Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Fired Up!

Multi-tasking as I cooked breakfast, stirring grits and having put leftover homemade pizza (delicious with all that sausage on top) in the oven, I was suddenly aware that smoke was pouring from the stove! I had been preparing some oven-fried bacon, and quickly yanked open the oven door. A kitchen towel lying on the oven door was on fire, one I recognized as one of a set my son got me for Christmas that I displayed on the oven bar.

How did that happen, I wondered! Then I noticed that half of the towel wasn't burnt, for it had hung outside the door while the other was caught inside without my knowing it! I shouldn't have set the oven on broil to hasten the bacon, I realized!

Smothering the flames with the unburnt end of the towel, I put the smoking wad on the enclosed back porch and went to rescue the bacon. Between calling my husband to get up and checking on the eggs frying in the skillet, I was too distracted to notice (my sense of smell is AWOL right now) that the kitchen was smoky again. I flung open the back door to a porch filled with smoke! The smoldering towel had re-ignited! This time I threw it on the back step and poured water on it! Thankfully, the ceiling fan cleared the air!

A few weeks ago, our church was having a "Ministry Fair," similar to a job fair, I guess, but it was to offer opportunities for people to get involved in areas of service in the church. My husband and I signed up for "Visitation Ministry." Yesterday the leader of the group called and asked us to call on one of the visitors from last Sunday. We are looking forward to meeting them and are glad to reach out in this way.

There are many ways of evangelizing, and verses in Jude 20-23 has admonitions concerning this. "But ye beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh."

Other places in the Bible speaks of pulling them from the fire as a brand from the burning, Amos 4:11, Zechariah 3:2. The burning towel I pulled out reminded me of this. May we be an effective witness!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Happy Birthday!

With three granddaughters' birthdays coming in January, all within 10 days of each other, I planned to shop for cards early in the month. But the weeks flew by, and I forgot! Just in time, I remembered, and set out in a hurry to get one for the granddaughter who lives locally. Her birthday was on the 21st.

I scrutinized the cards in the card shop, looking for one that had a big "25" on it, as she was reaching her 25th birthday. As her grandfather browsed, I picked up and put back several cards, trying to find just the right one. They had numerical birthdays for children and seniors, but none for my purposes. Not even age-appropriate ones that said "Granddaughter."

Finally I selected a lovely card, with sentiments of her accomplishments, bright future, and so on inside. (She had just received her teaching degree and had started a job teaching 4th grade.) Now to get it mailed! I didn't remember her house number, so we had passed by for a visual sighting earlier. I didn't have anything to write it down on, but I assured my husband I would remember it. Not! Another trip by her house refreshed my memory!

Since we needed something from the supermarket in which a postal station is housed, we headed there to drop off the card. I couldn't believe my eyes when I read "Post Office is Closed for Repairs. Sorry for the inconvenience"! What? Now we would barely have time to get to the main P.O.!

A few days later, I got cards for the younger girls. One was turning 18 on the 29th and the other 14 on the 31st. The previous card had required extra postage, so I took the soon-to-be 18-year-old's card to the main post office to see if one stamp was sufficient.

Guess what! There were 12 people ahead of me! Some went fast, then a lady with a shopping bag in her hand and carrying a couple of packages under her arm began her mailing. After the first two packages, she endlessly retrieved many other parcels from her bag, each requiring measuring, weighing, calculating, and stamping. The other window was occupied by a woman apparently filling out some form of application that lasted FOREVER! At last I found out I did need extra postage. I would place the youngest granddaughter's card on my mailbox at home!

Birthdays! Kids love them, and we love the kids, so we remember them! I got to thinking about our spiritual birthdays. Some people remember exactly where and when they took Jesus into their heart and were saved. Others, like me, cannot pin-point the date. There is a song that says something like, "I remember the time...I can take you to the place...when the Lord saved me..."

Well, the time for me was when the time was right, at age 13, and the place was at the place of my need! I heard someone say that just because you can't remember when you were born, it doesn't change the fact that you were born!

Thankfully, God doesn't forget our "birthday." He writes it down in the Lamb's book of Life. And if we think mailing cards is a lot of trouble, think what Jesus went through to provide our salvation and make our spiritual birthday possible! The angels already had our party, but one still awaits us!

Friday, January 27, 2017

Who Knew?

Getting ready to leave the house, I reached for my go-to accessory, a long strand of varied beads and shapes, but instead my hand fell on a necklace I hadn't worn in ages. Impulsively, I put the chain with the dangling hearts around my neck. One of the hearts was of scrolled metal design, and the smaller one was graced with a red bead inset. Somehow I'd always overlooked it in my jewelry cabinet drawer.

We had gathered with others at our friends' house for a Bible study. When the leader announced his teaching topic, it was on the heart! Maybe this is why I obeyed the impulse to wear the necklace, I thought. After all, it wasn't my favorite piece, and not nearly as pretty as the other one! But as the lesson unfolded, I learned many truths about the heart, especially the heart of God.

The Bible refers to David being a man after God's own heart. "And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfill all my will." Acts 13:22. In other words, David would do what God wanted him to do!

Wednesday nights at church we have a fellowship dinner before our several sessions. We had gotten there early, so I had my choice of which table to join. We chatted with those at the table, then one couple got up to leave to make their places available to others coming in. I saw a friend enter and repositioned the chair next to me, thinking she would sit there. But when I turned around, she had passed our table and went to join other friends. I squelched my feelings, then someone else sat down that I was able to visit with.

Later, my friend did sit by me in our Bible Study. Ironically, the lesson was on overcoming feelings of being left out and not nurturing feelings of rejection! Later, in prayer time, this friend prayed for me and my sinus headache!

It's amazing how God goes ahead of us and prepares the way for us, at the same time teaching us a lesson on trust!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

It's Bubbling!

Wow! This dishwashing liquid is lasting a long time, I thought. I had noticed a few days before that the contents had barely gone down, and now, it was still nearly full! This after my husband had done dishes a couple of times as well, and he is known to use nearly half a bottle at a time!

Then on closer inspection, I held the bottle up to the light. It was nearly empty! Scrutinizing the bottle, I saw that it had a dark-blue plastic coating coming to about an inch from the top, camouflaging the true level of the blue detergent! Soon it would be time for a new bottle!

This made me think of Christians and the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 5:18b tells us to be filled with the Spirit! I have heard many preachers say this means to continually be filled, or "be being filled." We leak! Even as the dishwashing liquid disappears, we often find ourselves "used up," or running on empty, so to speak.

Oh, we may look good on the outside, with our cloak of righteousness camouflaging the emptiness we may feel within. We go to church, give money, volunteer services or any number of things, ignoring the shallowness of our spirit! The Bible gives us the answer when it says:

"And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; (19) Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord," Ephesians 5:18-19.

These verses show how to encourage ourselves in the Lord, even as David did in the Bible, I Samuel 30:6. David often encouraged himself when he reflected on God's goodness to him. Ephesians 5:20 gives us the key: "Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."

When our testimony is held up to the light, may it show a fullness of the Spirit!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Labels

The shiny, plastic cup caught my eye in a Wal-Mart display bin. A new measuring cup! Just what I needed! The markers had worn off my old one, and the graduated cups I'd been using were a hassle. I happily added it to my basket.

There was only one problem with the new cup. A stubborn label was firmly attached to the side and resisted coming off in the dishwater! I soaked it, put the cup aside, and finally managed to get the tenacious sticker off in subsequent washings. I hate labels! They can ruin the surface of glass on a picture frame and so many other things!

The trouble with labels is that they stick! What can really hurt is when a label becomes attached to some person. Kids often grow up with a label applied, maybe in jest, or maybe fondly, but often cruelly. "She is the pretty one." "He is the smart one." "Fatty!" "Slow Learner." "Lazy." "Dummy." "Tiny." "Shorty." The list is endless.

Then there are labels associated with politics or political correctness. "Racist!" "Bigot!" "Sexist!" Terms tossed about carelessly and hatefully. No one wants to be labeled those things!

Growing up with seven brothers, I often heard the mean labels they threw at each other in their hard joshing, mostly about physical characteristics they would outgrow or that would become inconsequential as adults. Then as I began to develop as a young teen, I was the target of their labels which were embarrassing to a sensitive girl-child!

Even Jesus was labeled! In Mark 3:21 he was labeled "beside himself" (crazy) by friends (and family). In the next verse, the scribes inferred he was possessed by Beelzebub (prince of devils).

But Pilate put a sign over Jesus's cross saying, JESUS OF NAZARETH, KING OF THE JEWS. (When the chief priests protested, saying "Write not, The King of the Jews, but that he said, I am king of the Jews," Pilate replied, "What I have written, I have written.")

Matthew 27:54 says, "Now when the centurion and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God." The right label at last!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Right Mix!

Why doesn't this have any taste? I asked myself as I sampled the mixture of cocoa, water and butter to be added to the batter of the chocolate sheet cake I was making. Well, it would only be a half recipe, since the two of us couldn't eat a whole cake. On second glance, I saw that that was a lot of water in the pan. I had been mentally dividing the ingredients by half, but I must have put in a whole cup of water instead of a half-cup! Seemed it needed salt, too, but the recipe hadn't called for salt.

Then it hit me! Not only was it watery and too thin, I had used unsalted butter! I had completely forgotten that the new carton of butter I opened was the unsalted variety that I had bought last week because it was on sale! Apparently, salt in the butter would have been sufficient! Not wanting to waste the butter and cocoa, I poured half of the blend out, reducing the liquid. I had no idea how the cake would turn out. The frosting tasted flat, too, as I spread it on the cake, so I impulsively topped it with a light sprinkling of salt. (Reminded me of the salted caramel so popular now.)

The cake was okay, considering my sense of taste is absent lately, anyway. But I thought about the verse in the Bible that says believers are the salt of the earth. Matthew 5:13, "Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is henceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under the foot of men." I guess when the salt loses its savor, or taste, it is kind of like Christians who have lost their enthusiasm, zeal, or passion for spreading the gospel.

Jesus is also quoted in Matthew 5:14 as saying, "Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. (15) Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. (16) Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."

In the parable of the sower, Jesus illustrated obstacles to faith. He talks about seed falling on stony ground, among thorns, and even eaten by birds. He notes how the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches chokes and causes the word to be unfruitful.

But in Matthew 13:23, He says, "But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth much fruit, and bringeth forth some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty."

May we not be flavorless like unsalted butter, but salt and light to the world! And a little sprinkling of salt never hurts!