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Christian Living devotional

Stopping The Train

There we were, my colleague and I, with five classes of kindergartners in the gym. For those of you who like to do the math, that’s an approximate student/teacher ratio of 67.5 to 1.

Frankly, teaching young children is like herding cats. You have about 30 seconds to engage their curiosity, before they find something more interesting than you. And for the average six-year-old, this can be LOTS of things. Why listen to a big person when you can lick Play-Doh with a friend?

Back to the five classes. Things were going pretty well. We did some Kidzbop dances from YouTube and then sat down to watch an educational episode of “Ask the Story Bots” on Netflix.

But then it happened: a child jumped up and said, “I need to go potty!” Suddenly, three others stood to their feet and began dancing around, wiggling like bobble heads in perfect unison. Teachers call this exasperating phenom “starting the potty train.”

And the best way to stop this type of train is to make one concession and then hold the line. The first child is the only one who REALLY needs to use the bathroom. The others are most likely pretending.

Sometimes it can be equally exasperating to stop the train called life. One thing REALLY happens and then three imposters jump up, dancing around in perfect unison. It can be hard to tell the real problem from the wannabes.

Perhaps this is why Jesus encourages us to take our difficulties (and days) one at a time.

Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Matthew 6:34 (NIV)

🙏❤️ prayers and love.

Categories
Christian Living devotional

Hearing God in the Stillness

The chapel where my wife and I attend worship was built in 1935. Constructed in the Neo-gothic style, it resembles a smaller version of a Western European cathedral. And like any old building, it has a unique personality. As a musician, I used to enjoy the quirky sounds our little chapel made. The creaky floor boards in the choir loft were my favorite.

But the powers that be decided to install a fancy geo-thermal heating and air-conditioning system in the building. One with a fan motor that runs 24/7. And the incessant drone of moving air–through the vents in the sanctuary–totally ruined the audio ambiance!

But this past Sunday a miracle occurred! Someone switched the HVAC fan to run on a cycle. You can hear the church building again-creaky floor boards and all!

I sat there in the choir loft before the worship service, soaking in the silence. Then it came to me in a moment of sudden insight: “It’s so quiet you can hear God!”

How many times in life does the “white noise” of the world drowned out His still, small voice? All the screens in my home practically scream, “Pay attention to me!” Then there’s the miniature slot machine in my pocket.📲 Some still call it a phone. Yet it’s far more addictive than the kind that once sat on a little table.☎️

Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.

Psalm 46:10

Stillness does not come naturally to me. I’ve always been a bit of a squirrel.🐿. I savor quiet contemplation with God, but find I must carve this time out if it’s going to happen.

For the past forty or so years–since I was a teenager–I’ve consistently spent time with God at the beginning of every morning. The first hour of the day, it’s just Him and me. I read scripture and devotional thoughts, spend time in prayer, and jot down my impressions.

Incidentally, I found the Lord’s prescription for hearing Him better: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.”— Isaiah 30:15 (NIV) The Israelites of that time didn’t listen; but you and I know better.

What is your practice for spending quality time with God? I’d love to hear about it! Please share in the comments, if you’d like.

🙏❤️ prayers and love.

Photo by Irina Iriser on Pexels.com. This isn’t my church, but it looks similar.

Categories
Christian Living devotional

A Winning Formula

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

After I left full-time ministry, but before I became a teacher, I spent three years in sales with Frito Lay, Inc. I was a Route Sales Rep, which is a front-line position selling salty snacks to grocery and convenience stores.

One day, my boss was helping me set up a huge display of potato chips at a grocery store. It was five in the morning, and I had eleven more accounts to visit that day, so I was in a bit of a rush. Pulling a large cart stacked high with boxes of potato chips, I turned a corner too sharply and clipped a huge display of pancake syrup at the end of an aisle. Several glass bottles crashed to the floor, creating a growing pool of sticky brown goo.

I know big boys aren’t supposed to cry, but looking at the mess I’d just made, I started to lose it. To my surprise, my supervisor didn’t berate me. Instead, he came over, put his hands on my shoulders, and said, “Are you ok?”

That’s how it really went down. No joke!

“These things happen,” he said calmly, “I once dropped a pallet of milk off a loading dock!” He then showed me a neat trick: pouring corn meal on icky messes makes them more manageable. After applying a few boxes to the chestnut colored goop, I was able to scrape up the whole mess and finish stocking my display.

My boss knew just how to help me recover from a set back. Instead of coming unglued, he came alongside, giving me the tools to cope with a challenging situation.

Years later, I analyzed what he did, and figured out his winning formula:

How to Come Alongside Someone in Need

  • Ask – “Are you OK?” Recognize that all is not well.
  • Acknowledge – “These things happen sometimes. I once did something similar.” Identify with the situation.
  • Assist – “Let me show you a trick for cleaning this up.” Offer to help.

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Ecclesiastes 4:12

Triple-A: it’s a winning formula for helping others.