Categories
Christian Living encouragement

Life Parade

I live in a small farming town in Southwest Oklahoma. There are 800 souls, one convenience store and a corner cafe. We have a few other businesses, including a new Dollar General (woo-hoo!), but you get the picture.

One of the biggest events in our town is the annual Christmas parade. There are custom made floats, tractors, antique cars and plenty of horses.

But lots of folks on horse back means plops on the parade route. (If you know what I mean.) And no matter how great the festivities, it’s hard to ignore the manure trailing down the middle of main street. This line of “used oats” is often in the camera shot of our local TV news coverage, much to our mayor’s chagrin.

But—like with most things—the good outweighs the bad. The Christmas parade provides a splendid opportunity for our whole community to come together. In the big picture, who minds a little manure?


Job was a guy in the Bible who had a lot more good in his life than bad. Until he didn’t. You know the story. He lost almost everything overnight: his livestock and crops, even his children. GONE. All he had left was his life, a pessimistic wife and a few ‘friends’ who came to cross examine him.

Yet what did Job say when he learned of his losses? “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” (Job 1:21b -NIV) And what did he tell his wife when she told him he should, “Curse God and die?” He replied, “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” (Job 2:10 NIV)

As the old saying goes, “Into every life some plops must drop.” Okay, maybe I changed that up a little.🥸 Yet in this matter, many Christians today aren’t interested in learning the patience and wisdom of Job. We like our roses without thorns, thank you. But what if the best way to get there is to turn those thorns INTO roses?

One of my favorite “thorns to roses” moments in the Bible occurs in Jeremiah 29. God sends a letter (via Jeremiah) to the exiled Israelites living in Babylon. In a nutshell, He says: “I sent you to Babylon, but I want you to prosper there. Build houses, and plant gardens. Marry and have sons and daughters.”

In other words, make the good outweigh the bad. Here’s my favorite part:

“Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” (Jeremiah 29:7 NIV)”

So, brave reader, whatever our “parade” is—yours and mine—we’d best pray to the Lord for it. Because if it prospers, so will we. And when there’s more good than bad, nobody minds a little manure.

But watch your step if you cross Main street.


Photo by picjumbo.com on Pexels.com

Categories
Christian Blog resilience

This Thorn

A recent post by CG Thelen, from 140 Character Christian, entitled Humbled by Pain spoke of Paul’s thorn in the flesh (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). “Thorns can come in all sorts of things that cause us constant pain,” wrote CG

These words brought to mind a godly woman who once lived in my little town. She was twice widowed and confined to a wheelchair, yet had the sweetest Christian spirit. Most days she never ventured outside her home. But friends and neighbors lined up to see her or called her on the phone. People flocked to this dear sister because she had the “peace that passes all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).

Each of us can probably think of a fellow believer who trusted God despite challenging circumstances. This leads one to ponder the unshakeable faith found in God’s holiest servants.

What’s the secret?

I never asked Mrs. Frieda, but she surely would have pointed me to passages such as Colossians 3:1-3, about the life that is “hidden with Christ in God.” Or Psalm 91:1, where David rested in the “shadow of the Almighty.”

One of another friend’s favorite quips is, “Opinions are like belly buttons. Everybody has one and they’re all different.” It’s the same with thorns. And like Paul, any experience that draws us closer to God is a good thing.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” – 2 Corinthians 12:8 (NIV)

Another favorite blogger, who speaks in power by God’s grace, is Ruth Kirk, of Seeking God’s Face Together. Her daily poems (complete with related scriptures) are like signposts along the narrow road to heaven. Please read her offerings. They are a blessing!

By God’s grace may we say in our weakness, “Lord, thank you for this thorn.”


Photo by DAMIANUM CASTRUM on Pexels.com

Portions of this post appeared in It will Keep, which was published on July 13, 2019.

Categories
Christian Living

Together

“Let us be concerned for one another, to help one another to show love and to do good. Let us not give up the habit of meeting together, as some are doing. Instead, let us encourage one another all the more, since you see the Day of the Lord is coming nearer.” (Hebrews 10:24-25 – GNT)

Jeff King, in his recent post, Quote for 01/31/2021, observed that Christianity is the premier team sport. “We’re all in this together, the body of Christ, the church,” said Jeff.

When I read these words, I remembered seeing a fire truck roll up to a call one time while I was sitting at a red light. As soon as the rig came to a stop, firefighters scattered from the vehicle like ants! Two guys unrolled a fire hose and pulled it to a hydrant, while two more unloaded a huge ladder.

Meanwhile, at least one person behind me honked—when the light turned green! So I was on my way, but something about what I saw stuck with me: first responders come out in pairs–just like Noah’s ark!

I asked a firefighter friend at church to fill me in about this “two by two” phenomenon. He explained: for safety and efficiency purposes, nobody works alone. Standard procedure calls for two firefighters in and two out. The idea, he said, is “I look out for you, you look out for me, and we both make it home.”

If Christianity is the ultimate team sport, and surely we can agree with Jeff that it is, then we must act like it. Nobody goes it alone! Like the writer of Hebrews says, we should show real concern for and help one another. Our love and good works speak far more than words.

By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Jesus – (John 13:34 NIV)

The application to the body of Christ, and by this I mean the church universal, is clear. We live at a point in history when both the world AND the church are on fire. I may be mixing my metaphors here, but we need all hands on deck!

Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God? Do you accept Him as the only way to heaven and trust Him to save you from your sins? Then we work at the same firehouse!

If God is your Father, I am your brother.

I look out for you, you look out for me, and we both make it home to heaven.