Archive for November, 2019

Boast Your Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 27th, 2019

Have you ever asked a young child to pray over your meal? I’ve sat through some humdinger prayers in my day. Some prayers have asked a blessing over every bug in the backyard. Some have turned into stories that astoundingly have ended with Jesus blessing our food. Some have been a mere few words. And, some have gone on for days…

In those long prayers—which have droned on until the next century—the child has begun thanking God for every possible item in which s/he can think. I’ve looked up mid-prayer to see the child glancing around the room, naming every object in sight.

To be honest, I’ve waited patiently (okay, maybe not patiently) for the parent to nudge their child, signaling they’d better quickly wrap up the prayer. But, there has been a time or two where I’ve listened to their prayer in complete awe. There is genuine thankfulness in the eyes of a child for everything in the world around them. They can (and do) praise God for their toys, their parents, their classmates, the table, the bug outside, and much, much more. Their prayers last for a while because honestly, there’s a lot for them to be thankful for!

In God we boast all the day long, and praise thy name for ever. Selah (Psalms 44:8, KJV).

We’re instructed in Scriptures to open our prayer in praise and thanksgiving to God. As adults, we quickly get through the “prayer and praise” aspect and speed ahead into our wants and needs. We forget we have much already to be thankful for, and we have a God who deserves our thanks and praise for supplying it. Children haven’t lost sight of this truth and take their time and do it right. They exhibit genuine thankfulness and heart-felt praise. If we took this approach when we prayed, we’d be there for a long time too!

Psalms admonishes us to boast of God all day long and praise His name forever. The word boast in Hebrew is halal, which means to shine. This means to shine forth and give light to what God has done in our lives. We celebrate Him and what He has done. And, in the true nature of a shining ray of light, that penetrates forward to the ends of horizon, the depth and length of our praise and thanksgiving should do the same.

If we’re truly to boast about our God, we need to adopt the mind of a child in prayer and start thanking and praising God for everything. This will begin to change our mindset when we see how much we truly have in which to be thankful. This Thanksgiving, when the food is on the table, your mouth is watering, and you’re ready to quickly pray and dig in, take some time and give true thanksgiving to God. Boast about your God for a while and see just how much better your Thanksgiving can get.

Success After the Sunshield

Wednesday, November 20th, 2019

I came to the realization some time ago that I don’t always have good ideas. I was painfully reminded of this fact after I made a recent purchase of a collapsible car sunshield. It was of a sleeker design, huge space-saver, and it would definitely hold its shape and stay put under my car visors.

After my purchase, I eagerly opened the package, situated the sunshades in position, and went inside. Hours later, I returned to my vehicle and attempted to re-collapse the twisting sunshades. Alas, they didn’t morph back into a small circle in my hands. Instead, the garbled mess quickly sprung forth, ricocheted off the windshield and steering wheel, and propelled right into my nose.

After several futile attempts, I frustratingly tossed the rather large shields into my back seat (they weren’t upholding their space-saver guarantee at this point). I drove to the church, calming myself on the drive. Upon arrival, I began my attempt at round two of collapsing the sunshades.

No matter how much I struggled with my sunshield I kept failing in my plight. Regardless of how I twisted those sun panels, nothing would lead me to the final product I desired. In every attempt, I was also getting beaten up—clocked in the face in some capacity.

And, then it happened. The noise forming at the back of my throat caught me off guard as it whooshed pasted my lips. Instead of an expected snarl, it burst forth in the strangest form: hysterical laughter. As this sunshield flapped around my car, bonking me numerous times in the head, I couldn’t do anything but giggle until I cried.

Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise… (Micah 7:8, KJV).

We will fail in this life; it’s a guarantee. Through our failures, the devil will try to make us feel worthless and helpless. He’ll crush our self esteem by taunting us with our simplistic tasks, shining a light on our inadequacies and shortcomings.

When we fail, it’s easy to want to run and hide, or curl up in a ball and cry. But, we must keep trying; keep pushing forward until we succeed. We cannot listen to the crippling words of the enemy, but be encouraged in the Word of the Lord. We cannot be cast down in spirit, but rejoice as we move forward and try again.

Even in our failures, God gives us joy. How I became taken in a droll of laughter is all because of God. His Spirit inside of me gives me joy even in the worst of circumstances. He helps me exemplify joy when the devil thinks I should be down and out. And, God gives me encouragement to try again and succeed.

That night at church, my sister came to my rescue. She not only conquered the non-collapsible sunshade, but allowed me to record it on video (for future viewing), demonstrated it multiple times so I could understand how to do it, and then supervised me to ensure I could emulate the activity myself with success—several times over. God moved me from a moment of failure to success in a brief moment. And, He gave me joy in the process.

If you’re struggling today to overcome or conquer something in your own life, remember a few things. Keep trying and don’t give up. God will give you strength to complete and succeed. And, you’re going to have a little bit of fun while doing it. Don’t listen to the devil and join his pity party. Arise and comprise yourself with praise.

More than Just Foolishness

Wednesday, November 13th, 2019

As my mother, sister, and I prepared to exit through the glass door, aptly prepared to embark on an outing, I playfully budged in front of both of them. Throwing open the door, I stepped out and drawled in a loud, sing-song voice: “I’m the leader. I’m the one who says when we go.” (I paused slightly for a dramatic effect, barricading the door.) “Let’s go.” 

I hurled myself headfirst with both of them laughing at my heels. Prancing awkwardly forward, with a smile cresting my face, I caught movement in the corner of my eye. I glanced to the right, and almost froze mid-stride. It took a moment for my brain to register what my eyes had seen. There, the neighbors were on their front porch, mouth agape, watching my every move. They had seen and heard my entire performance.

“Uh, hi!” I sputtered, waving my hand. “I didn’t know you guys were sitting there. I hope you enjoyed the show!” They half waved in return; a bewildered look upon their faces. Still in high spirits, I marched forward ahead of my mom and sister, who by this time were keeled over in laugher. I don’t know how long the neighbors watched my stage exit, but I definitely left them scratching their heads in wonder at my behavior.

But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ (I Corinthians 2:14–16, KJV).

I have the Spirit of God living in me which gives me a joy that others don’t necessarily grasp. That joy causes me to be happy when it’s perceived I should be sad. It allows me to act goofy when I should be serious. It helps me walk a straight and narrow path in a world that’s topsy-turvy.

When people don’t understand the things of God—His Word, His Spirit, His church, etc.—they recognize it as foolish. The word foolishness in the Greek is mória, which means folly, absurdity, or silliness. Those without the sweet presence of God in their lives will not understand how this joy can be manifested, because it’s only spiritually understood. Therefore, at times, what I or others do may appear foolish.

I’m not saying my behavior that afternoon wasn’t a little silly, but I don’t have to explain it or label it as acting foolish. Instead, I can continue to allow the joy of the Lord to exude from me and work on the hearts of the unlearned. I (nor you) have any reason to be ashamed when we allow God’s joy to overflow. God’s presence makes me who I am, and if I choose to allow that joy to project in a robust, albeit humorous announcement (complemented by a quirky accent), I will and the world can laugh with me.

We must realize that part of our witness is acting in a way that causes the world to question: what is it that s/he has that makes them act that way? This joy needs to be so contagious that everyone wants to experience the same. Shouldn’t we all be announcing to the world the joy of God’s presence every time we’re out and about? If you didn’t realize it yet, this can be done without actually saying those exact words. Joy has a language all of its own—and that language doesn’t have any barriers.

Lord, help us to be who you’ve called us to be and let the joy of Your presence emanate from us every day and in every way. Help us give off a joyful vibe so that others will have a desire to know Your will and Your ways. Help us to know that who we are and how we act is more than just foolishness.

A Frog in the Road

Wednesday, November 6th, 2019

The day was drawing to a close. The dishes from the evening meal were washed and put away. The last beams of sunlight were dancing across the horizon and attempting to ripple far across the lake. The air was heavy with moisture, but the temperature was surprisingly cool.

It was in this evening twilight, my mom and I decided to take a brief walk along the roads nearby the marina. Strolling along, in our light chatter, we paused briefly as we approached an intersection. Deeming the road traffic-free, we progressed forward.

In was in that instance, the slightest movement in the road caught my eye. Glancing downward, I saw a tiny frog, well on his merry way, hopping right down the middle of the road. Concerned for its safety, I gently tried to coax the little creature toward the side of the path. But, regardless of my attempts, the frog disregarded my efforts and kept hopping forward, completely uncomprehending the dangerous road he traveled.

I was indignant with this frog who kept ignoring my attempt to help him hop on a safe path. This tiny creature, without a large-scale view of his surroundings, felt he knew better than me and needed no help or instruction. He would do as he wished. Inching out further, and further into a very busy road seemed fine in his mind’s eye, but it was surely going to lead him to destruction—and quickly.

It was seconds later I heard the grumbling of a large truck over the gravel road. Without hesitation, I somewhat forcefully scooted the creature off the street and into the grass. My mom and I stepped out of harm’s way ourselves and watched the heavy vehicle fly by. Returning my attention to the frog, I saw how he had righted himself back onto his stomach, and hopped off (this time away from the road) with what appeared to be an air of insolence (who can really tell with a frog?).

Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward. Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults. Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression (Psalms 19:11–13, KJV).

The human race acts much like the frog in this narrative. Our Father in Heaven, sees everything that we do. He has instructed, reminded, and warned us to traverse a straight and narrow pathway. Many times, we aren’t aware we’re headed toward destruction; however, God coaches us off the dangerous path. He tells us to take a different route, but we ignore Him—no matter how many roadblocks He puts in our path. We continue to do what we’ve been told isn’t good.

When we follow the wrong path, and God has to stop us, we’ve sinned and need to repent. But, when we take up the attitude (like this frog), and continue forward when God has already told us to stop, we sin presumptuously. This is what is known as a deliberate and willful sin.

As the Psalmist writes, He asks God to keep him not only from walking down the wrong pathway, but continuously going even after God has told Him to stop. We must pray diligently that our willful disobedience to God’s Word—which we all will struggle with because we’re human—does not control us. We need to stay close to God to hear His voice when He warns us of pending danger. But, even more so, we need to have a spirit that will listen and obey that voice.

God is coming back for His church one day, and He’s looking for a bride without spot or blemish. If we’ve been squashed in the middle of the road because we didn’t listen to God (much like the frog I saved), we’ll have more than a spot on our garment—we’ll be the spot in the middle of the road. Lord, help change us, save us, and don’t let us be a frog in the middle of the road.