them everything we can, and we become distracted by the glitz and glamour of the marketed Christmas. Before you fill the space under the tree, take time to share the real story and the true meaning of Christmas. It is not about what is under the tree, rather what was laid in the manger.

Typist for Jesus

Does Your Life Produce Good Fruit?

This week I received a sad phone call.  A lady that was a family friend had passed away. As this person related the information to me, they shared with me their memories and thoughts on this lady.  They began, “She was a godly woman, kind and loving she was faithful.”

As I listened, I realized that they were describing the fruits of the Spirit. This woman had left a legacy and had lived her life, exhibiting the fruits of the Spirit.  

My caller went on to describe that this lady had not had a perfect or easy life. She had suffered loss, dealt with health issues, buried a grandchild and like the rest of us struggled.  However, she strived to stay upbeat and trusted the Lord to bring her through the trials. Her faith had seen her through some difficult periods in her life. 

When our time is done here on earth, how will we be remembered?  Will our life be recognized as one that exhibited the fruits of the Spirit? 

What legacy will you leave?

Typist for Jesus

Trials and Tribulations are Universal

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33

One of the most enjoyable experiences of my European adventure was the opportunity to meet regular people just like me.  On evenings when we were not too exhausted, my fellow travelers and I would venture out in the little “neighborhood.” One evening we decided to try the small Italian restaurant on the same street as our hotel.  It was a quaint little place with little bistro tables and chairs along the sidewalk. A tall man with a white apron and bow tie invited us to sit. The table was in the open window and looked out on the street. We placed our drink orders and studied the menu.  After we placed our orders, we discussed our day. As we chatted, I noticed a young man smoking a cigarette on the sidewalk. He paced up and down, glancing at us.

I admit we all became a little apprehensive.  The young man crushed the cigarette and sat down at a table outside the window.  Leaning in, he addressed us with a thick accented, “Hello.” We returned the greeting and engaged in conversation.  

He was from Brittany but had lived in Paris for many years.  He gestured down the street. “I live there.” He struggled with English, but overall we had no trouble understanding and conversing with him.  He said many times that he hoped to revisit America. He had been twice and enthusiastically told us how much he loved it. As the conversation continued, he painted a different story of Paris than I had formed.  I asked him why he would want to leave Paris? Every day he woke up in the most beautiful city in the world. He looked down at the table and ran his finger on the edge. “I wake up in Paris every day with uncertainty.  I do not have a job, and I may have to move back to my parents. I am only out tonight because my friends are treating me to dinner.”  

Our food came, and the young man excused himself.  That evening as I said my prayers, I remembered that man to God.

The next morning we rose early.  We had a full day and a long bus ride ahead of us.  It was still dark when we arrived at the tour bus agency.  It was chilly, and I hugged my sweater to my body. As we waited for the bus to arrive, I glanced down the row of businesses.  At first, I thought it was an old blanket discarded, but as I looked closer, I realized it was a person asleep in a doorway. This realization left me a bit disappointed.  I had in my mind a different Paris. A city of romance, culture, and history.  

Often we think that our difficulties and suffering are unique.  However, hardship, misery, and despair are universal. Meeting this young man reminded me that everywhere there are people just like you and me. It does not matter how many museums, cathedrals, castles, or stone buildings there are in a city; there are still people that are hurting.  

I am sorry to say that I tend to focus on my troubles, causing me to forget that others are dealing with their issues. By focusing on our problems, we look inward rather than to Jesus. We also miss the opportunity to share His love by reaching out to those in need. 

As you face tribulations and trials in your life, remember that you are not alone.  Jesus is with you, guiding you and helping you to face them. Remember also that you are not the only one that is dealing with financial, marital, employment or health issues. Never pass up an opportunity to help others in their time of need.  If you are helping others, you will not be focused on your problems which can produce anxiety and depression. Be there for others and allow them to minister to you.  

Typist for Jesus