Tracks in the Snow

Pepper, our eleven-year-old black Cocker Spaniel is my walking partner. In any other season, she is also my protector. It’s a comfort to have her along as I walk back our country road when bears are lurking about. I’m not sure how I think she would protect me, but it’s a mental mirage that I have.1214160820

Recently, we had a beautiful, fluffy snowfall and I knew we needed to walk. The morning was picture perfect: blue sky, nip in the air, and chilly temperature. The snow was clinging to every branch and weed. This one was really doing its part!

When we reached the end of our road, storm clouds were gathering in the west, but the sun was still shining in the eastern dawn. The effect was stunning:1214160821c

It’s such a peaceful spot, and I couldn’t help put praise God for the beauty of His creation and His loving kindness in allowing me to be here.

On our way home, I happened to notice our tracks. I’ve noticed this before as Pepper tugs at her leash, nose to the ground, dashing to and fro!

 

1214160822We leave two very different sets of tracks. While on our walks, mine are the straight and steady ones. Hers zigzag back and forth across the road! But I have to wonder if my “life” tracks are more like hers as I zigzag back and forth on little rabbit trails of life. I can so easily be sidetracked off of God’s purpose for my life! Does my heavenly Father look down and wonder at my trail? As I tug against the restraints that He has graciously put upon my life—safeguards against disaster—does He tire of my tugs? No, never. What an amazing, loving God we serve! His patience is incomprehensible!

One of my goals for 2017 is to “keep in the middle of the road.” Our church men sing this African-American Spiritual every so often. Its message is clear—as clear as tracks in the snow!1214160823

Children, keep in the middle of the road
Children, keep in the middle of the road
Don’t you look to the right
Don’t you look to the left
Just keep in the middle of the road.

I hear those angels a calling loud
Keep in the middle of the road
They’s a standin’ there in a great big crowd
Keep in the middle of the road.

Chorus:
Then children, keep in the middle of the road
Children, keep in the middle of the road
Don’t you look to the right
Don’t you look to the left
Just keep in the middle of the road
In the middle of the road
In the middle of the road.

I can see them standing around a big white gate
We must travel along before it gets too late
For it ain’t no use for to sit down and wait
Just keep in the middle of the road.

I ain’t got time for to stop and talk
Keep in the middle of the road
‘Cause the road is long and it’s hard for to walk
Keep in the middle of the road.

I’ll fix my eye on the golden stair
And I’ll keep on a goin’ till I get there
Cause my head am bound that crown for to wear
Just keep in the middle of the road.

When your feet get tired and your song don’t sing
Don’t look at the world full of sinful things
Don’t lay down in the road for to die
Put on your wings and get up and fly.

 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:13,14

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This Vapor Called Life

Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.

James 4:14

God has seen fit to allow us to live by a calendar while we dwell here on earth, and while the old gospel song boasts “no sin in heaven,” we may add to that, with great joy, that there are no clocks or calendars as well! As I sit here on this last day of the year (at 4:19 AM) thinking about another year’s end, I thank God for the opportunity to do so. And even though this year’s end included some difficult struggles, which I will explain further down the road, life is still good and precious in God’s sight.

So, how did you do in 2015? Was it a successful year?  Did you satisfy those goals or fulfill last January’s New Year resolutions?  And how do we measure success anyway?  What exactly are we doing here? That’s a LOT of questions!

Someone once said:

Success is finding the will of God and doing it.

That’s a very simplified statement, but it holds a lot of truth.  As born-again believers, we don’t just wander through this life, or get through another day. Each day has a purpose.  Sometimes, that purpose may seem small and insignificant to the rest of the world, like holding your temper, or helping a child discover something new.  Last night, while reading to my grandson and looking at a picture of a dinosaur skeleton, he discovered that he has bones in his body.  What a joy to see that amazing discovery dawn in his eyes, and then watch him run to tell his mommy! A lot happened yesterday, but that precious moment rises to the top.

I recently finished listening to “A Christmas Home” by Greg Kinkaid, and he makes the statement that a good goal in life is to leave this earth a better place than how you found it. The creators of Precious Moments artwork set forth its mission statement “to make the world a better place by helping others share the gift of love.” Both are great mantras, but as believers we have an even stronger mandate straight from our Creator:

Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.

Revelation 4:11

Living to bring glory to God—what does that look like, and are we able to be successful in doing so? Always remember that God never commands us to do anything which is impossible to do without His help!  But how? I believe the WILDS Christian Camp helps its campers to accomplish that goal by quoting this verse before every meal:

Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31

When we THINK about our Heavenly Father before our feet hit the floor, and then continue to THINK about Him, realizing He is a “very present help” (Psalm 46:1), soon we will not be THINKING about Him at all—we will be LIVING under “under the shadow of the Almighty.” (Psalm 91:1) He is there, receiving glory through the life that honors Him in word and deed, action and reaction, motive and purpose. Instead of spiraling out of control, our lives slowly follow the path upward, becoming more like the Master! Sound too simplistic in a world whose catch-phrase is “It’s complicated?” Taking the “upward path” is a great way to uncomplicate life!

1138_10208704178708829_5698406446686963647_nTomorrow starts a new year.  Tomorrow also starts the second week of our newest grandson’s life: our Christmas baby! He has already given those he loves many precious moments of joy and laughter, delight and thrill.  But I’m sure there have also been pain, trying moments, difficult situations, and general frustration.  And so goes the tapestry of life! Weave well, my friend, in 2016—no matter the shade of the threads handed to you from God!

So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.

Psalm 90: 12

 

When gods Die

Webster defines God in three ways:

  1.  the perfect and all-powerful spirit or being that is worshiped especially by Christians, Jews, and Muslims as the one who created and rules the universe
  2. a spirit or being that has great power, strength, knowledge, etc., and that can affect nature and the lives of people : one of various spirits or beings worshiped in some religions
  3. a person and especially a man who is greatly loved or admired

As Christians, we worship an eternal God; therefore, my title makes no sense: God cannot die.  He has always existed and will always exist–a doctrine which our finite minds cannot grasp, so we believe it by faith! I am not talking about our Almighty, Creator, Infinite God.

Door Number Two: a spirit or being that has great power… That can only be one “being” and that would be Satan.  Although he parades himself as a host of gods, all “small g” gods really are Satan. I am not talking about Satan.

Door Number Three: a person and especially a man who is greatly loved or admired.  The first person I thought of for this category was Elvis Presley. 😦  Certainly, many worshiped him as a god and when he died, their lives were shattered.  It’s always difficult when gods die!  However, I’m not talking about man-gods either.  There are far more treacherous gods for us to face, and we face them every day of our lives! Let me give you an example:

This morning as I was choosing my cereal, a host of guidelines went into that choosing process: This one has wheat and my “Fast Metabolism Diet” described all the digestive difficulties of eating wheat.  Honeynut Cheerios?  Too many empty calories for a working day.  Crispex? Not enough fiber.  With a sigh, I realize that a god of mine is dying: the joy of eating!  Gone are the days of eating whatever I want–guilt-free!  Caution comes with old age, and we need to watch what we eat if we want to maintain any semblance of healthy living!

As I work in the local public school, I see so many changes.  Our district, like most districts across the nation, has had to tighten its belt which boils down to layoffs and school closings.  I believe our district has made it through, but things are different.

Another difference is that many of the teachers that were here when I started eight years ago are gone: many retired and some laid off.  There are a lot of new fresh YOUNG faces, and they hold the center of the stage!  We all move up a notch when that happens, and sometimes it’s hard to step aside and realize that middle-age has arrived!  Life isn’t free Friday nights and pick-up ball teams any more.  Instead, we’re driving the kids to practices, and running on the treadmill in the basement instead of running to the gym!  It’s a time issue.  It’s practical. It’s different!  And if “youthful living” was a god, life can spiral out of control when it dies.  These are just two examples of gods that die.  What do we do when that happens?

I pick Door Number One!  What a safe place: the God that doesn’t die! What a wonderful perspective He gives to this constantly changing life: He never changes!  Wow!  No wonder if feels so good just to rest in the arms of Jesus.  He holds us and says, “It’s okay if the other gods dies.  You know you shouldn’t have had other gods anyway–that command was given a long time ago!”

It’s actually a great day when gods die!  They’re gone!  They have no more control on our lives!  We are free!  And if you need help in this area, we have a god-Slayer ready to help! We just have to recognize those controlling gods in our lives and give God the green light to destroy them!  Sadly, I think we’re a lot like Philip:

Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip?
he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?  John 14:9
We don’t recognize God, and the world is constantly trying to “dumb-us-down” about Who God is and What He is like! He’s really big!
My God is so big, so strong and so mighty, there’s NOTHING my God cannot do!
CLAP! CLAP! 🙂
My God is so big, so strong and so mighty, there’s NOTHING my God cannot do!
CLAP! CLAP! 🙂
The mountains are His, the valleys are His, the stars are His handiwork too!
CLAP! CLAP! (Woohoo!)
My God is so big, so strong and so mighty, there’s NOTHING my God cannot do!
CLAP! CLAP! 🙂
Maybe we just need to become children again and simplify things! Isn’t that what He tells us to do anyway?
And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children,
ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.  Matthew 13:33

What am I doing here?

As a high school student, I remember walking to our lockers in the morning with my friend, and one of us would turn to the other and say, “What are we doing here?”  At the time, the answer was fairly simple for me: get an education and head to college.  I’m sure it was much the same for my friend even though she was heading for marriage instead of college.  Perhaps she had days when it seemed pointless to keep going just to get that piece of paper while wearing the funny hat.  She certainly didn’t need a diploma to get married, and as far as I know, she never had a career which required a diploma either; so I understand her question.

Don’t we all ask that same question at different times along life’s pathway?  What are we doing here?  Even as Christians, who have the Word to lighten our way, as well as a promised eternal destination, the question still lingers: What are we doing here?

Take a moment to think about life…

  1. We work: A job is a necessary part of living, providing for our needs and wants, and can be a source of great satisfaction.
  2. We marry: Many of us find our true loves and choose to share life with that one person.
  3. We have children: If the Lord is gracious in allowing us to have children, they become a huge part of our lives.
  4. We love God and try to serve Him: As  born-again believers, Jesus Christ becomes a part of our lives.

So maybe life looks like thispieChart_jpg (3)

Perhaps the percentages are different:One part might take up bigger chunks of time, and we could certainly include a lot more categories, but you get the idea.

On our quest for an answer, we may look at verses to help us to find the answer, like:

Romans 12:1,2  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.

Matthew 22:37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

Micah 6:8 He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

Matthew 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

I once heard a missionary preach on this verse, and he put it like this: As you are going, teach and make disciples.  That statement gives us a clue, and we can build upon it every day of our lives, answering the question, “What am I doing here?”  At my job, think Christ!  In my home, remember Jesus!  At church, worship and focus on Jesus Christ!  He is the only One that can give meaning and purpose to life. So then, our chpieChart_jpg (1)art will look something like this:

God becomes the hub of our lives, affecting every part of it.  If we try to put God one piece of the pie, the rest of life falls apart!

Perhaps you’re asking, “But how do I do that?”  So glad you asked!  🙂 The answer is actually simple: fall in love with Jesus!  Remember when that certain someone filled your every waking moment?  He or she affected the way you ate and dressed, where you went, what you watched.  I remember following the Oakland A’s because a young man liked that team! Now, I don’t even know who they are!

However, falling in love with Jesus takes TIME!  Spend time with Him and you can’t help but love Him. Talk to Him, read His love letter, talk about Him, write down your thoughts about Him and you will find that He will be the hub of your life: the One that everything centers around!

The following verse gives us a glimpse at what it looks like to fall in love with something; sadly, this man was in love with his stuff! But as you read it, apply it to our relationship with Christ.

And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. Luke 12: 18

and I said, I know what I will do, I will change my schedule and put time with my Savior first; and in my life, I will give every part to Him. (The Wanda Translation 🙂 )