God never called me to become an engineer but I sure had fun building stuff when I was a kid. The pastures behind the houses were overgrown with Johnson Grass and stick-like wild plants that grew as high as six feet (we called them cena bean trees). From that concoction we would build houses by pushing two parallel rows of sticks in the ground and filling in between with grass and weeds to form the walls. It could take several days to build one and sometimes they would have 3 or 4 rooms, complete with a roof and windows.
Then there was a time when I thought I would build a dam across a bar-ditch just after a hard rain. Those ditches ran in front of the houses and the closer they got to the big gully (about a quarter of a mile down the road) the deeper they got. I selected a spot about 30 feet before you reached the gully and started filling the ditch with rotten logs, broken cement, old tires… just about anything I could find that would make a nice dam. And it worked, too!
All day long I tugged and pushed until that ditch had about 4 feet of debris in it. By the end of the day the water had started slowing to a trickle and was backing up just as I thought it would. Around four o’clock I headed back. Dad got home at 4:30 p.m. and I sure didn’t want to miss supper!
On the bike ride to my house I saw that the ditches were a lot fuller than they were when I had left earlier that morning. In fact, the water had gone out of the banks and was spilling into the yards and the edge of the blacktop. I knew it hadn’t rained anymore and wondered where all that water was coming from. By the time I got home it hit me. There was a good reason why all the neighbors had water up to their front porches.
As I pedaled closer to my driveway a group of the parents were standing out in the road talking. My Dad was already home and he had joined the meeting. I rode by quickly, hoping to be as invisible as possible when my dad yelled, “Tommy, come here!” He asked me where I had been and I told him I had been down by the gully.
I don’t remember a lot about the rest of the conversation but I do recall that I ended up going back down the road to tear down my dam. And I missed supper that night.
Adults spend a lot of time scheming, planning and building for tomorrow. Instead of rotten logs, broken cement and old tires, we try to find building blocks with more stability. If we build in haste, our structure may be destroyed because we didn’t consult our Heavenly Father before getting started. Had the little boy asked his dad about building a dam in a bar ditch, he probably wouldn’t have done it. He was productive but his efforts were wasted and potentially harmful to others.
It isn’t enough just to be busy doing something. It’s far better to be doing something worthwhile. When Jesus designed the plan for building His Kingdom, there was nothing temporary about it. From the beginning, He intended that the Kingdom of Heaven would be eternal. So He carefully set the stones in place, one at a time, consulting His Father every step of the way.
When you are building your kingdom, think about following some of the same rules:
1.Consult your Father! Ask Him to help you with the project from the beginning.
2.Use building blocks that will last forever, like love, peace, joy, longsuffering, patience, and kindness.
3.Don’t be afraid to tear it down and start over. If what you have built has a faulty foundation, or was started in the wrong place at the wrong time… start over! And this time, consult the Master Architect.
4.Build it so that the generations which follow will be blessed, not hurt. The unselfish builder strives to leave a legacy for others, knowing that what he builds will never be finished in a single lifetime. Those who come after you will benefit from your faithful perseverance.
When it comes to building a structure that lasts, God is the only architect to trust. To be assured that tomorrow will be everything you had ever dreamed it would be for you and your loved ones, wisely consult the Master Architect before you make a mistake and cause a mess.
“Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain.” (Psalm 127:1)
There’s a saying “Since God cannot be everywhere, he created Mothers.” My daughter gave me a plaque with that saying that I cherish and keep prominently displayed in my kitchen. I’d like to take that saying a step further…”Since God cannot be everywhere, he created Angels.” My Angels come in many sizes, shapes, personalities, nationalities and varying ages. They are my Sisters. They are Godly Women.
It matters little whether they’ve traveled along the path with me for a lifetime or more recently. God has a plan and purpose for bringing us together. We share a kindred spirit that a few people might understand.
I have been blessed with many Angels who’ve shared my joys, sorrows, disappointments and successes. They’ve even shared their faith and when we commune, we know there’s nothing any one of us can’t handle. We are God’s children and He is at the center of our joy.
My Angels can be found among friends, family, colleagues, my church family, and Prayer Warriors and they travel the highways and byways of my life. So, while I don’t have siblings, my life has been enriched beyond measure.
God made babies special in a lot of ways. Do you know why He made them so short? From a baby’s point of view the world is a place that’s full of giants who are always reaching to grab you, tickle you, or wake you up.
I think God made babies short because they are closer to the floor when they are learning to walk. Those first steps are treacherous! Falling is not an option for a child who is trying to stand on two feet for the first time. This brilliant thought came to me today after I fell to the floor by clumsily tripping over a portable heater in my office (the thermostat on the central heat usually stays around 61 degrees!).
Not long ago I read an article about a little part of the brain that makes everything slow down when you are scared. While a person is going through a trauma everything seems to move in slow motion. They said that the older you get the less that little mechanism works. But at 63 years young I can attest that mine works just fine, thank you very much!
A paunchy man, five feet six inches tall, falling on the floor in a church is a sight to behold. It felt like time just stopped for a few minutes while I was falling. “Oops, I’m falling,” I thought to myself. Then I grabbed the wall to keep my head from hitting it, and even had time to set the box down before my knees banged the floor.
When I finally quit bouncing (I said I was paunchy) the first thing I did was look around to see if anyone was watching. Thank goodness no one saw or heard me so I wallowed on the floor for about five minutes, rubbing my sore left knee and praying that nothing was broken. It wasn’t. But it sure did hurt and I’m not too excited about testing that knee in the morning.
As I drove myself home the old knee started aching and I began berating myself for being such a goof ball. But the best was yet to come.
Sherry was vacuuming when I walked in the door so I just limped back to the bedroom to change into my comfortable clothes. When she finished I said to her rather pitifully, “Honey, I fell today.” It was like I had uttered magical words. Her empathy just wrapped around me and I knew then that it was going to be OK. There was such concern for my little episode that I felt a little guilty for how good I was suddenly feeling as I soaked up her love. She helped me find the ice pack and the ace bandage, and then sat down beside me as though I was the most important part of her whole day. She seemed to share my pain and never once chastened me to be more careful in the future. Our heart-connection in those moments was the ointment I needed to get me on the road to healing.
For the most part, Christian empathy is a learned characteristic. It is absolutely achievable for a person who really wants to follow Jesus. One of the first Bible verses I ever memorized was, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” And that’s the beginning point.
“Show” that you care about people in tangible ways.
Really learning about people will foster caring relationships.
True empathy lets the other person know that he is accepted just as he is, giving him an opportunity to open up.
Understanding someone reduces irritation and prejudice.
The Woman at the Well was not the kind of person a Jew would ordinarily befriend. She had a long history of a questionable lifestyle and was shunned by her own people. She had fallen many times. But Jesus looked past human prejudice and saw a person in need. He accepted her, spoke words of encouragement, and gave her the feeling that she was a person of worth. That’s what Christian empathy is about.
The next time you see a fallen brother or sister, give them a hand instead of rebuke. Take the time to listen to their story, and then offer a word of loving encouragement.
Why do I keep forgetting just how much smarter Jesus is than me?I know, that should be obvious to any believer; so, why do I keep ignoring His teaching?
If you asked me, I could give you a long list of all the things I do that show (prove?) just how much I love and obey our Lord.I know I’m saved and a citizen of His Kingdom; so, why do I ignore (some) of His teaching?
Many of us tend to ignore His admonition to “let it go.”We’ll “do” for the Lord; but, we have a very hard time just sitting still and letting the Lord “do” His thing.In other words, we haven’t learned to wait for the Lord.
He told us in Psalms:"Be still, and know that I am God.”The Hebrew word for “still” is “raphah” which means to relax, to withdraw, to let go or to be quite and let it alone.We translate “yada`” as “know;” but, its full definition is learn to know, to perceive, to find out and discern; or, to know by experience.In other words, God said: “Relax; leave it alone and let Me show you that I am God.”
Look at what happened when God told Abram and Sarai His plan.They decided to give God a “helping hand” and the world has been paying for it for almost 3000 years.
Most Christians remember that Jesus told the disciples “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town.” (Matthew 10:14)We know that the disciples heard and understood Jesus’ words because in Acts 13 we read that when the Jews stirred up the city against Paul and Barnabas, “they shook the dust from their feet in protest against them and went to Iconium.”Unfortunately, most of us fail to keep reading.The very next verse states that “the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 13:52)
Do you hear what God is trying to tell us?Be still and let Him be Who He is and let Him do what He does.Try, of course.Do your best and then relax and leave it alone.Shake the dust off your feet and move on.In doing so, you will be at peace and God will fill you with joy and with the Holy Spirit.
Maybe it’s our nature to want to fix everything; but, we’re not Jesus.Do your best, plant the seed; and then, give it to the Lord; relax, and move on.
GospeLines Prayer:Father, in the precious name of Jesus we ask that you give us the strength to change the things we can; the serenity to accept the things we cannot change; the wisdom to know the difference; and the faith to leave those things that are beyond our ability to You.Help us to be quite when we should be quite and to speak when we should speak.Fill us with Your joy Father, and fill us with Your Holy Spirit in Jesus’ name.Amen.
"Be made new in the attitude of your minds and have the same attitude, purpose and humble mind that was in Christ Jesus." (Ephesians 4:22-24; Philippians 2:4-7)
It just wouldn't be summer without the song of the Cicada, often mistakenly called a locust.I remember the first time I learned about this creature while growing up in Texas.My brother scared the pants off everyone when he came into the house wearing the shed skin (exoskeleton) of a dozen Cicadas in various places on his face!Mama screamed the way she did when something really bad happened, realized what he had done, and chased him out the back door with a broom.I howled and ran outside to get a closer look at the critters.
The adult Cicada comes out of the ground, climbs a post or tree, and sheds its skin on the way to the top.In a short time the singing begins in an attempt to attract a mate.If successful, the female lays up to 600 eggs, and lives only a couple of weeks (if not killed by a wasp called the Cicada Killer, or eaten by a very hungry bird).
Now get this!Those eggs hatch into larva, burrow into the ground 5 – 18 inches deep, looking for tree roots to feed on.They stay in the ground for 13 years (some species stay 17 years), and when the alarm goes off on the biological clock, they all come out of the ground at the same time and the cycle begins again.
What an awesome God we serve, Who is ever protecting, nurturing and teaching us through the natural/divine order of His creation.Suppose, for a minute, that you had lived as a Native American on this continent before the first immigrant came over the ocean.How would you have learned about God?There was no Bible to read, no Christian preacher to proclaim the message.But our righteous God is fair and has provided opportunities for everyone to learn about Him; if not from the Bible itself, then how?
Our great God Almighty has proclaimed the good news of salvation in His creation!And it was just enough information so that the Apostle Paul in Romans said that even those who lived without the written word are "without excuse!" (Romans 1:20)
Look quickly at the parable of the Cicada once more:
•Life is short.So there must be something after this, regeneration.
•Sometimes it takes awhile to mature.
•After emerging, there is a rebirth…a new skin!
•Beware of the enemy…the Cicada Killer.
•Use your spiritual imagination… what else does He teach you in this parable?Share your ideas with me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Think on these things.There is so much to be learned from God in nature, and I don't want to miss a thing.Listen to the songs of His creatures; observe His Word in creation, and the written Word of God will come alive with new and exciting truth.He speaks to us primarily through the Bible but often confirms those biblical truths in our daily experiences and in simple things like the song of the Cicada.
GospeLines Prayer:Teach me, O God, of Your wondrous ways!Master of the Universe, Architect of Creation, make me sensitive to ALL that there is to know about Your world; help me to unleash the power of imagination You gave me, and let me find new ways to praise Your powerful Name as did the prophets and the psalmists.Amen and amen.