Why Does It Sound Like It’s Pouring When It’s Only Sprinkling?

This morning, as I left for my usual social engagement with the golden-aged regulars at the local greasy spoon, the wind whistled around the corner of the house, and the dark, starless sky pelted the whole outdoors with huge drops of water. At the store, during our breakfast meal, the local televised news broadcast fed us story after story about horrifying and horrendous events which recently occurred; a son beheaded his mother in North Carolina, a fist fight between the members of a collegiate football team and members of a fraternity was caught on tape in Bowling Green, a woman drowned trying to save a dog in Indiana; and the list goes on.

Before the news cast began, the conversation between the men at the table was light and humorous. When the morning news anchor began describing the details of one depressing story after another, the group became silent, the mood became somber, and the occasional comment expressed disbelief and concern for the depravity of our nation.  Slowly the mood and conversation around the table returned to its normal lightheartedness and camaraderie, but it was plain that all had been affected by the daily dose of shame and harm.

This morning’s weather, along with the breakfast experience, and the resulting observations reminded me of a recurring situation I experienced while dairying.

I remember standing in a metal-roofed barn on several dark, rainy mornings, feeding calves or trying to teach a newborn calf to nurse from a bottle. The wind would be howling around the barn as the rain drummed on the metal roof. Occasionally, I would find myself standing under a hole in the metal and a steady dripping of water seemed to provide a preview of what was awaiting me when it came time for me to leave that barn to return to the milk barn.

As I processed all the sounds, smells, and sensations, I couldn’t help but dread the cold soaking I would get as I walked back to the stock barn in the downpour.

Sometimes my supposition would be correct and I would be drenched by the time I arrived at the milk barn. However, many mornings, when I stepped outside, I would discover that the supposed downpour was nothing more than a sprinkle. My perception of what awaited me outside the barn was far from the reality.

Why did I imagine the worst before I experienced the reality?  Because the large metal roof was combining the sound of millions of raindrops as they fell on an area of several hundred square feet. My ears funneled this collective sound into two narrow canals allowing it to vibrate the membrane of two small ear drums.  The darkness of the early morning hid the truth from my sight. The howling wind provided evidence of an unseen, uncontrollable force. The drip resulted from a collection of thousands of raindrops all following the path of least resistance to that one small opening just above the single square foot of earth which I occupied at the time. My mind combined all the sensed data and I presumed it must be bad outside the barn, otherwise it would not sound and seem so miserable inside the barn.

Our society is filled with people who thrive on creating this same type perception of the world; some do it for free, while others profit with millions of dollars. These people often combine the uncommon tragedies of a few individuals spaced many miles apart and present them as if they daily occur  in almost every community across our great nation. We may try to avoid the bombardment of disturbing information, but through the advances in technology, mass media, and social media, the data is filtered into our homes, our computers, and our phones until it regretfully becomes unavoidable. The unwanted, depressing information is continuously funneled onto the single square foot of earth we currently occupy until we dread and even fear to go out into the darkness because we believe the whole world must be as depraved as the news media makes it sound.  After all, if it’s in print or on radio and TV, it must be true.

But the truth is, most people have a basic goodness and sense of morality.  Most people still possess qualities which make for good neighbors and friends.  Most people want to live in a safe and secure environment just like we do.  Most people make this world a far better place than the news media would have us believe.

What’s the antidote for this flood of depressing news stories?

“4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me–practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:4-9)

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Junk Food: Does It Really Satisfy?

During our teen years, when we were showing cattle at the county fairs, most of the time we would arrive at the fairgrounds the day before the show, then spend the night in the barn with the cattle. Occasionally, we would spend two nights in the barn if there happened to be a Holstein club or FFA district show scheduled for the day after the county fair show.

Mama would always pack an ice chest or two with a good supply of sandwich meats, breakfast cereal, milk (for the cereal), soft drinks, chips, and other types of convenience foods.  Needless to say, we boys would devour everything she packed, but especially the junk food and soft drinks.  If there happened to be a carnival on site and we had a few extra dollars, that meant a wider variety of junk food selection including corndogs, french fries, funnel cakes, cotton candy and more.

I remember one particular two-day show at Campbellsville.  Daddy stayed the second night.  He asked Mama to pack some frozen sausage and biscuits and an electric skillet so he could heat them for breakfast the next morning.  When the aroma of those sausage and biscuits wafted through the barn, all of us boys hit the ground running.  It was almost like having a home cooked meal.

But the thing I especially remember was the taste of the orange juice Mama had packed.  For two days before that first sip, I had lived on every boy’s dream diet; junk food and soft drinks.  Yet that initial mouthful of vitamin C packed, 100%, made from concentrate orange juice unlocked a thirst that I did not realize existed inside me.  I downed the first cup in one gulp and went back for several more before Daddy stopped me so everyone else could have some.

The orange juice tasted so good because it provided something my body lacked – healthful nutrition.  I had craved and enjoyed the junk food and sugary drinks, but they produced a bogus satisfaction; a false sense that I was fulfilling my body’s needs.

Spiritually, we can fall prey to the same type of cravings and bogus satisfaction.  Our world is full of spiritual junk food; self-help articles that make us feel good and provide lots of emotional energy, but articles which contain very little of the nutrients which only God’s word can provide; highly energized, extremely entertaining worship services which lift our spirits and send us out into the world pumped full of adrenalin, but worship services which contain very little, if any, of the simple heart felt praise which God knows we need to express if we are going to thrive in our life-sustaining faith in him.

Many times, we must taste the real thing before we come to realize that we have been gorging ourselves with spiritual junk food.  This is the reason it is important that we use the Bible as our primary source for spiritual nutrition, and that we view the writings of other men as an occasional snack or sweet treat.  It’s also the reason that we need to worship God with the simplicity which is described in the Bible; a simplicity through which we express our love for God in faith motivated obedience and not through a professionally choreographed entertainment production.

Spiritual sugar may send us on an energized temporary high, but spiritual nutrition will build permanent strength and health.

“But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” (Matthew 4:4)

“But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:23-24)

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Snapshots of the Past

The picture above serves as the wallpaper on my laptop.  I pasted it to my desktop by accident. I started to delete it but the more I looked at it, the more I  wanted it to stay. And I’m glad that I did because each time I open my laptop, a gentle thrill of excitement  runs through me.

“Why?”, you may ask. The photo is not pretty.  It’s not intriguing or aesthetic.  It actually looks like an accidental snapshot.  So why does this feeble attempt at photographic artistry produce warm feelings within me each time that I see it?

Because this is a section of the bog disk which I pulled over several thousand acres many years ago.  When I was a teen, this is the disk we used to aerate the sod in pasture fields.  This is the disk we used to re-break plowed ground which had hardened again.  This is the disk that we used to turn under a cover crop in preparation for the future seeding of a cash crop.

This was the disk that I was pulling on a neighbor’s field when I decided to bog down some thistles which he had left near a pond drain.  What I did not know was that he had left them there for a reason.  The banks of the drain had washed and the thistles were growing in a gully.  My first realization of the situation came when the front wheel of the tractor rolled into the gully.  The impact threw me from the tractor as the front wheel rolled up and out of the gully. I landed in the main section of the drain. The tractor continued moving until the back tire entered the wash.  The huge piece of machinery would have flipped in on top of me had the disk not caught and stalled the tractor in its tracks.  I can still remember looking up at that huge rear drive wheel as it continued to turn, trying to catch a grip so that it could propel the tractor on its journey.  Had it not been for that disk, I would not be alive to write these thoughts today.

If it looks like we enjoyed ourselves, you should have seen it in color!

It’s funny how just a small, almost accidental encounter with a snapshot can bring back so many memories.

Spiritually, very special and beneficial memories can often be brought to mind by the briefest of real-time snapshots.  We walk into the church building where we grew up and we are taken back to a time of innocence; a time of singing songs in Sunday school or learning valuable Bible principles in a week long vacation Bible school.  We pass by an old building that at one time housed a skating rink and we reminisce about the area-wide church skating parties in which we enjoyed the fellowship of other christian young people.  We hear our beloved congregation imploringly sing, “O Why Not Tonight?” and we think of all the responses to the gospel’s invitation which we have witnessed throughout the years;  tearful, heart felt responses made by souls who wanted nothing more than to surrender their lives to God.  We enter a cold stream or pool of water and we relive our own life changing decision to enter into Jesus through the waters of baptism.

I have no doubt that as I repeatedly look at the snapshot above, the thrill of the experience will eventually diminish. But for now, I’m just glad that accidents happen because this accident has brought about some unexpected moments of joy for me.  I’m also thankful that random, living snapshots occur, because life has been filled with so many wonderful spiritual memories. These memories produce an even greater thrill than the reminiscence of farming.

“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3;14-17)

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Stop Stepping On The Ants!

When God told Noah to save the animals on the ark, He brought the animals to Noah (Gen. 6:20). I have no doubt that to both God and Noah, the ants were just as important as any of the other creatures.

God has told us to ,”Go into all the world and preach the gospel.” (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-16). In fulfillment of that command, we have sent courageous missionaries into almost every country around this world.

Many of us have reasoned, “I’d like to go. I’d like to be a missionary to a foreign people, but someone has to stay here and keep the home fires burning. Somebody’s got to earn and donate the funds which meet the expenses generated by preaching the gospel.”

For those of us keeping the home fires burning, there is good news. God is bringing the souls of the world to us and moving them into the house next door.  They are now literally our next door neighbor. These souls come in the form of immigrants (both legal and illegal), migrant workers, refugees, business owners, those trying to escape the pressures of city life, those addicted to alcohol and drugs, those taking advantage of government handouts, etc. These are some of the very souls that we have sent missionary families overseas to teach. These are some of the very souls about which we have prayed.  These are some of the very souls about which we have lamented, “If only I could go, maybe I could reach them. But alas, I can’t because my name’s on a deed; and I have a mortgage; and I have investments and a business to run . . .”

Since we either can’t or won’t relocate, God is granting us the opportunity to fulfill our heart’s desire to be a missionary.  By bringing lost souls to us, He is providing us the convenience of being missionaries in own back yard.

Yet it seems that we are crying, “Send them back. They are messing up our economy, taking our jobs, taking over our neighborhoods, receiving benefits from our tax monies, . . .”

Have you noticed the number of times we use the word “our” when it comes to the reasons we don’t want certain people to live in the community we call home. The word “our” is the plural possessive form of “I”.  The singular forms are “my” and “mine”. We don’t like to use those words because they sound selfish.  “Our” sounds like we have the greater benefit of the larger population in mind, and thus we aren’t being self-centered.

Perhaps it’s time for us to reevaluate our concept of exactly who owns the material blessings with which God has graced us.

Perhaps its time we took a second look at the opportunities with which God is blessing us. We are being offered the opportunity to be missionaries in the safety of our own back yard, without having to endure culture shock, without having to move away from our families, or without having to give up the luxuries of living in America.

Maybe we American Christians need to reevaluate our level of concern for the ants, making sure that we do not step on them as we try to save the donkeys, the elephants,  and the eagles. Maybe it’s time we learned how to read and quote scripture in a second language; not so we can travel to a foreign land to evangelize its population;  but in order that for the rest of our lives, right here in America, we can humbly serve God by preaching the gospel to all nations.

“Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:3-8)

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Are Those Her Headlights?

I sat down to write a meaningful post based upon my past experience as a dairyman.  But I found myself looking through the window in front of me, wanting to see the headlights of her car coming down the road.

For her, it’s just another busy day at the office.  She hasn’t been gone that long (just a little over 14 hours), but some days that time seems like forever.  At the close of those days, when the darkness of night settles in, the loneliness settles in as well, and the desire to see her safely arrive at home intensifies.

There won’t be much said when she gets home.  She will be worn out.  I’ll ask her how her day was and she’ll tell me as much as is permissible using professional terms and combinations of letters which I don’t understand. I’ll tell her some of the events of my day.  She’ll eat a late supper while watching a TV program that I can barely hear or tolerate, and I will sit for a short time pretending to be interested in the program.  Then I’ll head to bed to read for a short period while she enjoys some alone time.

Her homecoming is not emotional, exciting, challenging or engaging, but it’s something we both look forward to and have for 35 years.  Our roles have changed over the years; I once was the one coming in from work.  The number and ages of the characters have changed over the years; our three children now have homes of their own.  But over the past 35 years, the thrill and anticipation of the nightly homecoming as only gotten sweeter.

I’m thankful for my momentary loneliness right now because it inspires me to cherish the beautiful, loving partner God has given me. I’m also tremendously thankful that the momentary loneliness is just that . . . momentary.

“An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.” (Proverbs 31:10-12)

“Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her” (Proverbs 31:28)

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Jesus: The One and Only Way Home

The pasture field across the road and the holding lot to the milk barn each had one entrance gate. At one point in my milking career, each time I would put the cows across the road in the morning, one cow would stop short of the pasture gate.  She would then begin walking outside the fence, parallel to the other cows. She thought she was in the field where she could enjoy the water and grass, but she was not. She could not enjoy the blessings of the pasture until she entered through the one gate.

At night, when I would herd the cows back to the milk barn, this same cow would meander down the road past the one entrance into the barn lot. Eventually she would realize that she was once again separated from the rest of the herd.  At that point, she would look for another opening through which to enter the lot or another path by which she could reach the milk barn. However, the only way she could rejoin the herd and reach the intended destination was to enter through the one designated opening.

“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’. . . ‘Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.’” (John 14:6; Acts 4:12)

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (Matthew 7:13-14)

We can give it our best effort to reach and enter heaven through some other means than Jesus, but we will always fall short.  There is no other way to reach the Father than through Jesus.

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Are You Afraid to Look at His Blood?

A couple of days ago, I was cleaning up a spill on the kitchen floor when I thought I saw a single drop of fresh blood mingled with the liquid. I looked at my hands and arms, but saw nothing. Later, I leaned back against a love seat while sitting on the floor with our granddaughter. I saw several blood stains on my jeans, so I began looking at my hands and arms again. Sure enough, on the back of my arm, just above the elbow, a red stream oozed from a small scratch. Further examination revealed an ugly, fist-sized splotch of blood covering a portion of the fabric on the love seat. Needless to say near panic set in, but a washcloth, cold water, and peroxide work wonders.

This is an almost every day event for a clumsy person who takes blood thinners.

Blood thinners are not for those who are queasy about seeing blood. Scratching the head off of the smallest pimple can release enough plasma to saturate a couple of paper towels and several Band-Aids. An accidental scrape which doesn’t even inflict noticeable pain can leave blood dripping onto any and every surface below it. Bed sheets, pillow casings, and the collars of favorite dress shirts are often spotted and stained through the mindless scratching of minor skin irritations.

People react to the sight of blood in various ways. Some faint. Some panic. Some become visibly sick and nauseated. Some turn away. Some seem unfazed. Some seem fascinated. But almost all are drawn to action to make the bleeding stop.

Why these varied, somewhat dramatic reactions? Because the life is in the blood. We know that a person can’t live if he loses too much blood. To many, even the smallest amount of blood loss appears significant and risky. So no matter how one reacts to the sight of blood, a sane person will try to find some way to make the bleeding stop.

Image credit: TurnbacktoGod.com via creativecommons.org

When people hear the gospel and they see the blood of Jesus being shed on the cross for their sins, they experience the same variation of reactions. Some involuntarily lose spiritual consciousness as they try to avoid dealing with the reality that the blood was shed for their sins. Others intentionally turn away from the sight of the bleeding Savior as they too try to escape reality. Some panic. Some become physically, emotionally, or mentally ill as they are forced to face the sickness of their souls. Some seem to be unfazed. And some seem to be fascinated. But all who through faith’s eye can truly see Jesus bleeding on that cross want the bleeding to stop.

Yes, we know that we can’t stop the bleeding. We know that the Lamb of God voluntarily gave his life’s blood for us over 2000 years ago. We know that what is done is done, and it can’t be undone. We just wish that we personally had not played a role in the necessity for Jesus’ death.

Mouse over scripture reference to view entire scripture text.

No, we can’t stop the bleeding, but we can cherish the loving Savior who was willing to shed the blood; and we can treasure the saving power of the blood; and we can do our part to make sure that Christ did not shed his blood in vain. We can allow ourselves to be redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus (1 Peter 1:17-25). We can vow never to crucify Jesus afresh in our lives (Hebrews 6:4-6). We can vow never to intentionally look away from the blood that was shed for our sins (Hebrews 12:1-2).

“In whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Colossians 1:14)

“Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16:15-16)

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March Lilies: The Joyful Promise of Hope and the Delightful Reminder of The Past

Some people call them March lilies.  Some call them daffodils. Some call them buttercups.  In this area of the country, one can spot small patches of these delightful blooms in tended flower gardens near inhabited houses,  in roadside ditches fronting old abandoned homesteads, and in the middle of grazed pasture fields.   Their emergence is a sign that spring is just around the corner. Yes, blackberry, dogwood, stump, and linen britches winters will still bring the possibility of blowing snow, but the appearance of the March lilies signals that the hope of spring will soon be realized.

In addition to the hope of the future, March lilies also remind us of the joy of the past. Since March lilies have traditionally been a cultivated flower, and most beds were originally set out near a homestead,  the scattered patches generally signify that a house once stood nearby.  The structure may have long ago deteriorated and been destroyed, but the delightful blooms form a reminder that a family once romped and played around a home as they anticipated the hope of spring.

Spiritually, what can we leave behind which will regularly bloom so that others will remember that we lived?  What can we plant in the world around us so that our descendants and their peers may find hope and joy due to our having walked this earth?

A few biblical suggestions:

Mouse over scripture reference to view entire scripture text.

A sacrificial life based upon an unfailing love for the Savior as was exhibited by the woman with the alabaster box and the woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears. (Matthew 26:6-13, Luke 7:36-50)

A faith filled life through which we are willing to offer the noble sacrifice of obedience like Abel. (Hebrews 11:4; 1 John 3:12)

A service oriented life like that of Tabitha. (Acts 9:36-43)

A family which we have reared in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4)

If we leave these types of legacies behind us, our seeds and roots of faith will continue to regularly sprout and bloom.  Though we are dead, yet we will speak to those who come after us.  Through our legacy, we will encourage others to have a hope for the future based upon the joy we found in living in the house of the Father.

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I Hate That Dog!

“I hate dogs.”

I’ve told this to myself and others many times over the years. I’ve always admitted to liking puppies, and even today I would willingly lie down on the ground to allow a litter of playful puppies to joyfully topple over me.  But grown dogs have always been a different story; especially one dog; a black and tan coon hound named Nina.

Nina rode in on the back of a truck one day about 15 years ago. My grandmother lived across the road. One of Granny’s caretakers had stopped to fill up her truck with gasoline, and unbeknownst to her, Nina had hitched a ride to our farm. Mama immediately adopted Nina, and an unspoken friendship and loyalty quickly developed.

For several years, three or four mornings per week, Mama would drive up the road about a half-mile to the home of Mrs. Lora, an elderly lady for whom Mama provided care.  Each morning, Nina would faithfully follow Mama’s van up the road to Mrs. Lora’s where she would stay until Mama returned home. Mrs. Lora developed a strong attachment to Nina as well.  She seemed to look forward to Nina’s visits as much or more so than Mama’s.  Mrs. Lora would save food scraps from each meal, making sure that only Nina received them.

During those first few years, when Mama returned, we could expect Nina to arrive home within a couple of minutes, but as the years wore on, the time span between the arrivals became increasingly lengthy; a few minutes became 10 and then 15. Nina was definitely slowing down and the arthritis in her hips was taking its toll.

My feelings for this black and tan were just the opposite. “I hated that dog!”

SONY DSC

I did enjoy watching her ply her trade when she first came to the farm. Nina had apparently received some training in treeing raccoons. I would often see her disappear into my dark milkroom just as I pulled up to the barn to begin the morning’s milking, and I could hear her “cleaning house” as I got out of the truck. In just a few minutes, I could hear her lonesome, eerie baying speedily descending the pasture field hills as she chased the little thieves that had invaded my milkroom back to the trees.

I found it amusing to observe her watching my son’s beagle hounds as they tracked rabbits.  At first she couldn’t figure out what they were doing, but then she began to give in to peer pressure, and she too began chasing rabbits.  Nina eventually became as good or better a rabbit dog than the beagles were.

What was my problem with Nina? On several occasions, just as I was about to herd my cows into the holding pen in order to milk them, she let out a loud bark from within the holding pen or just on the other side of it.  Each time, the terrified cows bolted and stampeded back down the hill, refusing to return to the barn for several minutes.  There was nothing I could do to persuade them that the ghostly howl had come from a friend and not a source of danger . . . and there was nothing I could do to keep Nina from causing the same chaos again.

I hated that dog . . . or so I told myself.

One day, about 4 years ago, I told Mama that I was scheduling the vet to come to the farm to treat a cow. Mama told me that she had decided to have Nina put down. I agreed with her decision, seeing as how Nina could barely get out of her bed each morning. She was rapidly loosing weight, and constantly shivered no matter how much heat was provided. Mama told me she didn’t want to be present when it was done, and just requested that I bury Nina in our unofficial pet cemetery in the woods.

When I approached her, I really expected Nina to rise up from her bed, bark as if I were a stranger, and attempt to flee, because we had only tolerated each other for several years. Instead, she humbly placed her head under my outstretched hand, and allowed me to hold her as if it were an everyday occurrence. As the vet inserted the IV and began administering the chemicals, she took it calmly and slowly closed her eyes, laying her head over onto my arm. Then something happened that had never happened before. I’ve helped put down many animals through the years on our farm, from newborn calves, to the best old pet cows that one could own, but I had never shed a tear. This time, the tears flowed. Why? I have no idea.  When the vet told me that he needed to retrieve a stethoscope from his truck in order to make sure she was gone, all I could do was silently mouth an, “Okay,” and I stayed and held her the whole time he was gone.

 

My guess is that we all have had someone in our life that we thought we “hated”. Maybe it was a friend of a mutual friend who seemed to be competing for and winning the affection of our BFF.  Outwardly, we tolerated the presence of our rival, but inwardly, we convinced ourselves that we “hated” the person. Maybe it was a coworker or peer who constantly received accolades, promotions, and awards. We regularly associated with them with the ulterior motive of  bettering our own status in some small way, but secretly we “hated” the person. Then one day, that person left; not with the possibility of returning, but with finality; and our tears inexplicably flowed.

We had convinced ourselves that we “hated” that unlovable person. We tried to convince others that we only tolerated them. Yet somewhere in the process of time and familiarity, we had developed a love that could not be realized nor appreciated until we experienced, “Goodbye.”

“Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends.” (Proverbs 17:9)

“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8)

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More? I Really Shouldn’t, But Yes, Thank You!

Have you ever stopped to ponder the amount of food we consume just because it is expected or we feel obligated?

A wife, daughter, mother, or grandmother thoughtfully, but unexpectedly, prepares a big meal so we eat with them even though we’ve just consumed a fairly good sized brunch. We take a spoonful or two from an untouched dish at a potluck in order to keep someone from getting her/his feelings hurt. We eat a second breakfast when a co-worker spontaneously brings doughnuts in an effort to get everyone’s morning off to a good start.

We are a guest at a club meeting where someone has worked hard to coordinate a luncheon, so we eat a second lunch. At an all-you-care-to-eat buffet, we go back for seconds in order to get our money’s worth. We finish off our spouse’s or children’s plate so food won’t be wasted.

We cram 3 meals into an eight hour day because it is tradition or we eat 5 small portioned “mealettes” because we’ve read that eating smaller portions more frequently helps to loose weight. Sometimes we just eat because we have a reputation for having a hardy appetite and we don’t want to lose face.

We are so blessed in this country with an abundance of delicious, nutritious food.  Sometimes the abundance becomes a curse since many of us have difficulty saying, “No, thank you.” Often, our excessive eating leads to obesity.

Spiritually, the delicious, nutritious food of God’s Word abounds just as plentifully in our country.  Scripture is just a click away on that high tech device found in the pockets of most Americans. Others can easily access God’s recipe for salvation and happiness in hard copies found in their homes. The good news is that excessive consumption of this spiritual food leads to better spiritual health rather than obesity, even if it is consumed more out of guilt, expectation, or obligation.

Today, and every day,  when it comes to God’s Word, eat all you want, as many times as you want.  And don’t feel the slightest pangs of guilt because scripture was nutritiously formulated to be abundantly consumed.

“The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether.  More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.  Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.  Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults. Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.  Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.” (Psalm 19:7-14)

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