Thankfully Joyful

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Thankfulness leads to joy.

If you don’t sense any joy in your life – make a conscience effort to be thankful.

British writer and literary critic G.K.Chesterton said, “The test of all happiness is gratitude; and I felt grateful.” (from the book Defiant Joy, the Remarkable Life and Impact of G.K.Chesterton by Kevin Belmonte. p. 221) The defining quality of Chesterton’s life, as described by his contemporaries, was joy. Chesterton had a significant impact on the spiritual beliefs of a generation. That impact lives on even today. Chesterton saw reasons for joy in small as well as big events in his life and that joy spilled over in his writings and public discourse.

If we cultivate thankfulness for our children, despite the whining, diapers, messes, etc. , we can experience joy in our homes.

If we cultivate thankfulness for our spouses we will experience joy in that relationship. That joy will spill over to bless our children, grandchildren, and others around us. One of the greatest gifts we can give our children is to love our spouse.

Paul’s prayer of thankfulness for his fellow Christians in Phillipi is an example of how we might feel and pray for our families.

Phillipians 1: 3-9

3 Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. 4 Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy, 5 for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now. 6 And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

7 So it is right that I should feel as I do about all of you, for you have a special place in my heart. You share with me the special favor of God, both in my imprisonment and in defending and confirming the truth of the Good News. 8 God knows how much I love you and long for you with the tender compassion of Christ Jesus.

9 I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. 10 For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return.

May God give us eyes to see all we have to be thankful for.

In the Waiting Room

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Tomorrow my dear friend Carol is having knee replacement surgery. Carol is a nurse and you know what they say about nurses…

they make the worst patients!

(Carol’s husband tells about the birth of their 1st child and how what he experienced during labor and delivery was like wrestling a grizzly bear)

Why is this? Why do nurses make difficult patients?

Because they know too much.

They know all the little things that can go wrong and that could cause serious concerns during surgery. They have seen things happen that shouldn’t happen. They know that doctors and nurses are humans with feet of clay – just like the rest of us (only smarter). I know Carol will be an exemplary patient tomorrow. She has to be – these are her co-workers!

I visited Carol this evening to take her a little gift, but mostly because I wanted to pray with her. We have been friends since we were two years old and have shared ALL of life’s important events together. (well, almost all…) I wanted to pray that God would bless her tomorrow and give her PEACE.

Now she must wait. It is so hard to wait. Our vivid imaginations can run wild with scenarios of possible outcomes.

We as women are often called on to wait. We may have to wait

  • to get pregnant
  • to give birth
  • for ugly hair color to grow out
  • until “things to settle down”  (does that ever happen?)
  • for children after a practice or rehearsal
  • for children to be potty trained
  • for children to move out
  • for children to come back
  • for answered prayer

This list could go on and on. Life is full of waiting.

These times of waiting can either produce impatience and irritation in us, or peace and calm. The key is where our trust lies.

Romans 8:17-22  (NLT)

17 And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering     18 Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later. 19 For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are. 20 Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, 21 the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay. 22 For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.

We all, as God’s children, are in the waiting room of God’s kingdom. I believe that we have a faithful God who we can trust to fulfill His purposes in His time.

What are you waiting for?

Do you have peace, or are you impatient and irritable?

I have been impatient at times and at other times I have been full of faith and peace. When I feel that irritation and impatience, I need to “fix my eyes in Jesus” who is the source of hope and peace. (Hebrews 11)

Carol is trusting God.  She has many family and friend praying for her – we will all be in the “waiting room” eager to hear the outcome.

May we all have the attitude David expresses in –

Psalm 62:5 (NLT)

5 Let all that I am wait quietly before God,
for my hope is in him.

Amen

Play Your Part

Lord of the Rings

Hobbit Characters – in full costume!

I am so excited because this weekend I will be attending a play with three of our granddaughters  – “Alice in Wonderland”.

I enjoy live theater and especially enjoy a well done play starring children. Our daughters were in several plays while growing up and it was so much fun watching them be transformed into someone else on stage. Children can be so spontaneous and exciting to watch and little ones always provide comic relief.

I have also ventured forth myself and tried my hand at acting. I was in several plays in high school, one in college, and three as an adult. I remember one play I was in called “Quilters”. I was struggling a bit with my lines and asked our daughters to read the other parts so I could practice. They didn’t really enjoy doing this but they humored me. We repeated my speaking parts over and over.

So – that worked real well!

These pre-teenagers memorized all my lines after “helping” me for about an hour. Every line I “dropped” thereafter they called me on it! How humiliating. (I did fine during the play – the one line I messed up – my fellow actress rescued and only my daughters knew)

It is a lot of work  – yet there are many rewards to participating in theater.

One is learning to play YOUR part.

Once given a part in a play, the actor must stay in that role – no matter what. If a piece of the set falls over, one must stay in character and work through the scene.

The show must go on!

Each part is important – even if one does not have speaking lines. Those who work behind the scenes are important as well. What would a play be without the sets, costumes, and props? Not nearly as enjoyable.

It is also important that each person play THEIR part – not someone else’s part.

What a mess that would be if one actor decided they wanted to say someone else’s lines and come on stage whenever they wanted! There is a phrase that describes actors who steal the limelight – it’s called “upstaging”. It means that someone is taking the attention that rightfully belongs to another.

God has given each of us a part to play in His Kingdom.

Each part is important!

We have places to be, things to say – or not to say, actions to take, etc.

God is the author of our lives and the part He puts us in is just right for us.

I have a friend and co-worker who leads the choral music program at the school where I teach. She directs the musicals that our school puts on each year and does an AMAZING job!

I have thought about the fact that year after year she directs different students in different plays – yet the results are always excellent. Linda knows what role is best for each student. It may not be the one who “looks” the part – it is often the one who can “act” the part. It is theater after all. I think a major part of Linda’s success is putting the right student in the right role. That is a true gift.

We may question why God has put someone – even ourselves – in a certain role. God knows what each of us is capable of.

More importantly God knows what He is capable of through us.

I Corinthians 12: 12-21

12 The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. 13 Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.

14 Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. 15 If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything?

18 But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. 19 How strange a body would be if it had only one part! 20 Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. 21 The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.”

These verses clearly demonstrate the fact that God has a role for each of us – and that role is important.

If I am a mother – I must be the mother – not the “best friend” of my child.

If I am the grandmother – I must be the grandmother – not the mother when the mother is present.

Lord, help us play the part you have given us by the power of your Holy Spirit.

Amen.

 

 

Stay Connected!

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See the rocks that little Daniel is picking up? Even a little child can take one of these stones and throw it into the ocean –

never to be seen again.

I was reminded of a sermon Phil preached several years ago about being connected in the Body of Christ. He shared the Scripture from I Peter 2:5 – 6

5 And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What’s more, you are his holy priests. Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God. 6 As the

Scriptures say,

“I am placing a cornerstone in Jerusalem,
chosen for great honor,
and anyone who trusts in him
will never be disgraced.”

Phil encouraged us to be those living stones that Peter is talking about. God is using us to build His spiritual temple. Each of us is a stone and the Holy Spirit is the mortar that cements us together. Phil went on to say how easy it is to pick up a loose stone and steal it or throw it away. Yet a stone cemented in a wall – well that is another thing!

Tremendous effort and time would be involved in taking a stone from the wall behind my parents , my brothers, and me in the picture below. That stone wall has been there a LONG time!

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When we are connected in the Body of Christ we are not easy prey for the enemy to snatch away. We are also less likely to be deceived if we have brothers and sisters in the Lord whom we are close to. One of them is more likely to say – “Now wait a minute! You know that does not line up with Scripture!”

We all need people to speak truth into our lives no matter how old we are or how long we have walked with the Lord.

I had the blessing of spending the night with some dear friends last night before presenting a workshop in a town 3 hours away. We sat sharing about our lives and catching up on mutual friends. All of us knew of friends from the past who are no longer walking with the Lord. These were friends who we had fellowshipped with over the years – some who had a meaningful impact on me spiritually.

Why have they walked away from their faith and fellowship?

Some have experienced deep hurts from other Christians – so have Phil and I.

Some have faced tragedy personally and in their families  – many of us have as well.

In asking the Lord about this and pondering the circumstances life throws our way, I was reminded of Phil’s sermon.

Those friends who have

  • stayed in fellowship
  • stayed connected to the Body
  • been built IN as living stones

those individuals are still walking with the Lord despite what they have faced – and some are in the midst of the fire right now.

God does not promise us a bed of roses because we are His children. In fact we are assured that we will have trials and tribulations. God does promise He will be with us through the trials and tribulations of life.

When I am connected in the Body of Christ – those around me support and comfort me during my times of suffering. We’re cemented together.

God is our rock and our salvation….

“anyone who trusts in Him
will never be disgraced.”

Stay connected.