Several weeks ago, I spent the day with two daughters looking for furniture. As I’m from the generation that buys items expected to last forever, it was way past time. Like many of my clothes, some of my furniture is decades old. I’m not a shopper so that’s why my daughters went with me. They have a good eye for bargains and they love spending my money! I couldn’t help relating this experience to what the Holy Spirit is doing with us. Roll up that faded area rug of anger and replace it with love. Move out that creaky chair of greed and replace it with generosity. Carry away that rundown couch of unforgiveness and replace it with merciful understanding and compassion for others. It’s with some resistance the old familiar and comfortable are replaced, but what joy is the result!
Do you love watching the Olympics? I do! It’s fun to see the world’s finest athletes compete. Ideally, they put aside political and cultural differences to come together to see who is the best in their particular sport. Even countries whose leaders routinely fire threatening warnings across each other’s borders are represented there. I realize it’s not always as harmonious as it may seem, but seeing various countries’ competitors encouraging one another makes me happy. Every few years it’s like the dawn of a spring day at the end of a dark, miserably cold winter. Maybe the Olympics are as close as we’ll ever come to a peaceful relationship among nations in this age, but I’ll take it!
“Are you hungry?” the pastor asked. He was reading from John 6. The crowds followed Jesus to be amazed by his healing miracles, to hear his intriguing sermons and, if they were honest, to be fed. Can you picture yourself as one privileged to see Jesus face to face. What would your motives have been, or mine? Would we have done any better than those people back then? We would have wanted much of the same as they. And, how about my motives even now? What am I hungry for? Is it for miracles that don’t last? May my search for Jesus be much more than for healings or material blessings or even daily forgiveness. May I seek him, the true bread of life, out of love.
She’s moving! Our little church lady is leaving our community. I saw the estate sale sign but it didn’t register it was for her home. She was a fine golfer and added a lovely soprano voice to our choir. She was the worship leader at the community chapel service, and she was a force to reckon with. That’s why I call her our “church lady.” (Not to her face, of course.) Once at a chapel board meeting she asked for donations to the food bank. When she saw what was collected, she said it wasn’t enough from a community our size and she went around the room collecting more from everyone! Her failing eyesight doesn’t allow her to drive anymore, so she made the hard decision. Our best wishes and prayers go with you, dear June.
It’s happening now and it’s called the “billionaires summer camp.” The annual conference in Sun Valley, Idaho, of this country’s top money makers is where a lot of their big business deals are made, according to news sources. Even though many of them give generously to charity, they can’t give their money away fast enough. It just keeps piling up. Think about it! Even a million dollars is more than I can fathom, let alone a billion. But, even though I’m impressed with their giving, Jesus said there’s one philanthropist who outdid all these wealthy folks, the poor widow at the temple in Jerusalem. She gave her all. Mark 12:41-44.
As I sat with friends watching the fireworks burst overhead and their sparkling reflections in the lake below, I thanked God for the privilege of living in a free country. Most of this world’s people do not experience the freedoms we enjoy and often take for granted. But, one freedom available to all of us, no matter where we live or under what conditions, is freedom in Christ. More than the freedom to do our own thing (lawfully), is the freedom Christ offers. Christ frees us from our own personal prisons of sinfulness. He offers freedom from our sin, guilt and shame. What a priceless freedom that is! It cost him, of course, as most freedoms do, but nothing, not even his own life, stood between him and his love for us. Let his freedom not only ring, but reign!
As my birthday month comes to a close, I consider long life a blessing from God, especially if you have your health and independence and those close to you who make it so special. But one disadvantage is having to experience the loss of beloved family members and close friends. Over the years I’ve attended or been aware of so many funerals and memorials. Just a few weeks ago I attended a memorial for a sister-in-law who died unexpectedly. And I’ve lost another longtime acquaintance. She worked upstairs in the same building where I worked. It’s sad. We miss them. As the Scriptures say, there is a time to grieve, and we should allow ourselves and others that time. But we can have the full assurance our loved ones are not gone forever. We will all be together again.
Fuzzy heads are now sticking up out of the nest, keeping both mama and papa wrens busy poking food down three hungry beaks. At first I didn’t realize two wrens were feeding the babies, but then I saw them together. I looked it up and male wrens work with the females to feed the youngsters. The birds grow fast and will be trying their wings before long. Then the parents will leave them to fend for themselves in a dangerous world of cats, hawks and other hungry critters. They gave them life, now they’re on their own. Easy enough for birds but not so easy for humans to always see our children as unique individuals in their own right, not just as our son or our daughter. But that’s how God sees them.
“What do you think Jesus likes about you?” When our pastor asked that question, my mind went blank. What could Jesus possibly like about me? But our pastor insisted that Jesus likes each one of us as individuals. Think back, he said, to your childhood. What were your strengths, your likes and dislikes; what makes you uniquely you? Afterward, a church friend said she answered the question by thinking about what she loves in her little grandchildren. Bingo! Then it was clear. In my case, it’s little great-grandchildren now, and they are so lovable! I’m interested in the talents they’re developing and the interests they have. They’re not perfect and I’m not either, but knowing Jesus has always seen me that way, finding me, even the real me, endearing, gives me great joy! (BTW, he likes you too!)
Happy Father’s Day!