“LOST”

No, not “Lost” the TV show. Molly – my baby pup… (well, she’s actually 7 years old now.) She was missing for almost an hour – seemed like days!!! She’s fine and with Betsy now. What a morning!

Here’s the story. We (me, Molly and Moe) were going to get in the car to meet Betsy at the church. They were going to stay with Betsy today and play outside and sleep and do their usual dog things. So, I went downstairs with them to get in the car. I raised the garage door to let them go potty in my backyard. This is not unusual. Moe has ventured a little too far away in the past so I was keeping my eye on him. Molly is a people person and doesn’t ever go very far away – until today. I was sticking close to Moe and picked him up and put him in the car. Molly usually trails along with me. Not this morning! I looked back and could see her bunny ears going between the neighbor’s houses. So I called her, but she didn’t come. I walked to where I last saw her and called – and she didn’t come. I started driving around the neighborhood and asking folks if they had seen her. After about 15 minutes I called Betsy and she came to help. After looking for about 30 minutes, walking and driving and calling for Molly, I decided to go back to my house and start again from there. Just as I was walking down my driveway I saw something out of the corner of my eye. It was Molly sitting on my deck looking at me. She seemed happy to see me, but she didn’t make any noise or come when I called her. I had to go on the deck and get her. What relief!!

I’ve never really understood the parable of the Lost Sheep – leaving the many to pursue the one – until this morning. I practically threw Moe in the car and then in the kitchen to go look for Molly. She was my main concern. And you know what? Moe was not a bit upset about my going to find Molly. When we found her, Moe was excited to see her himself!

So, I’m just like Molly. Sometimes I wander off – not my normal path – but it happens. And I don’t come when He calls. And maybe I’m afraid to run to Him, so I sit and wait and watch and worry. I’m so thankful that He pursues me. He answers when I call out, even though I don’t always answer Him.

Father, help me to stay close to You. And to come when You call; to obey and not choose to go my own way. And give me the attitude of Moe when You bring home a wandering sheep – truly happy to know the lost have been found and are safe in Your arms and not jealous of Your attention.

Matthew 18:12-14

What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.

Raise my standard of living?

Isaiah 33:15-16 The Message

The answer’s simple:
Live right,
speak the truth,
despise exploitation,
refuse bribes,
reject violence,
avoid evil amusements.
This is how you raise your standard of living!
A safe and stable way to live.
A nourishing, satisfying way to live.

Ah ha! The complete answer to the question!!!
But what does it mean to ‘live right’? Do I want to live in a safe and stable way?
When I looked at these verses in the NIV I saw the answer from a different perspective.
It involves guarding/controlling/disciplining my life – my walk, my talk, my stuff, my pride, what I see and what I listen to, …
Then I will be satisfied with bread (food – spiritual & physical) and water (for physical and spiritual life).
Then God will supply all my needs (Phil 4:19), and I will live on the heights, not in the pit…(Ps 40:2)

Isaiah 33:15-16 NIV

He who walks righteously
and speaks what is right,
who rejects gain from extortion
and keeps his hand from accepting bribes,
who stops his ears against plots of murder
and shuts his eyes against contemplating evil
this is the man who will dwell on the heights,
whose refuge will be the mountain fortress.
His bread will be supplied,
and water will not fail him.

Fences

Fences Anyone?

  • On our cruise ship a few weeks ago, there was a basketball court on the top deck. It had a really high fence! You would have to almost intentionally throw the ball over the fence to put it out of the court. And guess what? If you did, you wouldn’t have a basketball anymore – it would be floating in the ocean. That fence was definitely to keep the ball in, to limit, to contain.
  • Then there are fences to keep people or things out – like the ones at a construction site in a TV show. The fence would be high to keep the thugs from coming in and stealing or vandalizing. And it works too – except for the small holes cut on the backside that people could slip through. This fence is designed to keep out, to protect.
  • Sometimes fences are only for decoration – like the ones at Seaside, where each house has its own little decorative flair. Those fences don’t keep anything or anyone in or out; they are just for looks.
  • Prisons also have fences, sometimes multiple ones… These fences are monitored – and they are there to keep everything in and/or out. Definite boundaries set by institutions and governments and laws.
What kind of fences do I have?
  • Do I have the ship’s basketball fence? To protect me from throwing away my toys or stepping too far away from the goal or losing my focus?
  • Or is my fence more like a construction fence – keeping my stuff protected from those in the big bad world who would take from me and make a mess of my life?
  • Maybe my fence is just a storefront that is really not a fence at all – just a mask?
  • Or maybe my fence is more like the prison fence – with such strict guidelines that nothing (and no one) can get in or out without a lot of determination and effort?

In the passage below, Jesus says He is our gate and gatekeeper. Amazingly, He is willing to bear the burden of defining my boundaries if I’ll allow it – He will guide my heart and my steps in the world. All I have to do is listen to His voice, the Good Shepherd. He promises those who listen to Him will have life – better than they ever dreamed of…

John 10:1-10

“Let me set this before you as plainly as I can. If a person climbs over or through the fence of a sheep pen instead of going through the gate, you know he’s up to no good—a sheep rustler! The shepherd walks right up to the gate. The gatekeeper opens the gate to him and the sheep recognize his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he gets them all out, he leads them and they follow because they are familiar with his voice. They won’t follow a stranger’s voice but will scatter because they aren’t used to the sound of it.”Jesus told this simple story, but they had no idea what he was talking about. So he tried again. “I’ll be explicit, then. I am the Gate for the sheep. All those others are up to no good—sheep stealers, every one of them. But the sheep didn’t listen to them. I am the Gate. Anyone who goes through me will be cared for—will freely go in and out, and find pasture. A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.

Who is God?

attributes.jpg

I hope you can see the photo I’ve attached. When I walked into the North Lobby at work on Monday morning, that is what I saw. In keeping with Danny’s new sermon series on the Attributes of God, this tri-stand has been set up for people to share how God has revealed Himself. Walking past it once is interesting, twice is intriguing, after that it’s been VERY thought-provoking. I think it will only become more intense for me as the series goes on.

Additionally, tonight when I left work I came home and went straight for a long, hot bath. I decided to listen to a sermon I missed a couple of Sunday nights ago – from Bryan Gunn. Turns out Bryan used the sermon to challenge us to start fresh in our perceptions of who God is, like Abram had to do in Gen 12. Although he made plenty of mistakes, God viewed Abram as His friend. Imagine that!!! God can do that because of who He is and that He chooses to redeem us because HE WANTS TO!!! He wants a relationship with me.

How does this make me feel? Loved, Secure, Confident, Encouraged, Never Alone

Praying that I remember this for more than a few minutes. Humming the song, “I am a Friend of God”

John 15:11-17 The Message

“I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you. I’m no longer calling you servants because servants don’t understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I’ve named you friends because I’ve let you in on everything I’ve heard from the Father.

“You didn’t choose me, remember; I chose you, and put you in the world to bear fruit, fruit that won’t spoil. As fruit bearers, whatever you ask the Father in relation to me, he gives you.

“But remember the root command: Love one another.

ASAP – Alabama Roadside Assistance

Driving home from the beach yesterday, we passed a girl/woman with a flat tire on the interstate median. She was changing the tire herself. Not feeling capable or equipped to stop and help her, I felt I needed to do something. So I dialed *HP, for the ASAP (roadside assistance) truck. I was greeted by a voicemail telling me to press ‘0’ if this was an emergency, or to hang up and dial 251-1397 for ASAP.  [FYI – this number is not that hard to remember since it makes a box using the 4 corners of your dial pad – just in case you need it sometime]. When I called the ASAP number, guess what? I got a message saying that their box was full. Not only did a machine answer instead of a person – I couldn’t even leave a message! I truly hope none of us ever needs to use this service…

In light of the new sermon series Danny has started on the Attributes of God, I was thinking about how accessible He is to us. He knows what we need, He’s ready to listen and to help. All we have to do is accept what He has for us! We never have to try to do something on our own, hope that He will answer when we call out to Him, or even be alone. Amazing!

Hebrews 4:14-16 The Message
Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.

Book Review: From Peanuts to the Pressbox

I was given a copy of Eli Gold’s book to review – “From Peanuts to the Pressbox Insider Sport Stories From A Life Behind The Mic” – by Thomas Nelson company. However, given that I’m a Bama fan – and the fact that the Tide just won the National Championship – I was very happy to give it a read.

As you would expect the book is an easy read with lots of great stories from Eli’s experiences in a variety of sports. In and around Birmingham his voice is recognized easily – from Alabama football or NASCAR. This book doesn’t necessarily compel you to finish it quickly or draw you to turn the page, but it does give an insider’s take of the sportscaster role..

Eli Gold went from a New York kid fascinated by sports to a widely recognized voice – in Alabama football and for NASCAR. Selling peanuts at Madison Square Garden to Bryant-Denny and Talladega. I can hear his voice in my head saying ‘Tide Wins! Tide Wins!” and “TOUCHDOWN ALABAMA”. Those are sweet words in a state that bleeds crimson.

Attributes of God

Attributes of God - Danny's new series has me thinking... Somewhere in the
sermon yesterday he said words that came together for me this way. Somebody
correct me if I'm wrong, OK?

You can't take all the good, positive things about God and put them together
- and think that God has some love, holiness, infinity, mercy, wisdom,
etc... Because HE IS love, holiness, infinity, mercy, wisdom, omniscient,
and much more. How can He be merciful and just at the same time??? I have no
idea, but He can because He is God. He is not confused  or torn over the
'right' thing to do - ever! And He is always right because He is Truth.

Wow! Amazing! Awesome!!!

Rom 11:33-36 The Message
Have you ever come on anything quite like this extravagant generosity of
God, this deep, deep wisdom? It's way over our heads. We'll never figure it
out. 

   Is there anyone around who can explain God?
   Anyone smart enough to tell him what to do?
   Anyone who has done him such a huge favor
      that God has to ask his advice?

   Everything comes from him;
   Everything happens through him;
   Everything ends up in him.
   Always glory! Always praise!
      Yes. Yes. Yes.

Removing the pins…

Yesterday I went with Betsy to get her pins removed from her foot. We both knew it was going to HURT, especially the numbing shot. And it did! But you know what? The doctor knew that the pins needed to come out. And he used his x-ray vision to know exactly how to go in and remove them. (There were two 2½ inch pins in her foot from her baby toe down the outside) Once he started removing them, she didn’t even know when he was done! I won’t say that it was painless or easy, but it was better than leaving them in her foot – and she will heal better now. I will say that it was VERY HARD to watch Betsy dread and feel the pain.  

I’ve also had some hardware in my ankle – and had it removed. Sometimes when we break or fracture or have weak spots, we need some external support. Then there comes a time to have it removed. Crutches that we need for a season become a hindrance and just one more thing to drag around.  

So, what extra baggage do I have that needs to be dropped off or removed?  

There’s something in Matthew that deals with this very thing. When we take on His yoke, we have exactly the load we can handle and He is there pulling along with us. And directing us in the process. I read the passage below in the The Message –powerful words!!!  

My prayer is that I will NOT be the stubborn mule that pulls against the yoke, but yields to the direction of the Master.  

Matthew 28-30 (The Message)  

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”  

 

   

 

  

  

  

Fear

When I am afraid, I will trust in You - Psalm 56:3 NIV

Such a simple little verse. I think I learned it as a small child in Sunday
School.

Now that I'm all grown up what does it really mean for me. Fears creep up on
me like thieves - fear of failure, fear of the past, fear of disappointment,
fear of the unknown, fear of pain, fear of _______. That's the first part of
the verse.

Here comes the 'I will' part - I will trust. Trust doesn't really come easy
for me. Being burned in the past doesn't help, but I'm generally a guarded,
closed, suspicious person. Let me down and my trust has to be earned.

This is so unlike our Father. Despite my fears and lack of trust, He is
trustworthy and has never disappointment or done anything to lose my trust.
Here's the kicker: why don't I trust Him?

Alaska

(Click the title “Alaska” to see a photo gallery)

cruising on Celebrity Infinity with Shades Sr. Adults – August 2010 – Seattle, Skagway, Juneau, Ketchikan, Victoria