“How did you get in?” I asked. I was talking to a turtle in my compost who was enjoying some veggie scraps I’d tossed there. The compost area in the back of my yard is framed by concrete blocks. As I looked closely I saw a 2-inch space between the blocks in one corner, but the turtle was too big to get through that hole. No apparent digging either. I knew something was eating scraps but figured it was only crows. No cooked items or meat go in my compost so as not to attract coyotes. (The rabbits in my yard attract enough of those.) The next day when I looked for Mr. Houdini Turtle he wasn’t to be found. Can turtles climb? It’s still a mystery, but what would life be without its interesting little mysteries.
You’ve heard of the carrot and stick approach to motivation. You hold the carrot tied to a stick in front of the donkey to get it to move. When we had donkeys, I didn’t try that tactic but their red bucket with molasses sweetened feed sure worked. As stubborn as they were they couldn’t resist that red bucket. But when it comes to being a Christian instead of a reward some feel dangling their faults and sins in front of themselves makes them humble and is somehow motivational to spiritual growth. Wrong! All that does is dim the glorious light Christ has given us to share with the world. Don’t let recurring thoughts of past, present or future sins (all forgiven and forgotten by God) dampen your zeal for him. Move forward in faith. He loves you! Shine your light!
When you have children you know how hard it is to see them make bad decisions, knowing they will have to suffer the consequences. When they’re young, you can often intervene and protect them, but not when they’re older and out of the house. As a parent my most fervent desire is for my children to succeed in life, physically and especially spiritually. If I feel that way, how do you think our Father in heaven feels about our children? As our children and grandchildren grow up and out on their own, we may not be able to be there for them, but he promises to always be available. It’s important they know that!
My kids got me an expensive, broad-brimmed sun hat for my birthday. Afraid it would blow away when the wind was up, I took it to a tack shop to have grommets put in. As I stood there enjoying the smell of the saddles, bridles, belts and other leather goods surrounding me, the proprietor brought back my hat, now with a leather string through the new grommets. When I asked him how much I owed, he said, “Nothing.” I protested, “Oh, but….” He cut me off. “No arguing. It’s not going to get any cheaper.” People like that make me love living in Texas!
Theologians argue about the idea of universal salvation or universalism. Some insist all will be saved and others point to the Bible and say no, the sheep and the goats will be separated, and the wheat divided from the tares. Though certainly not a theologian, my belief is that God is in one sense a universalist. Why? Because God wants everyone, from Hitler to Osama bin Laden, in his Kingdom. Jesus died to save every human being who has ever lived, past, present and future. When he hung on that cross and forgave those who put him there, it was us. He forgave all of us. We are all forgiven. Yet, God didn’t create robots. We have the freedom to choose. Implausible as it is, though God wants everyone saved, Scripture indicates some will stubbornly turn away and refuse his free gift of salvation.
As I thank God for air conditioning during this north Texas heat wave (and pray for rain), when I grew up in East Texas, we survived without AC. We had fans, of course, but not much use against the heat and humidity of East Texas. Our survival secret was iced tea—real iced tea brewed from tea leaves and sugar-sweetened in the pan while still hot. My grandmother had an aluminum pitcher in her refrigerator that was always filled with ice tea. I remember the condensation glistening on it as she poured tea over ice cubes in our glasses. Back then, the first action taken when you had a visitor was to offer them a cool glass of iced tea. Texans may be kidded about their iced tea, but it’s no joke. That’s how we survived!
Have you ever had a day when you feel you’ve let God down? You pray, but what comes to mind is a god who is being slightly aloof. My Holy Spirit gave you that nudge but you ignored it. You knew exactly what you should have done. Now you want to be back in my good graces. Good luck with that! If that’s what comes to mind, that’s a totally wrong picture of who God is. We have a Savior who knows personally how weak we are. Just as a good parent picks up and comforts a child who falls down and skins a knee, our loving Savior holds out his arms to us. When we fail, he is right there to pick us up, hold us and comfort us. Like the prodigal son we are forgiven before we ask. We are precious in his sight. Thank you, our loving, gracious God!
While reading through the wonderful praises to God in the Psalms, I thought I would like to write a psalm too. But how does one go about writing a psalm? Yes, I looked it up on the internet and was surprised to find all kinds of information on how to write a psalm. There was even a form available. The format is a good one to use for prayer too: recognize God’s goodness, express gratitude, praise God, list blessings and end by affirming his goodness. Of course, not all psalms are praise psalms, some are laments. But there was info on how to write those too. Obviously I wasn’t the first to come up with the thought. There can’t be too many psalms praising our holy God!
“Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.” I’m sure not the hero in my life, and I don’t think of myself as a victim either. But, reading this quote from screenwriter and journalist Nora Ephron made me think about heroes. My first hero was probably my dad. My dad was smart and he could do anything, from overhauling our old car to making me a whistle out of a willow branch. He was a carpenter, plumber, electrician and overall handyman, all in one. Later I had comic book heroes like Spiderman and Superman too, and some sports figures. But none of these were the hero I needed in my life. Even my dad couldn’t be there for me all the time. The one who has always been there for me, providing for me, protecting me, rescuing me, is my Savior. Jesus is my Hero!
A new house is going up near where I live. First a lot of trees were removed. Then workers put together a wooden form. I thought it was for the concrete base, but it wasn’t. They had carefully measured and built the wooden form to show how uneven the ground was underneath, so truckloads of fill dirt could come in to level the ground. The fill dirt is not sand, either, like the soil common to our area. All this preliminary work takes time but shows how important a good foundation is to a building. No matter how well the house is built, if the foundation is faulty, the whole structure is at risk. It’s a good reminder. Spiritual houses, if they are to stand, must be firmly founded on Jesus Christ, the solid Rock of our salvation.