Bile (Boil) That Cabbage Down

If you’ve lost a loved one, then you will understand this scenario:  I’m preparing to teach elementary music when my eyes fall on the 5th Grade Chorus music—Bile That Cabbage Down.  I choke and a tear springs to my eye because it brings back a very fond memory of my father who passed away in 2009. He didn’t play the guitar often and he didn’t sing often, but when he was being silly, he would sing this song while playing the guitar… and I loved to hear it! My dad, who was very private with his feelings and not an “in front of people” guy, could be so different in the shelter of our home. He was silly! He loved to tease. Oh, the memory just makes my heart ache for him!

Then my next thought stopped me short. I wish I had…

  • Spent more time with him
  • Not wasted so many moments being a rebellious teen. (One summer we rode to work together and they were the most silent rides of my life! Why didn’t I try harder to talk to him? I hear you saying, “But he should have talked to you.” True, but now he’s gone.)
  • Worked harder to know him better
  • Been more patient with him

Even though these are relatively minor regrets, they do come to mind and bring with them a lesson for today that I would urgently suggest you consider…

  • Spend more time with people than your computer
  • Get out of your comfort zone and SAY SOMETHING!
  • Work at family relationships. They can become so strained by miscommunications, lack of time together, morbid self-introspection, jealousy, selfishness, and just plain meanness
  • Be more patient, especially with elderly folks and teens. These are two groups of special needs people.  We’ve all either been there or will be there! Teens bark more than they bite, and I have yet to be bitten by one because I started a conversation.  And as a pre-older person 🙂 (OK, so I might not be speaking the truth in my heart!) I’m beginning to understand the aches and pains, the disappointments life seems to throw at us, and the frightening thought that time is changing more than I can handle.

You may say…

  • “But I can’t!” Are you sure?
  • “You don’t understand.” No, but God does!
  • “It’s impossible.” But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26).
  • “It won’t change anything.” Oh, but you don’t know until you try! Sometimes we are so busy looking for the other person to change that we fail to realize the change that needs to happen in our own hearts!

Sometimes, when counseling with someone or in a teaching moment when I’ve tried to encourage someone to make right choices and do the hard thing, I wish that I could play back all the excuses I hear. But then there are those precious moments when the listener hears with a heart surrendered to do God’s will, and I know there’s hope for that one!

I hope this challenge blesses and changes you—I know it has touched my heart!  I needed it. Praise the Lord!

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Stuck or Planted?

Do you ever feel that way—stuck! Perhaps you are stuck in a job you don’t like or a marriage that is loveless. Are you facing a life of illness where the situation you’re stuck in includes hospitals, prescriptions, and overwhelming medical bills? Sometimes, our “stuck spot” is more petty, like a bad haircut, twenty pounds too many, or a lacking wardrobe; however, those daily grind stuck spots are difficult to overcome too.

Stuck—can’t get out—can’t change it—HELP!

This powerful little prayer is such a challenge! Let us consider…

  • John Bunyan, who wrote “Pilgrim’s Progress” while he was stuck in jail
  • J. S. Bach, who wrote 46 pieces of music while in jail
  • Paul, whose imprisonment gave us Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians, and Philemon

All three of these men were stuck in situations that were unchangeable, and yet Bunyan turned his cell into a allegorical backdrop, Bach changed his prison into a concert hall, and Paul traded his chains in for a Spirit-led quill!

And when we consider our Bible heroes, like Esther, Daniel, and Joseph–just to name a few–we realize that they too made lemonade out of their lemony situations.

Stuck or planted?  Are you stuck because you will not make necessary changes, or are you planted right where God wants you to be? 🙂 Hmm. That’s good for thought! Just some helpful conclusions:

  • If I can’t change it, I MUST accept it serenely.
  • If I can change it I MUST elicit God’s grace and power to do so, surrendering my will to His.
  • I MUST depend on the Word of God for wisdom, reading it, studying it, and allowing it to keep my thinking biblical.

Perhaps a picture IS worth a thousand words!

Related image

STUCK…

Image result for dead plant in pot

 

 

OR PLANTED?

 

 

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Cor. 12:9

Christmas Lights and Jonah’s Gourd

 

 “So Jonah was exceeding glad of the gourd.” Jonah 4:6

24852525_10215477430155882_3326722355540250083_nChristmas lights—a source of great delight and fierce frustration! I’m sure you’ve all experienced the irritation of placing LIT lights on your tree or around the highest point of your house, only to descend the ladder, look up, and see a section that is not working!  So was the case at the MacAvoy household this year.  After pitching three half-lit strands of lights, I finally got the tree completely illuminated; however, the following week while serenely sipping coffee and reading my Bible beside the tree (what ambiance!), I noticed a flicker of light in my peripheral vision. When I looked over at the tree, I saw the lights go on and off once again in a section of the tree!

They stayed unlit for a few days until I had a chance to check it out. When I did, I felt like someone working for their salvation.  Surely, if I pull out each darkened bulb and replaced it, checking to make sure that all the wires were intact, God would reward my efforts.  As in Naaman’s situation, God waited until that last bulb before intervening, but when I pulled out that bulb the rest of the lights came to life! I looked at the empty socket, and then at the bulb in my hand! A miracle!

The following morning I was talking to God, praising Him and thanking Him for the blessing of the previous day, when I remembered the lights. With “exceeding gladness,” I thanked Him for lighting my tree!

Isn’t that just like Jonah? He was so glad that God took pity on him and make a vine to shield him from the hot rays of the sun. He did not thank Him for having pity on the eternal souls of men, including himself, but rather was overwhelmed with joy because of physical comfort.

The Lord’s challenge for me this Christmas season is this:

 Can I look past the pressing things, the daily trials, and the difficult circumstances, and focus on the blessings and needs of those around me?

To do so takes extra time which is already limited at this time of year, but so many of our friends and families desperately need to see Jesus in a tangible way! So, do the extraordinary for Christmas. Think out of the box.  After all, Jesus left the dazzling perfection of heaven to be entombed in Mary’s womb, to undergo the pangs of labor, and to surround His deity with the scent of barn animals and smelly shepherds. Can’t I do something extraordinary for Him for His birthday?

And, by the way… “Doest thou well to be angry [with the Christmas lights] (Jonah 4:9)?”  🙂

Drop Dead!

Postcard with text "Greetings from the Sunny South." Five African American people in interesting dress--fancy suit, hats, umbrella, frilly dress. One has a fiddle and a dog. Text: "Cake Walkers. Way down south in Dixie."For a short while, we had these words on our mirror in the bathroom: Drop Dead. The idea was that we would start the day with this thought in mind. It was a good reminder; however, I remember the time when a young girl, who came for dinner with her unsaved family, came out from the bathroom, wide-eyed and saying, “You have bad words on your mirror!” To her, the idea of telling someone to drop dead was a threat!

As a church, we have been memorizing verses from Romans 6. (By the way, are you memorizing Bible verses? Is it me or does it get harder as you age? Anyway, that is my “New Year’s Resolution” for 2018! I’m not sure how I’m going to implement it, but I MUST be memorizing more scripture.) Whether it’s a piece of music, a famous speech, or a Bible verse, memorizing allows you to see it differently. As you memorize, you are meditating on the words and phrases in a different way than if you just read it.

Here is December’s verse for our church:

Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. Romans 6: 13

As I was working on it, I noticed something. We are urged to yield ourselves to God.  That’s easy to understand, but then Paul adds this phrase: “as those that are alive from the dead.”

OK, Jesus died and rose from the dead. We are to be like Him? Is that what Paul is saying. Of course, that is certainly part of it. But as I “meditated” on this portion of the verse, I dug a little deeper! As born-again believers, we are not only dead, but we are resurrected.  When we

  • Are saved
  • Ask Jesus to be our Savior
  • Trust Christ for salvation
  • Believe and receive Jesus as our Savior

However you want to phrase it when that happens, we die to the power of sin! We die to living our lives for ourselves. We die to our wants, our plans, our path, and we allow God to do the leading.  He directs our paths, guides our plans, and often changes our wants. We are dead BUT alive!

Later in chapter 12:1,2, Paul puts a little more meat on the bones:

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

A living sacrifice—we are alive, but we really can’t live for God until we die. That hurts! Death can be painful, and what I’ve found is this:

The tighter we hold on to our wants, our plans, our life,

the deeper God needs to cut to “kill” this world from our hearts!

What are you loving more than God? Can you be honest about this? Is it your traditions? Family? Church denomination? Entertainment? Way of worship? Money? Security? The way you do life?

Look at this verse:

And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. Revelation 12:11

Wow! What a challenge (and a good one to memorize)! As the Lord’s Return draws closer, will we need to follow their example more: they loved not their lives unto the death?

It’s all quite a challenge, but then, true believers understand that the Christian life is not a cakewalk. (FYI and total rabbit trail. Check out the link if you want to know where that phrase cakewalk originated!)

Will you drop dead today AND allow God to resurrect you so that you can yield your members as instruments of righteousness unto God? That’s a tall order. Thankfully, our loving God also supplies the grace to make it possible!

 

 

Are You Doing It?

 Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the LORD. What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good? Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile.  Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it. Psalm 34

As I read two different devotions today, they were remarkably opposite of one another. The verses above were part of the daily devotional called “Days of Praise” which I’ve sometimes quoted. Today’s reading was called “Godly Pursuit.” As I read the verses above, I did a personal check on each one:

  • Do I “keep my tongue from evil?’ OUCH!
  • Do I keep my “lips from speaking guile (deceit)?” YIKES!
  • Do I walk away from evil, or do I allow it to come right into my living room on that flat screen?
  • Do I do good, going out of my way to do it?
  • Am I seeking peace, or am I stirring things up, even in my home, because I want things to go my way?
  • Am I pursuing (fervently running after it, chasing it, hunting for it as though my life depended on it) peace—dying to self to allow the peace of God to rule my life?

Henry M. Morris III goes on in the devotional to say,

“So many today appear to desire the approval of the world’s philosophy or its adherents, attempting to compromise the clear messages of the Word of God with the views and lifestyles of the wicked.”

The opposite path was sadly expressed in Jeremiah 44:16-19:

“As for the word that thou hast spoken unto us in the name of the LORD, we will not hearken unto thee. But we will certainly do whatsoever thing goeth forth out of our own mouth, to burn incense unto the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, as we have done, we, and our fathers, our kings, and our princes, in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem: for then had we plenty of victuals, and were well, and saw no evil. But since we left off to burn incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, we have wanted all things, and have been consumed by the sword and by the famine. And when we burned incense to the queen of heaven, and poured out drink offerings unto her, did we make her cakes to worship her, and pour out drink offerings unto her, without our men?”

How sad! But the question for us is, “Will we only be faithful to God when things are going well—when we are prospering?”

God gives us so many promises but that doesn’t mean that the Christian life will be problem free and full of prosperity. Why?

Because rough waters make the best teachers!

Are you discouraged—tired of watching your godless neighbors prosper in all they do? The psalmist sums the whole picture up nicely for us in Psalm 73 (might be good to read the whole psalm!)

Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end (v 17).

So, if you’ve fallen off the “Godly Pursuit Trail” today, take heart! You’re not alone. Seek the Lord’s help and even the help of others to get back on the horse and ride! You will never regret making wise choices.

 

Moth in the Window

mothinthwindow-layout_300It was just a moth stuck in the bathroom window this morning! I’m not one of those crazy (I take that back—they’re not crazy!) kind-hearted people who take insects outside instead of squashing them, but this guy was so frantic… and big, I didn’t want to make a mess!

So, I released the screen to let him out only to find that he was between the top and bottom windows. Now, I’m holding the screen out the window and trying to move the windows so he can find his freedom. I just about gave up, but, hooray! he was able to brave it and fly around the wooden frame and out to his world.

Lesson # One: He was so close to freedom but wouldn’t make the leap away from light to clear the window. His instinct told him that if he just headed towards the light, he would be fine, but his instinct manual didn’t include any instruction about glass! When am I afraid to go “Beyond Common Sense” and do something extraordinary for God? What is it that I’m trusting to be the right way, but it’s not? Hmmm?

Lesson # Two: His way was the wrong way. Proverbs 14:12 tells us that “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” Yikes! That’s pretty serious! Believing in anything but the Blood of Jesus Christ is the wrong way to heaven. It’s really frightening to think that “good” people will be in hell but look at Nicodemus. He was a really good guy, but if he had kept on his “right” path of good works, he wouldn’t be enjoying God’s presence right now!

Lesson # Three: Patience! I was ready to give up on the poor stupid thing! After all, if he couldn’t figure it out, it wasn’t my fault. How many times do I become impatient, perhaps giving up on someone when a change of heart is right around the corner?

Finding God’s message in the mundane—He has so many lessons for us! What a wonderful heavenly Father we have!

Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness. Psalm 143:10

Who are you?

Tigger_pose_Ah, the Hundred Acre Woods! It’s filled with those loving characters created by A.A. Milne. As I was reading a story from the Winnie-the-Pooh collection it came to mind that we all may be characterized by one of those personalities! So, who are you? I would like to think that I’m Piglet—sweet and lovable, but, if I’m honest, I’m a Tigger. I relate to his bouncy, happy-go-lucky character. But it made me wonder if I’m also as annoying as Tigger can be to his friends! Hmmm! I’ll need to think on that one! Perhaps I need to make some changes!

So, which Bible character are you? That may take more thought and be more beneficial in shaping you into who God wants you to be. Of course, as women, we all want to be the Proverbs thirty-one wife or picture ourselves as an Abigail or Esther, but the truth of the matter is, as my husband was preaching on the woman at the well, I realized that I was very much like her! No, I didn’t have five husbands and never lived with a man, but her whole demeanor and self-righteous attitude really struck an uncomfortable chord with me! Her past did somewhat resonate with my own pre-salvation life, as much as it could for a seventeen-year-old. And while her salvation experience sparked an 180-degree turnaround, mine was more of a five year slow U-turn as I eventually joined a strong Bible-preaching church. Each bi-weekly gathering filled my heart and soul with God’s amazing truths, and I was ready to receive the milk of the Word. It drastically changed my life!

Ultimately, the answer to the question, “Who are you?” needs to be Jesus Christ. As His followers, we will spend our days on this earth trying to be more like Him. It’s an amazing process and truly takes a lifetime to accomplish! We will not reach perfection until we see Him face to face, but every day, as we read His Word and talk to Him in prayer, that two-way communication has its way of molding us into His image if we are willing to allow it to shape us. Our sweet Savior is so patient with us! His love is beyond our human understanding in its greatness—it’s “unconditionalness!” But then, He sees us through an eternal lens, whereas we are only given a pair of finite glasses!

John said it the best:

He must increase, but I must decrease. John 3:30

But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord,

are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

2 Corinthians 3:18